5 minutes with Matthew Evans – The gap between nourishment and pleasure

Local Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans will join the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) in welcoming 600+ dietitians from around the country, to Hobart for their national conference 18 – 20 May. Tasting Tasmania will be held ahead of the conference and is an opportunity for dietitians to be immersed in Tasmania’s fantastic foodie culture. Matthew will present to dietitians at Tasting Tasmania and stallholders will be displaying local foods, wines and other eclectic products. We sat down with Matthew to discuss the link between tasty food and good health

DAA: The DAA National Conference will see more than 600 dietitians from around the country descend on Hobart 18 – 20 May, how do you think dietitians, cooks and farmers can work together to nourish Australians (which is the ultimate goal for all three professions)? 

Matthew Evans (ME): Nourishment probably should be the goal of all three professions, but sadly that gets lost in the mix. Farmers will rear and grow what will sell. Chefs are often driven by trends, constrained by food costs, and don’t necessarily see themselves as the sole source of people’s nutrition, but rather offering a break from the everyday. But they should be working together, because good food, that has inherent taste, that is grown close by and eaten seasonally, is by definition better for you. It’s a win win win. A seasonally driven menu, cooked with care, provides not just pleasure, but the nourishment we need. I think the gap between nourishment and pleasure, in people’s minds, is the thing we need to work with most.

DAA: How do farming and cooking methods impact the nutrition of a meal?

ME: Farming is based on what you can sell that grows fastest, can be trucked the furthest, looks the best (especially under supermarket lights), and keeps the longest. It’s not based on the nutrient density or quality of food, in most cases. But there are good farmers who want their produce to taste of more, to taste of the ground in which its grown, who are proud of the seasonal variation, and that food is inherently better for you. Cooking can have a huge impact on what nutrients are left in the food, how they are absorbed and how they are delivered. There’s no point having a meal full of macro and micro nutrients that tastes like horse chaff, because only the hard core will eat it. It must be pleasurable to eat, too.

DAA: You will be presenting at Tasting Tasmania, where dietitians will be immersed in a truly Tasmanian atmosphere. Inspired by Hobart’s very own Salamanca Market, stallholders will be displaying local foods, wines and other eclectic products.  What are the key things dietitians from around the country will learn by experiencing the way we ‘do food’ here in Tasmania?

ME: We’re blessed that we not only grow food locally, we sell it locally. I’ve been to lots of food growing regions around Australia, where either the food they grow isn’t available locally (unless it’s been on a long truck trip to a big city, then back to the local supermarket), or what they grow is so singular, (say wheat etc) that there is no diversity in crops, no chance to eat a balanced diet. Here, we have a large variety of things we grow, rear and catch, and we have access to them through markets, good shops, and through our own gardens.

DAA: Complete this sentence – ‘As a farmer, my best piece of advice to a dietitian is…..’ 

ME: If you have your own vegetable garden, you’ll understand what true seasons are, how nature throws up all kinds of variations in how things look, and what it takes to grow lovely tasting produce. then you’ll be more likely to support the local farmer who does all that, all year, on your behalf.