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Organics on the palette at foodie heaven

South Australia boasts some of the world’s best wines and delicious produce, so the idea of embracing all things local is an easy (and enjoyable) task for everyone who calls the southern state home.

Eating locally and choosing to embrace delicious local produce not only supports local businesses but also promotes South Australia’s economic growth.

Jono Kaitatzis is one South Australian who has appreciated the importance of supporting local businesses his whole life and is now pouring his knowledge into a new venture.

Jono’s family has owned the IGA Supermarket on Holland Street in Adelaide for nearly 14 years and he attributes his understanding of food and business to hours spent working in the supermarket with his family.

“I grew up with an appreciation of food and where it all comes from and I learnt that there is a real disconnect between the food on the supermarket shelves and its origins,” he says.

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This interest and appreciation of food and local produce was the driving motivation for The Market Shed on Holland, the hugely popular inner-city market Jono now runs every Sunday with his mum.

“We wanted to create a place where there was a connection back to the food and the roots of the food. We wanted to provide shoppers with a place where they could trust where their food was coming from,” Jono says.

“We also wanted to give shoppers a place where they could share stories and enjoy food in a fun environment and think about the produce, not just shop for it.”

Jono’s energy is palpable as he speaks passionately about The Market Shed and his desire to raise the awareness of and appreciation for local and organic food and produce.

It is no wonder The Market Shed draws an enormous crowd of food lovers and good-time seekers every Sunday when it’s creator exudes such positivity for what he does.

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Jono Kaitatzis chatting with some of his regulars.

“I love that people can come and relax on a Sunday, enjoy the surroundings and slow down and take it all in,” Jono says.

“My hope is that people look forward to coming on Sundays to do their shopping but also to have breakfast or lunch, listen to some music and hang around for hours.”

Danniella Capaldo who owns and runs the food stall Fritole by Ma & Me at The Market Shed with her mum, believes part of the attraction to the event is the upbeat, community vibe, which has become something of a signature.

Every weekend, Danniella and her mum sell hundreds of fritole, an indulgent looking Croatian treat.  The contagious atmosphere makes selling this treasured family favourite to market-goers a pleasure for them.

“It is a very connected, very engaging atmosphere and people are just happy when they’re in there. It’s a really nice space to be in on a Sunday,” she says.

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Danniella and her mother use all local and organic ingredients to make their market favourite.

Unlike the guilt-free choices you might find at the other stalls in the shed, their fritole are comfort food and are about creating a cultural connection with customers.

The bustling Sunday markets, which began in 2013 and are now held every weekend in the grand, rustic shed behind the IGA, have a keen focus on not only local but also certified organic and sustainable produce.

“Local produce is certainly a passion of ours, but the organic side of things is also a huge focus of The Market Shed,” Jono says.

The importance of embracing organic produce as a way of celebrating what our farmers are naturally growing in season is a consistent theme of stall holders at the The Market Shed.

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A sense of community is abundant at The Market Shed. A relaxed atmosphere and live acoustic music adds to the vibe.

Jono believes that as a society, we have become incredibly spoilt with choice and although many of us are now accustomed to demanding certain produce all year round, those who are choosing to eat organically enjoy the rhythm of the seasons.

“It’s certainly more labour intensive for farmers but it’s not hard for us as consumers. I’m definitely learning to flow with our seasons when it comes to organics,” he says.

“It’s about knowing exactly where you food comes from and also supporting the local economy, which is the great thing about buying from the farmers in the shed.”

This concept of knowing where your food comes from is at the heart of Food South Australia’s initiative: Eat Local SA.

Nicole Phillips from Food South Australia says having some food knowledge and awareness is extremely important in this day and age.

“Increasingly knowing and understanding where your products come from is becoming more and more important as new products enter our markets that have not had the same food safety standards applied to them,” she says.

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“There is greater awareness of quality food and healthy eating so consumers are becoming more selective with their food choices.

“There have also been a number of food recalls and issues that received media coverage which helps to raise the understanding of food safety issues for imported products.”

With the aim of connecting consumers with venues highlighting South Australian produce; Food SA launched the Eat Local SA initiative in October 2012.

Venues across the state that offer local produce can register with the hope that tourists and locals will visit the listed venues when seeking a local experience.

“From Food South Australia’s perspective, it connects South Australian food producer members with Eat Local SA venues – hopefully increasing distribution and sales opportunities,” Nicole says.

“It also hopes that the consumer will come to more easily identify local South Australian food producers and actively choose them in their shopping experience – thus becoming a regular buyer of a South Australian product.”

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Banrock Station Wine & Wetlands in the Riverland, d’Arry’s Verandah in McLaren Vale and Barossa Fine Foods are all sporting the Eat Local SA sign.

These three venues, along with nearly 200 others, are keen to promote local produce and highlight their support for it and Nicole says the Eat Local SA sign is receiving very positive recognition from consumers.

Choosing local and seasonal produce has endless benefits for the economy and any event or program that raises awareness for local food and businesses is positive for South Australia.

Similar to The Market Shed on Holland, Eat Local SA has channelled the idea that people are becoming more and more patriotic when it comes to supporting local projects and produce.

Whether it is the finger-licking goodness of Ma & Me’s fritole or the proud promotion of local produce and venues through Eat Local SA, South Australians certainly aren’t short of ways in which to celebrate the fruits of their state’s labour.

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Images: Brenton Edwards

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