Swapping inner city life for the rainforest

Rainforest Foods stall assistant John Cottrell at the New Brighton Farmers Market

If you want to taste some of the incredible array of foods native to the Northern Rivers, a visit to Rainforest Foods at the Mullum and New Brighton Farmers Market is a must.

Tangy Davidson plum sauce, riberry jam, finger lime marmalade and lemon aspen jelly are among the delicious native flavours on offer, along with macadamias, macadamia butter, and macadamia oil.

Tuckombil farmer, Anthony Hotson started Rainforest Foods more than 20 years ago after swapping his inner-city lifestyle and career in the arts for a ‘real’ job growing food.

His passion for native foods is matched only by his passion for restoring and protecting the natural environment.

The business grew from a desire to conserve and regenerate a remnant of the Big Scrub (the rainforest that once covered much of the Northern Rivers) that was on the Hotson family property.

He and the family planted out native rainforest species like macadamias, finger limes and Davidson plums and eventually began to value add and market their produce.

Part of the mission of the business is to educate people about the value of native foods – their flavours and powerful nutritional properties, but also their importance in the ecosystem.

The Northern Rivers’ most famous nut, the macadamia, is the star of the Rainforest Foods stall, and they’re available in all delicious iterations; there are dry-roasted, honey-roasted and milk and dark chocolate coated whole nuts, however it’s the plain and simple natural, raw macadamia that remains Rainforest Foods’ best seller.

The natural macadamia spread – made with 100 per cent raw macadamias, is another favourite. It’s a versatile, healthy product that can be used as a non-dairy alternative to butter, but has a whole host of other uses – including in satay sauces, as a dip with crackers, in dressings and marinades, in smoothies for extra protein, or in baking.

Anthony says macadamias are high in monounsaturated fats and the ratios of different sorts of fats are perfect for us. ‘So it’s very, very healthy – an amazing nut.’

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