Indigenous trainees grow bush tomatoes north of Alice Springs
Indigenous trainees grow bush tomatoes north of Alice Springs

State jumps on latest hipster food fad

HIGH-end restaurants in Europe and Asia will soon be snacking on Aussie green ants and native plants, with hipster foreigners to get a taste of our bush delicacies.

The University of Queensland will today receive a $3.5 million federal grant to create a training centre to teach local agribusiness and food producers how to take indigenous and uniquely Australian food from the bush to dinner plates around the world.

Green ants that taste like sherbet bombs
Green ants that taste like sherbet bombs

It will be a national scheme based in Queensland to take advantage of a burgeoning ­native-food fad.

UQ's Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods will work with indigenous communities to identify native plants and critters that could be marketed overseas.

The centre will work with indigenous groups and communities, as well as agricultural businesses to convert traditional knowledge into branded products and marketing.

Bush tomatoes from Alice Springs, kakadu plums, bunya nuts from north Queensland and even wattle seeds are among the products that will be investigated.

A small handfull of kakadu plums
A small handfull of kakadu plums

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Australian native foods were yet to recognise their full potential.

"It's a major step forward in having Australian-produced native foods such as green ants or Kakadu plums offered on the menus of top-end restaurants throughout Asia and ­Europe," he said.

UQ Associate Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa, who is leading the initiative, said significant work needed to be done to get unique foods from the bush to dinner plates overseas.

"To get into new markets and to get into the US you need information about nutritional value, the health benefits and the safety of the product," Prof Sultanbawa said.

"Australia has a really good advantage globally because there's a lot of trust in our products."

Bunya nuts are another delicacy
Bunya nuts are another delicacy


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