Thank you berry much, Robert Pekin!

posted on: Thursday, 19 February 2015

Rye and yoghurt pancakes starring berries that were fresh and delicious

This time last week I was sitting at the Food Connect 10th Birthday media breakfast at Merriweather Cafe. I was eating delicious rye and yoghurt pancakes with berries. Yes, berries. And the fact that I didn't need to race off to get a Hep-A test unlike the unlucky people caught up in the Nanna's Mixed Frozen Berry scandal was just another reason to say thank you to Robert Pekin, the energetic founder of Food Connect.* 

Merriweather took this photo of their favourite day of the week: Food Connect box day!

That the berry crisis coincides with the Food Connect anniversary seems to be poetic timing.  On the one hand our food system has been exposed as one we know too little about and it has people looking for alternatives. And on the other hand, here is a man who has spent a decade inspiring an ethical food system that is all about great produce, fairness, accountability and transparency! I'm not sure it's such a hard choice anymore.

The man himself, Robert Pekin

"I made it my mission to put the farmers face on the produce," Robert said of his vision for Food Connect. "It created a relationship of accountability." To do that, Food Connect sends out a weekly Farmletter to customers, sharing who and where their apples, lettuce, avocados and beans have come from, they also invite customers to come on farm tours, and they report on their sustainability and food miles. The farmer/customer relationship is so strong that when much-loved farmer Franco hit on some hard times recently, Food Connect did a shout out to customers to come and help pick broccoli at his farm.

The fabulous Franco, one of Food Connect's famed farmers

As time as has gone on, Food Connect has expanded beyond its original fruit and vegetable box concept to make it even easier for regular folk to access their produce. They supply boxes of wonderful corn, figs, herbs and tomatoes to some of Brisbane's best cafes, provide a home delivery service, and also host a market at the Salisbury Homestead on Thursdays and Fridays to sell excess fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, bread and juice.

Get involved!

So in light of the berry debacle and on the occasion of your 10th birthday, I want to say thank you very much Robert and Food Connect! You have built something incredible. And what's a birthday without a party? The Food Connect Real Food Street Party is on next Friday 27 February: the Stone & Wood beer will be flowing, the music will be pumping and the food will, obviously, be delicious. Come and celebrate!

*Merriweather Cafe proudly uses Food Connect produce and sources their providers locally

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