Food Availability and Selection

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1) Discuss the traditional diet of the Aboriginal people. Before the settlement of Australia by the white Europeans, Aboriginal people used a hunter-gatherer system to provide their communities with food, foraging for uncultivated plants and hunting wild animals. This traditional diet was high in carbohydrates, protein and nutrients, and low in fat and sugars. Since Aboriginal people were hunter-gatherers, their everyday diet changed, according to the type of plants and animals available in their particular location, and the season in which they hunted them. They had a vast knowledge of plants, animals, the land and the effects of the weather and time of year. Popular energy-rich foods included animal meat and offal, honey, and insects like witchetty grubs. Women usually gathered food for everyday eating such as plants, reptiles and honey, while men hunted for land and marine animals. Most foods were eaten raw, but some were roasted or baked. The indigenous hunter-gatherer way of life also meant plenty of physical activity, so they were predominantly fit, healthy and of few diseases. (1) Bush fruits and other traditional plant foods that the Aboriginals ate are much healthier and more nutritious compared to the cultivated versions we eat today. The bush plants are high in fibre, and in vitamin and mineral content. The seeds contain essential protein and fat. Overall, the traditional diet of Aboriginals was a very balanced, nutritious and healthy one. (2)

2) What types of foods did the first settlers eat?
When the European settlers first came to Australia, they were confronted with a land that was vastly different from their own. Also, few of the Australian animals weren’t at all like the ones in their home countries. There were some familiar animals; wild swans, ducks, geese and pigeons that were similar to their European cousins, as well as fish and eels that were not unlike the European varieties, although other game was foreign and challenging to their regular tastes. Some of the settlers were even drawn to hunting and eating the native animals, such as wombats and echidnas. But, generally, the early settlers set their hands to producing European crops and raising European herd animals for food. They introduced European game animals such as rabbits and deer for sport and hunting, and some of these animals have since become pests for modern day farmers. Flour was a staple item of the early settler's diet. It was made into other staple foods such as bread or damper, and had many other uses too. The available meat for the early settlers was usually beef, pork or mutton. It was usually salted or dried to preserve it, as there was no refrigeration. Tea was the staple drink and was considered a necessity. Salt was also highly prized for flavour and for preserving meat. The settlers also brought rum with them, and it became such a valuable commodity that it was, for some time, a prized currency for trade. (3)

3)How did immigration change the eating patterns of the Australian population? Immigration has greatly diversified the Australian diet as a whole, and the influence of multiculturalism on today’s food choices has been great. From the 1830’s onwards, the role of migrants in changing our food varieties has been rapidly increasing. In the 1830’s, German migrants began to come to Australia, settling particularly in and around the Barossa Valley. They established vineyards in this area for winemaking. The 1850’s brought about the Australian Gold Rush, as well as bringing various different types of migrants. These included: +Chinese, whose alternative style of cooking involving stir-frying introduced a reduction in the amount of oil used in cooking. +Scandinavians, who settled in Victoria and were the key to establishing an industry for the production of dairy products. The Scandinavian foods such as cheesecake and smorgasbords were also a new experience for the British...
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