Build and pack flavour into your meals!

Build and pack flavour into your meals!

“Oh my word that was delicious!!”

“I could eat that all day, every day!”

At first, many of us probably start with food as a means to simply feed ourselves. With time, however and if you become more involved with what you eat and the process of preparing the food, this can evolve. It becomes about health, it becomes about nourishment and it also becomes about joy and experience as you start to fall more and more in love with food.

A meal that is seemingly the same in principal and by name, can be worlds apart in terms of flavour and enjoyment, when created with more intent or by a more experienced cook. 

Simple techniques

A few simple techniques, processes or stages during the creation of a meal can transform a dish into something entirely different. Something rich in depth and layers of flavour. Changing it from simple consumption to an incredible and joyous experience.

There are a number of very simple tips and things to consider in order to start this process and elevate your meals. Each of these areas can be further explored to the “Nth degree”, but even by simply starting to understand the basics of each, will make a difference. Here are simply a few things to become familiar with and consider:

  • Understanding water
  • Reduction
  • Seasoning
  • Stock
  • Temperature
  • Caramelisation
  • Time and space
  • Flavour combinations and balance

Understand how water works:

Water works well for drawing flavour out of ingredients, but it also does nothing to infuse flavour into ingredients. With mushrooms for example, which have a very high water content, you want to get as much water out of the mushroom as possible. This often means fully “cooking off” the mushroom until it starts to brown. The presence of excess water detracts from flavours, so water is useful in diluting unwanted tastes. If you have over salted your soup for example, you may be able to save it by adding some more liquid/water! This may however also dull down other flavors, but in most cases, you can add more herbs and spices to make up for the dilution.

Reduction:

If you are cooking a recipe that contains a lot of liquid, like a sauce, you will often need to reduce the water/liquid in the ingredients to concentrate the flavour. This means simmering it until the liquid has been cooked down or evaporated. What’s left behind are the thicker solids and will have a far richer flavour. 

Seasoning:

Season, and season early.

This means add salt! When you hear someone say “season to taste”, what they mean is that you need to include sufficient salt, such that when you taste it in the food, you enjoy it and it is at the correct level for the meal you are making.

It is fine to use plenty of salt to enhance the flavour of food. It is however important to make sure that you allow enough time for this to penetrate the ingredients and distribute throughout the food.

If you add salt too late in the cooking process, the result will not be the same as if added early. Even if the equivalent amount, the food may become unbearably salty. You can of course still add it at the end, but be careful and add a smaller amount. Take care and season to taste once it has been incorporated.

Right at the end of cooking or on presenting the food, the addition of some more salt on top can also work well to bring it all together. This needs to be considered though, as you do not want to unravel all your hard work by overdoing it.

Stock and broth:

By using stock rather than simply water when cooking, adds a depth and richness to your food. This not only compliments, but also brings out the flavour of a dish.

For example when cooking rice or other grains, stock is a great way to ramp up the flavour of the dish at a base level.

Stock can often be purchased pre-made or as stock cubes. To be honest though you can make one really easily. If you ever have left over vegetables, or some that look a little past their best (even the offcuts from other meal prep), pop them in a pot, fry until you see some caramalisation (see below), add salt and seasoning (see below) including some herbs and spices if you want, before adding water. Allow to simmer for as long as you feel is enough to extract the flavours from the veg. You can do the same with chicken or beef bones, for a meaty stock. Strain the liquid into another container ready to be used and you are good to go.

You can use the stock immediately or freeze it for future use. A meat trick is to freeze it in an ice cube tray, that way you can just take as much as you need for a meal without having to defrost it all.

Temperature:

One of the most critical elements in cooking is of course heat. There is however a pretty fine line between browning and burning something, between caramalisation and charcoal. Be aware of the affects of, and always pay attention to, temperature.

Different elements and compounds react differently under different conditions. Not only to the actual temperature, but also how this is applied (frying, roasting, boiling etc.).

It is very important to understand how temperature works with, and changes your food. There is a process or reaction known as the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction between amino acids as well as reducing sugars within a substance, such as meat or protein, that causes it to brown and gives it a distinctive flavour.

This reaction is the basis for so much of the flavour created when cooking and the change seen, smelt, and tasted in cooked vs raw foods. Its is what makes meat sear and bread toast, but it is also why cookies in the oven smell so mouth wateringly delicious. The Maillard reaction has a lot to do with how we taste and smell food. To achieve this reaction you often need a high heat, but too high and your food with burn!

Food types vary and requires a different type and amount of heat, so this is an extremely important skill to get right. Remember that you can always heat something up more or cook it for longer if it’s not cooking the way you want it to, but if you take it too far and overcook or burn something, there is no going back!

Caramilisation:

As explained with temperature, the way heat interacts and changes food is critical to flavour profiles. The Malliard reaction is the reason foods brown, char or caramalise. Releasing sweetness and smokey flavours, and is necessary to create extremely deep flavours in your food.

Cooking, and getting your ingredients as flavorful as possible individually before adding them into the main dish will make a world of difference.

Roasting vegetables in the oven or browning them in a pan before adding them to a broth or stock is a great example of this. For meat, this means searing it to establish a good browning.

It is incredible how much of a difference this additional step will have on the food you make.

Time and space:

When your tummy is grumbling or the kids are calling, it’s easy to get impatient. Don’t give into the urge to fill or crowd your pans when browning vegetables, or cooking in general.

In order to get good browning or caramelisation, you should always be able to see plenty of the pan in-between the items you are cooking. Try and keep an even layer across the bottom of your pan. This will ensure they are evenly cooked and browned the same way across the board.

When roasting or slow cooking, time is your friend. Gentle heat over more time will fully penetrate the proteins or other structures within food. This will allow bonds to break down. Certain “tough” foods will soften, becoming tender and delicious.

Flavour combinations and balancing taste elements:

Salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami are five taste elements, that in combination help to build our overall perception of flavour. When these elements are well balanced within a meal – the taste and experience is far more rewarding. Just by knowing that these exist and trying to think about them when cooking will help you balance the levels and combinations to elevate your cooking. To be honest, each deserves a full blog post of it’s own…

Buon Appetito!

So, go on now. Fire up the stove, the BBQ or oven. Put some of these ideas into practice. Taste, adapt, learn and improve. Once you have a break through and achieve a flavour you have previously only tasted in a fancy restaurant, you will be hooked and there will be no stopping you.

There is so much joy through creation and expression. Food is a perfect way to explore and embrace this.

Salute’ and Buon Appetito!

What is food?

What is food?

Picture it…

You’re in your kitchen or dining room. There are the wafts of mouth watering aromas, the clanging of pots and pans. Someone shouting for the salt, there’s music and laughter. The scene may seem like chaos, but is actually a well choreographed dance. Chopping and sautéing, tufts of flour in the air. The shifting of pans, the ignition of a stove flame.

Big bowls of hearty wholesome food. Beautiful succulent free range meats, fresh green organic salads. Pasta glistening with the generosity of love… and Olive oil. There is always olive oil and lots of it. Fresh artisan bread, broken apart and strewn across the table, crumbs and all. There is a mesh of hands and arms reaching and grabbing, sharing bowls and plates each filled with unique and delicious flavours.

There is the glugging and sloshing of wine, from bottle to glass and glass to mouth, some of which even adds to the tapestry of colours on what was once a pristine white table cloth. Salute and buon appetito.

So what is food?

“Food, substance consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, fat, and other nutrients used in the body of an organism to sustain growth and vital processes and to furnish energy. The absorption and utilization of food by the body is fundamental to nutrition and is facilitated by digestion.”

Britannica definition

Food is many things to many people, but at Ooooby we believe that food is more than simply fuel.

It is health, it is love, it is joy, it is memories. Food is about wellbeing, but also comfort. It is about sustenance and nourishment – both physically and for your soul.

Health

As per the definition in the Britannia, or many other places you look, the primary purpose of food is to nourish us, fuel us, help us grow and sustain health.

Eating a well balanced diet, rich in varied nutrients, minerals, vitamins and across different food groups is so important. The quality of the food we eat is equally, if not more important.

However, eating something that is void of the essential and required elements, or laden with other additives, chemicals, pesticides and other artificial components, can in many cases do more harm than good.

It is therefore so important to eat foods produced in the most natural and wholesome way possible. Food grown in the places and at the times they are meant to, will result in the nourishment and health that we need.

Nostalgia, joy, love memories

No matter your culture, upbringing or lifestyle, food is intrinsically linked to our past, as well as our every day lives. We build our bodies, our families and our memories with the food we eat and the people we share it with.

Is it any wonder then that it means so much to us, and that here at Ooooby, we are so engrossed with, and passionate about food? It is like a magical elixir that can help us all to thrive, be healthy and fulfilled.

The thing is, it really isn’t all the mysterious or complicated. Eat good food in good company and it is hard to see a bad outcome.

Think of some of your most memorable experiences and nostalgic memories. No doubt many of them are centered around, or include food.

Embrace food

Now more than ever, with health front of mind we encourage you to take stock of what you and your kin are eating. Perhaps stop to think when selecting where and what to buy and remember that not all apples can be compared with apples…

Most of all, remember to embrace food. Enjoy all that it brings to your life, over an above being a fuel for your body. Laugh around the table and in the kitchen, build memories and embrace the joy food brings to our lives.

Visit ooooby.co.nz to get some wholesome, healthy and delicious, organic, spray free and local food.

Learn more about the subtle differences in some of the food we eat: Difference between free range, pasture raise and organic eggs.

Happy Earth Day!

At Ooooby Every Day

is Earth Day

Earth Day is a celebration of our beautiful planet and all she provides.

Everyone is encouraged to spend the day prioritising sustainability and showing an appreciation for our Home and the bounty she provides to all of us, every day. 

For us at Ooooby, every day is Earth Day.

Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

If you feel the same, here are some simple actions and tips to make a difference today, over the weekend, and every day of the year.

1. Plant something – a flower, some herbs, a plant, or even a tree. Trees provide shade and help absorb water that would otherwise runoff into storm drains.

2. Choose organic, if you can. Organic farming is better for the environment because it reduces pollution, saves water, and is better for the soil and for the beings living in the soil and eating the food. 

3. Take shorter showers. Reduce your water usage by opting for a 5-minute shower.

4. Ride your bike or walk wherever and whenever you can. For longer distances, opt for public transportation or carpool whenever possible. 

5. Buy local. Check out a local farm or local restaurant. If you’d rather shop from the comfort of your own home, remember Ooooby will deliver local, organic produce straight to your door.

6. Go meatless! Check out the incredible benefits for the Earth of going meatless even just one day a week here. 

6. Get outside! Take some time to smell the roses and appreciate what a beautiful world it truly is. 

7. Make a bird feeder out of a reusable carton for your yard. Learn how to make one with the kids this weekend here

8. Enjoy your Ooooby box and celebrate the beautiful bounty of this precious Earth! Share a nourishing meal with family and friends, acknowledging the countless beings and processes that made the meal possible.  

Understanding where your food comes from and how it was produced can make a huge impact. Have a look at our blog here about the difference between caged, free-range, pasture raised and organic eggs.

Free Range vs Pasture Raised vs Organic Eggs in NZ

With so many types of eggs and many of them claiming they are “best” it can be confusing for consumers to decide which eggs to buy. This article will focus on the key differences between free range eggs, pasture raised eggs and organic eggs in New Zealand.

Why not conventional eggs?

Cage or colony eggs are from hens in cages at 13 per m2. They live in an unnatural environment, in unnatural light, eating an unnatural diet that may contain antibiotics to keep them alive in this unnatural environment as well as food dye so that otherwise anemic yolks look good to consumers.

Conventional eggs can’t provide a natural healthy environment that allows chickens to express natural behaviours or “the chicken-ness of the chicken”, as famous American regenerative farmer Joel Salatin puts it.

“Cage-free” or barn eggs are similar except that hens are on the floor of a barn at 7 hens per m2 instead of in cages.

What do free range eggs mean?

Free range eggs are pretty common in most supermarkets. Are they really that much better?

Free range simply mean eggs laying hens have “access” to outdoor space at a min of 4m2 per bird. “Access” means hens can go outside if they want to. But if they are fed indoors, which they often are, most chickens probably won’t be outside more than an hour a day. If you don’t know the local farmer who raised them, this could mean your free range eggs may not be much better than conventional barn eggs.

What are pasture raised eggs?

Pasture raised eggs refers to eggs from hens that live on lush green pastures. Biologically diverse pastures stewarded by conscientious farmers are filled with bugs, worms and seeds that chickens can forage themselves. This means pastured hens eat a much higher percentage of their natural diet and are able to express their natural behaviours such as pecking and scratching. Lots of fresh air, sunshine and exercise means they are fit and healthy too.

To ensure pastures are fresh and full nutrition, hens are regularly moved, often daily. Either chickens lay and sleep in mobile shelters that move with them from pasture to pasture, or the farmer moves them indoors for the night and back out the next morning to a fresh new pasture. This is important because if they aren’t constantly moving, they will run out of wonderful wiggly things to eat and the soil will become over-saturated with manure – both unhealthy for the birds and the environment.

With pastured egg farming, it’s about finding that optimal balance. For example, some regenerative farmers like Joel Salatin in the US rotationally graze cows in the same pasture as their chickens. After cows have grazed an area, their manure will be filled with fly larvae. If a farmer can get the “sanitation crew”, aka chickens, into that pasture three days after the cows have been there, not only will flies not be a problem on the farm but the chickens can get up to 40% of their protein requirements eating the larvae!

When done right, a good portion of the chicken’s diet can come directly from pasture, reducing the amount of commercial chicken feed that is required to keep the hens well fed and happily laying. A good pastured egg farmer won’t be giving supplemental feed that contain nasties like antibiotics, GMOs or artificial yolk colouring agents either. Feeding sprouted grains is common.

Pastured hens basically don’t need medical support or any trickery because they are naturally healthy living a happy chicken life outside (with access to shelter to protect them from bad weather, predators and give them a safe space to lay their eggs).

What about organic eggs?

The main thing that separates organic eggs apart from pasture raised eggs and (proper) free range eggs is that the hens live on a certified organic farm and eat 100% certified organic food themselves – so you can too.

The pastures are spray free, no GMO crops are allowed to be planted, no pesticides, fungicide and herbicide are allowed to be used that leave nasties in the soils and residual remnants that have been found in egg shells, like DDT and Glysophates. That means hens eat 100% organic and live in 100% organic environment therefore their eggs are guaranteed to be organic.

A big reason why organic eggs cost significantly more than free range is because certified organic feed is naturally more expensive than conventional feed, which is only “cheap” because it uses chemicals and artificial fertiliser to save costs (at the expense of our environment and our health).

Organic standards also have a very high standard for animal welfare and quality. For example, organic regulations mandate a minimum of 12 m2 of pasture per bird and farmers are regularly audited. Many organic farmers – particularly smallholders – will ensure their hens are eating as much (free) pasture forage as possible. Some farms may not. So it pays so know the farmer directly, certified organic or not.

So which eggs are the healthiest?

This isn’t straightforward to answer because what does healthy mean? Nutrient dense? Free or toxins? Or both?

Organic eggs are guaranteed through their certification to be spray- and GMO- free. Organic chickens have more than enough outdoor space to enjoy and forage, but organic standards don’t regulate how much time a chicken must spend outside exercising and foraging. It’s up to the farmer, so again here’s where it’s important to know your farmer.

Pasture-raised is often considered to be superior because it maximizes a chicken’s natural diet of bugs, worms, fallen fruit and wild seeds. However, it’s unregulated so anyone can call their eggs pasture-raised and their commercial feed may be conventional and sprayed. You need to know your farmer and trust that they are farming regeneratively and using high quality non-toxic supplemental feed.

That means they need to be local so we can visit their farms, see for ourselves and build a relationships based on trust and transparency.

Free range eggs are neither organic, nor are there any guarantees they aren’t mostly barn-raised with “access” to their range. However, if a free range egg farmer is using high quality feed, makes an effort that birds are getting lots of time outside and their farm is free from sprays and other toxins, then they could be pretty good. There is no way to know for sure, but if it’s a local farm it becomes easier to know and trust your farmer.

What kind of eggs does Ooooby sell?

Update Apr 28, 2021.

Ooooby has found a amazing certified organic eggs from The Little Organic Egg Co of NZ, near Palmerston North. They are further away from Auckland than we usual go find the best local food, but we feel it’s worth it. Brian and Pip are incredibly passionate about organics going beyond the organic standard and their “ladies” produce the best tasting eggs we have ever had.

Happy hens of the Little Organic Egg Co of NZ.

We sell pasture raised eggs from K&M near Pukekohe that follow the PROOF standard (Pasture Raised On Open Fields). These eggs come from hens that have a whopping 20 m2 of pasture each and are rotationally grazed to maximise the amount of natural forage each bird can eat in a day. Forage is supplemented with local greens, grains and commercial feed.

Chickens on Pasture.

We also sell free range eggs from Sunset Farms, also near Pukekohe. Sunset Farms eggs are true free range. They feed their hens local greens and conventional grains. Hens are on pasture every day at 6.7m2 of pasture per bird. This means their hens get a decent amount of forage into their diet and enjoy the healthy outdoor life.

Sunset Farms.

Both K&M and Sunset’s farms are owned by Carl Ebbers who guarantees they are antibiotic-, hormone-, GMO- and spray-free.

Ooooby Auckland is looking for a new team member.

We’re Hiring!!

Auckland Hub Coordinator and Manager 

Out Of Our Own Backyards – Ooooby’s mission is to put local small-scale sustainable farming back at the heart of the food system we all depend on. We have a rich network of local and organic growers and suppliers and pay them a fair share of the rewards.

Watch here:

Make a difference by working for a social enterprise on a mission to make the food system local and sustainable, have a positive impact on the world we live in and on people’s lives and health.

Ooooby offers a positive environment and meaningful work, with competitive remuneration, flexible hours, partial work from home, as well as staff discounts on produce and groceries.

The Auckland Hub Coordinator and Manager is the key person responsible to plan box contents, get food from our network of local growers and suppliers onto our e-commerce platform, into boxes and ready to be delivered to customer homes.

You are hands-on and will work proactively to keep Ooooby moving forward and bring new innovative ideas to the table. You are comfortable in an operational and logistics-heavy environment. There is no job too big or too small, and no person is too good for any job on any given day – hairnet anyone? Your strong work ethic and attention to detail means that operations and systems run smoothly, customers are happy and Ooooby’s larger mission is sustainably achieved.

Your personal values align with Ooooby’s values. You are ideally a health conscious, environmentally aware foodie. You live your life knowing the impacts of your own food choices and have a passion for organics and sustainable living.

If this, and what we stand for resonates with you, then you would probably be an awesome fit for Ooooby and we’d love to hear from you.

Job Requirements:

Auckland Hub Coordinator and Manager 

The position is full time with the flexibility to work from home when not needed operationally at Ooooby’s packing hub in Mt. Wellington. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Planning, managing, executing weekly and ongoing operations
  • Supervision of, and working with pack and delivery teams
  • Logistics, supply chain and stock management
  • Product procurement and supplier relationships
  • Box planning and curation
  • E-commerce site management
  • Fostering a good team dynamic and building strong relationships 
  • Compassion for others and a good sense of humour
  • Taking the initiative to suggest and implement constant improvements

You must:

  • Be comfortable multitasking and thinking on your feet
  • Have advanced computer skills
  • Have experience leading a team
  • Be accountable and take initiative
  • Have a passion for organics
  • Have a very positive can-do attitude
  • Be comfortable working in all areas of a growing business, when needed.
  • Have your own drivers license and vehicle
  • Be physically fit and be able to lift boxes

Ideally, you also have:

  • E-commerce experience
  • Inventory management experience
  • Procurement experience
  • Logistics background
  • Experience with fresh produce, nutrition or organic farming
  • Successfully worked in a remote team
  • Higher-level education/qualifications

Benefits:

  • Flexible working hours outside of core operations
  • Ability to work from home up to 3 days a week
  • Staff discount
  • Work with an awesome team of passionate people dedicated to local food, health and the environment.

Applications and CVs to:

auckland@ooooby.com

Applications close 10/02/2021

Job start: As soon as possible

Please note: you must hold a valid NZ Work visa or NZ Residency/Citizenship.

Those shortlisted for an interview must be willing to carry out pre-employment drug and alcohol testing if requested.

Trading New Year’s Resolutions for New Year’s Intentions

Trading New Year’s Resolutions for New Year’s Intentions

Intentions versus Goal Setting – What’s the Difference?

1. Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving the goal or destination.
3. Goals are external achievements. Intentions are about your relationship with yourself and others.

Why not set some Intentions in 2021 instead of Resolutions

New Year’s is a time when we reflect usually on our goals for the year ahead —better health, getting in shape, a new job, travel, or finding a relationship.

But change is hard. It requires a real commitment, planning, and follow-through. A 2007 research study by psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88 percent of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

The reason:

Setting and reaching goals isn’t strictly about self-discipline or willpower; it’s about intention and finding pleasure in pursuing what matters to you. What you value matters. 
In fact, Wiseman’s research found that humans have a fairly limited reserve of willpower, so trying to change more than one thing at a time tends to be overwhelming for most of us.

Instead of setting a resolution this year, you could try setting an intention. You might get better results.

The first step is to clarify that intention. Ask yourself what you want to cultivate in your life.

What are your New Year’s Intentions? 

We’re Trying to Avoid Plastics and Keep your Food in the Nude!

Aiming for “Nude Food”



At Ooooby, we try to keep all your fresh food in the nude. This means without excess packaging, especially plastic. This reduces the amount of ‘stuff’ that needs to go in bins to be sent to landfill. 

When ditching plastic, the biggest challenge in the food sector is to implement systems which prevent product waste, don’t compromise health and hygiene, and don’t put cost pressures on the most vulnerable in our society, especially when it comes to food. That’s a lot, isn’t it?

What is Ooooby doing?

Minimising plastic packaging in your Ooooby boxes is one of our top priorities, but it isn’t always easy or straight forward! We work closely with our growers and suppliers to be as plastic-free as possible from farm to table. But, plastic is cheap, convenient, and really good at its job. It’s also everywhere and a ubiquitous part of the food industry because it has important uses.

Finding adequate, affordable alternatives to plastic packaging is a challenge that requires persistence, consideration, and compromise. It is an ongoing journey and one which we will keep working towards, but we believe it’s important to bring our customers along with us on this journey and to let you know that we don’t have all the answers yet. 

We don’t always get it right – There is always so MUSHROOM for improvement.

Just this week we had to do a bit of this consideration and compromising when a new product arrived wrapped in plastic unbeknownst to us. 

Organic mushrooms wrapped in plastic

Most of the mushrooms we supply are spray-free, not organic. So of course we were excited when we found a local grower selling certified organic white button mushrooms! The mushrooms arrived big and beautiful, in cardboard punnets as promised. Sadly, we were shocked to find out, they were also wrapped in a biodegradable and not compostable plastic film. 

Noooooooo! 

This was so disappointing. We go to painstaking lengths to ensure there’s no plastic in our produce boxes and source other products with eco and minimal packaging.

However, once the mushrooms were received, there was little we could do. Letting such a premium product go to waste was certainly not an option. It’s obvious also that the grower was also doing his best to protect these little white button beauties. He worked so hard to grow and harvest them. The plastic packaging was also clearly a way for him to advertise his brand and organic certifications. It’s difficult to fault him for this because plastic remains the cheapest and most available option. 

After A LOT of discussion, we made the decision to remove the plastic and put the punnets in brown paper bags. We did not remove the plastic to try and deceive or pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, but because we know that some of our customers are working towards zero plastic homes, and we did not want to jeopardize that or pass the responsibility of disposal along to our customers. We wanted to take care of this. Sadly, regardless, the plastic is destined for the landfill either way and we didn’t want to make it your problem. 

Mushrooms unwrapped, but vulnerable
Mushrooms safely protected in bags
Excess plastic wrapping

We did not make this decision lightly. There was a lot of passionate debate about how to handle the situation and what to do moving forward. Moving toward zero plastic in our boxes and in our operations is important to all of us. We take it seriously as individuals and because we know it matters to our customers. 

How can we avoid a repeat in the future? 

Firstly, as important as certified organic is, if you don’t personally know who grew it there’s a greater chance that you get something you don’t want. Local is critically important too! Sometimes, it’s a trade-off between organic and local produce without the packaging. 

Secondly, don’t make assumptions. Always double and triple check! What we value might not be so obvious to someone else.

Additionally, in an effort to reduce our weekly waste, we are currently looking at new box designs that we hope will allow us to ditch plastic tape completely.

However, as a small business, with every decision, we do need to think about the financial costs involved. This is just the reality. The additional costs of things like paper tape and/or new boxes needs to be balanced with our ability to pay growers fair prices, offer staff decent benefits and liveable wages, maintain top-quality and health standards of the produce, etc.

Like most things in life, this issue is complicated and there is no one clear-cut answer. But, we promise to keep moving forward with our good intentions and our commitment to the planet and each other guiding our direction. 

What can you do to help?

As a consumer you can help by continuing to prioritise eating locally and seasonally, and ensuring that food is consumed sooner before it goes to waste. Voting with your dollar for a shorter food supply chain encourages the rise of community-based growers so you can see where your food comes from and it doesn’t need to be transported as far. 

Thank you for your continued support and for coming along on this ever-evolving journey with us.

Suggestions?

If you have any tips or advice for us, or others out there, then please do feel free to comment below and let us know.

Q and A with Hunters Organic Farm

Q and A with Hunters Organic Farm

“We hope customers appreciate the effort we put into our garden and farm to produce quality vegetables and herbs.”

One of the longest-standing organic growers for Ooooby, Sally and Huunter of Hunters Organic Farm tell us a little about what it means to them to be an organic farmer. They have also recently started a new farm in Waikato, with rich, healthy soils and they are supplying Ooooby with amazing fresh produce. Let’s get to know them a little better…

Why have you chosen to be a farmer and for how long have you been farming?     

We began to operate a market garden in February 2004. We love to work with plants and it has literally grown from there.

Why organic / regenerative / biodynamic farming over conventional farming?          

a. Organic farming provides healthy chemical free food.

b. It is good for our planet mother earth.

c. It is important for us not to expose ourselves to a dangerous environment and direct contact to harmful chemicals, while enjoying the gardening and growing we do.

Why do you grow the products you do and what is your favourite produce to grow?  

We began with a lot more varieties and gradually moved to focus on what we are growing now, which are more popular.

Cavolo nero – Hunters Organic Farm

What are the biggest challenges you face?   

We have to adjust to the change of climate, and it is sometimes unpredictable as to how much to produce at a certain time of the year to meet demands.

“It is good for our planet mother earth.”

What do you wish consumers knew and appreciated about the food you grow? 

To grow organically, we are putting in much more effort than people may be aware of, especially physical labour.

For example, we need to go out to the field with a torch at night time to manually remove the slugs, because so far there is no better way to control slugs efficiently and effectively and organically.

We hope customers appreciate the effort we put into our garden and farm to produce quality vegetables and herbs.

What effect has working with Ooooby had on you? 

We have committed to working with Ooooby, so that we plan everything a few months ahead, starting from seed sowing to secure the future supply. It works well as we know what we grow will not be wasted. 

Hunters Organic Farm - Kale
Kale – Hunters Organic Farm

“Organic farming provides healthy chemical free food”

What is the strangest / toughest thing you have tried to grow? 

Salsify, parsely roots, but gave up in the end.

What is your favourite fruit / veg to eat? 

Leafy greens, parsley, coriander, broccolini.

Do you have a funny story / anecdote from your time in the field? 

In the early morning in summer, there are a pair of cranes (birds), which land in our field and help with catching the crickets. They arrive on time, finish their tasks, have a rest on the roof, and move on. They are our friends.

Do you have any particular recipes or ideas for the best use of some of your products? 

Simply sprinkle chopped coriander on any dish 🙂

To find out more:

Do you want to see which of the delicious organic produce From Hunters Organic Farm is currently available through Ooooby? Click here – Hunters Organic Farm Produce

Visit https://www.ooooby.co.nz to get all your organic food needs delivered to your home and don’t forget that all this great produce can help keep you healthy.

Already a fan of Ooooby and want to help us spread the word while also standing the chance to win 1 year of FREE Ooooby produce? Read here to learn more: Ooooby Referral Competition.

Attitude of Gratitude

New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our physical and mental health.

Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. Just taking a few minutes a day to reflect on the things you are thankful can improve well-being, physical health, and mind states. 

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a spontaneous feeling but, increasingly, research demonstrates its value as a practice—that is, making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings. Research shows that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude—and there are important social and personal benefits to doing so. It is possible to feel grateful for family, friends, colleagues, animals, nature, and life in general. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that begins internally and extends outward.

Why is Gratitude Important? 

Gratitude strengthens relationships, and its roots run deep in evolutionary history—emanating from the survival value of helping others and being helped in return. Studies show that specific areas of the brain are involved in experiencing and expressing gratitude. Brain scans of people assigned a task that stimulates expression of gratitude show lasting changes in the prefrontal cortex that heighten sensitivity to future experiences of gratitude.

Feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practicing gratitude diminishes feelings of depression and negative emotions like guilt, shame, and jealousy. 

Ways to Foster Gratitude in your Daily Life: 

1. Keep a journal of or in some way note big and little joys of daily life.

2. Write down “three good things”—identify three things that have gone well for you and identify the cause.

3. Write thank-you notes to others or send text messages or emails.

4. Think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant.

5. Engage in “mental subtraction.” Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.

Share some Gratitude with Others who are in a Tough Spot

The 2020 Covid-19 crisis has been difficult for all of us, but for some far more than others. The extended period of time in alert level 3 for Auckland has put immense pressure on some of our most vulnerable people who were already struggling.

Don’t forget that you are already doing great:

Remember that your Ooooby order is also a force for good by serving your family healthy, organic produce, promoting sustainable agriculture, and supporting local growers and businesses. 

You can also add a weekly donation to your weekly delivery for a little extra goodness! Your contribution will help Kiwi Harvest to provide delicious, healthy food to those in need throughout Auckland. 

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/40-simple-ways-practice-gratitude.html

Q and A with Siema Organic Farm

Q and A with Siema Organic Farm

“We have always had a passion for wholesome foods. So eating organic and growing organically is a natural progression of this.”

Nestled between the Hunua Ranges Regional Park and the Firth of Thames, beautiful Kaiaua is home to a subtropical orchard paradise. Having chosen to leave the city and live a life that is the thing of dreams for most of us, Gemma and Sione run Siema Organic Farm. Raising their children in touch with nature and producing some truly exceptional organic fruit. So what does it take to grow organically and make the switch from city life to running a farm? Read on to find out.

Why have you chosen to be a farmer and for how long have you been farming?

Looking at options to escape city life and move towards living in a more sustainable and holistic way of life, we then discovered Tikapa Moana at the market and it really aligned with what we were looking for.

We were familiar with Bill and Marilyn (the owners at the time) through the Grey Lynn market and Ooooby boxes. Having previously had very little experience of managing an orchard, we jumped at the opportunity to learn everything we could from Bill and Marilyn.

Over the 6 month hand over period our family spent every free weekend on the orchard with Bill and Marilyn who kindly shared their knowledge with us. It was a very special and unique situation for us all and we feel blessed to of had that ‘internship’ experience with them and we have now been on this land for almost three years.

Why organic / regenerative / biodynamic farming over conventional farming?

We have always had a passion for wholesome foods, so eating organic and growing organically is a natural progression of this. Applying permaculture principles to the work we do is how we farm in the orchard and we work with nature along the way.

We have also introduced some animals into the system, a flock of chickens and welsh harlequin ducks and more recently some lambs. 

“I think freshness is the key, we pick to order and this really makes a difference.”

Little lambs on Siema Farm

Why do you grow the products you do and what is your favourite produce to grow? 

Many of the trees that we currently harvest from are thanks to the previous kaitiaki of the land Bill Brownell. Lucky for us Bill ensured we produced fruit all year round from our subtropical orchard.

We have added in a few extras, like finger limes, lemonades, kefir lime, and expanded the banana grove. So we will be able to supply bananas in the future. Each season brings a new favourite for us and it is incredible watching the orchard shift and change. One moment we are picking an abundance of plums the next we have heaps of figs.

The seasons bring exciting creative opportunities for us. Any surplus gets captured and stored in some way, through dehydrating, pickling, preserving.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

With two children, an orchard, vegetable garden and the animals, we have the day to day challenge of finding enough hours of the day to get everything complete. Then there’s the bigger challenges of climate change and food security that are circling around the peripheries of our mind.

Siema farm with the family

What do you wish consumers knew and appreciated about the food you grow?

I think freshness is the key, we pick to order and this really makes a difference. The taste and nutritional value are at a peak and this, for us, is what food is about.

What effect has working with Ooooby had on you?

Working with Ooooby has been incredible for us. We feel aligned with Ooooby’s principles and core mission and that’s important.

When Ooooby first opened up in Auckland we were living in the suburbs and we were a customer of Ooooby. Gemma even did some packing and delivery a few times when they were operating from a container in Grey Lynn.

Knowing that we can work with Ooooby and get our produce out to customers. It is a blessing for a small operation like ours. 

“We really enjoy being out in the orchard picking”

What is the strangest / toughest thing you have tried to grow?

We have a few unusual and strange fruits growing here. I think buddha hand is the most strange looking.

What is your favourite fruit / veg to eat? 

It’s hard to say, We often find ourselves saying….”That is the best (fruit) I have ever tasted”

Do you have a funny story / anecdote from your time in the field?

We really enjoy being out in the orchard picking and I think every pick provides an opportunity for laughter. The most recent one that comes to mind is when we were picking casimiroa in the rain.

The long drought was beginning to break and the rain was so heavy. As a result, we were all soaking wet with massive smiles on our faces. The joy was incredible and all of us began dancing in the rain. Except for our woofer and dog, who tried unsuccessfully to hide under a tree. They did not look happy at all. 

Persimmons from Siema Farm

Do you have any particular recipes or ideas for the best use of some of your products?

We have so many and so I will share with you the ones that we are enjoying right now with the produce we have available. Fuerte avocado, limes and grapefruit.

I like to simply juice the grapefruit and have it first thing in the morning. I am sure it helps to keep winter colds at bay.

If you enjoy tempeh I have a great recipe for you – Fried Tempeh with lime and tamari.

Olive oil for frying
Juice of one lime
2 tsp tamari
1 block of tempeh.

Slice the tempeh into strips and fry in the oil on medium heat until golden on both sides. Whilst the tempeh is frying, juice the lime and mix with the tamari.

Once the tempeh is cooked and still in the hot frying pan (heat turned off), pour the lime tamari mixture over the tempeh. Leave to sizzle for a moment.


The tempeh is great on a salad or in a sandwich with Fuerte avocado and lettuce.

To find out more:

Do you want to see which of the delicious organic produce From Siema Organic Farm is currently available through Ooooby? Click here – Siema Organic Farm Produce

You can also see what Siema Organic Farm is up to by visiting their FaceBook page: Siema Organic Farm FaceBook

Visit https://www.ooooby.co.nz to get all your organic food needs delivered to your home and don’t forget that all this great produce can help keep you healthy.

Already a fan and want to help us spread the word while also standing the chance to win 1 year of FREE Ooooby produce. Read here to learn more: Ooooby Referral Competition.