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Pride and produce

James Nathan has a big vision: "To see every café, restaurant, school, canteen, caterer, hospital and hotel all using locally sourced, sustainable food." Does that sound achievable? Perhaps not yet, but Nathan has his mind set on making it happen through Food Orbit, a website designed to connect local farmers and producers with wholesale food buyers. "It's giving the farmers the opportunity to talk about their produce and their great work, and letting chefs directly connect with those guys as well," he says.

Nathan, a Londoner who left a career in finance to pursue his Food Orbit dream, was moved by the quality of Australian produce when he arrived here almost three years ago, but felt it wasn't earning the appreciation it deserved. "People weren't really using the great local produce that was available," he says. "Everyone was just using the wholesalers and going to Flemington Markets, and not really caring as much as I thought they should about where the food came from."

With that, the idea of creating Food Orbit was born. Now Nathan and his team are working to develop a live online platform by the end of June, where chefs and farmers can seek out each other directly. "The farmers will have a profile where they can talk about their farm, their farming practices, list their entire inventory and talk about their story," says Nathan. "Chefs will also have a profile and a little piece about them and their philosophy on their food."

Through shortening the supply chain, the goal of Food Orbit is to give farmers a fairer price and create a transparent food culture in Australia. "We just hope that the food system, after we achieve what we set out to do, is more sustainable for the local farmers, but also full of high-quality, fresh, locally sourced produce," Nathan says.

As part of his effort to raise awareness for local producers, Nathan has also launched a series of Food Orbit dinners in conjunction with Tom Walton, head chef of Bondi's The Bucket List. Each Local Produce Dinner showcases a different group of producers and the next one, featuring a free-range pig on a spit, will be held on 12 July.

Food Orbit dinners run until 9 August at The Bucket List. The cost of $80 per person includes dinner, plus local beer, wine and sparkling water. For more details and bookings, call The Bucket List on (02) 9365 4122.


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