Renowned Australian cook Maggie Beer – the second-longest Australian member of Slow Food – was named senior Australian of the Year for 2010, by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd MP at a ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra, yesterday evening.
Maggie was praised for being an Australian culinary leader whose passion for food had brought joy to many Australians. ‘Maggie’s focus is on using seasonal ingredients and educating people to make informed food choices,’ the award citation states. ‘Maggie Beer hopes that through sharing her love of food she will inspire Australians to reconnect with food and appreciate what we eat.’
Slow Food was the subject of one of Maggie’s The Cook and the Chef TV programs in 2009, in which she encouraged people to join the Slow Food association. ‘It’s about forming networks between farmers and consumers,’ Maggie said during the program, ‘learning about the land and its limitations, and preserving regional food practices. It has thousands of members in over one hundred countries, all linking the pleasure of food with a real commitment to the community and to the environment. Slow Food is very close to my heart, and I really encourage anyone who can to get involved.’
Australian Local Hero 2010 is Sydney’s Ronnie Kahn, the founder of OzHarvest, a service that collects and delivers surplus food to charities. She has saved almost 4.7 million meals since OzHarvest began.
Her award citation says that Ronnie originally ran an events business and was horrified by the amount of left over food that was thrown out. ‘OzHarvest has over 600 food donors and delivers more than 110,000 meals each month to 163 charities in Sydney, Canberra and Wollongong. Ronni plans to go national next year. Due to the perseverance of Ronni and others, the law has been changed in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia (and soon will be in Western Australia) to ensure that food donors are safe from liability. OzHarvest has had a profound impact on the environment by saving thousands of tonnes of food from landfill, and on clients of charities who are able to eat quality, nutritious food.’
Slow Food congratulate Maggie Beer as the senior Australian of the Year 2010 and Ronnie Kahn as Australian Local Hero 2010.
For more information, visit the Slow Food Australia website.