The state winners of the 2016 delicious. Produce Awards have just been released and are due to appear in the September issue of delicious. magazine, on sale later this week. This year the country’s top chefs and restaurateurs nominated the passionate producers they work closely with, and Humane Choice* producers were amongst them.
The pasture-raised Pekin Duck from Burrawong Gaian poultry was named a state winner in the ‘From the paddock’ category for New South Wales. Owned and run by Beth and Hayden McMillan, their premium quality duck and chickens are used in the restaurants of well-known chefs Kylie Kwong, Neil Perry and Colin Fassnidge. Their farm runs both ducks and chickens, priding themselves on sustainable organic farming. They started with just 200 birds, but now process 300 ducks and 600 chickens each week.
Beth McMillan of Burrawong Gaian says, “Our birds are ethically and sustainably raised on pasture and our Humane Choice accreditation ensures a true free range or pasture raised model is practised on our farm.” They are also home to the only Food Authority ‘A’ rated poultry abattoir on the mid North Coast of NSW, so their birds only move a matter of metres from the paddock to the processing facility, greatly reducing stress levels.
Walker Farm Foods Nomadic Pastured Chook Eggs were also listed as state winners for Queensland, another Humane Choice certified farm. Their laying hens are free to roam in paddocks on the Sunshine Coast, moved every few days to a new selection of fresh grass. They lay their eggs in mobile chicken caravans and are loyally protected by guardian maremma dogs.
Humane Society International’s Program Manager for Animal Welfare, Georgie Stewart, said, “We are delighted that these ethical producers are reaping the rewards because they have worked so hard to bring consumers produce from animals treated with the highest possible animal welfare standards in Australia.” Mrs Stewart continued, “Humane Choice, a certification scheme launched by Humane Society International ten years ago, has long been an advocate for farmers that promote a free range alternative, a market that has grown considerably over the past decade. There is a growing movement of ‘back to basics’ farmers that want to produce food, not just a commodity. They want to farm their livestock and land with respect. These winning farms have come a long way for small producers and are helping to ensure that the best free range practices continue to become a big part of the industry.”According to delicious. Editor-in-chief Kerrie McCallum, the calibre of entries was unprecedented in terms of quality. The judging panel consisted of 39 Australian food leaders and the stated winners will now progress to the national judging phase.