Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published October 26th 2012
Simple, delicious and ethically-sound food
What's better than a lazy Sunday lunch at a café? A lazy Sunday lunch at a café without knowing what's on the menu.
Friends of the Earth Food Co-op in Collingwood is a trader of biodynamic products and fresh organic food (grown by the local folk in the area), all peddled to the urban foot traffic on Smith Street. This Co-op is run by the charity Friends of the Earth Melbourne and it's one of the non-profit's many vehicles for advocating social and environmental justice.
The Co-op has managed to thrive for over 30 years because of its ethical DIY style, accessorised by second-hand furniture, naked brick walls and succulents lovingly planted in pots. Noticeboards are draped in leaflets alerting locals to community events and services. Pamphlets lining the windows like wall-paper are community-spirited too; not a trace of commercial spruiking can be found. Artwork from local artists can be seen hanging intermittedly around the space, ready to be purchased by unassuming art fans.
At Friends of the Earth Food Co-op, the staff are friendly and smiling – dedicated volunteers who make the Co-op hum. Patrons are advised to bring their own bags and containers to fill with purchases of seasonal fruit, biodynamic groceries and freshly baked treats. Friends of the Earth Food Co-op endorses and supports natural goods manufactured by smaller companies and producers.
Yet, what weaves this Smith Street basket together is the buzzing café; a popular Sunday meeting point for many lunching vegetarians. And it's the unknown which also draws them in. For a small plate for $10 or large plate for $12.50, you get what the kitchen has prepared on the day. Today, it's a chickpea curry on a bed of fluffy rice, a slaw of leafy greens, purple cabbage and corn kernels, and marinated tofu all topped by a cashew hummus. A large plate fills the lunchtime gap in my stomach well. Creamy soy chai tea is delivered to our table in a metal teapot and poured over a strainer into a retro mug. The chai is spiced and without being overpowering.
To end the meal, dessert items are purchased and piled greedily onto a china plate – orange and poppy-seed muffin, doughnut encrusted in cinnamon sugar, and a rich cashew and dark chocolate brownie slice. It's this decadent slice which is the cherry on the top of this invigorating meal. Most of these sweets are vegan friendly too.
Friends of the Earth Food Co-op dances to its own community beat and it's where simple, delicious and ethically-sound food dove-tails with a sunny, Sunday afternoon with friends.