Healthy breakfast strategy for regions?

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It is sad to see small towns struggling to survive against the onslaught of agglomeration effects and structural changes.

Thankfully regional folk are doing great things to make themselves more interesting to city dwellers by creating an emotional connection to them. And good healthy food in the tummy creates an emotional connection.

Indeed, if you’re travelling in the Bush there’s nothing better than being at the local café for a brekky of local scambled eggs, tomato and toast, washed down with a decent coffee while reading the local paper. The academics call it ‘Slow Travel’ whereby tourists become connected to a place, its people, and the local food and culture. Indeed, Dunkeld, Orange and Hahndorf have managed it.

Well I recently drove for fifteen minutes around a fair-sized regional town (8,000 population) looking for such a café. But I retired hurt to a multinational fast food outlet for a hash brown and a burger the size of a small child’s fist. The establishment was quite busy. It had presumably had run the opposition into the ground.

The next evening I stopped into an iconic café in an iconic town 300 km further on. The fish and chips were terrible – oily NZ hake and crinkle-cut chips. Shudder.

Coincidentally, a few days before, we’d been reflecting on reasons for declining regional tourism traffic – rising petrol prices, the cost of upmarket tourism accommodation, expensive airfares to regional areas, cheap international airfares, and absence of a strong regional food culture.

What is the reason for the average food served at cafes and restaurants in some regions. Is it because the locals aren’t fussy diners? Or haven’t the kitchen staff the caught up with changing consumer preferences? It’s a shame because running a small business in the Bush is tough work. The problem is finding someone willing to tell the mum and dad chefs.

So what if there was a program to deploy expert chefs and dieticians to provide advice on cooking skills, menu development, food sourcing, marketing and signage? After all, Enterprise Connect and AusIndustry have good programs advising small businesses in other sectors – so it’s no big deal to tack on another program.

A constraint is that the issue has four dimensions – health, tourism, small business, regional development. Perhaps a bottom-up approach via a collection of Regional Organisation of Councils could pull something together? If you share our concern, please email us at apdcockatoo@iprimus.com.au

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