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Meet a Truefoodie: Rebecca Varidel

Why did you sign up to the Truefood Network?

I signed up not only to gain more information and stay informed, but also to lend my support as a voice.

You're a regular blogger on all things food. How did you find yourself writing and talking about food?

I've been involved with food for a number of years, and have been a chef, caterer, food producer and food retailer. So, I suppose I've always talked about food in one way or another, and I've always been an advocate of eating seasonal, fresh food.

More recently, I've started a couple of blogs and am fairly active in our online food community through Twitter. The latest blog is My aim online is to share my knowledge, learn from others, and hopefully encourage more people to know how to cook from scratch, use less processed food and lower their food miles.

How do you feel about genetically engineered (GE) food crops? Any particular concerns?

Genetically engineering food crops is a dangerous road.

I'm leaning my life towards eating as many "heirloom" varieties as possible. There's lots of talk about the health concerns with GE foods, but I'm also aware there are so many other concerns too.

I'm worried about globalisation of the world with control of seedstock. I'm also keen to stay in personal control by knowing what I'm eating. I'm very concerned with hidden GE ingredients in the foodchain – food that may look natural but is actually a GE product, though not obviously visible. The GE canola feed in milk comes to mind.

As a cook, retaining optimum flavour (most often found in heirloom varieties and at peak "season") is important to me.

What other environmental issues concern you as a foodie?

Well, while the quality and taste of the food we eat is important, I'm also really aware of my footprint on the earth.

Some of the things I think about to help reduce global energy consumption include eating locally grown (to reduce food transport), reducing packaging, using my basket to carry food and reducing waste. I was amazed when I found out that food waste (food not eaten and thrown away) accounts for such a high percentage of our energy consumption. As a cook, I like to use everything. Scraps like onion skins for stocks and sauces, head-to-tail approach and home preserving surplus produce from the peak of season.

I've also been aware for sometime of how much energy the raising of livestock takes. It's a great initiative that people are thinking about meat in a different way. For example, using vegetables as the hero without going vegetarian – if you enjoy meat, try thinking about it as a garnish of quality produce instead of the base of each meal.

Could you share some tips about how people can support GE-free and sustainable food.

The simplest way is to eat local, seasonal, fresh food. Buy organic from small producers and shop at the farmers' markets.

If you don't already know how, learn to cook! Cooking for others is rewarding and nurturing. Take time to understand what you intake.

If you do buy processed food, consider the food chain impact. And use the Truefood Guide.

If you could tell someone about genetically engineered food in one sentence, what would it be?

If you don't support genetically engineered food by buying it, there won't be a market. Your wallet can be your voice!

Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @frombecca.

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