The Australian garlic season is a timely to remind ourselves of the long road the farmers have taken since the introduction of cheap, bleached, imported garlic in the mid 1990s.
The introduction of this inferior garlic saw a massive decline in local production, evidenced by the Australian Garlic Industry Association membership dropping from 300 members, who were mainly growers, to just 3. Many farmers moved out of garlic farming at the time as they could not compete with the flood of cheap imports.
Today, the Australian garlic industry is bouncing back, thanks to increased consumer demand and awareness for local Australian produce and paddock to plate eating, a love of fresh food, an increase in home cooking and a desire to reduce our food miles.
We are spoilt for choice with local garlic available in red, white and purple; spicy and hot, mild and nutty, pungent and aromatic. Garlic is not just garlic anymore, it comes in different flavours and sizes, has different harvesting and storage times, and can be used for a variety of different dishes. The curly green stalks? They are called scapes and are excellent in cooking and stir fries.
What you might not know is garlic is not only essential to food and medicine, but is also a pest repellent in organic gardening.