SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT - NATIF 2015 - 2023
NATIF has been on a mission to learn, educate, source and deliver ethical and sustainable Australian native ingredients to consumers. We want to create an awareness and demand for these Traditional Ancient Foods which in turn can provide nourishment and opportunities for all Australians.
Being a Social Enterprise is about giving back time and money to what you believe in and what will have a social impact on others or the environment. From the beginning we wanted to create a holistic business that supported a much 'Bigger Picture", which is still unfolding today.
We believe that native foods will change the mindset of Australians (and the world). Eating native foods of Australia will enable people to embrace a native foods cultural history and tradition, create awareness of where they are grown and experience their uniqueness. Native foods can connect us to this land, the people and our environment. The benefits go even further to our wildlife, soil health and enables better regenerative farming methods to be used, which require minimal or no chemicals as native plant species have ancient survival evolutionary DNA. This is important in a land facing dramatic climate change now and into the future.
Since 2015, we have been providing native ingredients to food and beverage brands, product developers, food and beverage companies, food services, schools and many more businesses which we believe will have a compound effect in driving the demand for native ingredients. This in turn provides opportunities for farmers and harvesters to increase their production of native foods, which provides job for tourists on visas, employment and business opportunities for Australians and Aboriginal people on their country.
These are just some of the impacts to date September 2022:
- NATIF has made purchases from First Nation Indigenous growers and harvesters to the amount of over $100,000. This does not including hundreds of thousands of dollars of purchases from non-Indigenous native food farmers and harvesters.
- So far, we have spent over $63,000 with the Traditional Homeland Enterprise for the Kakadu Plum, which has supported of group of outback Indigenous communities across the top end of Australia. We have travelled thousands of kilometres and visited an Indigenous community in Humpty Doo, in the Northern Territory and mentored them as they wanted to be a part of the native foods Industry. We assisted the family in getting all the help they needed to grow their native food business and they are now connected and part of a team making up the Traditional Homeland Enterprise.
- We have spent over $50,000 with other First Nation Indigenous Enterprises for other native ingredients. We have travelled to the Kimberly's and met with a Traditional Custodian for the native Boab Fruit we sell. We have also met up with other Traditional owners from around this country in relation to native foods. The participation of Indigenous growers/harvesters in the native foods industry is under 2% but continuing to grow. We want to support them by purchasing more from them when native foods become available to us. We aim to purchase from all the native food growers/harvesters within the Industry, who have worked hard to get it where it is today.
- We have helped to boost awareness and increased the demand for native foods, since 2015, which has had impact for all native food growers and harvesters and has inspired Australian business to value-add native ingredients into their product developments. In the beginning we did this at farmers markets (2015 & 2016) all over Victoria, and then continued to promote it on our social media channels, videos, editorials, blogs and by speaking at public events and school events.
- We have developed an Education Portal on our website for Australian schools which includes free educational native food resources. We developed our own fact sheets, videos and native food packages. We used our own Intellectual Property gathered from Public available research (never from Indigenous IP) and educate 'About', 'How to Use' and 'Health Benefits' of these ingredients. We have been participating at school incursions, since 2016 to showcase native ingredients and to educate the next generation of school leavers in native food and hospitality subjects. This will ensure social impact into the future. We educate about where they are grown, the benefits to Indigenous communities, farmers and harvesters all around Australia. We speak about the environment and issues around wild harvesting, ethics and sustainability for these foods and much more.
- We wrote a 74-page native food cook book for students and home cooks to show how easy and simple it is to include these foods into our diets. We have highlighted the researched nutritional benefits of these native ingredients across our social media and at all our events.
- We have and still donate our time to mentor and offer free consultation to Indigenous and non-Indigenous start-up businesses trying to navigate the native food arena and needing advice and information (especially in the earlier days when information was really difficult to find).
- We have been making donations to Children’s Ground (from the sales of our online 20g bags of Kakadu Plum powder). They are creating a difference for the next generation of Aboriginal children. We participate in their promotion via social media and lead people to their website so they can showcase who they are and what they do themselves, continuing their own independance.
- We have donated native ingredients to Tukka-Time, an organisation promoting health education using native ingredients. We gave away free native ingredients to the value of up to $500 to the Tukka Time project hosted by the Indigenous Quandamooka Chef in QLD who educates school aged children in outback communities using native ingredients. We regularily donate free native food products to all our Indigenous business customers as part of their orders as a good will gesture to show we care.
- We continue to donate money to plant native trees with Reforest Now in the Byron Bay and Daintree regions of Australia. So far, they have planted around 160 trees from our donations of $1,150 so far. In 2023 we planted another 46 trees with them. With planting trees we are also offsetting any carbon admissions we generate from our business.
- We donate to Wildlife Victoria because we believe in nature and the protection of our native species in their environment, which ties in with the 'bigger picture'.
- We have been collaborating with the Kindred Spirits Foundation (KSF) since 2016 whilst they were setting up the Traditional Homeland Enterprises (T.H.E.) and connected them up with some key people for their project. This involved a lot of time and many meetings in the earlier days. I want to acknowledge Ann Shanley who recently passed away and her major contributions to the growth of Indigenous enterprises in the native foods arena, sourcing grants and using her social skills to bring people together.
- In 2017 NATIF organised a stall at Federation Square in Melbourne City for a Moral Fairground Event and brought in some Indigenous students from the Damu Balcony Cafe in Bright who came from the Wadeye community in the Northern Territory to manage the stall which gave them a city and selling experience. The students sold their native food products that they had made themselves. We did this in collaboration with the Kindred Spirits Foundation.
- We purchase our Boab Powder from a Traditional Custodian in the Kimberly’s and benefit share 10% of the purchase price prior to receiving our order so they can put that money towards equipment funds. We pay the asking price and respect their efforts in difficult harvesting conditions. We have helped them in their pitch for grants to purchase more equipment for their business.
- We have worked along-side Universities and other independent native food projects by sourcing native ingredients from various provenances for research, providing information and participating in native food activities and events to learn and contribute more to the Industry.
- We have travelled thousands of kilometres to visit native food farmers in person and we spend lots of time to provide information they may need from us (being a wholesaler) so that growers and harvesters can scale up their native food plantations and plant new native food crops in a growing market. We have been working directly with some Indigenous communities to help them establish consistency in native food volume and establishing our accounts from which they can grow into the future.
- We love being hands on and have participated in harvesting some native food crops so we get a more holistic understanding of these ancient foods and the work involved. Establishing a deeper respect for the land and the people that provide to us.
- We have assisted and organised packaging for some native food farmers so that they could sell their own finished native food products and sell it on their own websites to help increase their income in a country that has been stricken by floods, fire and other environmental events which have effected the native food crops over the past few years.
- We pay a premium price to all our harvesters and growers and never negotiate their prices when we purchase from them. They do all the hard work in providing native foods and should be paid appropriately.
- We have purchased Australian made native food Artisan products to sell on our website because we want to promote businesses that have supported the industry or purchased from NATIF and included native ingredients into their value-added products.
- We have supplied over $4,000 worth of Free product to the MasterChef Australia Kitchen so that they can showcase native ingredients and innovative ways to use it in a commercial environment which helps benefit the whole native foods industry.
- If we are promoting native foods we have felt a responsibility to discouraged our audiences from wild foraging for native ingredients in their natural environments. Wild foraging by masses of people can deplete food sources for our wildlife and promote taking free food from places that need to be left at harmony with nature and for the future. Purchasing native ingredients or growing your own is a better and more sustainable and an environmentally friendlier way to go. Although some of our Wattleseed is sustainably wild harvested using traditional methods with council permits or on Custodial land. Tasting or taking just a very little (if you know exactly what you are picking) from the environment can also be ok if you must, for showcasing, educating or researching. People must use their own common sense.
- We have travelled multiple times around Australia, visiting growers and going to very remote places researching a variety of native foods in their natural environment, developing our own IP and sharing some of our experiences with our viewers. We have never exploited Indigenous communities or people or shared Indigenous IP that we may have very occasionally learnt. This is their space and decision to tell their own stories. NATIF has its own story to tell and experience of use and knowledge which we share with you.
- We have sourced and offered thousands of dollars of free native ingredients to many people, businesses and Institutions to help promote the developing industry.
- We have spent endless hours tracking down unique and new native food lines to inspire you and to bring them to market, keeping a public interest in these ancient foods.
- We inspire you to Eat Australia - our native proteins, sea and seasonal land foods.
- We have loved inspiring you to plant your own native food species in your local and major environments as this will benefit the eco-system. This may be through regenerative planting on a major native food crop scale or by just planting a native plant on your balcony or garden. We sell native food plant seeds to inspire some freshness to your home cooking.
- We love creating a demand for native bee honey, as this in turn may prevent their extinction and increase their hives and numbers.
- We work out of a large co-share facility on Boonwurrung country called Clik Collective in Moorabbin. This enables us to share resources and facilities from one of the best e-commerce facilities in the southern hemisphere. We are able to reuse boxes from other businesses at this location to use in all our posting and sometimes reclaim other people’s packaging material to save it from landfill. This encompasses a circular economic way of going about our business.
- We use bio-tape, bio-degradable postage bags and compostable/recycled packaging protection materials to post our products.
- Our product bags are either biodegradable or 100% recyclable. We also package in bio degradable tubes with biodegradable inner bags.
We try to choose companies we work with that are looking after the environment.
Our black postage bags are from the Better Packaging Company and are biodegradable or some are POLLASTIC plastic bags, which are made from 70% ocean-bound plastics. This comes from plastic pollution collected on beaches, shorelines and waterways in the world's poorest and most polluted coastal regions. Pollastic pays collectors a fair wage. In turn, this helps lift their communities out of poverty and gets plastic out of our oceans - to ultimately be recycled indefinitely.
Any plastic bags and tubes can easily be re-used or recycled through the soft plastics recycling scheme.
Our inner packaging bags are stamped with custom made stamps from Noissue
- We choose Australia Post to deliver your orders. They are committed to carbon-neutral parcel delivery.
- We use compostable and recyclable Eco Stickers from Heaps Good who are just around the corner from our office. They plant trees for each order received from us with Ecologi.
- Our new thermal (no ink) printer uses Eco Stickers that are home compostable for our postage bags and uses no ink.
Please email if you have any other enquires about what we do. We welcome any feedback or comments.
Julie Merlet - Owner and Founder of NATIF - Native Australian Traditional Indigenous Foods. Part of the Australian Native Food and Botanicals Movement.