Rod Barbey has been a restaurateur and head chef of B.coz Organic Restraunt, in East Hawthorn, for thirteen years. Four years ago, out of a desire to avoid genetically modified food, he made the decision to make his restaurant organic.
The decision was very personal: his mother had recently passed away from cancer; his brother had made the choice for his family to “go organic”; and his ongoing education led him to understand the effects of genetically modified food on the environment.
For Rod, the choice meant certifying his restaurant through the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).
“As a chef, organics is a vital step forward in sustainability,” says Rod. He is against genetically modified food because it does not regenerate on its own and thus ruins the soil. “Organics is a more sustainable way to utilise farmland. It’s particularly important for Australia, which suffers from poor soil quality anyway. So, why is genetically modified produce being considered the more practical solution for Australia?” Rod says organic farming is an investment in Australia’s future that supports the natural environment, local communities, and is a viable means of “renaturing” food.
Personally, Rod says he feels healthier after adopting an organic diet which isn’t to say that he’s turned into a hippy. He remains solidly “an urban boy”.
“While science hasn’t proven that pesticides are harmful to humans; it has not proven that they are great for us either, why would you choose to eat food impregnated with chemicals?”
Each year, Rod’s restaurant takes steps to become more sustainable. BCOZ has now switched to green energy and Rod would love to install solar panels when that becomes a financially sustainable possibility.
Rod says he’d like to see restaurants retrofitted to meet current standards which would make them more energy efficient. He’s also encouraged by the number of voices that are speaking out about organics and sustainability in the Melbourne food industry.
“I’d love to see the big companies like McDonalds and Woolworths taking more steps to incorporate organics as part of their repertoire,” Rod says. “As the demand in organics grows, the number of organic farms will grow. Properly promoted and developed organic living can be a feasible way to live sustainably without chemicals and pollutants!”
403 Riversdale Road
Hawthorn East VIC 3123
Ph: 9882 7889
Story by Lily Weinberg