Thursday, 28 August 2014
Robertson Electorate: Mushroom Industry
I rise to speak on what may seem at first glance to be quite a humble food source: the mushroom. But today I also particularly rise to speak about a great local business in my electorate, Margin's Mushrooms. Yesterday I joined a number of my parliamentary colleagues to hear directly from Australian mushroom growers about the important and potent health benefits of mushrooms. I would like to pay tribute and give thanks to the hardworking member for Casey, Tony Smith, for organising this lunch and indeed a series of horticultural lunches this year.
The health benefits of mushrooms are absolutely astounding. They even contain compounds that have been proven to lower the risk of a range of cancers. For example, three population studies have shown that women who eat an average one button mushroom a day have a 50 to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who do not eat mushrooms at all. The power of mushrooms does not end there. The mushroom also has a significant and positive impact on insulin production, as it is a low-GI food and does not raise blood sugar levels. Mushrooms have been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose as well. They naturally generate vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption and bone strength. Many mushroom growers are now producing vitamin D mushrooms with one to two seconds of UV light which actually contain your complete daily vitamin D needs. This is particularly important because many Australians just do not get enough vitamin D, especially through the winter.
With all of these benefits it is not surprising that four out of five Australians are hooked on mushrooms, to the point that our nation's consumption per person per year is now 3.2 kilograms. Mushrooms are one of the fastest growing horticultural industries and our sixth most valuable.
That is why I am so proud of Margin's Mushrooms, a fantastic small business in my electorate of Robertson. Robertson has a strong and vibrant agricultural industry, with an output of $131 million in the Gosford LGA at the last census. Margin's is a small but growing family business based in Woy Woy and produces white and swiss brown mushrooms. Every week Margin's produces around one tonne of mushrooms, and it is a great food because it can be grown and harvested all year round, which also means employment all year round. Margin's may be small by industry standards but it produces top quality produce. It sells to the public and to our local cafes, restaurants and fruit and vegetable shops, direct from the farm.
They set it up as a bit of an experiment five years ago to see if they could do something with an old coolroom from their ice cream factory, but the experiment paid off and they have now expanded into an old abattoir site in Woy Woy which had been unused for eight years. The business has grown from strength to strength and I commend Kim, his wife, Christine, and their son, Charlie, who now hire six full-time workers and 20 staff at Woy Woy. I know that many people in my electorate of Robertson are proud of their achievements and their contribution to our local economy.