The New Age has arrived

IT’S been a whirlwind week,” says Meg Fraser of the opening hours in her first retail venture. “But I’m very confident.” Meg’s place on Burnett Street, the Glass and Brown Paper Pantry, is more than brand new.

It’s a different kind of store for New Norfolk. “I suppose you’d call us New Age,” she says, “but we think New Norfolk is changing, ready to get into something fresh in the way of food as well as the way you take that food home.”

Her place is certainly a departure from a local supermarket, and more like an international food bazaar. Rice and lentils and almonds are from the mainland, and the macaroni from Tasmania, but there’s cocoa from Holland, cashews from the US, Turkish apricots, Iranian dates and Bolivian quinoa flakes.

Like a regular supermarket, the customer has choices of shampoo, but here the containers are glass and not for disposal. “You bring the entire container back to the store, and we refill it for you each time,” says Meg. And then there’s a number of delicious concoctions being brewed right here on the premises.

The commercial kitchen out the back houses no fewer than four Thermomix machines, now at work creating a curry mix and later today some desserts. “We make everything in these remarkable machines,” says Meg, reeling off a long list of sauces, spice mixes, yogurts and non-dairy mylks (yes, that’s how it’s spelt).

“This kind of philosophy combining good food and smart consumerism might seem like a retailing challenge in New Norfolk,” she says. “But we’ve lived here for a few years now, and we see a growing number of people who want their food the way it was meant to be, with real nutrients instead of empty calories, things that have not been processed, refined or had ingredients added to them. “In fact, we – my partner and kids – are part of that community of people. And we got tired of driving to Hobart or Kingston for the kind of fruits, grains and nuts that I like, foods that are good for you.”

She and her partner Adam Fraser, a chef by trade, moved to the Derwent Valley about six years ago. “We spent our first few years buying, restoring and selling houses,” she says. “But what we were doing was getting the lay of the land, learning about this community. “Have a look around and you start to see the changes already here, like the book store/café Black Swan, the upmarket homegoods store, Miss Arthur, and the restaurant, the Agrarian Kitchen.’’

She and Adam began to plan their own retail operation, reflecting the kind of philosophy of eating ethically raised foods and living sustainably. “To us, that means getting along without plastics, especially,” she adds. “And that’s a lot of work, for instance finding quality glass jars, plastic substitutes like cotton, paper and wood, in addition to sourcing products made in Australia.”

When Meg and Adam bought the shop, they brought the entire family of Frasers into the operation; son Loughlin is at work as she speaks. Of course, working in the food business sometimes confers an occasional advantage. And right now, there’s a magic chocolate pudding in one Thermomix and a drunken fig cheesecake in another …