Geoff Steinicke, Australian Organic Hall of Fame Award winner 2015, gives us an insight into how he came to be involved in the organic industry and why he was awarded one of the dual recipients of our Hall of Fame last year.
WHO ARE YOU
Geoff Steinicke, Oil chemist and entrepreneur best describes me.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED
Balwyn, Victoria, a suburb about 10kms east of Melboune’s CBD.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN THE ORGANIC INDUSTRY
I started Melrose Health in 1980 when the Health Food industry was at its beginnings. In the early 1990s, a nearby Health Food store, which was the Victorian distributor for Four Leaf Milling of Tarlee, South Australia, was changing owners. The proprietor offered their stock of bulk organic and biodynamic grains and flours to us, and a customer list too. I decided this would be a good addition to our range of products. Immediately we found really interesting people coming to us. They were well educated and enjoyed sharing their knowledge about organics. We placed orders to Four Leaf Milling and a few months later had the pleasure of a visit by Rosemary and Gavin Dunn, who remain close friends.
DO YOU HAVE ANY GOOD STORIES TO SHARE?
I think it’s the story about receiving our first drum of Organic Flaxseed oil from Canada.
In 1990, I found graphs that showed food manufacturers were deliberately reducing Omega-3 oils and increasing saturated oils in their products, in order to increase the shelf life of their products. This substitution would not have a healthy outcome, as Omega-3 oils are essential to lowering the risk of cardio-vascular disease. It was then necessary to find a supplement with a high Omega-3 content. Flaxseed oil with 55% Omega-3 was the obvious choice. I contacted Omega Nutrition in Canada and arranged to import 200 litres of Organic Flaxseed oil packed in a black plastic drum. The drum was to be sent frozen.
After a few months, a refrigerated container arrived with our drum roped to the wall attachments inside the container. In those days we had to unload in the street. I was ready with a fork lift at the door of the container when the driver undid the ropes holding the drum, whereupon the drum and the driver started to slide on the icy floor towards the door. The slope was fairly steep and the driver started yelling that he could not hold the drum any longer. Fortunately, I had the fork in the right position to catch the drum and the driver, otherwise one could imagine the result if I had missed! This was the start of Organic Flaxseed oil in Australia and the product for which Melrose is best known.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT ORGANICS?
Firstly, we were fortunate to be in a niche market in which our sales increased every year over the 32 years that our family owned and operated Melrose Health. As a product formulator, organics gave me the enjoyable challenge of developing new products that were certified organic. Fortunately, these products had a ready sale through Health Food stores and Supermarkets. Secondly, we joined a group of dedicated hard working people in Australian Organic (formerly the BFA at the time) and ACO who had a belief in producing clean produce and products without chemical adulteration.
WHAT DO YOU THINK CONTRIBUTED TO BEING PRESENTED WITH THIS AWARD?
Once, having discovered organics, we could see that organics would result in making a lifestyle switch, this resulted in our actively producing and promoting organic produce and products.