Anthony Minichiello’s feats on the rugby league field are the stuff of legend, but in the age of sports science he’s determined to dispel some of the myths around health and fitness.
As ambassador for Australian Organic Awareness Month 2023, which launches today, the former Sydney Roosters, New South Wales Origin and Kangaroos star is encouraging people to make better nutrition choices.
Australian Organic Awareness Month is the nation’s largest campaign promoting the certified organic industry, running throughout September and raising awareness of the benefits of certified organic products for human health and environmental sustainability, as well as the importance of checking for organic certification marks on labels.
It’s a cause close to Minichiello’s heart. Aged just in his twenties, he faced the prospect of being forced into an early NRL retirement due to a string of injuries before a diet shakeup changed his life.
“I’m excited to be getting involved with Australian Organic Awareness Month because I have a very personal connection to it, and the more I share my story hopefully more people start to transition to better quality food because it makes such a difference,” he said.
Now a qualified nutritionist and owner of MiniFit, a platform delivering online and in-school programs around nutrition and fitness, Minichiello advocates for certified organic farming practices as a key element of a nutrient-dense diet.
“Healthy soil is the most important element of any farm,” he said.
“It’s all a cycle – healthy soil, healthy plant, healthy animal, healthy human. Being certified organic means the farmer treats the soil as the number one priority and doesn’t put those harmful toxins into the ground or on the plant.
“There’s a lot of misleading marketing claims and fake studies out there that confuse people, and they end up thinking certified organic is some new-age thing. It’s back to basics essentially – pure farming free of harmful inputs that gives you the most nutrient-dense produce.”
Australian Organic Awareness Month is facilitated by Australian Organic Limited (AOL), and CEO, Niki Ford, said they were delighted to have the rugby league legend as this year’s ambassador.
“We are fortunate to have the support of Anthony Minichiello. He has a deep understanding of the ethos of our industry and is a fabulous role model for anyone looking to improve their quality of life through better dietary choices,” Ms Ford said.
Data from the recent Australian Organic Market Report highlights the strength of Australia’s certified organic industry, with 3,035 certified organic businesses directly contributing $851 million to the economy.
These businesses include fresh produce, packaged food and beverages, cosmetics and skincare, home and garden products and textiles, and Ms Ford said consumers could also get involved with the campaign.
“We’re encouraging consumers to consider the health and environmental benefits of certified organic products and look for ways to incorporate more of them into their shopping,” Ms Ford said.
Minichiello helped implement more clean eating at the Roosters during their triumphant 2013 season, including an organic food truck at the training ground. He has returned to the Roosters as dietician this season, with certified organic practices at the heart of much of the new dietary plans for players, including grass-finished meats, pasture-fed chicken and toxin-free fruits and vegetables.
“It’s all about balance. I’m a big advocate for the 80/20 rule – having that strong foundation of fresh, nutrient dense food so you can occasionally go out and enjoy yourself without disrupting that foundation,” he said.
“When you wake up every day feeling great why would you switch back to low-quality food?”
Additional activities during Australian Organic Awareness Month
On 6 September, the newly formed Organic Industry Discussion Group (OIDG) will gather in Canberra ahead of the inaugural meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Australia’s Organic Industry.
The highly anticipated winners of the Australian Organic Wine Awards will be announced on 8 September, with a total of 211 wines from 45 producers in the running for show trophies.
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