I grew up as one of five children on a dairy farm in an isolated region of Victoria, Australia. We kept chickens for eggs and meat, raised pigs, sheep and cattle and also hunted rabbits. The vegetable garden was the size of suburban house block. From a young age, all of the children took turns in helping in the dairy, carrying wood for the wood stove and preparing vegetables for the evening meal. The kitchen was the hub of the house and cooking was a family activity. My fondest memories are of expeditions with friends and family to collect wild berries, mushrooms and fruit in abandoned orchards.
I trained as a dietitian due to interest in food and health, but soon found that I was more interested in prevention than clinical management of nutrition problems. I undertook training in nutritional epidemiology and became involved in national dietary surveys and studies of determinants of eating behaviour. Early career appointments in state-wide public health and health promotion cemented my commitment to public health nutrition.