Detective Lisa’s on the trail of good food

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Lisa Donaldson as “The Food Detective”… “I don’t think people choose to be unhealthy, I think there’s a message missing.” Photo by Maddie McGuigan

A DETECTIVE, dressed as a watermelon, who goes on adventures to uncover food mysteries was years in the making and now Latham’s Lisa Donaldson, 39, has an aim to get “The Food Detective” on television.

With a background in primary school teaching, a personal health battle and a career as a dietitian, Lisa wants to use TV as a vehicle to educate children.

“My big, hairy, audacious goal for ‘The Food Detective’ is to get it on to ABC for Kids,” she says.

As mum of fussy eater, Nathaniel, 3, Lisa says she’s blessed to understand what it’s like for many frustrated parents.

She practices her songs on Nathaniel, whose favourite is the “Traffic Light Song”.

“’The Food Detective’ is an amusing show, it’s engaging and I feel like it’s capturing kids in a different way to be able to have fun while learning,” she says.

Lisa Donaldson as “The Food Detective”… “I don’t think people choose to be unhealthy, I think there’s a message missing.” Photo by Maddie McGuigan

Lisa’s desire to entertain young children stemmed from her lengthy career as a primary school teacher.

While teaching she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, gastrointestinal upsets and a kidney condition and was forced to rethink her future.

At that time Lisa didn’t know what she could eat and, when researching nutrition, decided to go back to university.

During her time at the University of Canberra, Lisa scored a placement with Channel 9’s nutritionist Joanna McMillan and then later a job where she would commute to Sydney to work part time.

“The Food Detective” first emerged when Joanna suggested the character make an appearance at a children’s food fair in Randwick.

So, Lisa wore her university lab coat and a pair of glasses and sang a song on stage.

Soon after, she contacted her childhood friend from Bega, Tim Bevitt, who is a performing arts specialist and children’s comedian and asked him to collaborate on an album called “Takes Ten Tastes”.

The ACT government’s service, Fresh Tastes, funded the recording, costuming and several stage shows of “Mr Tim & The Food Detective”.

Tim and Lisa went around the ACT and performed 10 pilot shows, where they went on an adventure to solve food mysteries.

Lisa says someone might write a letter to Mr Tim, which will say: “I hate broccoli”, and ask, ”what should I do?”

And then they might sing “Takes Ten Tastes” but the idea for the TV show will be a little different.

“We will explore a food of the day, whether it’s from the earth or the tree or the water,” Lisa says.

Then, Lisa says, they’ll find out whether it’s a brain food, a bum food or a muscle food.

“There’s nothing like ‘The Food Detective’ out there, that is driven by an expert in the field,” she says.

“It’ll give any show credit because I’m more than just a children’s performer.

“I think nutrition is confusing and people are trying their best but they’re not always getting it.

“I don’t think people choose to be unhealthy, I think there’s a message missing.”

For Lisa, “The Food Detective” isn’t a money making project but rather it’s about giving back and putting herself out there.

Lisa is prepared to hear “no”, but until then she will do everything in her power to get “The Food Detective” on TV.

And then after that, she says she might write a children’s book.

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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is the assistant editor of "CityNews".

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