Friday, July 18, 2014

This week's compost

1.      Japan Next-Generation Farmers Cultivate Crops and Solar Energy
‘By knowing that too much sun won’t help further growth of plants, Nagashima came up with the idea to combine PV systems and farming. He devised and originally patented special structure, which is much like a pergola in a garden. He created a couple of testing fields with different shading rates and different crops. The structures he created are made of pipes and rows of PV panels, which are arranged with certain intervals to allow enough sunlight to hit the ground for photosynthesis (Figure 1).’

I am tempted to whack a solar panel over the vegie patch at home J

2.      Is a hot dog a sandwich? An extended meditation on the nature of America
Still, there are some limits to what makes a sandwich. The presence of some form of bread alone is not criterion enough. As soon as "bread" transitions from noun to verb form it transgresses the space between sandwich and non-sandwich. Breading food does not make a sandwich, tempura offers no challenge to our understanding, and fried chicken is merely seasoned chicken. Likewise, while the flaky pastry of a Croissan'wich makes for a kind of sandwich, the same pastry baked around a steak filet does not make beef wellington a sandwich.
And, despite its possible shape, I cannot agree with my friend that the universe is a sandwich.
A thorough – nay forensic exploration of the question ‘what is a sandwich’. Hilarious, too...indeed I was at risk of choking on my banh mi.

3.      What burritos and sandwiches can teach us about innovation

...or the idiocy of food health regulations.
‘And then you have to sort of say, are burritos really a sandwich?" New York says yes, the USDA says no, and it makes a difference come inspection time. "We do not inspect closed-faced sandwiches regardless of the amount of meat in them. We inspect burritos that have meat or poultry filling," Wheeler says. The debate gets so heated that in 2006, a contract dispute over whether Qdoba Mexican Grill's burritos qualify as sandwiches went far beyond lunch — it went to trial. Expert witnesses including a chef and food critic testified, much deliberation took place, and in the end, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke ruled burritos are not sandwiches.’

4.      Extreme food art J

5.      Do cookery programs really influence the way we cook

‘What is most startling about the results overall is that people are influenced by the programmes they watch. I had always suspected cookery television to be rather like Grand Designs or Changing Rooms – entertaining, certainly; instructive, maybe; but then you would switch the telly off and forget about it. If this isn't the case when it comes to cooking shows, then it would be good to see a few more programmes celebrating food's beauty, simplicity, scope and delight, and fewer that involve two men in a studio shouting at each other.’

Not sure who actually does the cooking and I have startling visions that it isn’t two men shouting at each other but one man shouting at a woman...a lot.

6.      Organic food is still not more nutritious than conventional food

‘The bottom line though is that the whole organic vs conventional food is a pointless distraction. Australians don’t eat anywhere near enough fruit and vegetables, in fact only 5.5% of adults have adequate intake of fruit and vegetables. Worrying about whether having 25% more antioxidant in organic fruit is irrelevant when we don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables in the first place, if you eat the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables you will have adequate nutrition with sufficient vitamins and antioxidants for healthy life, the minor differences between organic and conventional foods will have no impact at all.’

But then , that isn’t why I choose to eat organic produce when I can anyway, which kinds makes the whole research redundant for me and I suspect a heap of others who choose organic too.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This week's compost

1. Coles guilty over false freshly baked bread claims
Roll over Coles (well someone had to make the pun)
‘Coles has been declared guilty by the Federal Court of misleading shoppers with claims its bread and other baked good were “freshly baked” when that was not the case. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched proceedings against Coles in June last year, accusing the supermarket giant of misleading consumers into thinking bread was made on the day at the store when, in some cases, the bread had been partially baked months earlier in overseas factories.’

Read more:

2. Australian honey does us proud.

Our bees are the buzz, peeps :)

'In Australia we have much less chance of having contaminants such as chemicals and antibiotics in our honey because our bees, at the present moment, have fewer diseases and parasites. The rest of the world is dealing with bee pests such as Varroa destructor which beekeepers elsewhere use chemicals to treat. Not so in Australia.'

3. All Jamie’s plush toys recalled by Woolworths – can choke and stab

Not half as well as farmers angry at being slugged a crate fee. And Oliver, or his pr mob, get the most asinine response award for this one: ‘In a letter to Ausveg, Oliver said he was powerless to stop the fee, as he was an "employee" of Woolworths. He said he had no sway over the supermarket's commercial decisions.’ He has a really weird idea of what an employee is I reckon.

4. Hey hipsters, hands off my flat white

'On Sunday, the Observer asked, “Could it be that the flat-white-drinking, flat-cap-wearing hipster will soon cease to exist?” And in the Telegraph, confessing that you drink a flat white will score you three out of a possible four points in its Are you a hipster?'’

A flat white? No wonder England don’t swing no more!

5. What the crap? Neanderthals had a taste for vegetables.

Yeah but were any of them vegan?

'a study of ancient faeces (yes, 50,000-year-old poo) published today in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that Neanderthals had more of a taste for fruit and vegetables than first thought.'

6. How to Invent a Local Food Culture

‘Ask someone to list dishes that come from a specific place in Britain and it's likely that Melton Mowbray pork pies will come fairly near the top of the pile. Cornish pasties will be up there too, Cullen Skink, and perhaps Liverpool Scouse, but soon enough the ideas trail away. We're a population that grazes dishes from across the world and, for the most part, we feel no more connected to a local dish than we do to a curry. When travelling abroad, we're quite taken with the regional dishes that appear again and again, but closer to home, local food culture is still a fairly new idea, mostly driven by the trend-led efforts of creative chefs and encouraged by food hobbyists.’

There is all the difference of course between a local dish and a dish that is created to sum up a locale. But it’s a fun article.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

This week's compost

1.      The Men Who Made Us Fat
Where is the international court of justice to which to take the food industry for killing people through supersizing foods high in sugar, fat and salt ?
This is ep 2 of The Men Who Made Us Fat and it makes enraging viewing as it looks at the naked grab for dollars and the power wielded by Big Food.

Ep 3 looks at regulation versus voluntary codes and of particular interest in the Australian context is the discussion about using ‘traffic light’ labelling.

2.      Sydney Film Festival

I got an announcement as per attached from the Sydney Film Festival. You may imagine my response. I FBed them back saying it was a wank to put on a gourmet meal by an Aussie male to a tie-in to a film that celebrates the domestic work of women in India suggesting that it was also a slap in the face not to have asked some of the Indian chefs in town to do the meal. Margie Harris fired of an FB to them supporting an ‘unknown author’ post on FB J . Really, I know I know it’s me getting on my high horse again, but I was just dumbfounded by the grab for $$$ without any sensitivity for how it might be received in the South Asian communities in Sydney.

Apparently the film is very good and I do intend to see it...and will go have a meal at a local Indian dhabar after.

3.      Starbucks f**ks up

Starbucks have reportedly accumulated losses of at least $143 million since they opened here 14 years ago. As a mate of mine said ‘Inglorious Jeans next’.

4.      The Politics of Food (Season 2): Sex, Diet & Disaster

Delfina Foundation (DF) is inviting artists, curators, writers, film-makers and other cultural practitioners interested in exploring key issues related to the politics of food to apply for the second season of this themed based residency, which is scheduled to run from March to June 2015.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

This week's compost

1.      The secret of the Mediterranean diet? There is no secret.

NHS Choices actively encourages us to "make our diets more Mediterranean" by, among other things, "eating more bread and pasta" (studiously ignoring the growing body of evidence that implicates refined carbohydrates in obesity) and telling us, somewhat inarticulately, to eat "more fruit and salad, including tomatoes and vegetables". But this reheated, rehashed "Mediterranean" diet increasingly looks like a lazy student's essay cobbled together from out-of-date textbooks.’

How often does one have to say it before it dies a natural death...oh, wait, it can’t because it’s Mediterranean L

2.      Unfiltered beer: would you drink a cloudy pint?

‘‘Far from clear, these beers are opaque on a spectrum from hazy to weak, milky tea. Such is the growth in unfiltered craft beers that this style has been dubbed (mainly by its detractors) as "London murky".’

Having recently had my first meeting with orange wine (NOT Orange wine) and quite enjoyed it cheers thanks a lot, and having pulled some shockingly cloudy beers in my time as a RAS, I have no qualms whatsoever if the taste is on a par with some of the boutique beers around Sydney these days

3.      Going to the US ?
Check out Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000 at the Smithsonian. The exhibit highlights how American eating and shopping habits have changed during those five decades, and the museum compiled this retrospective to show the progression and evolution of the changes leading up to what shows up at the American table.

There is online version of the exhibition too to while away an hour or two...

How fab if an Australian Uni did something similar.

4.      The Men Who Made Us Fat

A three-parter of which the first episode went in hard on sugar and the food and soft drink  industry.  Made me reach for a highly sugared carbonated drink instantly.

No but really do programs like these get to those who need to see them – well probably not when they are programmed at 9.30 on Thursday night on ABC.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This week' compost

It’s been as barren as a backyard patch in Sydney in winter food interest wise, but here are a few morsels.

1.      FREE stuff

The University of Chicago has a free monthly e-book.
This month it is “Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine” by Priscilla Ferguson.
For your free download, go here and follow the instructions.

2.      The end of food

But that is Soylent’s downside, too. You begin to realize how much of your day revolves around food. Meals provide punctuation to our lives: we’re constantly recovering from them, anticipating them, riding the emotional ups and downs of a good or a bad sandwich. With a bottle of Soylent on your desk, time stretches before you, featureless and a little sad. On Saturday, I woke up and sipped a glass of Soylent. What to do? Breakfast wasn’t an issue. Neither was lunch. I had work to do, but I didn’t want to do it, so I went out for coffee. On the way there, I passed my neighbourhood bagel place, where I saw someone ordering my usual breakfast: a bagel with butter. I watched with envy. I wasn’t hungry, and I knew that I was better off than the bagel eater: the Soylent was cheaper, and it had provided me with fewer empty calories and much better nutrition. Buttered bagels aren’t even that great; I shouldn’t be eating them. But Soylent makes you realize how many daily indulgences we allow ourselves in the name of sustenance.’

I am fascinated and scared by this article. Fascinated by the continuing pursuit of ways to intake nutrient without growing it, hunting it, gathering it, cooking it. I am a scifi child and that world has always had a gee whizz attraction for me. I am scared by the psychology of Reinhart and his fanbase and network of co DIY Soylent makers; they come across to me as frighteningly alienated and soul-less and as cult as the god-botherers Reinhart derides.

3.      And now the bad news: red wine is not good for health after all
‘So, with a more robust measure of resveratrol on hand, how had the health of this group of Italians fared when they were followed up nine years later? The answer was as you would expect; rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality had no link with amounts of resveratrol metabolites in participants' urine. Even blood markers of inflammation, which lie at the heart of metabolic disease risk, had no link with resveratrol levels.’

4.      Activated almonds? Yes well eating them may make you a pretentious git

‘So while Evans might be concerned that people think he's a wanker, he shouldn't worry too much. For all our idealised tropes about egalitarianism and not letting anyone get up themselves, it's more about perception than reality. Wankers can be and do anything they dream of, Pete – prime minister, radio host, stripper pole wheeler. Just err more on the side of yob, if you can manage it, and keep your "activated almonds" out of kicking distance, if you know what's good for you.’

Okay, I know, Pete Evans is a soft target and this is not really an article about food – but in a bleak Budget week this gave me a laff.