Hi all, last edition for this year J
Looking forward to an equally fertile year ahead.
Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap
‘We found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9 ± 4% and 8 ± 5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems. These promising results, based on robust analysis of a larger meta-dataset, suggest that appropriate investment in agroecological research to improve organic management systems could greatly reduce or eliminate the yield gap for some crops or regions.’
Who’d have thought, eh. The metaphor is unavoidable: diversification good, homogenisation bad.
Out of your noggin? Festive spices and their intoxicating history
In the 19th century, the mind-altering properties of nutmeg were described by Czech physiologist Purkinje in the form of dream imagery and an inordinately long walk to the Royal Theatre in Berlin. More recently nutmeg has been considered something of a prison drug with cannabis-like effects. In his autobiography, African-American human rights activist Malcolm X wrote about his prison experience with nutmeg: a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers.
Ah yes, the days of nutmeg and other kitchen cupboard highs, I recall them well...or not so well cause, well, I did say ‘highs’.
How Christmas pudding evolved with Australia
‘Having survived a century of popularity despite not being suited to the seasons, the Christmas pudding came to have a more Australian character after 1900. The introduction of water to the desert through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme allowed New South Wales farmers in the Riverina to produce greater quantities of citrus fruit which was preserved as candied peel, and grapes for drying as raisins and for wine. By the 1950s, Australian port and sherry were the recommended liquors in which to soak the dried fruit for the Christmas pudding ingredients. The pudding may not have originated in Australia but by now its ingredients certainly did.’
A lovely piece of research and writing - though the Christmas pud will never win over the Sri Lankan Christmas Cake in my household J
Behind the restaurant boom: the urban boom consuming our cities
“They haven’t the money to grow up, so they go out,” suggests the Manchester University anthropologist Sean Carey. They queue for burgers, eat at concept diners and Instagram the results – perhaps it makes an unliveable settlement bearable for a while.’
They all become baristas and/or craft beer brewers in Sydney.
10 Superfoods healthier than kale
Thanks to Helen Campbell for this link. I figured a while ago that kale was more superhype than superfood. I don’t have much truck with the idea of superfoods generally. Still, it’s good to see beet greens being given a good rap, ditto watercress, and I am dying to see lettuce now heralded as a superfood on supermarket shelves – revenge is a dish best eaten ice berged.
Cut price ‘ugly’ supermarket food won’t reduce waste – here’s why
‘In affluent countries like France and Australia, access to cheaper food doesn’t mean less household food waste. What’s more, charging lower prices for ugly fruit and vegetables also neglects the fact that the same labour is required to produce and harvest crops, regardless of their appearance. Thus ugly food helps to perpetuate a food system that undervalues food, in which consumers routinely buy too much and throw away the leftovers.’
I attended a talk last year on food waste and there is a way in which encouraging supermarkets to sell ugly food does indeed reduce waste and that’s at the production end where growers aren’t forced to toss away the ugly fruit in the first place. A couple of weeks ago at my local farmers’ market a grower had a box of white cherries all of which showed an off-putting brown bruise. It was only the result of wind damage, I was told, so I bought some and the ugliness was indeed only skin deep, the pulp being absolutely unspoiled and delicious to boot. Now, I would rather that grower was encouraged to bring the fruit to market and sell it cheap and risk some wastage by the buyer – there wasn’t in my case – than ditch them because one of the Big Two wouldn’t take on the ugly fruit.
Top 10 Australian native foods you need in your kitchen
‘This buzz is spreading to growers, and more farmers are now trying their hand at growing native foods such as quandong, finger lime, and lemon myrtle. An Australian crop lends a hand in maintaining Australia's botanical diversity and reduces the 'food miles' your dinner has travelled to your plate.’
Not sure that I ‘need’ them in my kitchen, and I reckon claiming that growing these en masse somewhere and trucking them in to a grocer or market is not doing a heap for reducing ‘food miles’, but if I can get quandongs in season and in bulk to make jam, bring it on. Mind you, it’s not that hard to grow a finger lime tree, warrigal greens or samphire, or lemon myrtle in a back yard in Sydney and that would certainly be a better reduced of food miles - and of course warrigal greens are quite capable of doing a fair bit of food miles on their own.
Paul van Reyk
253 Trafalgar St.
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Ph: 0419 435 418
‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."
First Dog on the Moon