In continuing yesterday's theme, but on a less serious note, we return to slow food. which isn't really, or at least it isn't slow cooked food.

I have been harnessing my inner Italian mama of late, which could potentially have been difficult as I am unaware of any Italians in my gene pool. It didn't take much to find her...

As some may know, I have taken to cooking pizza on the sandwich grill. I think it needs to be hotter to be perfect, however it's still the best pizza within cooee of the garden club. I've since also tried my hand at cooking in wood-fired oven thanks to the lovely crowd at the bloggers banquet. I'm yet to try the previously mentioned weber experiment...

Recently I was nearing the end of the day, and my thoughts turned to dinner. Actually, that's not true... I start thinking about dinner the moment I wake up... Anyhow it was the end of the day and despite my obsession with "what's for dinner" (I can still hear my siblings and I asking when we came in from the park after school) I had no commitment to anything. More to the point, there wasn't a great deal in the fridge.

One would think that running a home grocery service would mean that there is always an abundance of fresh food in our house, and often there is but we live on the "scraps" from the orders. And this day there were few. A mental stock take of the larder came up with eggs and flour, and a few random bits of produce. I recalled a blog on making pasta at home at the stonesoup, and as always it was delicately written, and inspired me to give it a go in the spur of the moment.

Whilst the end result was no oxtail ravioli with gremolata (funnily enough I didn't have any oxtails hanging about) I was quite chuffed with the outcome. I have no pasta machine so I hand rolled and cut the pasta which resulted in a lovely rustic look and texture, tossed in the random bits of produce, and served it up with a glass of wine.

well i never...
It's been a long time since I made pasta from scratch and I had forgotten how simple it was. Not only that, but it was a very enjoyable process. Even better, was the taste and texture of the meal itself, with the pasta offering bite and a little chew and its own mild flavour to complement the other ingredients. It was, dare I say, fantastic!

so much so, that I have made pasta several times since and have not bought any dried pasta. I don't think this will be an ongoing thing - some dry pasta is a pantry essential; however I will be making pasta on a more frequent basis for sure.

another string to my bow...

I am not much of a baker. In fact I rarely bake (unlike my mother who baked at each week).

I don't have a particularly sweet tooth. I enjoy the odd sample of chocolate or caramel something-a-rather, love a creme brulee, inhale mum's profiteroles, and don't mind lemon tart either. However, eating sweet foods is something I rarely seek out and when I do, it rarely has the goodness of my mother's love. Consequently, the urge to prepare sweet things seldom strikes.

Without much natural inclination to do so, I have another good reason to avoid baking and that's my "oven on steroids". I have a stock standard apartment issue fan forced smeg. the writing on the dials has come away with cleaning (within the first year). The manual assures me that the seal on the smeg ovens is one of their great features and I can only concur. My oven goes on and if anything needs to be cooked on low heat, the oven is turned off when the subject is posted in it. the latent heat is just amazing, and at other times it's a fine balance switching the heat and fan on and off (not necessarily together).

Anyhow, over the past two weeks I have seen two blogs that got me intrigued and motivated to give something new a shot. The first was over at the stone soup by jules clancy - someone who I admire from afar, who's musings on dulce de leche got my mouth watering. From the comments left on her site afterwards, I am guessing that retailers had a rush on sweetened condensed milk!

Then by coincidence I stumbled across a divine picture on which led me to the blogspot of "muffin" and in particular "so the dog didn't eat my homework..."

the result: me baking on a saturday afternoon... check it out!

in praise of fussy eaters (part 4)

who ate all the pies?

Roaming around the day before we had found Red Ned's Pies - an award winning pie shop (is there a town in Australian that doesn't have one?). hubby is the pie monster so we grabbed a few before heading back to Sydney.

Now I'm not a pie purist. In fact "the pie" is the perfect vessel for leftovers as well as bespoke pie fillings. Red ned's did every filling imaginable - lobster mornay pie (what the?) to a plain old mince pie. I was conservative and got "lamb, rosemary and mint sauce", "steak and mushroom" and "chicken and mushroom". eating these pies I wanted to know who was dishing out these awards, because quite frankly I don't rate them! I refer you to PG for elaboration on what makes a good pie and only comment that "less is more" when it comes to dried herbs and conflicting flavours.

If anyone is still reading this 4 part novella, I thank you. the point of conveying this long-winded recount of my weekend is to point out the resounding and repetitious disappointment encountered when dining out, particularly, but not only, in small towns.

It really doesn't have to be hard. I don't expect hatted standards at a seaside holiday destination. All i want is the ability to chose a meal that is fresh and flavoursome. Correction, I don't even need to have choice if I think about the places I have eaten at in Naples. Just get fresh produce and apply some basic cooking skills as a start.

For example, How hard can garlic mushrooms be?
take a skillet and put on a burner , pour in a lug of olive oil and grab a handful of quartered mushrooms and add to pan when mushrooms are nearly cooked, crush a few cloves of garlic (preferably australian grown and organic - it has more flavour) into the pan, season with salt and pepper, (possibly chilli flakes). stir around, serve into dish and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. now this can be embellished or not, the point is, that if i had been served this without embellishment I would be happy.

To put it simply, I love cooking, and I also love dining out but I am absolutely fed up with being served crap! It seems to me that the yardstick has regressed to the point that hospitality standards don't seem to apply until you fork out $30 or more a dish (not counting lovely ethnic hole in the wall places) and quite frankly this is unacceptable.

I say, let's clone Gordon Ramsay, send them to the far corners of this broad country and ensure that when I next go on holiday, that I can enjoy the food. To not be able to do so, is, dare I say... un-Australian!!!

in praise of fussy eaters (part 3)

of coastal towns and costly meals...

The great Australian beach holiday is one of those things many of us are brought up to believe are a fundamental part of the Australian psyche. Hell, it's barely possible to get through school without reading Away! Unfortunately the political state of our nation over the past decade and the Cronulla riots a couple of years back has created a notion that it would be un-Australian not to enjoy a beach holiday.

Let me set one thing straight. I love beach holidays. I love little coastal towns -no shoes, wet bottoms in sarongs & shorts, plastic chairs outside the pub, early morning swims and afternoon naps, twilight dinners, and that wonderful feeling of being so so tired after a day of sun, sand, and saltwater.

With all of this in mind, an overnighter in Port Stephens was not to be scoffed at. After leaving the "farm" and bbq and hoping that my olfactory system would recover in time for dinner, we arrived at Nelson Bay, checked into our motel (what is it with that word) that had been recently acquired by a retired couple (a German man and an Italian woman) who had clearly scrubbed the place clean within an inch of its foundations.

After a little afternoon siesta, we mooched around Nelson Bay starting by the marina observing the usual suspects - Hog's Breath Cafe, and asian eatery, some casual cafe thingy with pizza, burgers and nachos on the menu, and of course an ice cream parlour beside the "resort wear boutique". It's about this point in time that I start thinking that I could be at Anywhere's Bay on the Australian coast.

We venture up to the main strip - I'm keen to check out Zest, the only restaurant in the area that gets kudos in both the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, and the Australian Gourmet Traveller. I don't expect to eat there, but I want to read the menu and see what "deft workings of quality produce" mentioned in the review are on offer. Unfortunately there is no menu to be seen, and the front door is still locked.

Moving on, I identify one place I may be prepared to eat. It says it's Spanish on the overhead sign - Capitan Torres or something of equal distinction, and it says wood fired pizza oven on the window. It turns out that they do both. It's still too early for dinner so we head around to Shoal Bay.

At Shoal Bay things appear more mellow and possibly more refined. We find ourselves a table on the strip and grab a drink - I chose the Firestick semillion blend in the hope that I might win a holiday they are promoting (that and we had a lovely late lunch at the cafe a couple of months ago and I do like the wines coming from Poole Rock estate). We then peruse what's on offer. I flat out refuse to eat at the pizza/salad/burger place based on what I can see, which leaves dear hubby exasperated. Eventually we find a little Italian joint that we agree we can eat at after perusing the tables of existing customers. For some reason or other we can't or don't eat there.

Back to Nelson Bay we head and hubby makes a beeline for Zest; of course they are fully booked and this isn't one of those places where if you ask if they are likely to get a cancellation they magically find a spot. Nope, there is no way this lady is going to consider accommodating we desperate, hungry forlorn travellers. We head around the corner to the aforementioned el capitano. it looks okay - just a seaside pizza joint, but at this stage I'm happy to settle for that.

We order a pizza and two tapas dishes - prawns in spicy salsa and garlic mushrooms, to share; it should all go well with the vino de plonk we've picked up on the way, and we say we don't mind what order it comes in. the tapas arrives first in the traditional teracotta dish. The quartered mushrooms are just off raw and sitting in a snot-like gloop, still cold in the middle. I scrape off the snot and eat a few raw mushrooms; I need some vegies after the day we've had... The prawns are kind of warm, (I don't really think about it until later that night but they're not sizzling) and sitting in tomato based sauce that has no kick whatsoever to it. NB: terracotta dishes do not make the tapas taste better!!!

The pizza then arrives and we say nothing. We're over the day, we've niggled at each other for the past hour, and quite frankly, we just want food in our stomachs. The pizza is piping hot, run straight to our table from the oven and the toppings are of moderate quality (I checked on the way in that they were edible). The base of the pizza is spongey and I don't like it at all, so i dip it in the tomato sauce from the prawns. I'm convinced that pizza base this bad is frozen, although I stand corrected when we leave and see a ball of dough on the work surface - maybe they're using some kind of mix, because pizza dough is not that hard. Being the prawn monster that I am, I absent-mindedly pick at the prawns until they're gone and then whooshka, we're out of there and back to the motel (that word again) for another drink and a well deserved rest.


Please come back if you are eating whilst reading this.

... I receive an early morning pang in the stomach that lets me know that I must be on the toilet within 30 seconds. And there I remained for about 2 hours. In the morning hubby has a slightly unsettled stomach, but nothing to mention. We blame the prawns.

to be continued....

in praise of fussy eaters (Part 2)

oh Kurtz, the stench!

the (husband's) work-related Christmas bbq was held at a kind of petting farm north of Newcastle. Stepping out of the car on this warm and particularly humid morning I was punched in the face with the acrid stench hanging in the atmosphere.
This was no "Mmmmm fresh country air" of cow manure. It wasn't even the "oh boy, a sheep truck just went past" in north-western Victoria. no, this was a smell beyond any I had experienced before. this was goat poo upon goat poo upon goat poo upon... (you get the idea). And unlike the first two smells described, the latter was not one that the nostrils "acclimated" to. No indeed, some 4 hours later when we left, I could still smell only this one thing.

Once we entered the "farm" the source of the aforementioned smell was identified, as was our little party. The former, like the latter, were inside the gated circle and I suspect they had managed to over-run that part of the farm some time ago. In a way it was quite refreshing that in this day and age of over-sanitisation and community nannying (pardon the pun) that we were having a company do, and goats were jumping up on the tables!

It was actually a fantastic set up; using the per employee head budget these guys had come up with a family gathering which was more than well catered for and provided lots of entertainment for the lots of little sproggies that joined the party. The catering had been arranged by the social committee and the newly appointed office co-ordinator, and they did a wonderful job; this was no gourmet feast, but a family bbq.

Compromises were made in all the right places and none of the wrong ones. the quality of the sausages was good, the minute steaks were (I don't know, I didn't have one), and salads galore. There were drinks of all denominations in boxes of ice that were like King Midas purse - magically refilling! Thought had even gone into the kids' treats and snacks - lollies and crisp type snacks chosen on a preservative, additive and artificial colour free basis.

Hubby and I later noted that we observed not a single outburst from any child during the 4 hours, and none of them got taken by the dingoes either - incredible!

after making our farewell we headed to nearby Nelson Bay in "resort area" Port Stephens where hubby's company had arranged for us to stay the night so as not to spend 6hours on a Saturday in the car.

to be continued...

in praise of fussy eaters (part 1)

It's not what you think. Really! It just happens to be that our perception of fussy eaters are people who constantly chime in "I don't eat that" or "I don't like that". In which case, if you haven't tried it, or at least had a good look, scratch & sniff, I won't give you much of my time.

however, the fussy eater has a role in this society, particularly if we correlate it to a discerning eater and by this I don't mean a food critic or someone practised in the art of fine dining. I just think we could do with a great deal more of honesty when talking about food in our society.

Take for example the weekend just past...

Friday night was to be a pretty quiet affair as we had an out of town bbq to attend on Saturday. As it turned out my mum was in town, and so I invited her over for a stir fry of prawns, kangkung (ong choi or chinese watercress) and beansprouts. I make special note of this meal not because it is anything out of the ordinary, in fact it's one of our regular dishes, but only as this was the best meal I ate all weekend.

The following morning we had a slower than anticipated start but were still on the M2 by 9am which is pretty good for our sleepy little clan. We'd grabbed some takeaway coffees locally, but by the time we hit the F3 I was regretting skipping breakfast. A pit stop on the F3 at coffee-has-taken-its-effect o'clock and I could hold out no longer. Thinking that I would feel better if I chose something from the newish convenience designed to deliver fresh and satisfying foods, I perused the cabinets to no avail. nothing looked, well, appetising, or that fresh for that matter. An I didn't want a tub of hummus on an empty stomach either.

I know I could have packed a picnic, but I didn't see the point of shopping for food when we were heading to a lunch three hours out of town. We should have had breakfast of course, but we didn't.

So...I am afraid ladies and gentleman that you may be disappointed, but I did indeed head over to McDonalds (but only after scoffing at the coolibah cafe bain marie display!)

The thing is, I actually have very little against McDonalds, and I think they get a pretty rough deal compared to other sinners. I don't think McDonalds is ever going to win any awards for haute cuisine, nor is it something I would chose to eat regularly. But for someone that has travelled the roads of Australia over a lifetime, I am occasionally grateful for the proliferation of McDonalds.

"But what about the small townships?" I hear you cry. "What about the home made burgers at the chip shop?" All I can say is this. when you have had enough offal pies and offal burgers, when the frozen cheese sandwiches are soggy from defrosting, and the brown landscape of Australia seems to offer no reprieve, those golden arches on the road into the next main town are a relief indeed. A cold drink, fries and a burger that will have met some basic health and safety requirements, is perfectly satisfactory.

Some tips to eating at this establishment:
1. lower your expectation. You are about to buy a meal that costs $6 on the roadside in the middle of nowhere. in the township it will cost you $7 for the dodgey offal burger and then more for the extras.
2. what price do you attribute to a stable belly for the rest of your trip?
3. they have facilities that are usually reasonably clean. if they aren't there is always someone to complain to, and then they clean them.
4. watch the operations behind the counter carefully. listen to what people order and what the stuff have to ask to be made up as they're low. when it's your time to place an order, order whatever is just coming off the grill. failing that order what has run out.
5. keep an eye on the fries. no, not because of hamburgler silly! make sure yours are packaged as your order is put on the tray or in the bag. If there is a wait for your burger and go to give you the rest of your order say "I don't mind waiting for the burger, but I would like fresh fries with it when it's ready rather than now"
6. order something with lettuce. there's only a tiny bit, but you'll feel better for eating something with lettuce.
7. chew VERY slowly. the thing with this kind of food is that it's pre-chewed (by a machine of course) so the temptation to gulp it down without a tooth mark is high. this is not good as (a) you still feel hungry at the end of it so order more, and (b) a gut ache is almost guaranteed to follow half an hour later if you don't take your time.

Back on the road, and some time later we arrived at the bbq venue intact and in tolerable moods owing to our blood sugar count being in check.

to be continued...

idiot box; idiot jar

it's not that I don't have anything to say. I simply have too many things to say. so whilst we wait for the sediment to settle and the cream to come to the forefront of my mind i thought i would mention my great annoyance at a certain television commercial. In fact, I thought I had already had a rant about this product as it flies in the face of decency and common sense, but alas I have neglected to share this with you until now...

two angelic looking blonde children (are they twins? friends? who knows) are at the table and their poor frustrated mother is at kitchen bench. we're told how difficult it is to feed children fibre because, let's face it, kids hate vegetables. So instead of trying to hide vegetables in dishes such as spaghetti bolognese we should sprinkle in some fibre supplement to help get the family's fibre intake up to where it ought to be.

even better, is that the supplement is a totally tasteless, dissolvable and non-thickening powder that can be added to your everyday food or drink, you can even cook with it!!! as it is totally tasteless, dissolvable and non-thickening, you're children won't even know that they are eating fibre!!!

of course by the end of the advertisement the children are happily tucking into their bowls of spaghetti bolognese!

here we have a completely unnecessary product, marketed to parents and children alike, to declare that children don't like vegetables so give up trying, don't educate your kids about the importance of eating fibre and eating a balanced diet and neglecting to mention the additional nutrients and benefits eating vegetables can have. (the advertisement also breezes over the detail that the supplement is made from chicory - a plant!)

this product is touted to be a health food product. and yet from what i can tell, the community at large is more concerned about fast food chains putting toys in their "happy meals". whilst i don't want to get into a fast food debate, i do wonder where the priorities lie when people are thinking (or perhaps not) about these issues and how society determines what appropriate advertising is and isn't!!!

more S.O.L.E.

how breakfast became lunch...

when I grow up...

when i was very young I wanted to be a ballerina. my favourite story was "the little ballerina" - a book my parents tired of quickly, and one I knew so well that if mum tried to skip a page to hasten the proceedings I would pull her up and let her know I wanted the whole story.

somewhere along the line i dropped this ambition; puberty wasn't kind to me and unless they had a ballerina troupe for elephants, unemployment was an odds-on prospect. I decided I was going to be a pilot; goodness knows why, although it probably has more to do with my dad, his travels, and we talked about planes.

In my final year of school considering being a doctor. I missed out on the marks - a good slice of fate, as i have a particularly sensitive nose and start dry reaching as soon as i smell vomit, and don't particularly like anything squishy, slimy, bloody or ugly.

for the past few (perhaps 10) years i have thought that my dream job would be "restaurant reviewer". Can you imagine dining out as an occupation, getting the scoop on the newest, the greatest, and the tastiest? or so I thought until last week...

my family went out for my mother's birthday to a picturesque establishment on Sydney's north shore hosting a menu that is, prima facie, reasonably priced (nothing over $30) with a easy to please list of dishes. Its location is so discreet that we got there and turned around before calling and finding that we had been in the right location. once seated, our bottle of bubbles was surrendered to join the other bottles that had been brought to imbibe.

to begin we ordered stuffed zucchini flowers amongst us to share. I was gobsmacked when they arrived. these were not the luscious fertile looking zucchini flowers plump with soft cheese and tender stalks that I had become accustomed to at cafe sopra. on the plate sat 3 tiny, wilted, anaemic looking zucchini butts, with chewy petals, the batter sitting heavily upon them, and the caponata resembling more of a cold leftover ratatouille. we smiled our way on, pleading the staff to fill our now empty glasses with some of our wine that we had brought and they had hidden.

and then the mains arrived. I rarely order pasta out; i think it's a waste of money to pay for pasta, but on the night a prawn angel hair pasta fitted my mood and so I (and my sister) had ordered that. "be careful the plates are hot" warned the waiter as she popped our plates on the table and the next set of alarm bells started ringing in my head.
smiling to keep the peace, I sarcastically thought to myself "excellent, my meal has been sitting under a heat lamp for 10 minutes".

the rest of the meals came and the table tucked in. the pasta had been garnished with ever-so-fashionable micro mix, which had fallen foul to the heat lamp and resembled the remnants of dried oregano sprigs that you find in the bottom of the bag. The pasta had been overcooked and was in danger of turning to one single rope. The prawns were tough; they'd been cut in half (which i have no issue with) but as such don't need much cooking. the 10 minutes under the heat lamp would have been enough for these babies but i suspect they were well done before they got there.

the other meals on the table were steak - a safe and simple choice, cooked quite well and the best choice of the night, duck -which had the trademarks of the pre-cook preparation, and then a speedy reheat, and something else which was unmemorable. desserts were nice, but unremarkable, coffee for those that wanted, a bit more begging for the last of our wine (which I meanly poured the dregs into glasses to ensure the staff weren't actually trying to keep it for post-work drinks) and off we went.

I had a lovely evening. eating, and dining out, is something I am pretty good at, however frequenting good restaurants is a habit that I am currently unable to support. But if I could afford it, if I had paid for that meal, I would have been bitterly disappointed. Despite this establishment touting its "reasonable prices" I felt that it was anything but reasonable.

with good produce and simple execution it is really hard to bugger up something in the kitchen. yet time after time 'professionals' manage to do this; particularly in mid-range eateries. My comments on this are usually met with "but you've had a privileged life with parents that can cook" or words to that effect.

cooking was once a skill of survival - eat or die; now having someone, let alone all of us, do it well in a family is a privilege?

but back to my dream job... I realised that if I reviewed restaurants in a professional capacity, tolerating such mediocrity and finding words to describe them, without landing myself and my publishers in a defamation case, would be a very bad dream.

just so cool!

apparently I am too cool for school! 

well,  not really. 

I have never considered myself much of a trend setter, but I do like to think I have my finger on the pulse...

after mentioning a certain "dead wood" blog last week, this week the aforementioned blog has a post somewhat similar to this post...

I cast no aspersions, simply point out that it brought a rather wry smile to my face...

tell me though, would you eat something that looked like what's in the picture (linked above for reference) posted? no wonder there are left overs!!!

blood from a stone

Woolworths, Australia's largest supermarket chain expects profit in fiscal 2008 to rise by between 19 and 23 percent over the previous year.

It's not clear however how CEO, Michael Luscombe, intends to do this; the article notes that he believes competition in the food area was very strong, and notes that grocery prices had become an issue in the current federal election campaign.

"Essentially, I just want to reassure you about the efforts Woolworths is making to keep prices as low as possible for our customers whilst ensuring a fair return for suppliers,'' he said.

although according to another report Woolworths' food prices rose by 2.2 per cent between April and June this year.

do you believe him and if so, where are these massive increases in profitability going to come from?

see the article as published in the Sydney Morning Herald

S.O.L.E. straightforward

the bloggers' banquet in Melbourne this week was a great opportunity to meet, as Anne of Green Gables would say, some kindred spirits, to discover new ideas even find a new talent of my own.

I marvelled at Duncan's macarons, the vast quantity of Ed's pizza dough, the delicious toppings brought by many others, Vida's haloumi (and apparently her cake was beyond sublime), Ella's prosciutto wrapped asparagus and balsamic strawbs with cream, Jane's barramundis on oh-my-goodness-it's-sublime porcini risotto, John's array of wonton & meatballs and Emily's macaroni cheese patty pans and peanut clusters to name but a few... photos on flickr

One of the things however that struck me, albeit later in conversation with others who had enquired, was the magnificence of the food brought to the communal table in all its simplicity. That's not to say that no effort was made, au contrare! simplicity in the best possible way - lacking complication, unnecessary refinement, embellishment, ornamentation. in fact, just taking plain old good ingredients and making them into great food. which brings me to the real point of this post...

the application of straightforward simplicity to every day food without spending a bomb to do so.

take the everyday sandwich. millions across the nation are eating them on any given day. many of them, maybe most of them, are full of overprocessed and refined foods - some white bread, possibly artificially enhanced with fibre and omega-3, "cheese" that next to the real deal tastes like anything but, processed meats if you're lucky, and a piece of stale old lettuce, over 2 weeks old by the time it comes home from the supermarket, void of any nutritional qualities.

yet the sandwich need be anything but humble with a little of thought.

sandwiches are a great way to use up leftovers - the random piece of steak from last night thinly sliced, pickings of chicken off the carcass, left over casseroles, takeaways and salads. one of my favourites when I was at school was the leftover chicken from a curry that my mum made frequently. of course line the bread with something less permeable - lettuce or something, to stop the bread from going soggy if you aren't going to eat straight away.

here's one version:

  • bread was sourced from am local bakery specialising in sustainable grains and baking techniques. whilst a 750g loaf will cost about $5.60 a 1kg loaf is about $7.20 making it, on an pound for poud basis, relatively affordable.

  • the dressing/mayonnaise i used was home made, using local, free range eggs.

  • the lettuce came from salads direct, based in the huntervalley and practicing sustainable farming practices

  • the tomatoes were purchased at Flemington and grown in the Sydney basin. I roasted them at home.

  • the chicken was from a local wholesale butcher - sourced indirectly from La Ionica using chemically free processing methods.

  • some salt (Horizon salt - from ancestral subterranean streams in the Loddon Valley and cheaper than other salt flakes on the market) and pepper (can't tell you where this came from I'm afraid.

the cost? well bugger all really, as most of it was stuff I had bought for other things, and this was what I did with it. eating well, eating sustainably, eating relatively healthily is straightforward as long as you are prepared to flex a little creativity and get on with it!

S.O.L.E. not simple - the humble rice grain

rice - a simple product, a staple food for billions around the world in a number of varieties, each suitable to specific climates & cuisines; a symbiotic relationship with the climate in which it yields best results.

slow food, organic food, ethicurean - all labels applied to making a moral or ethical choice in regard to food consumption however the labelling, the fadism and fundamentalism obscures the complexity of issues at hand and deters mainstream society from participating in conscious consumerism.

yet rice provides us with an example of the intricacies involved. typically considered the domain of asian nations, was first grown and produced for commercial sale in Australia in 1914, although yields and consumption are low in relation to the global market. with an announcement that the 2008 crop is expected to yield 15,000 tonnes (compared to the 1.25 million tonnes of paddy in 2001/02) I began to think about the application of S.O.L.E to the humble rice grain.

(from weekend financial review 10th November 2007)

sustainability is an elusive and slippery word as it takes into account economic, ecological and sociological issues.
looking firstly at the ecology of rice growing in Australia we know that the irrigation of the riverina has caused salinity issues, global warming has exacerbated the extremities of the earth's weather patterns, and water is at a premium in Australia.
we hear much about global warming and the carbon footprint of economical and social activity, however sustainability extends beyond that. the arability of land, for example, is a key issue in northwestern victoria and southwestern nsw that is not solely related to global warming. However we can extend our concept of sustainability beyond our local farming and question the sustainability of rice crops globally. for an example, see the article referred to in sustainability of sustenance where the linked article cited failed rice crops in china owing to tidal flooding.
at this point in time, whether rice is grown organically or not, seems to be a secondary issue in light of the sustainability issues raised above.
with the announcement of the expected dearth of "local" rice in australia for 2008, the issues will become (a) will there be enough rice for the australian populatioin; (b) will australian grown rice be affordable for the average household; and (c) is it better to stop eatiing rice altogether or to find another (albeit foreign) source.
the largest rice yields in the world come from china, india, and indonesia. each of these countries has received criticism with regard to its "industrial relations" - whether through their caste systems, child labour, slave labour, or poor health and safety standards. Whilst in Australia, our working conditions (although we might not like to admit it) are OECD standard and thereby some of the best in the world.

whilst acknowledging S.O.L.E criteria are not univerally applicable, and that the ethicurean stance is that one of the criteria are met, it is clear that there is no single correct answer in the debate - our choices, with all things in life are half chance.

ozharvest 3rd birthday bash

I am one of the few people that is underwhelmed by social events that others seem to get excited about; markets, and community festivals as well, as weddings frequently underwhelm - not that I'm a party pooper, the anticipation is often more exciting than the event.

Weddings are a beautiful notion; I love the ceremony (albeit without lectures on returning to the church out of convenience). However the reception can be underwhelming for so many reasons, but time is usually of the essence.

I often find markets fall well shy of what it is they purport to be about; whether it's grower's markets, craft markets, organic, etc... Community and street festivals are another one that I struggle with - the crowds, the noise, the stupid people that think it's appropriate to ram their 4WD pram into anyone in their way...

Occasionally, I get a pleasant surprise, feastability in Newtown was one. Having previously avoided going, I thought I should; I mean, this is the year of my new life, my new venture, and I should know what's going on. I braced myself for hairy armpits, dreadlocks, body odour, purple velvet, goth make up, and inappopriate diplays of physical affection. To my utter delight, these were not on the guest list and we were met instead with great food stalls (well the things we chose were), beer brewed by the home brew shop, a few wineries, entertainment, a glorious day, ambience rarely seen in this frequently selfish city, and people having a good time, being nice to each other and sharing in the day. fella, as always, found a friend.

Again, this week I had a pleasant surprise. having recently become a donor to OzHarvest, we were invited to their third birthday celebration. And I was impressed!

Indeed, the Museum of Contemporary Art had donated one of Sydney's premier function spaces, complete with outdoor terrace overlooking the overseas passenger terminal, opera house, circular quay and harbour bridge at different angles. Food had been donated by catering companies that regularly donate food - simple and yet appropriate, bagels with assorted fillings and petit four-sized cupcakes. the "bar" provided bubbles and wine - very palatable and again donated. a fantastic band also kicked off festivities voluntarily.

Even more impressive was the turn out; the usual suspects - founders, corporate sponsor delegate were of course there, but this was no elite back slapping festival! The night was about involvement; and echoed throughout the evening in the speaches, the thankyou's, the mingling and the attendance - food donors and financial sponsors were acknowledged on a board, photos of volunteers and the organisation's progress were displayed on a partition, the van drivers were introduced to the whole party, workers, volunteers, and donors alike were thanked, and, even better in my opinion recipient charities were included! we heard from the lady that manages lulu's house in the cross, there were pastors and community center staff present to say "thanks" and better yet, some of their "customers" were in attendance as well.

perhaps the thing that summed it up best, was that when it was time to go, as we waited for the lift, we all (security staff included) turned a blind eye to the gentleman with a bottle of wine not-so-discreetly tucked inside his jacket.

waste not, want not

I had a nagging doubt in my mind after finishing the previous post on this blog. it wasn't that I doubted what I had written, nor did I question the logic behind the argument that food has the potential to become a hot commodity ...then at some point over the weekend it came to me what it was.

food wastage

i hate wasting food. I credit my mother, who would make us sit at the table until it was all gone (I did however, win the great irish stew standoff of 1979), for instilling the belief that food wastage is innately wrong; I feel a twinge of guilt whenever I throw out food, even the furry stuff.

Not that I throw out very much food at all. most winter weekends you will see me making "clean out the fridge soup' to make space for the fresh purchases and in summer it becomes "clean out the fridge antipasto" whereby the contents gets thrown on the bbq, chargrilled and packaged up in containers with a bit of EVOO and possibly some herbs. these get tossed through salads, used for pizza and pasta toppings and given to friends and family (who give me the impression that they think this is rather delightful).

having started a business focused on fresh food and a no/lo inventory policy, the potential issue of food wastage would rear its ugly head. at the start excess was treated the same as within the domestic kitchen. however along the way there are points of critical mass where purchases exceed sales owing to the format that produce is available in, and these would need to be dealt with.

at restaurant 2007 in Sydney, we discovered Ozharvest, and as soon as we hit "critical mass" they were at the ready to accept and redistribute any excesses that we may have had to worthy causes, and whilst my current contribution is tiny, ozharvest have donors that are far more substantial that my fledgling business.

On the other hand, the businesses that do support this activity are miniscule in comparison to the waste that occurs en masse on a daily basis in FMCG companies.

My experience with one supermarket chain is that "perished product" must be dispensed with - mind you, what I discard you'd pick it out as the freshest on the shelf in their store. Of course, dumpster divers will still do exactly that, wash off the putrid bits and eat it. However the standard line of the supermarkets has always been that they are not prepared to open themselves up to the risk of legal liability for anyone consuming their "waste".

similarly whilst consulting at a major snackfood company, the issue of obsolescence of stock came into issue - product must be delivered no less than 12 weeks before the "best before date" and is further complicated by the bespoke format packs that each retail chain sells "exclusively". Ordinarily there is 16 weeks between manufacture commitment and the best before date and the snackfood company forecasts required production, without any commitment from the supermarket that they will, indeed, purchase that amount of product before it becomes obsolete under their own terms.

As a result of obsolescence there is product wastage as product cannot be on-sold if it is an exclusive format or will not be on-sold as the manufacturer is not prepared to release inferior product to the market. It won't get given to charity either for product quality and legal liability reasons. In this case, the manufacturer was pleased that they found an alternate solution. a nearby dairy farmer decided that he would take the product to feed to his cows, and the snackfood company was therefore able to overcome the expense of disposing of the goods.

It is probable an increasing demand for food owing to an expanding global population, and a decreasing amount of natural resource to produce such food, counterbalanced with advances in technology and sustainable farming practices will be an issue. At this point in time however, not only is the population at large ignorant of this, but continues on a daily basis to support wasteful and unsustainable behaviour.


Civil Liability Act 2002: protection from civil liability in respect of food donations

dumpster diving:
abc backyard stories

causal connection and conscience - the apathy vote

As I first embarked on this journey I believed that if a conscience based choice could be made as easily as any other option available, human nature would make that choice. I didn't factor in the apathy of the average person toward anything outside their own patch.

If I had a dollar for everytime I heard a gripe about the 2 major supermarket chains - whether quality, price, value, service, or any other thing, I would be wealthy. If I had a dollar for every piece of journalism relating to these 2 enterprises I would be an extremely wealthy person. If I then extrapolate this to the availability of branded consumer goods, would I be writing this article? quite probably, but I certainly would be doing it from a position of privilege.

but instead of dollar coins raining on me from the sky, i have come across another revelation. I call it "the Jack principle". It's an evolution of "I'm alright Jack" and without getting into the politics of it, I think it has proliferated under the nanny state that Australia has become.

under the Jack principle ordinary people aren't inclined to think. they don't have to. if jack's child gets fat, Jack blames the government, fast food chains and media. if jack's child doesn't get breakfast, the red cross steps in with a breakfast programme at the school. Jack only buys a car with a "V"model, and then demands the government intervene in the ever increasing price of fuel. If Jack can't find a certain brand of worcester sauce, Jack has a trantrum. But does Jack ever do anything beyond "reactionary"?

Jack hasn't quite worked out that the action that each of us takes defines what happens next; that the way to make a difference is to behave differently. instead Jack stands in the sidelines and complains whilst at the same time promoting and supporting the subject of the complaint.

SO, if you think that farmers have a raw deal, support them, and don't support those that exploit them!
if you think that supermarket chains are rubbish, don't shop there!
If you think that climate change is an issue - downsize your engine, get a more efficient car, but don't talk to me from the window of your v8!

WHATEVER you do, don't say to me "I wish" or "if only" and then never make a single step toward changing it.

the outcome

so the outcome of that rather wordy post (below) ended up in a delicious dinner (pizza) with home made tomato "salsa", char grilled mushrooms and yellow capsicum, capers and bocconcini (I bought this).

I have recently taken to cooking pizza on my sandwich press (set on melt mode so the top doesn't hit the cheese).

I should go and get a stone, as my smeg on steroids is probably the perfect pizza oven; it's useless for cooking anything slowly that's for sure!

however, with all of this woodfire oven talk recently on other blogs, i thought I would put it out there... do you think cooking a pizza on a stone on the weber (NOT gas but a real one) would work?


today I'm feeling a tad dusty - I didn't sleep well last night, probably a result of a few too many vino de plonks on the lounge; so I thought of instead trying to exercise my cerebral center, i would refer to something I think is kind of interesting, although i do not know how factual it is.

Recently, through Jason and Shona at salads direct, I have come across 2DIE4 LIVE FOODS who describe themselves as "food alchemists". At this stage the product range several varieties of activated nuts and seeds. what does this mean?

"The 60's/70's movement into raw and whole foods contained major errors in our search for healthier diets. Sadly omitted from that wildly developing new cuisine was the ancient art of fermentation, for, with the wise application of this bounteous craft nutirents such as proteins, carbs and malts, which are otherwise toxic or allergenic and enzymatically converted to a pre-digested state, leaving that food detoxed..."

in a nutshell, fermentation = activation. Now whether we believe this or not, and whether this is scientifically proven I don't know, but the product information sheet does go into a great level of detail that makes a great deal of sense. Putting that aside, the information goes on to say some other interesting things...

"Gluten in wheat is a marvelous vegetarian 2-part protein that has been falsely demonised. Once a bread or pizza dough is allowed to ferment for at least 6 hours (as was common practice until the 1950's), the significant enzyme activity generated converts not only the gluten but also the maltose, carbs and other elements into their beneficial, digestible alter-egos. And since 99% of modern day bread and other wheat products are made at breakneck speed, we have the illusion of a gluten allergy on our hands.
"We have lost the connection with sloooow! Sloooow nourishes. Speed kills - in the kitchen too. We are not born 'gluten intolerant', we are quite naturally intolerant of any and all ill-prepared proteins like gluten. We are in fact allergic to the galloping haste of modern life and to the absolute rush of essential food and production processes"

whether or not you buy into this or not, there are some interesting points made by 2DIE4

the product is bloody tasy too!

are you ethicurean?

what the?
thanks to stickyfingers who brought my attention to an article in this week's Age that has left me pondering a new label... ETHICUREAN

"It's a new word to describe a new kind of eater - a diner whose ethical concerns take priority over epicurean whims. Ethicureans like their food as tasty as everyone else, but they insist it falls into at least some of four categories - sustainable, organic, local and ethical - SOLE food, for short."

Now I definitely spend a substantial amount of time thinking about food. in fact, I'm a food obsessive. And I do spend a lot of time thinking about what food I buy - where it comes from, its quality, what my perceived value of it is, amongst many other considerations. But I am not so sure that when it comes to eating I insist that my food comes from one of these four categories.

If I think a little harder about what I like to eat, and where I eat it, even by whim, then a large part of what I do satisfies these criteria that's the way my ship steers and I suspect nurture and nature have a large part in this.

However once I am able to stride over this introductory paragraph of media sensationalism the article I refer to begins to delve into some of the bigger questions that we should all be asking when it comes to food consumption. In the short article it is, it naturally simplifies some of the issues, but manages to still emphasis the interactive and complex analysis at play, and whilst I do not agree with necessarily everything (the apple example for example) I think this is an excellent introduction to many of the considerations that come into play.

read, moving up the food chain

(the seemingly random photo above is of Jason & Shona from salads direct, from whom I source lettuce and salad mix, and with whom I have great conversations about this sort of thing)


this may seem off topic to some of you, but I assure you, it's not.

Today, whilst doing my morning scoot through the plethora of blogs, forums and posts on food on the internet I came across a blog new to me, whereby a woman in England is encouraging her children to eat vegetables, working her way through the alphabet with them and providing taste tests of a number of recipes for each vegetable.

"Welcome to the World's First Great Big Vegetable Challenge! Take one seven year old boy named Freddie and his mother as they face the challenge of turning him from a Vegetable-Phobic into a boy who will eat and even enjoy some of life's leafier pleasures. Join us as we work through the A to Z of vegetables!"

the thing I find most impressive is the creativity and level of determination this lady. there's no hiding vegies under creamy pastas, and no throwing her hands up in the air, sighing, and sprinkling a tin of metamucil in everything as the advertising on television would have us believe is the ONLY solution.

i want to introduce all and sundry to this marvellous blog!

all packaged up

I have espoused a level of contempt for supermarkets on this blog to date, to the point where at least one of my 'readers' has become concerned about the straightness of my underpants. I am checking and they are still well aligned - no twisting for this girl thanks

but on a more serious note, it's not just supermarkets that have the sole rights to corporate bastardry. in fact, it happens throughout most things we consume and is probably far worse in many other countries. today i refer to the visy v.s amcor ACCC saga, as today's SMH points out, if we've consumed a cucumber, tomato, or capsicum in the last year, we're included in the group of mugs who end up paying.

you can read the article here ...

PR wheels are a'spinning

I sure hope the PR department at Bella Vista based grocery chain is well paid, because they are doing an absolutely fantastic job! Really, they are. the dominance of the company in the media pages over the past few weeks has been supreme.

In another article posted by fairfax (are they on a retainer?) we hear that the food retail sector is not concentrated, and that AC Nielsen data stating that the market share of Coles & Woolworths is misleading. According to a different set of statistics (ABS), independents make up more than 50 per cent of the total market and are growing.

unfortunately the article provides no facts and figures regarding $spend, population catchment, product ranges, licenses or anything else that is vaguely relevant; we are merely meant to find some sympathy for the "BIG GUYS" because they may or may not be as big as you think... hmmmmmmmmm

feed us another line

I don't really know why I thought a change of the guard at one of our major supermarkets would lead to a more pallatable set of ethics; probably because I am a dreamer, and romantically think that the world is a good and kind place. Which in fact, it often is, as long as you keep your nose out of corporate dealings and media myths.

again we have been inundated again with articles on the cost of food in relation to the drought and how we all better prepare ourselves for further price increases:

significant food price increases
drought begins to bite at the checkout

Apparently Woolworths group CEO, Michael Luscombe has said, "We will negotiate prices that are fair," Mr Luscombe said. "We help them in times of surplus and scarcity."

Now I haven't seen Woolworths help anyone but themselves in times of surplus nor scarcity. so far, all we have seen from WOW! is a donation of one day's profit to the drought cause. In light of that let me refer you back to a recent post on this blog where the amount of drought relief provided by the government is compared agains the nett profit after tax of Australia's top 2 supermarket retailers.

And with the media lapping up whatever the Wooworths' PR spin is, it's no wonder Mr Luscombe has a smug look of contentment about him!

sanity will never prevail

that's right ladies and gents, after reading the article below, i have decided that sanity is a lost cause.

this week I saw the following article regarding a dessert in a Sri Lankan Hotel for the meagre sum of USD14,500. to be fair you get to keep a 80carat aquamarine worth USD14,000 that's part of the dish (unless of course you eat it, and then i expect a small sum of money will find a pauper to help you retrieve it!).

still that's a USD500 dessert. not having a particularly sweet tooth I cannot fathom a dessert at AUD50, but I cannot help but wonder what hope we have to address poverty, human rights, global warming, or anything of any consequence, when "creative thought" is being allocated to this kind of thing.

sourced from taste online

produce markets

i love the concept of these markets, i really do...

i love the idea of market gardeners coming together to local community hubs such as schools, showgrounds, public spaces, to sell their home-grown fruit & vegetables, home made jams & cakes, honey harvested from their property, milk, cheese, yogurt, free range eggs and chooks, etc.

it all sounds rather lovely, and it would be, if that was really what occurred.

now there are some very good exceptions to the rest of this blog - the pyrmont market run by the SMH and the northside produce market. they of course have their own drawbacks, but the following commments do not apply to these two markets.

there are of course some good markets around the country, however the residents of sydney have, in my humble opinion, been duped. i have had my suspicions for some time about the authenticity of some of the "growers" present at these markets.

now that I have started my own business within the grocery sector, I can now confirm that the vast majority of what i have seen is not the real deal. having spent enough early mornings at flemington markets, i recognise the boxes, the packaging, and the products that appear at these markets. I nearly fell over laughing recently at the EQ markets when the snake beans had "grown in china" tape around the bunches!

I had to quickly walk on past one butcher selling "veal" that was redder than yearling beef before I sniggered all over his display and would become compelled to snatch his customers' handbags to prevent them from reaching for their money.

and without even scratching the surface of the pros and cons of organic farming, the organic food markets doing the rounds in Sydney are questionable; my favourite part of this is the stalls that have a teeny weeny sign in the corner that say "not certified organic" (what does that mean? that it's grown using organic principles and not certified, or that it's grown using any old method).

the organiser's website does little to quell this cynicism either.
Is it Organic?

What is organic food?

At a minimum organic food is grown on land which has had time to become clear of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and herbecides. In addition none of these are used to assist in growth. If an animal is to be reared organically it will be fed on organic produce, not given growth hormones or antibiotics and generally not have been subject to intensive rearing.
Is all the food on the market organic?

No. Some of the food is Organic and some of it is conventional. Conventional food is grown using the current prevalent agricultural methods. We have asked all stallholders who sell food which is not Certified Organic to display signage clearly indicating this.
So how do I know its organic?

Your best guarantee that produce, eggs and meat is organic is to ask if it is Certified Organic. There are several bodies in Australia that exist purely to audit organic food production and/or distribution. If in any doubt ask the stallholder or ask us at the market or by email. Stalls selling Certified Organic produce will normally make sure you are aware it is certified.
What about prepared food?

Most of the hot food on the market is NOT organic. Other prepared food like bread or cakes may be. Stallholders who use organic ingredients will normally sign that they have. It is best to ask if this is important to you.

so dear friends, readers, anybody, (bueller?) what to do? we all know that the supermarket chains don't sell fresh produce, and we had a nice warm fuzzy feeling about buying directly from the growers themselves, but now we know that's not quite the case either.

my suggestion? (apart from of course supporting my business) is to keep supporting your local, friendly and hopefully honest grocers; learn about the food you are buying, understand which cuts of meat are good for different styles of cooking, know what's in season and don't expect to eat things all year round, and experiment with seasonal produce and recipes. that should replace the warm fuzzies that have just been extinguished!

how many types of chicken?

just exactly how many types of chicken are there? our fresh food friends seem to think that presenting chicken in different formats - cooked, marinated, cut up, free range; constitutes different types of chicken. how is that fresh food? how is it a different type of chicken?

are we really that stupid?

bitter greens

Michael Luscombe is certainly getting value for money from his contacts over at fairfax! Today Vanda Carson has posted 2 articles on promoting the supermarket chain he oversees.

Not surprisingly, woolworths is to launch a branded credit card with insurance and loans to follow. No surprises here, expect that woolies intends to manage this in house (and you thought their focus was on fresh food and getting it to you!!!).

the second article from Carson reports Luscombe graciously vowing to "kick its major competitor while it is down, unveiling a major expansion strategy as profits continue to surge".

nice one!!!

woolies, however they may fail the public, are doing wonderfully on the ASX and are a darling of the business media, whilst coles has gone from bad to worst in terms of investor performance. However, Woolies results are a light at the end of the tunnel for Coles, according to Malcolm Maiden.

everyone loves a winner, and whilst woolies profits has benefitted from a supply chain overhaul (so we are continually reminded), it is easy to forget some of the cold hard facts, such as pricing studies done by choice magazine

corporate social responsibility

If I had a dollar for every time I hear or read a comment on supermarket chains, awful supermarket experiences, and poor fresh produce, well I might still be writing this blog, but my fortunes would be significantly different...

again i cite reports in the media regarding one of our two Australian supermarket retailers, relating both to its apparent lack of ethics and ever increasing profits

perhaps this might go toward explaining why fresh produce in Australian supermarkets is so poor, and where the focus of our retailers really lie...

tut tut tut!

another wrap over the knuckles for woolies...

misleading the public over a "sustainable forest fibre" logo on its Select products

spilt milk

In case you haven't worked it out, I am not a fan of supermarkets. I think their product quality is appalling, I think that they have more responsibility in the "obesity pandemic" than fast food chains, and i find the experience of playing shopping trolley dodgems under flourescent lighting unappealling.
Therefore, I loved this article in heckler, SMH.

red meat

apparently australians have returned to red meat consumption. the following article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald:

lamb or the wool?

we're all getting older each microsecond of the day, but occasionally something reminds us of this inevitable process of what we call life. recently richard glover of abc702 and smh columnist has been reminding me that I am no longer a carefree 22 year old!

In recent weeks he has discussed his domestic appointment as Minister for the Environment of his family, and I chortled along whilst reading the article thinking of my own Al Gore that wanders around trhe house turning things off, and unplugging every day appliance so that i have to crawl under furniture to use them.

so again I felt just another bit older when I read, in praise of cantankerous skinflints because I had to acknowledge that i agree with this nerdy but personable man, on lots of things.

point of the article: supermarkets charge what they think customers will pay and bank on consumers not knowing the difference in quality of a leg of lamb costing $14.99 and that costing $25.00!!!

richard alludes to, but doesn't address, the is a difference - one will be a sheep bred for wool offloaded onto the market owing to drought or other circumstances, and one will be a lamb bred for lamb, on a farm, of a certain meat-providing breed. one of these sheep is prone to a larger surface area (the wool one) and the other is prone to meatiness. can you tell the difference in the supermarket? I doubt it, because if you're buying your lamb there, it's usually the wooly stuff!


I had a little snigger at a Good Living article this week.

for the past three or so weeks the vast majority of australia has been paying through the nose for fruit and vegetables, particularly green vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, beans and lettuce. The quality has also been less than what we are used to as a result of a 2-3 week cold snap across the country.

this week, the food media finally caught on that retailers had been charging as much as $9.99/kg for broccoli. and that very day, it was back to $2.99 in some shopping centers. i think this says a lot about the food editors over at the sydney morning herald!

who's got their finger on the pulse?

voice of reason

ALP candidate George Colbran has today been cited as going "troppo" by the sydney morning herald.

"LABOR'S push to banish cartoon characters from promotions of food to children have given one of the party's candidates a mild bout of indigestion.
"George Colbran, who is standing for the ALP in the Queensland electorate of Herbert, operates nine McDonald's restaurants, making him one of the fast food chain's biggest Australian franchisees. He argues that childhood obesity has been over-simplified by those who blame "junk" food"

Mr Colbran outrageously suggests that "voters in the Townsville electorate are far more concerned about the parlous state of local roads and poor access to broadband." newsworthy stuff? (read for yourself if you like)

whilst Colbran and is his electorate wait for their internet downloads in tropical Queensland, the debate over advertising off junk food targeting children rages on...
and on...

earlier in the week the SMH had published an article titled why junking pester power ads may do a fat lot of good, the gist of this article being whether or not advertising of junk food to children bears a direct correlation to increasing rates of childhood obesity. naturally the advertising industry has a presented a case to the governments of australia and its states that it does not

following on from this was then a comments section for the public on pester power moments with kids which provided great entertainment and insight into the polarity of opinions on this subject.

one mother pointed out it was her responsibility to control the access that child had to junk food as her 3 year old had no cash, and couldn't drive. others objected to the "no responsibility" state and others the "big brother" state whilst some parents simply let it be known that they are struggling with their childrens "cannivering".

creative parenting of the day award however, went to "family guy" who has invented a family game of ad-zapping whereby the right to the remote control depends on the ability to hit the mute button within a split second of the commercial break starting OR ending..

where does it come from?

the sydney morning herald lifestyle blog, "chew on this" by Paula Goodyer this week posted "sacrificial calves - the real cost of eating dairy food" sparking controversy from all corners of the "to dairy or not" debate (you can read them there). what was not discussed was the cost of eating dairy food.

the article cites claims that 250kg of greenhouse gas could be saved by reducing your weekly milk intake by two cups (apparently the equivalent of 1/4 of the annual emissions saved by switching to a hybrid car). the article swiftly moves from carbon footprint to the ethics of the dairy industry itself, and what might happen to male-born calves

over 2 days the post got 92 responses, not once were we presented with any substance regarding the cost - environmental, economical, social, or otherwise; mostly it was a heap of drivel about soy products. if we are to calculate the real cost of consumption of a product, the reactive behaviour of non consumption should factor into the cost model.

how much energy goes into converting a soy bean into a dairy substitute? what are the processes involved? where is the soy bean grown? are the farming practices ethical & sustainable? who grows the soy bean; are they reimbursed appropriately or exploited? who processes the soybean into the consumer product? where is it processed? what other ingredients/products are required, and where do they come from? I could go on...

are we any better off consuming soy milk - a highly processed product, in preference to animal milk (even if it is processed to some extent)? at the end of the day, it's just another highly processed food with economic and ecological costs as well as a well-tuned machine of marketing, advertising and corporate backing to ensure it remains a profitable business category.