Category Archives: Food and Drink

Uh oh! There’s a vulnerable creature on the menu!

Settling into the restaurant. Over by the window? Charming wait staff. Comfortable? Open the menu.

zomato but anon restaurant because why?

zomato but anon restaurant because why?

Something a little bigger? Something a little endangered! ‘Grilled roughy – crumbed and grilled new zealand orange roughy fish fillets w cartarni chips, dressed salad + tartare sauce’. Delicious. (What’s a cartarni chip?) Although by any other name, slimehead for instance, maybe not so marketable?

http://www.letsjumptogether.com/2009/09/orange-roughy-fish/

http://www.letsjumptogether.com/2009/09/orange-roughy-fish/

Greenpeace points out orange roughy is known by quite a few other names:

Orange roughy. ‘Orange roughy’ (Hoplostethus atlanticus) is very sensitive to overfishing and has been overfished in the past. Environment groups advise against eating it but conscientious consumers can’t do the right thing because it goes by a number of names on restaurant menus, including ‘deep sea perch’ and ‘sea perch’.

You’re comfortable. Nice table with a pleasant vista. Jolly company. We’ve seen the roughy. Now, are you going to make a fuss? At least ASK about the roughy?!!

Um. No. WHY NOT?

The NZ Forest and Bird folk have put orange roughy on their ‘Worst choice’ list! It’s on the Seawatch avoid list! The UK Marine Conservation Society have a Goodfish Guide. Orange Roughy rates 5 – in the red zone. Avoid.

Don’t buy the roughy.

http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/rough-going-orange-roughy

http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/rough-going-orange-roughy

Greenpeace are behind a new movement called ‘Label My Fish‘ which was due to report late last year. Greenpeace quotes this chef:

Gourmet Farmer, chef and former restaurant critic Matthew Evans said, “Imagine a menu that offered ‘mammal and root vegetable’, or ‘bird and green leaf’. It would be considered ridiculous. In Australia you can simply write ‘fish’ on a menu, without much of a problem.

This menu only features the one fish option. The menu hasn’t changed for a couple of years. Can it really be orange roughy? And what of others? We’ve all been to restaurants that celebrate the tuna. Could be yellow fin, could be blue fin. Why don’t we say anything about that? Is it just because it’s tasty?

http://darindines.com/2012/04/22/bluefin-tuna/

http://darindines.com/2012/04/22/bluefin-tuna/

Tuna. Oh yeah. Mmmm mmmm mmmm …

https://www.mrag.co.uk/experience/implementation-iccat-regional-observer-programme-eastern-atlantic-and-mediterranean

https://www.mrag.co.uk/experience/implementation-iccat-regional-observer-programme-eastern-atlantic-and-mediterranean

How many scrumptious things can you do with this baby? Only, when they (WWF) say rare, they don’t just mean the cooking style.

http://www.foodjimoto.com/2011/10/sashimi-pacific-bluefin-tuna.html

http://www.foodjimoto.com/2011/10/sashimi-pacific-bluefin-tuna.html

You know they’re one of the last ones evs. Having written a book called Last Chance to Eat, I’ve got an interest in these matters. Just in case you’re interested in all things EKTEK, you might like to know I’m putting the three books together as one.

EKTEK It will be called, of all things, EKTEK! It will be available on Amazon as an ebook and in print (730ish pages!) and it will be on Smashwords as well if you’ve got a Nook or something outlandish. The process has begun!

And now back to our menu. This restaurant smells fantastic. You are really hungry. So what are you doing? Did you point these delicacies out to your dining companions? Are you shifting uncomfortably in your seat?

Did you check out Sustainable Seafood to find an alternative?

For what it’s worth, I signed the pledge.

Greenpeace asked me to do the following to help. Maybe I can encourage you peeps to do the same? And next time we go to that restaurant, maybe we might just ask about the roughy.

Dear Victoria

Thanks for sending a message to the Federal Government urging a reform to Australia’s seafood labelling laws.

The more people that email the Federal Government today, the more likely we are to make a real difference. Can you help once more by bringing your friends and loved ones on board? Here’s how:

  1. FORWARD the text below the dotted line to your friends by email
  2. SHARE this link on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1sGlBg1
  3. TWEET this: http://bit.ly/1QAjxDN
  4. Ask your local seafood retailer to support clearer seafood labelling: http://bit.ly/1rtR7bP

Thanks for being part of this.

From everyone at Greenpeace Australia Pacific

===================

Tell the Australian Government: I want to know what seafood I am eating – and demand accurate labelling.

Australian seafood labelling laws are weak. They do not provide adequate information that tells consumers exactly what seafood they are purchasing.

We are calling on the Federal Government to develop new laws which require labelling of: what fish it is, where it was caught and how it was caught or farmed. Improved labelling laws will help consumers make informed choices about what seafood they eat and support sustainably caught fish from Australian fishers.

Take action: http://bit.ly/ZYGhoV

http://www.roughy-mara.net/facts/swimming-deep-down/orange-roughy/

http://www.roughy-mara.net/facts/swimming-deep-down/orange-roughy/

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Link

Like the sunshine …

When I remarked upon the Pope’s encyclical, I had not seen George Monbiot’s passionate piece about love for nature. He’s right that economical arguments around the cost of environmental damage do not appear to be successful. Time to try something else. Like our emotional response to nature.

http://top10for.com/top-10-best-health-benefits-of-sunlight/

http://top10for.com/top-10-best-health-benefits-of-sunlight/

I have also commented upon the increased interest in getting children outdoors in order to increase that love for nature. And now we have an added incentive. Chinese children are increasingly myopic. It’s not just Asian kids. How to fix that short sighted crowd? Get them outside.

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/article/1858791/if-you-dont-want-fat-and-short-sighted-kids-let-them-out-more

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/article/1858791/if-you-dont-want-fat-and-short-sighted-kids-let-them-out-more

Give the young long sight – a vision. How else will they learn to love nature and protect it?

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/sunliught-reduce-high-blood-pressure-study-article-1.1586791

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/sunliught-reduce-high-blood-pressure-study-article-1.1586791

I’ve been diagnosed with low levels of Vitamin D – and I walk the dog every day. You need Vitamin D for strong bones and teeth. And skin conditions. To heal infections. And possibly to prevent diabetes and obesity. And ricketts. And lower your blood pressure!

http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/dietary-chlorophyll-helps-us-captureuse-sunlight-energy-groundbreaking-study-reveals/

http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/dietary-chlorophyll-helps-us-captureuse-sunlight-energy-groundbreaking-study-reveals/

Remember the tv show Northern Exposure? There were numerous references to SAD and the need for sunlight in Alaska.

Chris builds the Northern Lights in Northern Exposure http://alaskanriviera.com/2014/12/09/4-18-northern-lights/

Chris builds the Northern Lights in Northern Exposure http://alaskanriviera.com/2014/12/09/4-18-northern-lights/

There’s no debate about the need to get outside to help depression. Sunlight triggers serotonin. Even the World Health Organisation says so. When you are outside you feel better, you love nature, you will protect it. It’s common sense. How strange that our response to nature swings to extremes – sun burn – cancer – sun screen – indoors – deficiency – short sightedness …

Is this guy lighting a cigarette? Tevs. http://top10for.com/top-10-best-health-benefits-of-sunlight/

Is this guy lighting a cigarette? Tevs. http://top10for.com/top-10-best-health-benefits-of-sunlight/

Clearly everything in moderation – where I live – 15 mins three times a week is fine. Between eleven and three get under a tree or wear sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.

The reason for Facebook friends? They post things like this:

BY WENDELL BERRY

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Even in the dark we can still love nature!

And I apologise in advance for this dodgy footage. But …

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Dear MasterChef – What is it with you and PROTEIN!?!?!

Dear MasterChef,

MasterChef judges and food

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/masterchef-recap-laura-the-queen-of-italian-cuisine-steps-up-to-the-plate-as-front-runner-20140723-zvv2m.html

Look, I love a reality tv show as much as anyone else. Remember Bollywood Star Australia where Australian performers had a chance to travel to India and become a Bollywood Star? Fantastic show.

Audition

http://www.rogersmedia.com/programming-omni/bollywood-star-australia/

Or if you prefer your reality online, Penny Arcade produced a lovely, fun and genuine search for a new cartoonist called Strip Search. This series is notable because the contestants were super nice to each other and the judges were positive, constructive and just plain generous.

Strip Search picture

http://www.penny-arcade.com/strip-search

We’ve all watched a few, haven’t we, but in Australia, at least, the biggest of all must be MasterChef. When we had a Brazilian student from Rio stay with us for far too long, our family all sat down to watch MasterChef because it combined sport (Brazilian kid’s love) and food (my family’s love).

But I can never go back to MasterChef. But I’m sorry, MasterChef. I’m so over you.

http://www.realityravings.com/2009/07/10/masterchef-australia-the-judges-talk-about-how-they-got-into-the-food-industry/

http://www.realityravings.com/2009/07/10/masterchef-australia-the-judges-talk-about-how-they-got-into-the-food-industry/

It’s finished between us

BECAUSE

What is it, MasterChef, with the PROTEIN?!??

To listen to you bang on EVERY SHOW, beef or lamb is a protein. Eels are protein. Little helpless milk-fed baby cows are protein. As if protein was only available in animals.

Do you not know that protein is in EVERY living thing? Proteins are the building blocks of life!!

Well, MasterChef. It’s true. Think about it for just one moment. You really need to eat dead animals to grow big and strong? Like horses? Cows? Camels? Elephants? When you think of big boofy creatures, like bulls, for instance, what do they eat? AND did you know, thinking of big and boofy, that gladiators were vegan? Why, even bodybuilders today can be vegan!

Gladiator mosaic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladiator_Mosaic

In the old days everyone read Diet for a Small Planet. That’s where I learned the facts of life and many, many other people did too.

cover of Diet for a Small Planet

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/199107.Diet_for_a_Small_Planet

Apparently, so Frances said, proteins are made up of twenty amino acids and nine of those are essential – that’s what we have to eat every day. If you kill your food, it’s easy. Just take an axe to the cow or strangle your chicken for your amino acids. Or you could eat vegetables – you just have to mix it up. Complement your proteins. Beans on toast is a complete protein meal. Lentils and rice. Dahl and bread. It’s not rocket science.

BUT

HANG ON THERE

JUST A MINUTE!!!

SHE WAS WRONG!!

A few years later that same author of Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé admitted in the 10th anniversary 1981 version of the book that sufficient protein was easier to get than she had thought at first:

“In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only way to get enough protein … was to create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought.

“With three important exceptions, there is little danger of protein deficiency in a plant food diet. The exceptions are diets very heavily dependent on [1] fruit or on [2] some tubers, such as sweet potatoes or cassava, or on [3] junk food (refined flours, sugars, and fat). Fortunately, relatively few people in the world try to survive on diets in which these foods are virtually the sole source of calories. In all other diets, if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein.”[3]

In 1981, this is. Over thirty years ago!! Award winning and Foundation founding Ms Lappé recognised she’d made a mistake and she apologised and put the facts straight.

But the complementary protein myth still exists. Not only that vegetables don’t have enough protein but that it’s necessary to mix it up. When it’s not!!! It’s worth repeating that about eating enough protein, ‘ … it is much easier than I thought.’ In fact, you just have to eat food!

All food contains protein!! Wake up MasterChef!! You are so far behind the eightball you haven’t even debunked the first myth! Or are you so far enamoured of the meat industry that you can’t even see the truth for the steak?

You might like to take a look at this excellent summary about balanced vegan meals, including a neat tip: when you’re in a hurry grab a ‘grain, a green and a bean meal!’

And, finally, MasterChef, here’s where the television star meets the meat: did you hear about the hunter who thought that the locals would like to eat a tough old giraffe when they could have had some tofu and rice? Go, Gervais. Just get ’em!!

I wish you well, MasterChef, but mainly I wish you’d get your facts straight.

Lots of love,

Victoria

Simran Sethi – For the love of coffee!!

Simran Sethi

Simran Sethi (image from the Asia Society blog page)

Simran Sethi, Environmental Messenger, is part of the barrage of the Wheeler Centre‘s 2015 questions to Melbourne. She gives a talk entitled ‘Endangered Pleasures; the slow loss of food we love’ on March the first. Simran is a petite woman with shining black hair that swings around her like a mobile halo. Her generous smile is a brilliant white. She gestures with her hands, moulding meaning into the air in front of her, giving, exuding, impressing influence into her audience.

cup of coffee

image taken from Bings Boba Tea site

The focus of her speech, as best suits cafe-cultured Melbourne, is coffee. A few years ago, on a research trip to Rome, she was side tracked by a novel concept (to her). She’d been writing a book about seeds when she discovered scientists were actually concerned with teetering bioagrodiversity. Remember the beginning of that very scientific film Interstellar? Where that geeky science boffin, Michael Caine, points out the blighted corn? Not so fictional after all.

It seems many of our staple food crops are at risk of extinction. Wheat. Cows. Chocolate. And coffee. (Simran didn’t mention bees.) Of course we know the threats. Loss of habitat, pollution, climate change, disease …

Only 30% of all species are used by humans. Basically we don’t care what happens to stuff we can’t eat, drink or wear. If it doesn’t act like a pest, we ignore it. If it’s a crop we choose the best of the best, breed it up and maybe add some spicy cells to a test tube to improve it further. Then we only farm that one species. All across the world. The same species of banana. And when that one species falls prey to one disease? All gone.

farmer in banana farm

(image from http://agrobiodiversityplatform.org/)

Where the scientists see genetic erosion Simran sees cultural erosion. She became animated as she described her fantastic global research project to understand the web of coffee making. To seek the hands that make the coffee.

farmer's hands with coffee berries

(image taken from http://blog.yellow-seed.org/65/)

From the calloused farmer to the tattooed barista, it is the sweat and toil of humans that intrigues Simran. Her coffee guru comes from Seven Seeds, a Melbourne coffee roasting cafe, educator and specialist. His coaching leads her to understand the taste of coffee for the first time. Now more than just wet brown stuff, along with flavours of lemon and hints of peach, she can discern the soil and the weather of Ethopia, or Columbia perhaps. The flavour of her coffee is mixed with farmers’ sweat and the swirl of dryers’ rakes. There’s packers, drivers, container loaders, ship crew, unloaders, more drivers, roasters, grinders, and the hiss of steam at the end. All endangered.

Simran pointed out that scientists use a combination of strategies to save plant species from extinction. There’s ex-situ conservation such as seed banks (struggling for funding in the main). There’s in-situ conservation such as leaving the plant to grow in the wild or at a farm. And there’s in-vivo conservation where humans eat it, drink it and keep it alive because humans like it. Love it.

l love coffee picked out in coffee beans

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/coffee/images/34484500/title/coffee-photo

If we all learn more about our foodstuff, Simran says, we will give thanks. She believes we can save our favourite plants by our very dependence. If we consider our coffee, we will save our coffee. Her reply to the question about an individual’s ability to affect the food chain was that we should all be kind, learn the provinance of our produce and revalue what is important. If only that was all it took, Simran.

The final question about population caused her to bridle a little. As an Indian she did not think that millions of brown people in subsistence living standards damaged the planet as much as the millions of fat people living in America, consuming fossil fuels as though they are going out of style. (Which they are.) According to Simran, consumption, not population, is the real problem.

frantic shoppers

Black Friday Sales Frenzy (image from Business Insider Australia site)

Simran is an extremely highly regarded academic, journalist and eco-activist. She is working hard to activate the audience’s ‘green brain’, the part of our brains that imagines the future, that might act to save our planet if it cares about something. I’m sure her book about Bread, Wine and Chocolate (due Nov 2015) will be very well received and completely ineffective. People in the Fair Trade and Slow Food movements have been saying these things, DOING these things, for decades. In my own files I have a report dated 1986 by the World Wildlife Foundation called The Wild Supermarket: the importance of biological diversity to food security.

I can’t believe that anything Simran can add, (even if she is The Environmental Messenger and an expert on engagement) will cause millions of people to stop buying cheap food from Woolies and rush to their nearest farmer’s market. I fear those under the verdant green plastic globule that is RMIT’s entrance to Storey Hall Lecture Theatre on Sunday are already converted.

If only Simran wasn’t busy flying all over the world taking photos of hands with her great big carbon footprint. Just because it’s self-confessed doesn’t make it right. Many activists now use Skype to deliver just such communications. (People such as Professor Mary Wood, the lawyer fighting for Nature’s rights.)

Simran’s pat reply to the inevitable population question stems from her heritage and from her heart, I fear, rather than her head. Any parent, anywhere on this beleaguered planet, will raise up their children as high as they can. It is in our genes. If they are in a tent in Somalia, a slum in Mumbai or the Dakota building overlooking Central Park, that parent will try to ensure their child can afford a fridge and a car and a mortgage. And a nice secure share portfolio with an eye to growth. Consumption is of course part of the problem. Human’s need to improve their lot drives it. Human greed drives the use of fossil fuels, habitat loss, climate change …

And, as no there is no effective action to slow any of it, then the species of greatest risk of disappearing is not coffee, or bananas or wheat.

It’s humans.

And you’d think people would care enough about them, wouldn’t you.

Click here to go to WWF’s footprint calculator so you can see how many planets your lifestyle is using up!

Children are like animals

Cover for Anne Manne's book, Motherhood

 

Anne Manne, in Motherhood, How should we care for our children? points out that children are small, weak and powerless. Just like animals. What is justice as it applies to any living thing that is smaller and weaker than ourselves?

…it is worth reflecting on [the Victorian] era’s pervasive attitudes to life. Children were thought of as resilient, shallow creatures only a little above animals in the great chain of being, incapable of deep feeling, which meant they could settle happily with anyone as long as they were kind. Such myths served the interests of an adult centred world.  (Pg 132 Motherhood)

She describes the ‘good old days’ when kids were farmed out to wet nurses, raised by nannies and sent off to boarding school. She reminds us that authors like Roald Dahl, or Charles Dickens or George Orwell have no trouble slipping inside the skin of a child because their own childhood experiences were so horrific.

Society’s attitude to children has changed.

I felt this echo today as I watched Edgar’s Mission‘s latest video requesting help as they move premises. How can our attitude to animals change?

Edgar's mission's pig

There’s exciting news that the ACT will ban factory farming: battery hens, debeaking and sow stalls. Woolworths will phase out eggs from battery hens.  Animals Australia helped rescue 150 dogs from a puppy factory.

Perhaps we don’t just see animals as products any more?