Food

A farmer writes

The Secretary of State was very clear that in seven years, British farmers are going to be competing with farmers from across the globe without the support of any subsidy for farming itself. It is about the oldest of neoliberal dreams — killing off state involvement and throwing open our country (and countryside) to free trade and deregulation.

Yep, good, innit?

We are to be collateral damage as the politicians try to deliver Brexit at any cost, imposing free trade, deregulating the countryside and unleashing wilfully blind free-market economics on farming.

Sounds most tasty.

Because, you stupid bint, we’re humans

Cultured meat is eye-catching technology. But it is also an over-engineered solution to a problem that we can solve by changing our diets. If we simply stopped eating meat, or ate it far less often, then there would be no need for either harmful intensive animal agriculture or meat grown in a lab. The cultured meat industry rests on a view of human beings as greedy and incapable of change. But the coronavirus pandemic has shown that, globally, we are able to make enormous changes to our behaviour when faced with existential crisis.

The startups growing meat in labs might be motivated by noble intentions: to save animals and save the planet. But giant meat producers such as Cargill and Tyson are already investing heavily in cultured protein. Who knows which companies will run the industry in decades to come. If we move into a world where eating meat remains normal but killing animals is taboo, we will become ever more dependent on remote corporations with highly specialised technology to meet our basic needs.

But we don’t have to. We can just choose to eat less meat. That’s where real power lies – not in harnessing this new technology but in being prepared to change our behaviour.

The aim of our having technology – hell, the aim of our having an economy, even a civilisation – is so that we people out here get to have more of what we want. That is, that we get to maximise our utility.

If people want lab grown meat – or even meat meat – instead of vegetables then that’s what people should get. Because that’s the point of the whole game, that people get more of what they want.

Yea, even if provided by corporations.

What is it that is so difficult to understand about this?

Bit late isn’t it?

Households across the nation wielded wooden spoons as they prepared to stir up their Christmas puddings on Sunday.

Or are they making next year’s?

Then again, maybe it’s me – is it the cake you’re supposed to really mature?

Veganism is difficult

Vegans are 40 per cent more likely to suffer from a bone fracture due to a lack of calcium and protein than meat eaters, a Oxford University study has found.

The study of more than 50,000 British people tracked over two decades found that giving up meat can weaken bones and even trigger osteoporosis.

It requires rather more attention to what is being eaten than most think.

To trot out one of my favourite stories – vegans coming in from India, a place where there are a lot for religious reasons, do, often enough, start to suffer from deficiency diseases in England. They’re eating the same diet as always but start to show obvious signs of lacking certain nutrients.

The answer being that they’re not eating the same diet. They’re missing the bugs and insects and the like that are in the Indian pulses, lentils, rice and so on and aren’t in the more industrially produced and packaged English.

Quite amazing, eh?

“It becomes a real scarcity over winter,” said Cordia Pugh, the founder of Hermitage Community Gardens in Chicago. “A real scarcity as we race through the winter, waiting for spring to come when we can get back in the gardens to get fresh produce.”

Pugh spoke with Salon earlier this year about her community gardens, which are located in Englewood, where, according to municipal data, nearly 95% of the neighborhood’s residents are non-Hispanic Black, and nearly 80% of that population lives with low or volatile access to fresh produce.

“This is not hobby gardening, this is food security for us,” Pugh said at the time. “This is food insurance in the epicenter of a food desert. If we did not grow this fresh produce, we would not have fresh produce accessible to us. There is no accessible big box store in this community — or if we bought it through those venues, it would be from vendors that would quadruple the price.”

Gaining fresh veggies out of season is expensive.

Blimey, blow me down ‘n’ all that….

Quite so, quite so

Rarely did these tactics work, so when a new “authentic” curry house arrived, it dominated the family WhatsApp. I collected the next order and joked with the owner about the cursed vindaloo. “But vindaloo is authentic,” he said, adding that I probably wouldn’t know anyone who cooked vindaloo because it’s from Goa. As Goa was colonised by the Portuguese, there aren’t many Goans in Britain. “In the UK, it’s usually Bangladeshi chefs cooking it, adding their flair. But vindaloo in Goa is technically a spin-off of a Portuguese dish anyway.”

Not so much of a dish particularly, but of an ingredient. Vin d’alho. Wine and garlic sauce/paste/condiment thingie. It is used to create a dish, a pork stew type of thing. The leap to vindaloo being to add the chili peppers (or more perhaps) and to substitute vinegar for the wine.

The Vin d’alho being on every supermarket shelf here, the pork stew thing being Northern and the vindaloo surprisingly difficult to find. Despite what Indian restaurants there are here generally being run by Goans, not the Bangladeshis and Gujeratis more common in the UK.

ILLEGAL!

The new food brand coming soon to a chiller cabinet near you.

Each and every portion guaranteed to be larger, fatter, saltier, tastier than Public Health England allows.

The tagline for the new business adventure being planned by this blog.

These people are insane

The number of calories found in pizzas, chips, crisps and other unhealthy foods beloved by Britons must be cut dramatically to help the fight against obesity, the government has declared.

Cafes, fast food takeaways and restaurants have been told to reduce the calorific content of the goods they sell by 20% by 2024, given their key role in fuelling the obesity epidemic.

Public Health England has unveiled a series of targets for calorie reduction that it expects both supermarkets and out of home food outlets to deliver within four years. It is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to persuade the food industry to reformulate its products by including less fat, salt and sugar to help people live more healthily.

Just jaw gapingly mad.

And I thought we’d just fired them all?

I see what you’re doing Farmer Reebanks

James Reebanks. Famed author. Farmer of sheep on the tree denuded hillsides of the Lake District. Environmentalist:

Livestock, if well managed, repair soil, trample or eat crop residues and waste, provide fertiliser and control weeds. It means our uplands becoming patchworks of native habitats – meadows and pastures, woodland and bogs – and our lowlands working as rotational mosaics of fields.

Funny that, isn’t it? How his environmental prescription involves farming sheep on the tree denuded hillsides of the Lake District.

Presumably they should wash it in chlorine

Unclean greens: how America’s E coli outbreaks in salads are linked to cows
Infections linked to leafy greens have hospitalised 200 Americans since 2018. The finger of blame now points to cattle

That’s what we Europeans do.

BTW, if you can’t use cow crap on crops then organic farming has some problems…..

Eh?

Winston Churchill blamed the Bengal famine of 1943, that he helped to cause through the mass export of India’s rice, on the Indians “breeding like rabbits”.

I’ve heard many explanations of the Bengal famine but the export of rice? That’s a new one.
Sure, there was export of rice from “India” but not in the sort of quantity that would make a difference. And “India” is a big place…..

Isn’t this disgusting cultural appropriation?

Adjonyoh agrees: “The secret is in how much love and attention you give the sauce.” That’s what flavours the dish, after all. She blends tomatoes, onion, scotch bonnet, tomato puree, dried chilli and salt, and makes a spice mix of ground ginger and coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked crayfish powder, smoked prawn powder, dawadawa (fermented locust bean), nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and, sometimes, brown sugar.

It’s a long list, yes, but, as Adjonyoh explains, “in Ghana, jollof is more aromatic”. Add a tablespoon of the spice mix to caramelised onions, along with chilli powder, madras hot curry powder, fresh ginger and garlic, then the tomatoes and good chicken stock, and cook until it “doesn’t taste of tomato any more, but just the spices”.

Chili being from the Americas, Madras has an obvious source, tomatoes are from the Americas again, chicken from SE Asia.

Cultural appropriation. But apparently it’s a bad thing……

This could be difficult

The regional director for Agriculture and Fisheries in the Algarve, Pedro Monteiro, also told Lusa that “the reality of the pandemic helped” the Algarve’s citrus industry, but more so the big producers, because the small ones “sell essentially to the Horeca channel [acronym for hospitality, restaurants and cafes] and in street markets”, which “were closed” during the pandemic, creating “difficulties” in selling their produce.
In order to avoid more severe problems in the future, the authorities encourage “the emergence of new outlets” and “called for proximity consumption, short chains and direct contact between producers and consumers”, but this solution “does not solve all the problems”, he considered.

Indeed this doesn’t solve all the problems as proximity consumption, short chains and direct contact means exactly that Horeca channel, doesn’t it?

BTW, anyone coming to Portugal this summer keep an eye open in the supermarkets for Algarve OJ. Compal, one of the brands, certainly does it. I’m told that the oranges here are the old Moorish ones, rather than more modern cultivars. The juice is certainly nice and sharp.

Vegetarianism drives you nuts

Vegetarians are more likely to be depressed than meat eaters, a new study has suggested.

OK, fair enough, the contemplation of a life without bacon would indeed depress.

The study itself tries to defend against this idea:

Those with mental health conditions may adopt a plant-based diet due to the perception that it is healthier

That is, the defence against the idea that veggie-dom makes you nuts is that those going nuts embrace veggie-dom.

Sure, causality matters but it’s still, whichever way, a useful social marker for the rest of us, isn’t it?

Bollocks

The post-meat age will be a healthier one. Between farming, ranching and feed crops, the livestock industry gobbles up 40% of the world’s habitable surface.

Pretty much all land is “habitable” – even parts of Wales.

They mean something like 40% of all arable, or all farmable, summat like that. Which is a very different thing indeed.

Fair enough really

“I always defend British food and I think it’s not as well known as it should be,” he told the Guardian.

“You’ve got wonderful things, such as pies – chicken and leek pie, for instance, is a marvellous thing – which are lovely because they’re sort of ancient foods; a bit like Henry VIII’s tupperware. And besides, a pie is always something special. Then you have the roasts. You just can’t argue with roast beef.”

But, as with his heretical stance on Marmite, there are some things he fears he will never get his head or mouth around.

“To be honest, I don’t think anyone from the continent ever gets used to rhubarb,” he admits.