Diggings Sept 21 2017

rainbow bagel with unicorn cheese brooklyn boy bagels sept 2017

A rainbow bagel with ‘unicorn cheese’ from the Brooklyn Bagel Boys because…

‘Alarm bells we cannot ignore’: world hunger rising for first time this century

“If you look at the 815 million [chronically undernourished] people, 489 million or 60% of them are located in countries affected by conflict. Over the last decade we’re seen a significant increase in conflict. We also see that conflict combined with climatic effects is having a significant effect…This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”


At the 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy I gave a paper on Doris Lessing’s autobiographical and fictional writing on the impact of war on food production and distribution. In it I quoted from The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five, the second novel in her Canopus in Argos: Archives quintet:

‘for they could do no more than explain, and say again, that if the fat and the fullness of a land were not continually poured away into war, then everything, everything would start to fill, and flower, and grow lovely and lavish with detail. In hands and in minds lived skills and cleverness that had only to be fed and given room…patience”

Read the paper http://bit.ly/2wxfaBa

Aussie country kids worried about getting enough food to eat

‘A new study has found one in five children living in regional or remote Western Australia are worried about getting enough food to eat. Researchers surveyed more than 200 children in regional and remote WA to find 21.2 per cent are worried that food will run out before their family will receive money to purchase more.’

This is the second report as far as I am aware from a study done by Edith Cowan Uni. The other is at http://bit.ly/2f7u2n7 and looks at how much veg and fruit they eat, with no surprises in the findings. Frustratingly, neither tells us what proportion of the children and caregivers in the research were Aboriginal, which seems odd. I would think that a high proportion would be particularly in the more remote areas. I had a look through the published paper on the second report but again could find nothing about Aboriginality.

How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk food

‘The story is as much about economics as it is nutrition. As multinational companies push deeper into the developing world, they are transforming local agriculture, spurring farmers to abandon subsistence crops in favor of cash commodities like sugar cane, corn and soybeans — the building blocks for many industrial food products. It is this economic ecosystem that pulls in mom-and-pop stores, big box retailers, food manufacturers and distributors, and small vendors like Mrs. da Silva.

In places as distant as China, South Africa and Colombia, the rising clout of big food companies also translates into political influence, stymieing public health officials seeking soda taxes or legislation aimed at curbing the health impacts of processed food.’

The neo colonial market has no conscience nor care. Like snake oil salesmen Big Food packs up its poison and moves to another location. Where is the world court to which to take them? Are they not as guilty of genocide as war criminals?


Australia’s Karenni refugees cultivate community through Wollongong farming initiative

On a brighter note…

‘The Karenni community garden is being developed on less than half-a-hectare of land with poor soils, but its volunteers are rapidly transforming it into a traditional food garden. Pya Ma, who grew up in a United Nations refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Myanmar, said the garden gave family members something productive to do. “If they have nothing to do people feel helpless and worthless, so it’s a good thing to grow their own vegetables, they feel more confident, it brings their confidence back,” she said.’


Can Mexican Corn Be Saved?

‘I never realized corn was actually endangered. It was shocking to find out that ancient popcorn, one of the most common varieties, was about to become extinct and it was frustrating to not be able to buy seeds from a catalog. How could this happen to corn in Mexico? We’ve been planting corn for, it’s thought, 11,000 years. The government should be able to promote and help farmers everywhere in the country, because there’s nothing new about corn. We know everything already. It should be organized better. I had this feeling that we needed to start something.”

A familiar story these days, but one always worth re-telling.


Is our dislike of ‘smelly’ food actually cultural intolerance?

‘But for the migrant who feels displaced from their homeland, foods that olfactorily offend may play a significant role in reinforcing identity, Dr De Souza says. She says cooking and eating a beautiful curry is akin to “putting lotion on the part of me that feels dislocated, lonely, and isolated”. But that same curry can reek of spices that ultimately isolate her by making her smell different, even invoking disgust. The result is a kind of ethnic shame that further reinforces just how out of place a fragrant migrant body really is.’

One of my fave things to do in cooking classes is to pass around the jar of Maldive fish and see who pulls back from it, who goes in for a further whiff. It is both an affirmation of my difference and a challenge to my students – want to learn my cuisine, learn it’s smell from the raw ingredient through to the complex odours of the cooked curry.

The lamb roast

‘The lamb roast wasn’t our only party. For a Moroccan-themed party, he built low couches from sheets of plywood and covered them with huge fur blankets and orange velour from the studio. There were tapestries and kilims stacked as tall as me, where adults stoned on spiced wine and pigeon pies lounged. I remember walking from rom to dimly lit room acutely feeling the ethos of the era—the early nineteen-seventies—as if it, too, were sprawled out on the “scene shop” couch in long hair and a macramé dress. There was also a Russian Winter Ball, for which my father had refrigerator-size cartons of artificial snow shipped in from Texas and rented a dry-ice machine to fog up the rooms, so it would feel like a scene from “Doctor Zhivago.”

Thanks to Alison Vincent for suggesting I include this in Diggings. As evocative a piece of food and family writing as I have read in a long while.


CSIRO researchers find Australia’s ‘diet personalities’

‘CSIRO Behavioural Scientist, Dr Sinead Golley, said knowing one’s diet personality could provide an explanation as to why past weight loss attempts have failed. “One in five Cravers have tried to lose weight more than 25 times and they say that chocolate and confectionery are the biggest problem foods to resist,” Dr Golley said. “On the other hand, people with the most common diet personality type – known as the ‘Thinker’ – tend to have high expectations and tend to be perfectionists, giving up when things get challenging.”

I am torn between grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr and ho hum. This just comes across as the worst kind of populist framing of research findings to me.



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