Diggings 22 Dec 2017


how do you like your steak

Happy hols all 🙂

Food Fight: the Battle Over Sri Lankan Food Production

‘The Sri Lankan government remains largely committed to models of economic development based on large-scale commercial agriculture. The President’s agroecology ambitions are not shared by all within the government—and there is a significant division between those who support smallholder-led agroecology and those committed to agribusiness policies, including the use of chemicals. In his 2017 budget speech, the Minister of Finance laid bare the government’s ambition: “our government is determined to support agriculture to transform itself from … subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture.”

A new battleground in my home country, with the finance and no doubt economic sector learning nothing from past experience with chemical based commercial agriculture, and turning their back on the opportunity to cash in on the cache of small-holder agroecologically produce.


A Dinner at the End of Our World

‘The date for the dinner was set as 30 years from now, a time Monroe says they chose because many of us will live to see it. Also, by then, ocean ecology may be at a point of no return. Monroe hopes the dinner underlined the need to appreciate what we have, foodwise, as well the need to protect it. But instead, she says, the guests told her that the food of the future seemed delicious.’

Hmmm…a tad worrying if the point of the exercise is lost. Maybe they tried too hard to make it palatable and should have thrown in some plastic debris.


How Black Markets Preserved Spain’s Artisanal Cheeses

‘The cheesemongering of the Marcès and other Spaniards went underground in reaction to the policies of Spain’s military dictator, Francisco Franco, who ruled the country from 1939 until his death in 1975. The country’s economy was depleted by civil war, World War II, and Spain’s exclusion from the Marshall Plan. So, he initiated a grand economic plan designed to achieve self-sufficiency: Spain would pool its resources and centralize production.

As part of this policy, quotas were enacted that outlawed milk production under 10,000 litres a day. This made small dairies and cheesemaking productions (such as the Marcès’) illegal. To comply with the law, they had to sell their milk to larger companies.’

I can just see an Almdovar or Guillermo del Toro film in this – only they could do justice to the comedic and fantastical anti-fascism of it.



‘Rotten, a six-part documentary series, is set to premiere on Netflix January 5. Each episode will take on a different angle, according to Deadline. For example, the first instalment, titled “Lawyers, Guns, and Honey,” intends to explore “the new global honey business and largest food fraud investigation and prosecution in history — a scam known as Honeygate.” Other topics covered include inequality in the mass-market poultry industry and “massive criminal exploitation” in American fisheries.’

Sounds like one to watch  – so over yet another cooking/foodntravel show – give me some Mafia Muffin action any day.


Eat these podcasts: 12 delicious shows about food history

From Jacqui Newling: A mate from 2SER sent my these podcasts links, and thought you might find them of interest for Compost readers.


Watch Astronauts Make Pizza in Zero Gravity

No blurb – just fun to watch to if it is zero gravity how come things like the sauces and stuff also just don’t float around?


Straightened-Out Croissants and the Decline of Civilization

‘Murkier depths of meaning surely reside here, too, which would have taken Eco’s eye to plumb. Doubtless some social historian, a century or so hence, will get a thesis out of examining how, on the very verge of the threatened “Brexit”—the exit of England, at least, from the European Community—the mass marketers of Britain ostentatiously rejected a form seen as so clearly French that it is a regular part of that ominously named “Continental” breakfast. Adding an arbitrary national shape to an established one to attempt an entirely English croissant, that future scholar will argue, is an affirmation of refusing to be one with Europe. (The crescent, moreover, is the sign of the Islamic empire, and some damp, suspicious kinds will see meaning in that, too.)’

Riffing on food, nationalism, Brexit and lexicography – how could I not enjoy this article.


The Global Dominance of White People is Thanks to the Potato

‘It’s often assumed that Europe’s rise resulted from the Industrial Revolution and, to a lesser extent, the leap in scientific farming known as the Agricultural Revolution. However, Europe’s surprising revival predates both—and the potato has much to do with that.

With Europe’s food supply suddenly more abundant, nutritious, and secure, peasants lived longer and had bigger families. The population leapt from 126 million in 1750 to 300 million by 1900 (and that’s not counting mass emigration). When the population grew bigger than the number needed to toil in the fields, this time peasants didn’t die of mass starvation. They simply moved to the cities. The potato accounts for around a quarter of the population growth and as much as a third of increased urbanization between 1700 and 1900, according to an earlier paper (pdf) by Qian and Nunn.’

The title is provocative and hackles raising. The substance of the article is fascinating if not above contention at many points: that ‘simply moved to cities’ is screams for much pounding of tables and pointing of pipes in coffee houses, for example. I now am off to meditate on it and consider the fate of the potato plants snaking greenly and vaguely threateningly across my box garden


Going Viral

‘Saturday and Sunday mornings at Juniper Bar in New York City were slow — too slow for the restaurant’s director of events, Alyssa Aiola. To lure more weekend clients, she introduced a new brunch line-up featuring over-the-top dishes like the Heart Attack Stack, a mountain of bacon-cheddar hash browns, fried chicken, a waffle, smoked ham, and a fried egg, all stacked like a Jenga tower; and red velvet waffles stuffed with a maple syrup-infused mascarpone, which is also served on the side in a piping bag. Suddenly, brunch at Juniper was a hit.’

Pretty much the whole point of this article is about creating pretty coloured, really really really unhealthy food to get people into your shop.  Me, I want to see what happens when someone say actually has a heart complaint that is sheeted home to this kind of absolute disregard for anything except the nanosecond of faddism.


How a Victim’s Last Meal Can Identify a Killer

‘Pope recognized it at once. It was a thick cut fry with the skin still attached—a signature of Wendy’s fries. Even better, Pope knew there was a Wendy’s restaurant just a few blocks from the Dutch Brothers kiosk. She called the lead detective, and when they asked Wendy’s for surveillance footage from that night, they found clear video of the deceased suspect and his partner ordering food, eating their meal, and then trying on their masks before walking out the door. The detectives couldn’t believe it. “If it weren’t for the stomach contents, we might not have gotten that video,” Pope says.’

This article speaks to the inner CSI tragic in me.  And if I were Wendy’s, whose distinctive fries and also salad feature in the article I would totally be looking at an ad campaign along the lines of ‘food so distinctive, it can tell dead men’s tales’


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