Diggings 28 jan 2019

couscous stuffed pumpkin june 2018

Couscous stuffed pumpking and endive

Food for thought

In New Scientist No 3211,5 January, 2019, are printed some responses sent in to this question from a reader: ‘Ignoring the idiom that variety is the spice of life, what single dish could I make that would provide all my nutritional needs forever more? A vegetarian option would be good, too’.

Stephen Johnson of Oregon recommended a perpetual stew, one that sits on the stove simmering forever to which you add stuff from time to time as you need to. Alisoun Gardner-Medwin of Heddon-on-Wall, Northumberland reckoned naked beans on toast nor hummus with pita and olives on the basis that ‘all over the world, people eat a variant of a vegetarian meal containing a legume, a grain and fruit or green leaf to provide vitamin C’. She also reckoned lentils, rice and fenugreek leaves would be just fine with her. Luce Gilmore suggested the doner kebab with vegos using a meat substitute.

Why celebrity, award-winning chefs are usually white men

There are multiple factors that play into this. The framework of “professional” cooking is French and has long been acknowledged as an “art” or “skill”, while “ethnic” food continues to be othered as a reflection of “culture”. The chefs representing most top-end restaurants and writers at most major food publications also remain predominantly white. This is part of the reason why restaurants that offer dining experiences that hew toward the European notion of high quality – tablecloths, quiet rooms, attentive service – are regarded as “better”, or more worthy, than the Chinese or Thai place that may emphasise feeding you quickly and efficiently. It follows that the people winning the awards are, by and large, also white.

It’s well and truly time to ditch the framework Nancy Lee identifies here.


Scientists Are Using CRISPR to Make Spicy Tomatoes

 In a paper published in the journal Trends in Plant Science, researchers propose activating capsaicinoid-producing genes in tomatoes. Capsaicinoids are what give peppers their heat, and genetic mapping has revealed these genes’ presence in tomatoes. The proposed process of genome editing would produce a fruit with the same qualities as a chili pepper, but one that’s easy to grow and has a yield capacity 30 times higher than the chili. So instead of producing a marvelous new tomato, the researchers’ aim is better chilies.

I can see the new movie already – ‘Attack of the Chili Tomato’.


cwa extreme weather cookbook golding jan 2019

Matt Golding

How to feed a growing population healthy food without ruining the planet

Of course, some populations don’t get nearly enough animal-source foods necessary for growth, cognitive development and optimal nutrition. Food systems in these regions need to improve access to healthy, high-quality diets for all.’

Therein lies the rub.

This article does not say much more than those of us engaged with questions of food security in its broadest sense are familiar with. Its five prescriptions to achieve its aim of feeding a growing population healthy food without ruining the plant are worthy but they make no suggestions as to how global government policy needs to ensure that all people can have health food sustainably.

In this context, the photo header for the article is telling; it is of a street market rich in fresh vegetables and fruit such as so many of us inevitable take pics of os, but without translating what we enthuse about into practice at home – through the choices we make for our daily intake, where and how we choose to shop for that intake, nor action to change overly health conscious legislative practice that does not allow anything like what is pictured and by implication promoted as good food habits.

As it stands the article ends up being rules for rich economies that can to some degree at least control the impact of Big Food. Perhaps the longer study report does, I will be interested to read it.


veg soup dec 2018

Vegetable soup

The Limits of Home Cooking

‘The proposed solutions in Pressure Cooker flip this equation on its head: Fix the big stuff—reduce poverty, recognize food as a human right—and families will figure out their own dinners just fine.’

I will have to read the book to see if the authors suggest ways that the former – reducing poverty and recognizing food as a human right’ integrates with the latter – families figuring out their own dinners just fine. It’s in the interstices between the kinds of food advice they justifiably criticise and the larger structural solutions they promote that we have to start looking for ways to provide the knowledge and tools for families to figure out dinner.


euro labelling golding jan 2019

Matt Golding

‘Prosecco-like?’: EU digs in over fight to rename Australian wine and cheese

European trade officials are digging in over a fight about whether Australian producers can keep using household food names such as prosecco and feta, as senior government ministers accelerate a $100 billion agreement with the European Union despite the stand-off.

Sources confirmed the government had managed to walk back an EU proposal that would have forced Australian producers to use names such as “feta-like”, “parmesan-like” or “prosecco-like” to meet demands from Greece and Italy that any new trade deal must guarantee exclusive naming rights to certain local products.

When does parmesan stop having to be made in Parma? The generalisation of product brands in other areas goes un-remarked. An esky is now a generic term for a portable ice-box. Hoovering is the generalised term for what I would call vacuuming among people of my parent’s generation. Is prosecco now generalised enough to mean a sparkling white wine no matter where it is made? If it’s a question of market share loss, sure, hold to a standard of the proportion of Glera grape that should be in it (85% as I understand it is the rule) and sure, acknowledge also that it’s called Prosecco for the town from which it originated and valorise the terroir of Trieste. But appellations have a way of generalising whether we like it or not.



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