Diggings 12 October 2020

Poor fresh food quality in north-west Queensland put under the spotlight by health professionals

 ‘Clinical dietician Kiri Woodington said it was disheartening to recommend nutritional goals to patients when they were impossible due to their location. “I have more than enough accounts of clients completely in tears because they know the problem with their diet is a lack of fruit and vegetables,” Ms Woodington said.’

This is completely unacceptable. All this discussion about interruption of supply chains during COVID so we can’t get look paper while Aboriginal communities continue to lack the basics for an adequate diet.


Australia’s plants and animals have long been used without Indigenous consent. Now Queensland has taken a stand

Under the revised law, anyone engaging in biodiscovery must take all reasonable measures to form agreement with the custodians of Indigenous knowledge being used. This includes a benefit-sharing agreement … Finally, the Queensland government is designing a “Traditional Knowledge Code of Practice” in consultation with Indigenous communities and other experts. The code will aim to help the biodiscovery industry work more inclusively with traditional knowledge custodians. It will be important to monitor whether the code meets these aims.

Time for other States and Territories and the Commonwealth to do this also.


The Researchers Bringing ‘Uniquely Australian Foods’ to Stores Near You

These Indigenous communities have ownership of the supply chain, Dr. Sultanbawa explains. “They do all the harvesting, the freezing, then an investor negotiates with the community about prices and the community decides on any deal,” she says. “The Centre helps educate them on how to handle these deals and then their community leaders make decisions about how to disperse all funds through the community.”

I have counterposed these two lead Diggings articles to wonder to what extent introducing native foods like the green plum mentioned in the article, with its high levels of folate – important to the health of pregnant women and infants, can enhance the health of remote communities.


 Gen Z not ready to eat lab-grown meat, survey reveals

 Societal concerns were also prevalent throughout the study, with a large number of respondents worried that eating cultured meat would be in conflict with perceptions of gender and national identity. “Gen Z value Australia’s reputation as a supplier of quality livestock and meat, and many view traditional meat eating as being closely tied to concepts of masculinity and Australian cultural identity,” said Dr Bogueva.

Hmmm …. I wonder how many of the research subjects were from cultures where there is little to no connection between masculinity and eating meat?


 Ah shucks, how bushfires can harm and even kill our delicious oysters

We are still analysing results, but it’s already clear the combination of bushfire ash followed by rainfall led to large increases in microalgae (phytoplankton) in estuaries, including species that can cause harmful algal blooms.

A reminder that the food economic impacts of natural disasters like bushfires are not limited to landbound crops. Impact in one terrain can spill over in domino effect.


 Australian native fungus ‘snowflake’ becoming a hit with top chefs, grower says

It’s an Hericium coralloides, commonly known as the coral tooth fungus. It resembles a white coral lettuce leaf and grows on dead hardwood trees. Hericium is found elsewhere in the world, but this Australian version has its own distinction. It’s the first edible Australian fungus to be commercialised.


 How Australia’s meat industry could  be part of the climate solution

 Instead of spreading his Shorthorn cattle out across his 2,000-odd hectares of land, these days Arnott keeps the livestock together in larger groups and rotates them through pastures. The idea is to let their manure fertilise the soil and their hooves churn up the ground to create divots for new growth, before the pasture is left for an extended period to regenerate.


The Italian Farmer Returning Chickens to the Wild

His uovo di selva tastes like egg, but concentrated. There’s more flavor to it, and also more protein, due to the bug-filled diet of the chickens. As a result, when chefs whip the whites from Rapella’s protein-rich eggs, they get three times the volume. The egg yolk can even change with the seasons. In autumn, when chickens feast on tannin-rich chestnuts fallen from the trees, it takes on a darker color and richer taste. The difference is perhaps best appreciated when tasting Rapella’s homemade egg pasta. The flavor is so rich, it almost can be eaten plain. The idyllic, active life that Rapella’s chickens enjoy might have something to do with it.

Puts other free range farmers to shame.


Centuries After Their Loss and Theft, Native American Seeds Are Reuniting With Their Tribes

“To us, seeds are our relatives,” says White, who was born near Canada in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. In 2016, she created the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, a group of more than 100 tribal seed-sovereignty projects whose members are looking for their missing relatives. (They refer to the act of returning Native seeds as rematriation rather than repatriation.) The network has found 1,000 varieties linked to Native American tribes in the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, a nonprofit and seed bank created in the Seventies that now has one of the largest seed catalogs in the country. Every year since, they’ve rematriated around 25 varieties.

It’s exciting to read of the projects world-wide working at both preserving diversity and also in returning culturally significant crops back to their communities of orgin.


A dark brew: coffee, COVID and colonialism have left millions struggling to make a living

The pandemic has exposed the widening wealth gap in our global economy, and nowhere is this better illustrated than by our daily coffee fix. The multi-billion-dollar global coffee industry relies on vulnerable workers at both ends of the supply chain: the café worker serving your coffee and the struggling farmer who grew your coffee beans.

More on how COVID-19 is exposing the exploitative practices on which so much food production and distribution is increasingly dependant.


COVID-19 Foodwork, Race, Gender, Class and Food Justice: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis by Elaine Swan

As lockdown and the pandemic took hold worldwide, commentary on food production and consumption has surged but to date most of it erases women’s food labours. Indeed, the significance of gender, race and class rarely features in UK accounts. As of July 2020, in over 100 blogposts, reports and rapid responses by academics, food organisations and the media, explicit discussions on the gendered, racialised and classed relations of foodwork remain in single figures


Australia should think twice before asking desperate people to pick fruit for their freedom

… we should think twice before conscripting desperate people to pick fruit for their freedom … While the current proposal is seeking to solve two problems, by giving people who want to live and work in Australia a real chance at permanency and by filling the gaps in our supply chain, the implications of using a migrant labour force to solve a problem experienced by the white majority could be used as a dog whistle by less scrupulous politicians and campaigners.


Recreate the Ancient Egyptian Recipes Painted on Tomb Walls

As popular as tiger nuts were, bread and beer formed the true bedrock of ancient Egyptian cuisine. Bakers usually made bread with emmer wheat and barley, two of the oldest cultivated grains. Bread was so important, in fact, that it had an outsized influence on ancient Egyptian writing. Historians have recorded 14 distinct hieroglyphs for bread.

The recipes for tiger nut and honey cones and emmer spiral bread are irresistible.


And in even older cooking news …

Did Early Humans Invent Hot Pot in Geothermal Pools?

Traditionally, archaeologists have studied the history of cooking by looking for evidence of controlled fires. But if Olduvai was home to hot springs, early humans could have eaten unfortunate creatures that fell into the waters, or could have inventively popped tubers in with a stick, almost like roasting a marshmallow over an open flame.


How Former Samurai and Farmers Cultivated the First Japanese Apples

The Fuji apple might have remained “No.7,” lost in local research obscurity, if Japan’s apple region had not come roaring back during the 1950s. Savvy marketers made the apple a symbol of Aomori in advertising campaigns as harvests climbed to historic highs. In 1956, Aomori produced almost 30 million bushels of apples. In recognition of the fruit’s economic and cultural importance, Aomori officials tracked down the oldest apple tree in Japan, located in Tsugaru, and designated it a natural monument in 1960.

Wow. Hard to see Australia dedicating say a Davidson Plum tree as a natural monument.


The kindness of strangers

Given our present-­day foodie culture, even in COVID-­19-­constrained days, it’s hard to imagine the regimented, white-­bread, 6-­pm closing, sealed-­shut-­on-­the-­weekends Australia of the 1950s. Jewish refugees who missed European café society set up restaurants that revolutionised the Australian food scene. Goldies in Melbourne and Old Vienna in Brisbane soon became institutions, frequented by artists and politicians. Sydney’s Café 21 was set up in 1958 by Hungarian survivor John Schiffer, who couldn’t understand why there weren’t more sidewalk cafés in a city with such a good climate. He imported one of the first Italian espresso machines and served ‘European’ coffee. His restaurant is still in the same spot, management taken up first by his son and now by his grandson. It’s famed for its longevity, rude service and cream-cheese pancakes.

I hadn’t heard of Irris Makler’s book Just Add Love: Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories and Recipes but will certainly track it down now.


Asafoetida’s Lingering Legacy Goes Beyond Aroma

Besides, traditions may be more equitable when we address the discomfiting question of who has the power to define them. This is a question that I asked myself when I began working on this piece. It soon became apparent that my interest in and ability to write about asafoetida comes from the significant caste and class privileges that have allowed a valuable spice to find a guaranteed place in my larder and culinary lexicon.

An article that morphs from history to critique of claims of authenticity in cuisines and what those claims often hide.


A spate of new food memoirs promised something different. But the lack of diversity is the same old story

It’s easy to see how we end up with homogenous products. A substantive increase in memoirs from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) writers requires that they have the opportunity and funding to do the work. That takes more than an adjustment of publishing industry stats; it involves changing the ownership of the real estate and replacing the people in those positions who decide who’s getting those rooms — and what those rooms are worth. A recent Twitter hashtag — #PublishingPaidMe, generated by author L.L. McKinney — provoked an outpouring of responses from writers candidly disclosing their book advances, and the disparity was disarming. At least anecdotally, White writers reported receiving more, consistently, than their BIPOC counterparts, and often while having less experience or proven success.

Sigh …


Bring joie de vivre: Minister wants to relax outdoor drinking rules

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello wants to relax rules to allow alcohol to be served outdoors more easily in a bid to transform Sydney into a more cosmopolitan and sophisticated city like those in France, Spain and Italy.

I think there’s more to being cosmopolitan and sophisticated than drinking on the footpath … https://bit.ly/2YWH2j9

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