Diggings 31 January 2022

The first story reminds me of my early teen years in the Hunter Valley going down to the river after school and on weekends and being fascinated by the thumbnail size mussel shells we would dig up; in the shallows – never came across ones big enough to eat, sadly.

A trio of stories in my ongoing campaign to share information about the ongoing exploitation of workers in the fast food and gig economy. I kinda love that the Fair Work Commission reckons gig economy employees are on a par with truckies.

And finishing off with a story about a fave topic of mine – gut microbes and their impact on diet and vice versa.

They live for a century and clean our rivers – but freshwater mussels are dying in droves

Freshwater mussels are dying suddenly and in the thousands, with each mass death event bringing these endangered molluscs closer to extinction. Tragically, these events rarely get noticed. In March last year, for example, seawater was introduced into the lower Vasse River in south-western Australia to control harmful algal blooms. This killed the entire population of Carter’s freshwater mussel (Westralunio carteri) in this section of the river.

https://bit.ly/3nkJ5d3

‘Some species and other entities of significance to Indigenous Australians are listed as threatened under Australia’s federal environment law, known as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. But authorities are not required to engage Indigenous Australians in the listing, management or recovery of these species. Indigenous Australians have successfully managed this continent’s landscapes and seascapes for tens of thousands of years. Their approach is holistic and integrated – considering the whole cultural landscape with a deep understanding of the interconnected relationships between species and Country. In contrast, management actions under federal environment law focus on the outcomes of the listed species instead of the overall health of Country.’

Ancient knowledge is lost when a species disappears. It’s time to let Indigenous people care for their country, their way

‘Some species and other entities of significance to Indigenous Australians are listed as threatened under Australia’s federal environment law, known as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. But authorities are not required to engage Indigenous Australians in the listing, management or recovery of these species. Indigenous Australians have successfully managed this continent’s landscapes and seascapes for tens of thousands of years. Their approach is holistic and integrated – considering the whole cultural landscape with a deep understanding of the interconnected relationships between species and Country. In contrast, management actions under federal environment law focus on the outcomes of the listed species instead of the overall health of Country.’

https://bit.ly/3FXbr3q

We asked hundreds of Aussies whether they’d eat insects, and most said yes – so what’s holding people back?

Our research (mainly with participants aged 25 to 44 years) shows Aussies have begun to adopt a more positive outlook towards insect-based foods. Of those surveyed, 35% had previously tried insects, most commonly crickets and grasshoppers. And people who had already tried them were also more open to eating them again, which suggests a “taste” for bugs can be developed. Of those who hadn’t tried insects, only 16% reported “disgust” was holding them back. This paradigm shift may be linked to people expressing more concern for the environmental cost of their food, and a greater interest in adopting healthy dietary habits.

https://bit.ly/3fVENVd

‘Denying teenagers their breaks’: McDonald’s workers lodge legal action against fast food giant

SDA South Australian Branch Secretary Josh Peak said that for too long McDonald’s had been “feeding crew members a cock-and-bull story” about their break entitlements. “Fast food restaurants are busy, hot and the work is exhausting. It’s shameful to think young workers have been denied their rightful breaks and told they don’t exist,” Mr Peak said.

https://bit.ly/3oeuL6f

Dying sheep, cattle unable to stand: Vets identify cruelty in meat industry

The RSPCA report found there was no formal regular oversight presence at domestic abattoirs, poultry processors and knackeries in Australia. “There is no routine reporting process for animal welfare concerns other than through complaints made by employees or members of the public. The relevant state or territory authority may then investigate these complaints,” the report concluded. “Otherwise, it is only during audits by the relevant state or territory authority that an animal welfare concern could be noted and may lead to enforcement action or further investigation.”

https://bit.ly/3rdkEQZ

Menulog’s plan to shape the future of delivery work suffers setback

Food delivery riders and drivers must be paid under the same rules as other truck and van couriers, in a ruling by the industrial tribunal, though it only applies to workers who are employed rather than the contractor workforce of companies like Uber and Deliveroo.

https://bit.ly/341xlFT

The known unknown: Inside Australia’s $3 billion food fraud puzzle

“It’s difficult to tell how big a problem it is within Australia because there are just not a lot of studies that actually test,” Ms Lester said. “We don’t have common commercial labs that are doing this on a regular basis, so most examples are from overseas, or from specific research projects.”

https://bit.ly/32QayvM

Meat and masculinity: why some men just can’t stomach plant-based food

Many of our interviewees made a strong link between animal meat and their own masculinity. “I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” one said. Another told us plant-based burgers were “ruining [his] reputation as a man”. A third said he felt guilty choosing plant-based burgers: “I was feeling I was sacrificing my manhood, my masculinity. It’s even worse when you are kind of forced to do it as everyone around is doing it. There is no other option.”

https://bit.ly/3g5p6uJ

The Microbiota and our mental health

The gastrointestinal tract – which runs from the mouth to the large intestine – contains compounds with neuroactive potential, including neurotransmitters and hormones. It also harbours trillions of microorganisms we call our microbiota, that interact with almost every aspect of our physiology. Hidden in the gut is also a remarkably similar neuronal structure to the one found in the brain. While our mouth, stomach and intestines may not necessarily help us think, they could be more connected to our brain and mood than you may have realised.

https://bit.ly/3GdJ9SD

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