Diggings 11 June 2022

As the world heads for apocalyptic hunger as a result of war, climate change and entirely predictable supply chain breakdowns , in Australia it’s all about the price of lettuce; a fascinating piece of research into Pacifika women blackbirded/enslaved in Australia in the late 19th century; the usual warning about winter mushroom foraging and on a lighter note, why folk ate Egyptian mummies.

Apocalypse now? The alarming effects of the global food crisis

‘In many parts of the world, especially Africa, food insecurity is anything but a new phenomenon. Hunger is the norm and the risk of famine is ever-present, often exacerbated by conflict and climate change. That said, the situation, broadly speaking, is deteriorating.


Lettuce shortage forces KFC to put cabbage in burgers; some Subway stores run out

Australia is facing a lettuce shortage that has led to soaring prices and spurred global fast food giant KFC to put cabbage in its burgers, while some Subway outlets are making do without the staple vegetable. KFC notified customers that it will use a blend of lettuce and cabbage throughout its restaurants, citing supply chain disruptions after heavy flooding across the east coast wiped out much of the lettuce crop earlier in the year.


The dizzying rise of the iceberg lettuce to star of the society banquet

Could it be more than a day or two before all the best dinner parties in the loftier postcodes feature iceberg lettuce on a silver platter where once was displayed a bowl of beluga caviar?

In-house chefs will surely be instructed, urgently, on the return of the prawn cocktail as the society entrée du jour, the prawns nestled oh so gently on a bed of crisp and giddily extortionate iceberg.

Kids will be reduced to sighing with envy as young Master Ritchie Rich withdraws from his lunchbox a sandwich of egg and – oh, my – lettuce!


Why is lettuce so expensive? Costs have shot up, and won’t return to where they were

Transport, fertilisers, labour and industry concentration all point to a step up in prices, with little relief in sight. But combined they probably explain no more than half of what’s happened. The other half is the climate.


Russia using food supplies as ‘stealth missile’ against poor countries: EU

Michel addressed Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia directly at the meeting, saying he saw millions of tonnes of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships at the Ukrainian port of Odesa a few weeks ago. That was “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea” and Moscow’s attacks on transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities and its tanks, bombs and mines that are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting, he said. “This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty, and destabilising entire regions,” Michel said. “Russia is solely responsible for this looming food crisis. Russia alone.”


Climate-friendly diets can make a huge difference – even if you don’t go all-out vegan

What we eat has an enormous environmental impact. Scientists estimate that food production causes 35% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, with meat responsible for more than twice the pollution of fruits, grains and greens. In April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report urged world leaders, especially those in developed countries, to support a transition to sustainable, healthy, low-emissions diets to help mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis. But the burden can’t rest on individuals making personal food choices, experts stress – producers, retailers, restaurants, workplaces and government must help make plant-based foods convenient, enticing and tasty.


Bumper Australian crops unlikely to provide relief at the cash register

Australia is set for its third bumper season of crops in a row, but the increased production will probably bring little relief at the cash register as rising global demand pushes prices skyward. Australian farmers will plant an area almost the size of England this winter as they try to take advantage of soaring global food prices and a third year of good rains.


Call to halt salmon farm developments in Tasmania

A sub-committee overseeing a Legislative Council inquiry into fin-fish farming says all environmental licence conditions for all existing fin-fish farms in Tasmania need to be reviewed. The inquiry, which started in 2019, has made 68 recommendations to the government, including a call for a revised Salmon Industry Growth Plan.


Parmigiano Reggiano Makers Are Embedding Tiny Trackers in the Rind to Fight Cheese Fraud

For the past two decades, Parmigiano Reggiano wheels have already featured a unique alphanumeric tracking code, but now, the Consortium has tested embedding p-Chip micro transponders into the casein label. As the Consortium explains, “The innovation combines food-safe Casein labels with the p-Chip micro transponder — a blockchain crypto-anchor that creates a digital ‘twin’ for physical items. This scannable new food tag is smaller than a grain of salt and highly durable, delivering next-generation visibility and traceability.”


McDonald’s ‘Aussie’ item slammed for appropriating Indigenous culture: ‘Leaves a bad taste’

A fresh McDonald’s menu item is causing a stir among Indigenous Australians, with the restaurant chain’s use of an ingredient sourced from an Indigenous-significant native plant labelled “cultural appropriation”. The fast food giant’s newest drink, the Australiano, launched on May 25 and features McCafe’s locally roasted coffee beans mixed with chai flavour and native Australian wattleseed.


Friday essay: ‘I said no’ – Nie’s refusal and the troubling question of Pacific slavery in Australia

As I’ve discovered, such cases also prompt new questions around the conditions of consent for workers, women’s lives and their legal personhood, on a highly mobile and fluid trans-Pacific labour frontier. All of this occurred in the shadow of the “new” Pacific slavery, as it was then termed, after planters from Europe and North America moved their capital to Queensland after the American Civil war. Their demands for cheap workers led to the indenture and blackbirding of thousands of Islanders. These histories also give us pause to think on how the past may shape the present. Today Pacific Islander seasonal workers in Queensland are decrying their conditions, with men and women severely underpaid and housed in squalid and crowded conditions. Over 1000 Pacific Islander workers fled their jobs in 2020-21, from a system which subjected people to abuse and “inhumane conditions”.


Mushroom hospitalisations jump amid ‘foraging’ craze

Health authorities are reminding people to not eat found mushrooms, with poisons hotlines receiving an increase in calls amid damp conditions and social media’s “foraging” craze. Since the start of May, the NSW Poisons Information Centre has received 56 calls about mushroom exposures; 37 concerned mushrooms which had been either been foraged or consumed for recreational purposes. Calls to the hotline are up about 25 per cent on the same period in 2021.


Should you feed child guests dinner? What #Swedengate tells us about food culture and social expectations

From meatballs and cakes to soups and seafood, Sweden is known for its hearty cuisine. It’s also renowned for its quality of life, topping many countries in happiness, equality and social connection. Perhaps this is why news on Reddit and Twitter that Swedes don’t feed child guests dinner caused a stir online. As one poster explained, while over at a friend’s house as a child, the family ate dinner together – and the friend was expected to wait.


Why did people start eating Egyptian mummies? The weird and wild ways mummy fever swept through Europe

Faith that mummies could cure illness drove people for centuries to ingest something that tasted awful. Mumia, the product created from mummified bodies, was a medicinal substance consumed for centuries by rich and poor, available in apothecaries’ shops, and created from the remains of mummies brought from Egyptian tombs back to Europe.


%d bloggers like this: