I read an article about tuckshops in Britain in an online food magazine recently and it set me remembering my tuckshop days at St. Joseph’s Primary School at Singleton in the Hunter Valley. It was at the back of the church hall, fronting the playground. In my mind it is small, a-bustle with volunteers from the school ‘Mothers’ Club’ buttering bread for sandwiches, filling out lunch orders from pupils, and serving behind a low counter on which are several kinds of lollies (sweets). My dad used to make me sandwiches for lunch and give me sixpence to buy a treat for ‘play lunch’, the morning break between lessons. Sometimes dad would take a break from making lunch and give me money to buy sandwiches for lunch.
I wondered what the tuckshop experience was for others. So, I put a call out to my Facebook friends, who are now very much a part of the research I do into Anglo Australian foodways and had a chat over coffees with my morning dog-walking group, also a regular go to for research. What follows is a collage of their stories and mine.
Jonathan Jones centres some of the world’s oldest breadmakers: Indigenous Australians
A Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist of south-east Australia, Jonathan Jones has created works, from prints to light pieces to vast installations, centred on his relationship to Country and community. His latest work, untitled (walam-wunga.galang), showing at the National Gallery of Australia, is a monument to the cultural practice of bread making. In the early 1990s, a 32,000-year-old grindstone unearthed in New South Wales was revealed as being used for grinding seeds collected to make flour and bread. As writer and farmer Uncle Bruce Pascoe describes, the First Peoples of this region are some of the world’s oldest breadmakers which shifts settler narratives of Western nation building and speaks to the endurance of First Nation knowledge systems. Jones’s work at NGA features a series of sandstone grindstones, accompanied by a soundscape in Wiradjuri language.
Good lunchboxes are based on 4 things: here’s how parents can prepare healthy food and keep costs down
A healthy well-balanced lunchbox should have four things:1
1. food for energy
2. food for growth
3. food for health
4. something to drink
Governments spend US$22 billion a year helping the fishing industry empty our oceans. This injustice must end
‘Scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades. Many published studies document the destabilising effects of fisheries subsidies on ecosystems. In addition to impacting biodiversity and ecosystems, subsidies also increase the CO₂ emissions that contribute to climate change. More recently, studies have also applied a social perspective to this issue. Seafood lifts millions of people out of hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Yet more people will lose a secure source of food and nutrients if fish stocks continue to decline due to industrial overfishing. Research shedding light on the concept of “equity” shows subsidies don’t just harm the ocean, they also affect human communities. These communities are largely in developing countries which are rarely the source of harmful fisheries subsidies. Rather, their waters are exploited by foreign vessels supported by wealthy governments’ fisheries subsidies.’
Where did the ingredients in that sandwich come from? Our global nutrient tracker tells a complex story
High-income countries were the biggest importers of vitamin B12, but also the other nutrients analysed, largely from trade with other high-income countries. This is despite those countries having only around 15% of the global population. In contrast, low-income countries have little involvement in global trade of any nutrients. This limits their ability to improve dietary diversity and quality through food from outside their borders.
Why Is Food Education So Unappetising?
When I think of ‘Food Technology’ lessons at secondary school in the mid-2000s, the chief feeling I recall is being overwhelmed by mayonnaise. I remember the coleslaw we’d made in class leaking from its Tupperware into my O’Neill backpack; a pasta salad with chunky shards of onion congealing in its box, with so much mayo it had become one mass. Even though food ultimately became my personal passion and my career, ‘Food Tech’ did not instil a love of cooking in me – and I gave it up before GCSE. I decided to investigate its history and its present; has food education always been so unappetising?
Space travel taxes astronauts’ brains. But microbes on the menu could help in unexpected ways
Feeding astronauts on a long mission to Mars goes well beyond ensuring they have enough nutrients and calories to survive their multi-year journey. Providing astronauts with the right diet is also paramount in supporting their mental and cognitive health, in a way unlike previous missions. So we need to radically rethink how we feed astronauts not only on a challenging mission to Mars, which could be on the cards in the late 2030s or early 2040s, but to prepare for possible settlement on the red planet.
Ultra-processed foods: here’s what the evidence actually says about them
Ultra-processed foods haven’t been shown to be the largest cause of deaths globally and no scientific study has ever found this. I believe this bold but misleading claim appears to be a misinterpretation of research which suggests that poor diet is a leading cause of death. Most deaths attributed to poor diet in this and similar studies are due to factors such as not eating enough fruit and veg, oily fish or wholegrains. Nor is there strong evidence that whether a food is ultra-processed or not is what determines how it may affect your health.