Archives for the month of: October, 2015

Heather Anderson is a give-you-goosebumps speaker, coming at the food-poverty system as a farmer, presenting ideas to build for Scotland a good food system instead, one that works for all “stakeholders,” including farmers. Read more of her here, on complicated CAP subsidies and directions agriculture in Scotland (and clearly elsewhere) needs to take:

https://heatherjanderson.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/farming-for-the-future/

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Conference, we all now know that around 1 in 10 households in Scotland are food insecure – That means they worry every week if you are going to be able to put food on the table. Westminster austerity is taking another £10 per week from our poorest fellow citizens and it has no intention of giving it back.   As a percentage of income, the poorest 10% are already spending twice as much on their limited income on food. We all know that thousands of children in Scotland are going to bed hungry.

And then they get up and go to school hungry.

For the thousands of people who rely on food banks every week, they are a life-line. Donating food is what we do in an emergency and we must applaud everyone who is trying to do their best.

But conference, we have to get our heads the fact that we…

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This song makes me laugh every time! You can follow him on Facebook.  And his blog here.

This one’s pretty good too.  Really chuckled about Pink Lady® apples.

FOOD WASTE AND LEFTOVERS ADVICE:

RECONSIDERING TAKEAWAYS, READY-MEALS, GRAVY AND CONVENIENCE FOOD… DEFANCIFYING THE MESSAGE…

Hubbub is a UK organisation using creative, participatory events to reduce domestic food waste.  Two of their projects are on my mind right now. #PumpkinRescue is all about giving Halloween pumpkins a culinary afterlife.  (I hope to take part in a Disco Soup event in Salford; check out events in your area.) #ExpressYourShelf asks people to prepare meals based on what they have on hand, and take “shelfies.”  Here’s what we got up to last year at this time.

Fun.  Meanwhile, the estimable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is soon coming out with a new book and tv series on leftovers, “all about creating delicious meals from all those bits and bobs that are leftover from the last meal we cooked, ” says he.

Conversations about “leftovers” are everywhere these days, as concern mounts about food waste and its ecological impact, as well as the moral issue of throwing out edible food in light of local and global hunger– all pretty well summarised in the video posted above.  Food waste is a large and multifaceted problem, with domestic waste being one part of that; I like to think that by not wasting food individuals can save money and be empowered to discuss and act on systemic problems too.  Connecting different levels.

On the whole I’m pretty good at not wasting — except when life and work get busy and I lose focus on the shopping/cooking nexus– but that’s the point.  Not wasting in our world of excess and too-muchness requires a focus and becomes a task and priority in itself that needs to be made easier.

So we might have to do things differently. Read the rest of this entry »

Food writer and activist Jack Monroe on poverty, hunger, feminism, being a mother with a toddler, and the weight children bear on their “little teeny-tiny shoulders” of reckless financial decision making, political cleaning up of which justifies Austerity.  Cutting ribbons on food banks as a disgrace. Inequality. Wanting change.  Worth your time watching.

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Cultivate is an active and inspiring  food cooperative in Oxford, England that unites growers and eaters in lots of fun ways. I encountered this poem on their website and wanted to share it here.

I hope that Jack Pritchard, “an Oxford-based wanderer (and occasional writer, forager, brewer and outdoor-swimmer)” — a.k.a. Oxford Wild Food — can imagine my hyper-linking on his poem as a kind of inter-genre collaboration. 🙂  In fact you could follow him on Twitter at @OxfordWildFood if you like Haiku in your feed, as I do!

But please read it once through before any naughty clicking, just to give this fabulous, hilarious piece of writing its due.

“Beet Poetry” by Jack Pritchard

I have seen the best veg of my germination destroyed by cooking:
carrots, beetroot, swedes; mashed with butter by angry chefs at dusk,
or grated and juiced by the illuminated machinery of kitchens
purple-headed onions burning in forgotten pans in neon-lit takeaways
and lettuce, turning, turning:
caught in the starry dynamo of the machinery of saladspinner.
Carrots, who curled, abandoned, on chopping boards; and leeks
who ran through streets in mad dreams screaming “celeriac! celeriac!”.
who rotted down on compost heaps
who sprouted in the supernatural dark of larders,
who were lost, beneath mouse-grey mould on ectoplasmic fridge-door shelves

who were rooted in the shadow of Didcot smokestacks
who cowered in terror under September squash-leaves
who tasted radiant cool flesh, of early-morning marrows
and who wept onion-tears as they contemplated
knifesteel, from hessian sacks and box-scheme crates:
who faced the peeler and the grater in insane fear of casserole
and nightmares of spilt beetrootblood, and gouged potato-eyes

who were macerated, blended, chopped; or marinated overnight with wine:
who leached their flavours into stock, or roasted crisp around the body of a duck
who dreamed of honey-glaze. Chillies,
who spilled their hot seed carelessly on formica worktops, and parsnips
too obscene for supermarket shelves: who were diced and boiled
for pasties and trapped inside the crescents of crusts, or
who found their place in cold cottage-pies

who were gently peeled, and chopped and sliced
with beetroot in the quiet of Oxford kitchens
who were dressed in oil in soft wooden spoonfuls:
who were served in bowls in cornerless rooms,
haunted by the echoes of verse and song
who shared their hearts with loving people,
who dream of broccoli forests and
who understand the power and the poetry
in these thin green stems.

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And a little more on the theme:

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Thanks to Bill Whitehead 

We just gave a little money in this Indiegogo Campaign to help the families of activists detained for fighting for land rights and against land grabs in Ethiopia.

We’re so protected, relatively, for now, in the UK, to express what we believe in terms of food democracy and a vision for feeding ourselves in the future. These activists in Ethiopia have been charged under a counter terrorism law for attending a food security workshop. Outrageous! Hearing Omot admit his fear of torture more than that of arrest just sent chills down my body.  Well clearly it’s a lot harder if you’re an activist in Ethiopia, so the least to offer is my small contribution, and to spread the word in this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beautiful in its knobby hairy tentacled-rootletted glory, the celeriac is an autumn root with the flavour of a spring leaf.  Ish.

Perhaps you find yourself in its company (a veg box, a farmer’s market) and are unsure what direction to take the conversation? It’s wonderful roasted, in soups and gratins, and alone or mixed with potatoes or other roots in mash.  Or, if you’ve read about the collapse of ocean eco-systems, you might want to bookmark the delicious vegetarian kedgeree Anna Jones calls Vegeree.

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And of course there’s the famous French salad Celeri Remoulade, which has been inspiring me. Read the rest of this entry »

Am reblogging a Call-to-Arms-I-mean-Forks piece by my good friend Vanessa. She looks deeply at the concepts of food security and food sovereignty contextualised in a world governed by the expediency of financial profit and control. The article is insightful though disturbing, and also sums up so much of why I write this blog: to get “creative about our shared liberation, and quietly or noisily rebel, in the kitchen, the garden, the hedgerows, the shops and in social gatherings.”

VIVID

food sov farmers-market-local-produce-520It is a standing joke in my home that when dinner appears, whether it’s a curry or a quiche, someone has to ask “whose is it?”

The quip is an affectionate lampoon of my step-father, who for as long as I’ve known him has never eyed a piece of meat on the Sunday lunch table without asking precisely that question.

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A fascinating, very informative video about Andrew Whitley’s compelling endeavours “to rebuild nutritional quality and local self-sufficiency of the Scottish bread supply.” I love his baking book Bread Matters, and now hearing him talk about “diversity in adversity” and agricultural resilience.

Geoff Tansey blog

Andrew Whitley is a campaigning organic baker known for starting the Village Bakery in Melmerby in the 1970s and latterly as co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign. His book Bread Matters is credited with ‘changing the way we think about bread’ by Sheila Dillon of the BBC Food Programme and his business of the same name provides artisan bakery training. Now he’s followed his interest in bread back to its roots by farming in the Scottish borders – using agroforestry approaches, inspired by the work of Prof Martin Wolfe at Wakelyns. He is also experimenting with some 70 varieties of wheat, spelt, emmer, rye, oats and barley, including varieties that used to be grown in Scotland, some obtained from the Vavilov Institute in Russia – as he explains in the video tour of his farm.

With his wife and co-director Veronica Burke he is pioneering a new project…

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Macaroni Bechamel معكرونة بشاميل

Gaza is often in my mind as much as it is in the news, largely because I act as “mentor” to two brilliant young women, university students who participate in We Are Not Numbers.  This project at its most basic seeks to share with the world the extraordinary resilience, brilliance, individuality, personality, and capabilities of Gaza’s young people, many of whose options are extremely limited by the realities of the occupation.

Truly one of the joyful, meaningful aspects of my life these days is the opportunity to get to know these young women, through chatting and corresponding on line, helping, encouraging, editing, enjoying their idiosyncatic and profoundly grown-up takes on the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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