Archives for the month of: November, 2015

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“Mum, I’m not very excited about this meal,” my 11 year old son confided, when I told him I was making a WWII ration recipe for Lentil Sausages. I mustered a tone of enthusiasm to explain that today is the 100th birthday of the great food educator and cookery writer Marguerite Patten, and that people all over the world are cooking from her great oeuvre.  And because it’s also British Sausage Week (to coincide with Bonfire Night tomorrow) and there’s a climate crisis in which meat plays a not insignificant role, I find myself especially interested in mock-meat kinds of meals.

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So it was that earlier in the day I’d set out to join in on #Marguerite100, an international cook-along networked through social media and documented in this Storify. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s “Man in the Maze,” a short film about Food System problems (hideous) and people-centered solutions (beautiful).  The film is specific to “the geopolitical boundary with the greatest economic disparity in the world” but offers inspiration to people anywhere working hard “to rebuild the food system up from the bottom in a participatory way,” as Gary Paul Nabhan puts it in the interview — “to heal that food system, our economies, our bodies, and the land.”

Thanks to the lovely Charlotte Spring for the recommendation.

Just watched this inspiring talk via The Foodways Project, “an exploration of the intersection between food, identity, and power. [Their} mission is to undo racism through food-focused education, empowerment, and activism in a movement led by people of color.”

Visit their blog for a collection of video resources on the theme of Celebrating Indigenous Foodways for Native American Heritage Month, where I happened upon Valerie Segrest’s talk, linked above.

For Food System and Food Waste activists, please find linked below a very informative piece on the packing and distribution of vegetables and “surplus,” – a concept itself we might seek to re-imagine. One definitely sees supermarkets having too much market share and therefore power to define the situation in which waste is normalised. I’m all in favour of the middle-scaled ground of wholesaling with its chain through town markets and other smaller grocery venues attracting our customer support (a little different from farmers’ markets per se, which I also support). We need to furthermore be thinking about ethical and local procurement for schools, canteens, care homes etc., and councils can help with this, a level at which hopefully “stakeholders” from various points of view should have influence.

Of course wounds need plasters, and NO ONE SHOULD BE HUNGRY. But let’s be careful how we link food waste with hunger, because causes and effects of both are really complicated. For the moment I don’t give an automatic thumbs up to “solutions” that legislate that supermarkets give waste to charities, as this degrades value for farmers, enshrines waste in the system, and institutionalises a charity approach to hunger — let alone gives a message of shame to people needing social support and help. Food is a right and governments need to recognise this. More on these thoughts soon.

In the meantime, this is a really practical article (and blog in general) to get us thinking.

It’s great that the volume of this conversation keeps rising, at the moment thanks to Hugh’s War On Waste on television, and of course gratitude to all the background work done in food waste salvage from field to skip and community feast events and cafes in saving food and raising awareness.  I also see a great opportunity here in which the often polarised perspectives of farmers and environmentalists can be narrowed, because there’s so much room to work together on shared concerns as we re-localise, or at least, focus on smaller hubs of food production and consumption to reduce waste with all its ecological footprint and ensure value and reward for people who grow food.

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In my last blog I questioned the volumes of waste or rather surplus produce in the supply chain. I also raised the question why this surplus arises.
The majority of fresh produce in the UK is being grown for supermarket sales, as currently, apart from some relatively small volumes of local or direct sales, they are the only outlets that can handle the volumes required to give an economic return. There are secondary markets which include processing for freezing and manufacturing sectors, catering food service and  finally wholesale outlets. All of these markets have different requirements and what one sector wants is often different to others.
When planning a crop growers usually (almost always) have the end market in mind. The cropping plan, soils, fertiliser regime, pesticides applied, plant spacing, irrigation, harvest and storage conditions all determine the suitability of a product for its end market. Long gone are the…

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Had a small piece myself that day, and it was delicious.  And what an impressive griddle they’ve cobbled together there in the community garden.

This is the kind of lovely community event that happens around the small but bustling Saturday Market in Llanidloes, Powys, Mid-Wales. There are loads of friendly sellers and great stalls: baked goods, cheeses, vegetables, plants, vintage, charity and community set-ups, and my favourite, Jason, who sells quality “seconds” socks at discount prices. My feet have never been so happy, warmly clad in soft wool, since he has come to town.

Welshcakes are really nice to eat too, lightly warm with butter.  Here’s a recipe I plan to try one of these days.

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Custardy Squash Prune Barberry Squares

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Custardy Quince Squares

Gratitude to the culinary grace of cookery writer Dorie Greenspan for these wonderful Custardy Apple Squares. She writes that she sees the recipe in the link as a “back-pocket recipe.” In the few weeks this recipe has been in my life, I’ve come to consider it a “back-pack” for the ways that it can travel, light and flexibly, be adapted to ingredients on hand, rise to an attitude of perfection or laziness as befits one’s mood, and sit somewhere on a continuum of cake, tea time snack, and pudding (in the various British senses).  And it doesn’t seem to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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