Archives for posts with tag: Food Security

New Year’s Resolution to experience and express gratitude– I’m grateful to people who work really hard on the issues I deeply care about.  Miles King is one of them. Here’s what he says about Brexit opportunities.

a new nature blog

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I’m delighted to be able to tell you about this new report which is published today. It’s the first People Need Nature policy report – A Pebble in the Pond: Opportunities for farming, food and nature after Brexit. You can download it here.

Here’s the summary:

As England prepares to leave the EU we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way we support England’s land managers.  This report shows how leaving the EU will enable us to channel money from the public purse to land managers in such a way that they can both produce food, help nature and provide all the other benefits society needs.

The last forty years of farm subsidies from Europe via the Common Agricultural Policy has contributed to a dramatic decline in nature on farmland – land that covers three quarters of England. The vote to leave the EU means we…

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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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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/

heatherjanderson

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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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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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Climate change, agriculture, food security, ecology, sustainability, social behaviour, policy and distribution.  So much to learn!

I am going down to clean the kitchen and make supper for the family.  Just chanced upon this interview on Geoff Tansey’s blog and am going to listen to it while I do my thing.

There are loads of other interesting food politics interviews on Geoff’s Soundcloud page.  A great resource.  We can keep learning, questioning, and getting smarter (and thank you world-wide-web) as we continue working for a better food system– our long and important slog that we just can’t give up on.  Tally ho!

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Idly browsing Food52, I alit upon this recipe for Punjabi Buttermilk Stew with Spinach Dumplings and was drawn in.  The dish sounded so utterly delicious. (Which it was, and is why I wish to share it.)  Preparing it became a kind of odyssey of ingredients, questions and realisations, about which I’ve written what I hope is not too laborious a blog post.  Please disregard if it is! These are the issues that came to the fore for me as I prepared the dish:

  • Culturing Buttermilk
  • How to substitute local winter kale for frozen spinach
  • Sour substitutions for citrus in your cooking
  • Peasemeal as a UK substitute for Gram Flour.
  • Cooking oil conundrums. British Rapeseed Oil as a solution?

Read the rest of this entry »

I find this film about Sea Kale and Turkish Rocket entrancing– simultaneously soothing yet stimulating to watch.  Found it on the great blog Paradise Lot.  Just noticed they have a book I’d very much like to read.

Paradise Lot

As the days become longer, and we enjoy the remaining days of the winter season, we have this important time to reflect on the past year, and what the warmer days of spring and summer hold. Winter is a wonderful time to contemplate our lives, and consider the… read full article

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I want to share this fascinating historical docu-poem, encountered on an Ecologist page , where you can read the full text by Heathcoate Williams. What an incredible thing this writer has done, to set this story, this biography, these food politics, to verse.

Here’s Nanjundaswamy’s obituary in The Guardian.   I am happy, via this video and poem, to have learned of his life’s work. Ten years on from his death, we are still fighting the same battles, for seeds, for people to have rights to stand up to ever more mega corporations, for foods to remain diverse and in “the commons,”– for a vision of Food Sovereignty…. For Democracy.

I wonder what my readers from India make of all this (including the uber-posh accent reading the poem).

And the really fanciful, sometimes happily straining rhymes:

Make sure to read the poem.

 

Concentration of Agricultural Land

I want to state an intention then find the time to write about the conceptual differences between the phrases “Food Security” and “Food Sovereignty.” I stand with Food Sovereignty, which is: rooting our food closer and closer to people and home and less and less reliant on manufacture and distribution through large economic and financial systems.

If you look at this graphic you might feel a narrowing in your gut.  It goes against the grain of the wisdom proclaimed by Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  If you want you can read his report here or read about it in this summary piece on Truth-Out called The Transformative Potential of the Right to Food.   We really need to buck the trends and claim back our power as citizens not consumers, growers not shoppers, participants in ever smaller circles of economy.  The concentration of agricultural land and power in the hands of Big Players is a dangerous game especially in light of climate unpredictability.

This concentration of ownership is a global trend, but here in the UK, so many of us Social Optimists  have placed faith in The Cooperative, which is now in dubious financial trouble and selling off its resources.  Please support, if only with a signature, even better with activism as a member, to halt the fire sale of Co-op Farms, which are a resource that smaller, less financially solvent buyers might want a shot at owning.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/sale-of-co-operative-group-farms

Here you can read the green economist  Molly Scott Cato arguing really persuasively for why the farms are the most important part of the Co-op group, more than the shops…

And here’s an article on the outrageous new Tory policy towards small farms in Britain —-arrrghghghghghhrrrrr:

http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2364508/small_scale_farmers_are_feeding_our_future.html

Sorry, so brief, am in a mad dash…

A SONG, THEN A COLLECTION OF INTERESTING LINKS

I’ve decided I’m not going to write a post about Guava Jelly, even though Bob Marley singing about it is happy and sexy.  Enjoy the song and feel reprieved…

Instead I am going to share all those web links that accumulate in files on my computer. I guess these offerings of links really do illustrate the Kitchen-Counter-Culture approach to food, cooking and eating.  Here goes:

A farmer in the Philippines inspiring soil health with Lacto-bacillus (the critters in our ferments)

And the Importance of Good Soils in Harnessing Carbon as a response to Climate Change

and a piece on a visionary seed-saver in India connecting Climate Change and diversity of rice varieties.

How the Quinoa brou-ha-ha may be conceptualised differently in the North and the South issues of “malnutrition, commodity markets, land degradation, and globalisation.”

There’s a campaign that’s very important protecting the interests of small and poor farmers in Africa against the land-grabbing and market-dominating tactics of big corporations–Read this Red Pepper article as well as this interesting portal.  Here’s a link to the World Development Movement campaign.  This is important. Food Security for people means small systems, not being marginalised in the big ones.  Where we still have any leverage, we must use it.

An interesting piece on the world history of Rhubarb and how to think of it as a savour ingredient– I’ve used it really successfully in Indian “curries” (whoops, sorry!) so can vouch for this.

A recipe for an alternative soy sauce though calls for beef stock.  Interestingly I remember being suggested a vegan beef-stock alternative as a good mixture of black-strap molasses and soy sauce.

A wonderful list of things to do with dandelions — I love these kind of lists — and there are so many more ideas as well.  Dandelions, in their abundance, are such an incredible gift, and feeling thankful for them is a spiritual practice of spring and summer for me.  Here’s a recipe for Spicy Fried Dandelion Flowers.  And a piece on Dandelion Root and, among other things, dehydrating them.  A few weeks ago, inspired by Pascal Baudar of Urban Outdoor Skills (operating in dry Southern California so very different from my cool moist world here), I made a kimchi with lots of dandelion leaves– it turned out really well.  Get ready for a fun Dandelion post from Moi-Meme coming up in the next few weeks 🙂

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Getting personal: After all those years I had migraines, small ones and large ones, I did come to believe a leaky-gut hypothesis, and pretty much feel healed by eating very very low (though not no) gluten and sugar.   This article talks about a the role of Zonulin in Leaky Gut syndrome from a Paleo point of view.

Here’s a fun list of ways to get fermented foods in your diet throughout the day, for health and healing maybe of that Leaky Gut…

Last but not least, and on a differetn and happy note, this seems like a really fun thing to do with children who, like mine, were or are Roald Dahl obsessed: Lickable Wallpaper as in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

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