First up, as mother to a little girl I think Tracey Moore’s article If we’re going to empower girls, we owe them a reality check is essential reading. She says:
If we’re going to be honest with ourselves and our daughters, shouldn’t we be teaching them early how utterly fucked the world still can be for women, instead of promising the moon and watching them hit the roof?
Speaking of ‘how utterly fucked the world is’, Keane and I had a debate over dinner last night about whether we all should all become vegans in order to save the planet. As someone who pales at the thought of giving it all up, I was somewhat comforted by this article about why people in the rich world should become ‘demitarians’. Prof Mark Sutton, lead author of a UN Environment Programme study into the subject published on Monday, says that we can help avoid environmental catastrophe by eating half as much meat as we are used to, with pork and chicken being the most sustainable options. He says we should, “Eat meat, but less often – make it special.”
The horsemeat scandal has proven how corrupt and unsustainable the meat industry is, and of course it has also given us reason to doubt the reliability of food labelling. And here is another! This morning Mother Jones reported on the bad science and hidden complexities of calorie counting. Interestingly, the calorie system is derived from nineteenth-century experiments by Wilber Atwater who worked out the calorific unit by deducting the energy value of burned foods from their weight as excreted matter. Scientists are now debating the accuracy and usefulness of the system, not only because of its origins, but because differences the nutritional value and digestibility of raw and cooked foods are complicated, and the quantity of nutrients ‘mooched’ away by gut bacteria are unpredictable.
Turns out NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg has finally added a war on packaging waste to his programme of cleaning the city’s streets. This won’t be a matter of just shipping it all out-of-town like his disastrous plans to reduce homelessness, instead his policy highlight is a ban on styrofoam packaging.
This token gesture should extend to a worldwide ban on companies making pointless packaging from a vast array of polymers that cannot be recycled, or that cannot be recycled unless sorted into types. I have thought for a long time that it would be a good if every chemist stocked vats of beauty products so customers can fill up their own containers. The Body Shop used to, and Lush does now, if you can bear the pong. Turns out there is also a new London grocery store offering this service called Unpackaged, and good on them. It’s just a shame that buying less useless wrapping is now a luxury choice for consumers, whereas it should be a budget option for everyone.
After my anxiety about the lack of authenticity of my coconut salmon, I was drawn to this Zester Daily article on whether ‘chefs need litmus test to claim food authenticity?’ Quoting Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, Sara Franklin says:
The “authentic” in food is sort of a false one, full of imagined nostalgia… all foods are shaped by place and time, and contact between different cultures, especially in this global age.
Last night BBC Food & Drink was about comfort food, and if you’re interested in what authenticity is in cooking – and you can bear the self-consciousness of the format – they had a bit of a discussion about it on the programme.
And finally. Will Pippa Middleton do for food writing what Duchy Originals did for ready meals? I’ll be checking out Pippa’s new column in Waitrose magazine this March to find out if it makes me lose any teeth. And speaking of slimy creatures, here is a fantastic article about the history of the kracken.
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