MenU; Thursday's Tucker Post

Tucker? OZism for that which one tucks into = food. A certain dog is famous for fouling the tucker. (Not relevant here really, but if you are interested click here... the things you learn about language when you didn't ask...)

Thank you to everyone who made a wonderful contribution to the tucker of the blogger - the comments box - last week! It was good to read that so many of you are sourcing locally as much as possible; Jenn offered the term 'locavore', which I must confess, was a new one on me. Looking it up though, it addresses exactly some of the stuff I was ranting about. Three or four of you noted the problem of the little farmers being bullied by the biggies and those biggies are operating purely to serve the supermarts (or fast food outlets who shall remain nameless). Jenn also made a point, which to a some extent was implied by Bertie's Gail when it was noted that one can really only go by what is on the label/marketing - if it says 'Organic' or 'Local Lamb' then we must take it as offered. It is, of course, a major bugbear that labelling is not only very poor, it can also be extremely misleading. Gail also brought up the positives of 'banding together' from hunter-gatherer times; which is acknowledged and had been hinted at with the sentence "..Food is also one of the few things which builds proper bonds within humanity; dating right back to the hunter-gatherers. Food is a functional part of culture... and that is where we'll pick it up next week..."  ...and I shall get to that, but something rather interesting happened following that post which I would like to share.

[BTW - those name links I put in above take you directly to relevant comments so you can follow up on the threads if you so desire!]

What interesting? Throughout my spiritual life and to a large extent, life in general, I have had many experiences of thinking/discussing something which is of some importance and then having people/texts/reports turn up before me which tie in very closely. When one is in prayer, for example, there may be a need for an answer or clarification. In one of those mysterious ways of the world, the answers and clarifications will appear. Even if one is not particularly looking or hasn't even asked a question, stuff appears which is relevant and which can either support one's stance (or modify it).

This was the case last week. Literally a day after the post, I had switched on for Landward and blow me down with a wet feather if they didn't do a report on local pork production in Scotland and how labelling was going to reflect that!!! Now, for the YAMster it was still rather yukky-making, the idea that pigs all held inside on plastic grids with 'enrichment' of some plastic hanging 'toys' is considered quality of life... but that is my own personal distaste and all commendations to the farmers' group involved in raising their standards and in building their own abattoir. This also addressed another issue dear to all hearts in Blogville - animal welfare. All this was echoing in my head when I then switched on to Countryfile on Sunday. Pig, it seems, is flavour of the week, for there was another report on this show, regarding the labelling and what exactly 'outdoor bred', 'outdoor reared' and 'free range' meant. It was accepted that use of the word 'outdoor' tended to mislead many consumers as to the conditions of the pigs before slaughter, ie that they had free-roaming natural life-before-death. Nope. Unless the words 'Free Range' are there, the animals are kept in barns and fed controlled meal.  'Bred' just means they were born outside, then are kept inside throughout. 'Reared' just means they were suckled outside for their first four weeks, then are kept inside throughout. 


There was an additional report specifically on animal welfare! This had a sub report on the keeping of veal and showed one farm where they are kept in 'open pens' with lots of space and 'enrichments' and were allowed to grow their full 8 months.

Here's the thing though; both farms in these reports would be classed as being in the 'Biggies' field (no pun intended). This is, albeit very small inch-by-inch style, the mass producer responding to the consumer choices at the supermarket. Not enough farms are doing this yet. It takes money to convert to these systems, and as we know, the traditional farmer is at the rough-end of the chain as it is.

Incidentally, I DID learn something from this episode of Countryfile of which I had been previously unaware ; even organic eggs are not entirely free of interference with a view to perceived consumer requirement - they are supplemented with pellet food which has alfalfa added to 'assist' the yolk to a more yellow colour!!! In your average non-specific eggs, the feed is packed with paprika and some synthetic colouring agents. As I understand it, free range eggs ought to be free of these - but that may vary somewhat...

Then a third event. Sunday arvo, being ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE weather-wise, and having caught up on sleep and activity, I decided to indulge in some DVD watching (despite all remarks made in various posts, I actually watch very little on the tellybox...) However, in setting it up, the telly went through a channel slip and landed a place I would never visit (I'm pretty much hitched to BBC, with occasional forays into commercial land)... and there was a show about food and what goes into or gets taken out of it and was to all intents and purposes revealing the stuff they don't tell you on the labels.  Of course, the DVD had to wait, cuz here was something of interest! Much of it I already knew from my nutritional training days even 20 years back; a lot of this stuff has been known forever, but Joe Public is unaware and these proggies were aimed at enlightening otherwise disinterested parties, (I am supposing). They even mentioned the drying and squashing of the cochineal bugs to get the colour E120 Carmine...
Image result for cochineal beetle
Cochineal

I have nothing more really to offer you from that. Just that it was amazing that three programmes should appear before me in the very week I had a rant about such things and I wanted to share with you this serendipitous confluence of thinking and programming.

Simply out of curiosity, I know that in OZ there is a similar farming and produce programme called Landline (remember, I'sa country gal!), so was wondering if there is any such in the US? Or anywhere else you are happening to be reading this post... and if so, do you watch them?

Right this post is already getting long and whilst it has still been to do with tucker, it has taken me 'off piste' a bit. I do want to reconnect with the concept of food and culture, but will leave that till next week now, because there's another 'head-space' post to prepare for tomorrow and as mentioned on Tuesday, am not quite firing on all cylinders this week. 

...heheheh having started out with a minor quibble about finding vego take-away this has turned into quite the ramble! Just following my fingertips. This has been an interest for more than half my life, (for some 15 years a professional one), and it has been a while since I 'exercised' that part of me. Will get back on track next week. I can't tell you how long this is going to go on. Not like I planned it or anything. Am as curious as you  are (hopefully) as to where this will end up!

Anyhoo, as it says over on the right there, this is my blog and I'll post if I want to...well, same but different. Thanks for joining the 'party'

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11 comments:

  1. Food is such an emotional topic. I enjoy learning about other people's perspectives on it.
    I have a girlfriend who is a vegetarian. She became very ill, almost died. They found out she has celiac disease and a whole list of other food issues including severe reactions to dairy, eggs, some nuts. She is now mostly vegetarian. She has had to reintroduce some meat products so she can get her daily requirements.

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    1. Hari OM
      this is becoming more and more the case... gluten in particular has risen to ridiculous proportions in our over processed breads and a lot of that is due to the GM crops... and actually in that segment about eggs it was noted that many of the products used to make the meal for the hens is from GM cereal and this is what is causing people like your friend (and a pal of mine too) have disturbance from egg... if I ever eat a non-free range egg I too get queasy but had never worked out why! I had so many folk early in life talk down their noses about "sensitive little flower ain't she" - but with so many folk now falling foul of the 'safe' foods, you'd think SOMEONE would listen.... sigh.......... Yxx

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    2. ... (clarification)... organic eggs may still come from battery hens, but they are fed meal which purports to be free of artificial fertilisers and pesticides - but this does not necessarily mean GM free which is why it can be confusing when eating organic eggs, one still has some trouble.

      free range are hens which definitely have 'run of the field and barn' according to their own wishes. They are not necessarily organic, but the point of free range is that chooks feed themselves with all the seeds, grasses and bugs they can find on the ground and the farmers are unlikely to use much in the way of toxins as this would affect their stock.

      If you see boxes labelled 'grain fed', bear in mind that the grain, as good as that sounds, may well be of the Genetically Modified variety...

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  2. We're not familiar with such programming here but we are limited in programming cuz we only have over-the-air TV.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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    1. ...oh these are 'free to air' shows here... I wouldn't consider anything else. Bit like the free range thing really!!!

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  3. I always thought eggs from "free running chicken" means what it said... but... well, we buy our eggs from our neighbor, because I can see them running over the meadow without a cage and without getting "special" food ...
    easy rider

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    1. Hari OM
      Oh yes Easy, if the box says 'free range', here in the EU, they absolutely MUST be out and about, no doors, no bars. It is the question of what they are being fed (if at all) in addition to their foraging which might come into question; some farms do supplement. On balance though, free range is the best of all available commercially...... if you've got neighbours with chook runs you are onto gold!!! Yxx

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  4. I know my jam is at least local. I picked the berries myself so you can't get more local than that. The sugar is another matter though, but I feel better already to use at least half of the ingredients and know exactly where it's from. I hope this year there will be apple and plum jam again as well.

    I try to buy Norwegian at least, but it isn't always possible if you want certain types of food at certain times of the year. Besides that, Norway isn't known for its exotic fruits and stuff so they have to come from further afield. Although I will try and pick the closest (Spain over Peru for example).

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    1. Hari OM
      Oh yes indeed - the freshest of all! I guess on the sugar front, the best which might be managed is 'fair trade'... As to the import of foods - I'll get to that!!!

      But fresh jammmmmmm.......... Yxx

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  5. We once had our own chooks and I am sure there eggs were better than any bought one, free range or not.
    I had forgotten about the cochineal bugs, something that always had me intrigued.
    ABC TV has a half our programme "Landline" and one learns many interesting things from it but it is on at one of those awkward times so one has to remember to watch.
    I never fail to be amazed at your use of words and your descriptions of everything. All so much to learn from you. xx

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    1. Hari OM
      Ohhhhh the luxury of having one's own chooks.... definitely the best of all choices! I always watched Landline when I was in OZ - but usually the midweek repeat showing which was later of an evening as the Sunday arvo timing could be rather difficult.

      ...tsk you're making me blush Mimsie... this blog is not at all meant to be academic, but is merely a place (as are all our blogs I suppose) to ramble on about favourite interests and share philosophy. If it engages folks' interest and sparks debate, so much the better! Hugs, Yxx

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