22 October 2016 – let them eat sausages

For those of you who like eating sausages – there is an interesting and entertaining article on ‘The Conversation’ on ‘How sauasages conquered the world‘. It is written by Prof Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick. May be good to read with breakfast.


25 March 2015 – the indecisive chicken

The Dharavi Food Project is part of the Dharavi Biennale – a two-year process that blends art and science to share information on urban health and to showcase the contribution of the people of Dharavi to Mumbai’s economic and cultural life. Prajna Desai’s new book, ‘The Indecisive Chicken: Stories and Recipes from Eight Dharavi Women’ is a great outcome of some of the work, funded by the Wellcome Trust and organized by SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action), an NGO working to improve the health of women and children in Mumbai’s informal settlements. The co-director is UCL Professor Dave Osrin.

The book’s title comes from the author recalling how ‘one attendee claimed not to eat chicken because she thought it to be an indecisive bird. Eating it was bound to make her stupid, she said. When prodded, she confessed that it was taste of chicken she didn’t like.’ She says the book ‘certainly celebrates the women who headline the food project. But it also explores what cooking means beyond making a meal’.

It looks a very tempting book for lots of reasons – you can read more here


19 February 2015 – school lunches round the world

The US company Sweetgreen is a fast casual salad chain which says it prides itself on bringing ‘fast food’ and ‘seasonality’ together. As part of their community outreach they have a programme in schools which notes that, on a typical day, 32 million children in the U.S. eat cafeteria food – and can eat over half their daily calories at school. You can see a selection of photos showing what school lunch looks like in a number of countries, including the US, here


31 January 2015 – BBC Farming Today on the dairy industry

If you can get BBC Farming Today on iplayer, there was a good radio programme on the UK dairy industry this morning. It featured a Norfolk farmer from Fen Farm Dairy with a milk vending machine on the road outside the farm – this made a profit, unlike milk supplied to the large-scale dairy. The programme also featured dairy farmer Neil Darwent (see previous post 16 January) and his free range dairy network that aims to:
‘offer farmers an alternative vision of the future founded on value rather than volume, by promoting a way of farming that:

Pays a fair price for farmers
Gives cows the freedom to graze for six months (days and nights)
Delivers healthy, affordable for consumers

– See more at: http://www.freerangedairy.org/who-we-are/#sthash.NL13JeKn.dpuf


21 January 2015 – Julian Baggini, the Philosopher in the Kitchen

I’ve just been watching a short series of You Tubes put together by Julian Baggini, the Philosopher in the Kitchen. They are well worth watching for his down-to-earth, engaging cooking style whilst tackling issues such as ‘practical wisdom’ and why we shouldn’t rely on recipes when we have the ability to think round problems by using our judgement and powers of improvisation; the importance of tradition – this is film 2 where he uses Einkorn flour in breadmaking and argues for the need to maintain traditional varieties not only for future breeding but also to preserve old foodways as part of our duty of stewardship – what is good, is valuable now and in the future. He also talks about authenticity and asks ‘does it matter?’ whilst cooking a spicy Basque stew; and finally he looks at using ethical and fairtrade products as he makes some tasty looking muffins.

I previously wrote something about traditions and change (see 26 January 2014) that featured Julian Baggini’s book The Virtues of the Table: how to eat and think
You can watch the films here


18 January 2015 – the future of food markets and the inflating shopping list

BBC radio 4 has broadcast two good programmes today – The Future of Food Markets on the Food Programme that you can listen to here and The Inflating Shopping Basket – you can listen to here. The Future of Food Markets has pieces on the new Markthal in Rotterdam, featured in recent posts on this blog, and new developments at London’s Covent Garden wholesale market and Leicester’s vibrant traditional market. The programme has interesting reflections on the changing, but pivotal role of food markets as food provisioning systems adapt and innovate. The second programme on The Inflating Shopping Basket is a fascinating piece on how changing food shopping habits and trends can be traced through the annual analysis of the Consumer Price Index. It rings a lot of bells about changing food choices from post second world war to what (and where) people are buying today. It put me in mind of something written by John Thompson in 2010 – Milk, Eggs, Arugula, Identity – about the ‘new’ everyday. If you are interested, you can read it here


29 December 2014 – To market! To market!

I have been given some great childrens books – the first is ‘To market! To market! by Anushka Ravishankar and Emanuele Scanziani – this is a bouncy modern-day nursery rhyme where a little Indian girl experiences the magic of the market. The creative text and images are literally spell-binding! The second is ‘Off to Market’ by Elizabeth Dale and Erika Pal – this one is on the (very crowded!) market bus in Uganda – another really inspiring tale which captures all the fun and excitement of the market where people pull together to help each other out.

Receiving these books has got me thinking about children’s interactions with markets (and the associated social and cultural interactions) and how they come to understand and value food – I feel a book collection coming on!