Spread the love: the link between jam and life expectancy

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Ok. Bear with me.

You might not think that the sugary goodness of jam would help with life expectancy, and realistically, eating it in moderation is most likely not going to have any effect whatsoever on your life expectancy. The thing is, depending on your heritage, it might not be your life expectancy I’m talking about.

Today is National ‘Close the Gap’ Day. Something of a mouthful to say, but super important because if you compare the average life expectancy of non-Indigenous Australians to that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there is an unbelievably large gap. A 10-17 year gap in fact.

On it’s website Oxfam talks about some of the reasons behind the ongoing Indigenous health crisis. These include accessability to health services, particularly for remote Aboriginal communities, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in mainstream health services (turning something simple like a routine doctors visit into a confusing, maybe even distressing, ordeal). It also highlights the root cause:

More than 200 years of dispossession, racism and discrimination have left Indigenous Australians with some of the lowest levels of education, highest levels of unemployment, poorest health and most appalling housing conditions.

One amazing project that is working towards empowerment and employment for Indigenous Australians in remote communities is Outback Pride.

Enter Jam. And sauces, and spices, etc. All delicous, all incorporating Australian native ingredients, this brand works to provide training and industry within traditional Aboriginal communities. My personal favourite is the Lemon Myrtle flakes, which I love to use in place of lemon grass in Thai dishes.

Check out their full range at: http://www.outbackpride.com.au/retail-products

A Sandwhich and a Story – the best salad sandwhich combo in history

On Monday I went to the launch of the new YWCA Canberra Cookbook, Frugal Feast. This collection of 13 easy and affordable  recipes is selling for $20 to raise money for the Lanyon Food Hub which provides emergency food relief for local families in need. Each recipe is accompanied by a story from the contributors who include volunteers and board members.

Frugal Feast

The launch was held at the ANU Food Co-Op (which is awesome, btw) and featured sandwhich making demonstrations from two of the books celebrity contributors, Minister Shane Rattenbury – Member of the Legislative Assembly, ACT Greens; and Natasha Rudra – food and wine editor for the Canberra Times; along with Francis Crimmins –  executive director, YWCA Canberra. Each told us the story behind their favourite frugal sandwhich and made some for us to try.

I am inspired.

Wrap

The story behind my favourite sandwhich (or wrap – as pictured above) goes back 6 months to my time in Uluru with two of my favourite people. We were only there for a few days so we didn’t want to have to buy cheese for crackers and cheese for sandwhiches – so we decided to use brie for both. Yum-o.

One of these lovely ladies is a grazer – one of those people who eats in tiny spurts all day long. And as such she always has some kind of trail mix, nuts or the like in her bag. On this particular trip she was transporting a packet of Craisins (dried cranberries). Also delicous.

But it’s when you put these two ingredients together that you get the taste explosion. So what’s in it?

 

– The Best Sandwhich Combo Ever –

Bread or wrap

Lettuce (mesculin is my favourite)

Tomato

Cucumber

Brie

Dried Cranberries

 

Bring the bacon home

What does ‘Australian made bacon’ really mean?

The Australian pork industry want you to know that it doesn’t mean much.

Apparently as long as your bacon is processed (cured, sliced etc.) in Australia it can be labelled as Australian made  even if the entirity of the meat was raised elsewhere. Australia imports well over $400 million of pork per year, and the pork industry worries that the lack of clear labelling on one of our favourite pork products will eventually put them out of business.

As someone who always reads the labels I can say with great confidence that product origin labelling is extremely frustrating. Not only can the information be hard to find on the packet, but the term ‘made in Australia’ can mean that anywhere between 50% – 100% of the cost of the product is attributable to Australia. It’s tough.

If you want easier to read labels write to your local MP. But if a change in legislation is coming, it’s not coming for a long time. So in the interim I’d recommend two simple steps to increasing your chance of buying 100% Aussie bacon:

  1. Read up on the legislated definitions of ‘made in Australia’ and ‘product of Australia’ in this helpful article.
  2. Look for this pretty pink label which guarantees that your pork is Australian.

Aust-Pork-web

And when you buy that delicous Australian pork, you might like to follow my tips for the perfect pork crackling, recently tried and tested at our Christmas in July (which actually happened in August):

  • Score the rind in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut all the way through the fat to the meat;
  • Rub in salt, getting right into the cracks. This will help to dry it out, giving it that crunchy, puffy texture;
  • Cook it on the highest heat to which your oven will go for the first 20-30 minutes, then turn back down to 180ºc until the meat is cooked through.

Happy eating!!

 

 

Just my cup of tea. The benefits of drinking fair-trade.

This is the fourth and final ‘winters warmers’ article offering tips for staying warm while feeling warm and fuzzy with the LLUF philosophy. So far I have covered:

So now to cover fair!! Fairtrade tea has long been a thing, but the fancy marketing and familiarity of big brands like Tetley and Bushells keep us going back for more. But there are plenty of similarly priced and equally delicious fair-trade teas that come with two added bonuses:

  • They are better for you (most fair trade teas are also organic), and
  • They are better for the people who produce your tea.

So if you are thinking of making the switch why not start with one of these (excuse my dodgy graphics):

Love teaBoth these teas are on the fancy end of the tea scale. And both are delicous. However Love Tea’s earl grey is organic, fair trade and comes in a very cute cardboard cannister. It is also an Australian run family business, which I love. When odering from their website I have always received my purchases within 48 hours and always with a little sampler of one of their teas to try!!

LiptonTwo old family favourites, similar prices, simalar tastes. But Lipton’s black tea range is Rainforest Alliance Certified which gets it the LLUF-green-box-of-approval.

NeradaI love peppermint tea. I have it in a 500ml stein because a standard mug just doesn’t cut it. So needless to say price is a major consideration when it comes to this purchase. Nerada Organics has a complete range of fair-trade organic herbal teas that is available in most supermarkets. And at around $5.50 for 40 bags beats Liptons ‘Refreshing Mint’ by 5c a bag!!

Still not convinced? Watch this short video about the benefits of fair-trade and then see how you feel.

Los Estafadores Quesadilla

Quesadillas

The Cheats Quesadilla – a quick, easy and cheap recipe – with Chunky Avocado Salsa

According to America’s Real Simple magazine, one of the best ways to use less water is to eat a vegetarian meal once a week – or if you already eat vego occasionally – to eat one more vegetarian meal a week. It’s a big call, but they claim that giving up just over 100gm of beef a week will save more than 60,000 litres of water a year. So to inspire you to eat more veg, and to celebrate the surprising self-control I have shown by reaching 10 whole posts (!!) I am giving you the gift of an easy and delicious vego recipe that I have tried and tested many times at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Packet of tortillas
  • 1 Can of refried beans
  • ½ Red Onion –finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 Tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 Avocado – chopped
  • ½ Cup of coriander leaves
  • Cheese (optional)

To make chunky avocado salsa: mix the tomatoes, avocado and coriander together. Sometimes I like to add some corn to the mix too.

To make quesadillas: mix the refried beans, red onion and lime juice in a bowl. Spread over half of the tortillas and sprinkle cheese over the top if desired. Use the other half of tortillas to top them off.

Place a frypan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil if it takes your fancy, and fry your tortilla sandwiches for a minute or so on each side.

Once warmed through, cut the quesadillas into portions for serving, and top with chunky avo salsa.

Food gentrification – how bad can good food be?

 

Gentrified foodFood gentrification, a new buzzword causing quite a stir in the world of social commentary, suggests that as hipsters and the rest of the middle class fall in love with each new food-fad they are pushing prices up for the cultural and class minorities who ate it before it was cool. Mikki Kendall, who is attributed with pioneering the term talks in a guest article for Breaking Black about how these minorities are then unable to pass on their culinary heritage to their children, and worse, are unable to feed their children – not really knowing how to cook healthy meals with whatever is left in their price range. Bitch Media expands on this idea, providing an example using kale which in the U.S has allegedly risen significantly in price since being marketed as a super food.

There are opponents to the theory, including Jason Best, writing for Takepart, who argues that although the average price of kale may have risen, it is still cheap in poorer neighbourhoods and ethnic food stores, it is just the inflated prices in the supermarkets of affluent suburbs pushing up the average. Ryan Cooper, writing for The Week suggests that as the middle class buys more of a new ‘in’ food, farmers will start planting more of that food, and this increased supply will ensure the price stays down. Cooper notes however that foods which require specific growing conditions, such as quinoa, are exceptions.

Joanna Blythman, writes for The Guardian about how quinoa has tripled in price since 2006 so that now those in the regions where it is grown cannot afford it, and have been forced to forsake this traditional food source for less healthy alternatives. Blytham mentions not only these economic impacts, but also environmental impacts of food tastes in the west, discussing deforestation and water insecurity as poorer communities try to make way for preferred crops.

Now I’m not going to mediate on who is and isn’t right, or tell you where to sit on the food gentrification continuum (hipster hater/quinoa convert/decided unbeliever), but I can tell you that none of these articles provide any practical way forward for those who are concerned about the impacts of their food preferences on communities. I certainly don’t have all the answers, I don’t even have many answers, but I figure that the following three suggestions can’t hurt:

1) Don’t waste food – the less you need to buy to feed your family, the less you have to worry that you are inadvertently robbing another family of this ability.

2) Buy from farmers markets or locally owned produce stores whenever you can – after all, the blame for food price rises doesn’t really lie with hipsters because of their inherit hipness, it lies with the major supermarkets who see an opportunity to make more money and exploit it regardless of the impacts on the less fortunate. So take that power out of their hands.Quinoa

3) If you eat Quinoa, buy Australian grown: Kindred Organics Quinoa, from North-West Tasmania is the cheapest Quinoa available on the Honest to Goodness website!! Check it out at http://www.goodness.com.au/Organic-White-Quinoa-Australian-1KG.html#.U4b_sCjF-Vo