The week that was (18 June 2015)

From the soap box:

- I break the Callan drought today with his article on the bizarre future of foods. The proposition is a future filled with cultured meat (of the lab varietal), 3D printed foodstuffs, Soylent (a horrific pouch of powder said to contain all the essential nutrients for the body), GM crops and, in the one nod to something natural, seaweed. It was a pretty depressing read:

On cultured meat: "Synthetic clothing is already universal and food is likely to follow ... Do you really know what's in your snack food today?" (quoting Australian science writer Julian Cribb)

On GM crops: "A major disadvantage is the way it has sucked research and development funding from areas of equal or greater importance such as soil microbiology, agronomy, traditional plant breeding, plant nutrition and biological pest control." (also Cribb)

On 3D printing and Soylent: well, I just can't even go there. 

- What about encouraging more young farmers to the land as suggested in this NY Times article byBittman? The general gist is the government forgives student loans in exchange for time on the land (they already do this for many entering the public service). With the average age of farmers nudging 65, we could certainly do with more young blood (and young ideas).

- Or teaching people how to be more frugal with the food they have? This obituary for Marguerite Patten, a home economist who spent WWII teaching the British how to make something out of nothing, tells that story. The "queen of ration book cuisine" died last week. I wrote my honours thesis on rationing and advertising was the key then and probably still is now. Respecting rationing was a call to arms and the Brits came out of the war healthier, with the cultural shift paving the way for food writers likeElizabeth David. People seem to watch these days, but they don't do. This could be changed.

- And finally there's the old "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude. This week Woolies announced theirCooking with Kylie meals: "a sell out or key step in the quest to balance convenience with sustainability?" The article notes all raw produce is Australian (by stipulation from Kylie), prawns are MSC certified and chicken RSPCA approved (but not necessarily free-range). These don't jump out as massive wins to me, however Kylie is one of the most adamant in the business and her restaurant has steadfastly walked this line, and so we wait ...

- The free-range egg debacle continues, as Mr Thomsen put it "In an impressive move, today they announced the same thing they announced 12 months ago." That is, that we will (one day) have a national standard for free range eggs. By way of re-cap: the CSIRO recommend 1,500 per hectare, last year QLD changed their definition from 1,500 to 10,000 birds per hectare, the same guidelines Coles and Woolies have in place.

- Finally, Huckstep took to the shores of Port Lincoln with some of Rockpool's finest to talk all things seafood. You can read all about it here, including thoughts on farming fish, the situation with Southern Bluefin Tuna and how to shave a mussel (apparently it's a little "lego meets Mousetrap").