The week that was (6 October 2016)

- Australia is an interesting place to be eating right now. This week, the delightful Miss O Tama took a look at the definition of Mod Oz cuisine for SBS. “This melding of ties is a well-established skill in Australia and I think having an ease with our native ingredients is the final missing link. They need to become part of our vernacular in a meaningful way. There will still be stumbling – “Finger limes on top of French food doesn’t make it Australian,” said one restaurateur and chef to me – but I think we are getting closer.”
It is interesting to note that as we figure out our culinary language, we also find ourselves heading towards peak restaurant. “Sydney looks set to break a seasonal record for new restaurant seats. Last week, Tramsheds ... added 1400 ... When Barangaroo has all its food operators up and running, there will be 1200 seats across its 170 metres of waterfront. And that's just two developments.” 
Some may call it madness, but Tourism Australia certainly don't think so - they are still pouring money at the concept. Check out this profile on the boss of TA in Gourmet Traveller (topic aside, I found the personal profile slightly bizarre - I mean, why??). In it O'Sullivan explains how he thinks our $75 mill investment in food has played out (and paid out). Of course there is much investment (and speculation around investment) in our dining scene right now. It's certainly an interesting time to own a restaurant.
- In this weekend's food issue of the NY Times mag, Michael Pollan wrote a follow up to the open letter he penned to Obama eight years ago (Farmer in Chief). He rightly asserts “… the scale and centralization of a food system in which one factory washes 25 million servings of salad or grinds 20 million hamburger patties each week is uniquely vulnerable to food-safety threats, whether from negligence or terrorists.”
Pollan breaks “Big Food” down into the aspects that govern food in the US: at its base "Big Ag" (particularly corn and soy) – fed by the small handful of companies that supply the seed, that then works to feed "Big Meat" (and the food-packaging industry), which in turn feeds the supermarkets and fast-food franchises. 
“Each of these sectors is dominated by a remarkably small number of gigantic firms. According to one traditional yardstick, an industry is deemed excessively concentrated when the top four companies in it control more than 40 percent of the market. In the case of food and agriculture, that percentage is exceeded in beef slaughter (82 percent of steers and heifers), chicken processing (53 percent), corn and soy processing (roughly 85 percent), pesticides (62 percent) and seeds (58 percent). Bayer’s planned acquisition of Monsanto promises to increase concentration in both the seed and agrochemical markets.”
The premise of the article is to explore the way in which Obama was hampered in any attempt to rectify this situation: "These groups each have their own parochial furrows to plow in Washington, but they frequently operate as one - on such issues as crop subsidies, which benefit all, or the labelling of genetically modified food, which disadvantages all."
- For a visual on that, check this photo essay on big food. It is incredible. Seriously incredible. If you don't normally click the links, you should click today. Phoar …

- There was also a thought-provoking article on the lack of transparency in the meat industry in the US - particularly looking at the role undercover video activism has taken to rectify this. The subject of the article works for a company called Compassion Over Killing (with the unlikely acronym COK). “If companies like Hormel feel that they have been misrepresented, they might do better seeking more transparency, not less.”
- Finally, a bonus for those who made it to the bottom. Magpie goose is back in season. Check it out here, follow the trapper here, buy it here.