Archive for the 'Food' Category


Two Sides to the Food Crisis

via Food+Tech – Connecting Food and Tech Innovators

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While in Global Food News…

A rather depressing/unsettling piece from The Telegraph linking the current political unrest in the Middle East and Africa with food supply issues. They point out that the surge in global food prices is hitting hardest the countries with an accelerating gap between rich and poor. So while industry leaders here claim that the NZ economy will benefit from a rise in these prices, families are suffering. Not a good sign for equality or our children’s nutrition. Read more…


NZ Food Bill Madness

Please repeat after me: the NZ Food Bill does not make gardening illegal and it won’t be rushed in over xmas holidays. (Politicians have long summer holidays – not back until Feb 7)

Nice to have everyone talking about food policy though!

More on this later….


Child poverty should be putting you off your dinner


Considering the very big dependency we have on food and the fact that mankind has been walking the earth and eating from it for the last however-many hundreds of generations, you’d really think it was about time we got better at feeding people, right? 

Well, we suck. Not only are there famines in the Horn of Africa, but there are people hungry in almost every country in the world. People who simply don’t have enough money to eat. And those dying of nutritional starvation because all they eat is crap. And the bit that really, really infuriates me is when there are children in supposedly first-world countries that don’t get enough to eat.

The UN has already slammed New Zealand’s “staggering” rates of child abuse and poverty, limited access to high-quality early childhood education, high suicide rates and widening disparities in health and living conditions for Maori children. Child abuse rates in NZ are among the highest in countries of the OECD, and 20% of children live in poverty (a household earning 60% less than the median income).  The Greens tried to make it a political and moral imperative to reverse these appalling statistics and were rewarded with over 10% of the vote in November 2011 elections.

I haven’t even tried to watch Inside New Zealand’s Inside Child Poverty documentary that screened last week as I am a new mother and cry at the thought of someone hurting a child or even when I handwash the stuffed animals and they look up at me with those big dopey eyes like I’m drowning them (please donate more handkerchiefs to the big girl’s blouse fund here). You however, should have more balls then I do and watch it online On Demand. That way you can pause it to go grab more hankies.

So, we can’t feed 270,000-odd kids but we’re more than happy to throw out half a million tonnes of food a year? I’m very skeptical about the ‘authority’ of this article given it’s sketchy, ill-written ‘facts’, but unfortunately, it probably isn’t too far from the truth…. After you’ve read it I want you to go to your room New Zealanders and don’t come out until you can think of at least 3 small ways you can help. Then go do them. Or I shall get the karma fairy to personally come and spit on your food.

Wasteful Kiwis still biffing costly fruit and vegetables

Despite soaring food costs, Kiwis are throwing out thousands of dollars of food each week.

The vast majority (86 per cent) of over 1000 Sunday Star-Times readers polled said they bought food and threw it away.

Fruit and vegetables make up more than half of what is thrown out with food past its use-by date a close second at 46 per cent.

The latest Statistics New Zealand figures show fruit and vegetables are the main component in driving up consumer price indexes since June. Fresh produce rose 9% overall with vegetables alone up 18%.

Wasted food was most likely to end up in the bin – rather than in compost – and ultimately ends up in a landfill.

Nearly a quarter of the 3.2 million tonnes of waste that ends up in a landfill is organic and Zero Waste chief executive Jo Knight estimates more than half of that is food.

If, like Australians, we bin 13% of our total food purchases each year, then more than $2 billion of food is wasted annually. That’s $465 of food per person a year.

Results show we are also cooking more than we need with 36% of food thrown out being meal leftovers.  Read more


Becoming New Fonterraland: GE, TPPA and BS

Holstein Freisian dairy cow – there’s 4.4 million of them in New Zealand. Image from Wikipedia. This is not a diatribe against cows, as previously stated I really do like the beasties.

So news is out that National seek to allow the introduction of genetically engineered organisms into New Zealand. You know New Zealand–that previous bastion of 100% Pure; that primary exporting country that has so, so much to loose from lax biosecurity, resource-depletion, dirty dairying, environmental degradation and/or GE-contamination? Are we still a nation or are we quickly becoming a corporation? Should we be renaming ourselves New Fonterraland?

Government ministeries don’t do things with huge policy implications off their own backs. Especially during a period of public service restructure and redundancy. But Dr Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment, apparently had no idea that his Ministry was compiling a study into how much money can be made by changing genetic engineering laws. The reason anyone found out about it? MfE put out to tender the study that looks at promoting greater use of novel organisms  in the open environment.

“They are working against a brand strategy for ethical applications of new organisms in containment. They have forgotten gorse, and possums, and the refusal by the Insurance industry to cover GM organisms,” says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

So why is NZ’s GE-free status at risk? Well, lobbying from two major power players–Fonterra and the US-backed biotech industry.

Fonterra: Dairying with GE–dropping quality, going for quantity

Fonterra wants GE pastures. This year it dropped it’s support for organic dairy production by 50% at a time when organic markets continue to rise. Organic dairy exports from New Zealand grew 400% between 2005-2009. Organic product sales in the USA grew 7.7% compared with total food sales increase of less than 1% in 2010. So why drop support for a ever-growing value-driven niche? Because organic production has been identified as the main obstacle to introducing GE grasses and crops into NZ.

But in this report, GE lobbyists “fail to mention the significant GE contamination of non-GE farms, the loss of markets, the massive increase in herbicide use, the new resistant weeds and disease problems, higher seed and production costs, loss of biodiversity, or the human and animal health problems associated with genetic engineering (GE),” says Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

Fonterra are ready to overlook all of this hoping to see 20% higher production over the next couple of years. Fonterra apparently is only interested in returning higher profits to investors, shafting the rest of the country in the process. They’ve managed to do it with milk prices, now they’re stepping it up a notch.

Biotech businesses want more billions

The US biotech industry isn’t happy with it’s $50.7 billion a year revenue. It wants to weaken GE laws as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) allowing companies like Monsanto to sell it’s genetically modified organisms to a farming nation.

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement should have been the main political issue this election. Loss of sovereignty and backroom deals by National for the TPPA will complete the introduction of GE crops into NZ . To have Pharmac, tobacco regulation, intellectual property, pro-corporate regulatory biases, finance, foreign investment, mining, water rights and GE straight-jacketed by a mega-treaty done in secret (All documents except the final text will be kept secret for four years after the agreement comes into force), is an astounding affront to New Zealand as a nation.  And why is the government pursuing it? What does New Zealand hope to gain from this? Helping Fonterra gain access to the lucrative US market. Feel sick yet?

New Zealand: Value-driven?

Our point of difference as a nation, our brand, our selling point, how we can add-value to New Zealand products–is being sold out to open up room for the big boys of the industry to rape and pillage? Our world-renowned environment, our precious birds, our native flora, our health and welfare all put at risk by organisms that aren’t fully understood.  There is no going back. Once they are here they are here

Threats of future enviro-degradation, monopolisation and health concerns from novel organisms don’t seem to scare most people.The incredible lack of knowledge and apathy on these issues is because people live more in the day to day, the future can be worried about in the future, we’ve still got to get through today. But New Zealand consumers are going to have to very quickly face up to decisions about eating GE. Feeding GE grass to cows that we then eat and get dairy products from (and NZers eat a lot of beef and dairy), is a very close relationship with novel GE organisms. Do we trust our scientists and the corporations that fund them enough to bypass all evolutionary safeguards, test all possible permutations and be concerned enough about the consequences to let those organisms loose into our environment and our bodies?

And no we don’t know the full ramifications of GE in our food supply–it simply hasn’t been around long enough. We’re only just finding out that plants you eat can affect the regulation of some of your genes through the effects of plant-derived miRNAs.

Vote this Saturday

It seems almost certain that National will returned to power this election. But please consider voting for the Greens–the only party willing to stand up on this issue. With clear environmental, child poverty and economic policies, the Green Party are important players in New Zealand politics. Hopefully a strong Green presence in parliament will mean that these issues are addressed and don’t turn into policy pushed through under urgency.


‘Super-grass’ aims to boost milk production (02 Mar 2010)

BioTechnology Learning Hub: Amazing Ryegrass

GM grass may not be so green (18 Jun 2011)

Something smells bad (15 Jun 2011)

Warning on GM laws from the NZ Sustainability Council (10 Nov 2011)

GE law probe a big surprise (20 Nov 2011)

GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment

Soil & Health / Organic NZ

Trans Pacific Partnership Watch

New Zealand Green Party


Loving Local Food – The Ooooby Story

Starting in 2009 as an online community for people who like to grow food out of our own backyard, the Ooooby phenomenon has seen a huge rate of growth. Here is part of the Ooooby story. To support the cause, sign up for freshly delivered produce at, or join in the community at

We are living in a time of unprecedented change. Around the world things are speeding up and reaching peaks they have never reached before. Unfortunately our finite world cannot infinitely support such expansion, and we need to find a synergy between the future and our simpler past.

As consumers, we buy food from around the world every day, sometimes from Ecuador or the Philippines, California or Australia – the list is long. When we do this we use up our time, energy and precious resources, we pull money away from our communities, and we pollute our home, in order to transport food that we can grow ourselves. We expose ourselves to a food crisis because we cannot control what happens far away. We don’t know how our food is grown, or who has grown it. And we do it because the dollar sign says it’s cheaper.

Ooooby wants to reconnect communities. To recreate the simple food systems of days gone, but adapted to our modern societies and cities. To build resilience into our food systems, to create transparency and trust in our food’s origins. And we want it to be easy and affordable.

Ooooby is about local food. We encourage new growers, whether on a farm or just in a back yard. We establish relationships with our growers based on trust and mutual respect. We coordinate the collection of produce from a range of these local sources, and we distribute it to local homes – our customers. This process puts money back into the community, reduces the waste that goes into transporting food, keeps the food fresher (since it gets to your fork faster), and it gives us knowledge about our food’s origins.

To support your local community and food system, sign up for an Ooooby Box subscription at As a bonus, you’ll receive a box of fresh, delicious fruit and veges every week!

Currently available in Auckland, NZ and Waiheke Island, NZ. If you’re interested in starting up Ooooby in your own community, please get in touch at

Article supplied. Images by


uses for lemons 006: preserved lemons

The beautiful mix of flavours, colours, textures; the sumptuous delights of far off places; the hints of allure, history and splendour-I adore Middle Eastern food. And thus, I am enamoured with preserved lemons, which I make every year and use in vegetables, couscous and tagines. The salt softens the acidity of the lemon, it becomes something else. Almost sweet. They have a very distinctive flavour and add a burst of summer to your dish.

How to make preserved lemons

To make yourself a big, beautiful jar of sunshine, wash your lemons by working them over with a vegetable brush and rinsing. Cut them as if quartering but don’t go all the way through the fruit. Fill the cuts with lots of salt and squish them into a jar that has been scrupulously washed, sterilised and dried. The jar will start filling up with the juice that has been drawn out of the lemons. Fill the jar right up, pressing the lemons down well. Top up with more salt and extra lemon juice. Don’t be scared of using too much salt-you’re using it to preserve the fruit, you won’t be eating a lot of the salt. Seal the jar and remember to shake it every day for the first week. Now pop it away somewhere cool and dark to mature for a month.

How to use preserved lemons

To amaze friends and love ones with an easy-to-do, no-fuss but sensationally-delicious recipe a la Peta Mathias. First, find yourself a leg of lamb. Take a sheet of baking paper (or bring out the tagine), place your lamb on a bed of thyme and rosemary with a few cloves of garlic and some quarters of preserved lemon. Tie the baking paper into a nice little package with some string (or just close the tagine). Cook for about 2.5 hours  in the oven at 170°C . In the meantime whip up a pomegranate sauce and cook some veges, maybe a little couscous. The lamb will be falling off the bone and the flavours will be symphonic.

Preserved lemons can also be used to add flair and zest to salads and couscous. Just rinse the lemons before use and chop into the accompanying dish.


See more of LovePlantLife’s uses for lemons.


Pomegranate Sauce Recipe

1/2 cup pomegranate molasses

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 shallots

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon orange peel

pinch of cayenne

a flash of black pepper

Bring to the boil and whisk occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins.

Goes beautifully with a roast leg of lamb.

Passed on to me by Anne.

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