The Fashion for Foraged Food

Food for Free

I’m fortunate to have a background where local food was valued. My father, who was not at all wealthy, was nevertheless a great believer in shopping locally. As convenience shops and supermarkets began to take over, he loyally supported the local fishmongers and butchers, seeking out high-quality local produce. I inherited his tastes – and habits – so have never felt alienated from local foods. Even so, my strong commitment to local foods turns out to have been very limited after all. Foraging for local wild food was way off my compass.

It never occurred to me that plants familiar on country walks were anything other than charming weeds. My awareness was only awakened by books like Richard Mabey’s Food for Free. In particular it took articles about thrillingly interesting chefs like René Redzepi from Noma and Simon Rogan from L’Enclume to awaken a real appetite for such food.

So last summer on regular walks in Kent, I began to gather and cook nettles, seakale, wild garlic and Alexanders.

This article is in the current edition of Resurgence magazine. To read further:

http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4406-food-for-free.html

Trevor Phillips and the Multiculturalism Debate

Trevor Phillips programme, Things we won’t say about race that true, has opened the debate about how integrated is our society and whether ‘multi-culturalism’  has allowed separateness and cultural isolation to flourish. Fifteen years ago, in October 2000 the Observer carried a debate between cultural theorist, Stuart Hall,  and myself on Britishness  as a result of the publication of a Runnymede Trust  report. This report suggested that  ’Britishness’ connotes racism and suggested ways of diluting it. Firstly  Britain should be reconceived as ‘community of communities’. Then  there should be a formal  declaration  that Britain is a multicultural society’. I criticised this . ‘To suggest ‘Britishness’ connotes racism is absurd, an attempt to wring a mea culpa from guilty liberals and nothing to do with advancing racial unity and equality’  ‘‘Multiculturalism’ is riddled with problems, and it is not racist to think so.’
This article was ahead of its times when it was received as an attack on a much cherished liberal orthoxody of multiculturalism.

To read the original article by me , see
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/oct/15/britishidentity.comment

http://http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/oct/15/britishidentity.comment1

Cheap Milk & the ‘Lidlisation’ of shopping

Decent food isn’t cheap, and if the ‘Lidlisation’ price wars continue it could mean the end of grass-fed cows in our fields

Lidl, Asda, Aldi and Iceland have now cut the cost of milk to 89p for four pints, making milk cheaper than most mineral water. This is astonishing, given that milk is a food that is the end product of a slow, costly, and, hopefully, careful process of rearing animals and their fodder. No wonder the British dairy industry is now looking at ruin.

Read more

http://http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/13/milk-cheaper-than-water-what-happens-cows

Spying on carers risks damaging the trust we need to raise standards

Finding care for frail parents in their declining years has just been recognised as one of the most stressful decisions we will ever have to make. According to a new Care Quality Commission survey, it is more stressful than getting married or divorced or choosing children’s schooling. Central in this stress is the fear that carers might not just be inadequate but cruel – understandable given recent court cases exposing extreme abuse in care homes. But is the solution to use secret cameras to monitor carers? Or would this exacerbate stress by adding further distrust and creating a surveillance mentality towards work that essentially depends on good and trusting human relations?

While falling short of actually recommending that relatives should install surveillance cameras, the CQC is nevertheless endorsing their use by issuing guidelines for relatives considering such action. Andrea Sutcliffe, the watchdog’s chief inspector of adult social care, acknowledges that this is controversial. Some people, she says, will think of her as the “devil incarnate”, but she defends the guidelines as guidance for those who choose this route.

I certainly don’t think these suggestions are diabolic: they are a legitimate response to heart-breaking cases, like that of 79-year-old dementia sufferer Gladys Wright, whose abuse at the hands of “carer” Daniel Baynes was exposed by a secret camera; and it’s not as if surveillance in public spaces isn’t now routine. But nor can I embrace the move either.

Read more

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/07/spying-carers-cameras-care-homes-raising-standards

 

Bucket Lists show people love Nature but don’t protect it

The ‘bucket list’ is a staple of contemporary publishing. There are books about “the top 100 wines you must drink”, “the 100 cities you should visit” or “the 100 walks you should do”. Most bucket lists are simply “100 things to do before you die”. So prevalent is this activity now that there’s a master bucket list website where everyone can post a list.

What’s striking is how frequently these lists are to do with Nature. The places most often chosen are those regarded as having extreme natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Giant’s Causeway. The ‘sights’ also invariably include amazing natural phenomena: the Northern Lights, a meteor shower, a full moon (preferably during a full-moon party in Thailand), a total eclipse, an active volcano. Many experiences involve exposing yourself to the power of Nature, such as white water rafting, “floating in the Dead Sea” or “showering under a waterfall”. Some express a desire for close encounters with other species: swimming with dolphins, whale watching, riding an elephant, going on a safari, seeing the mountain gorillas, or, more dubiously, “hugging a koala bear” or “cuddling a tiger cub

Read More

http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4195-the-bucket-list.html

 

Loneliness is not a bug with a technological solution

Helping elderly people to use the internet is a good idea. But let’s not mistake broadband connections for social ones.

In the UK, four out of 10 over-65s do not have internet access. At a time when so much of our lives is conducted online – the payment of bills, access to information – that should be a real source of concern about potential social exclusion.

But does this mean that by widening internet access, elderly people will feel more socially connected? Or, even, more radically, as a new report suggests, could this be a solution for loneliness in old age?

Read more

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/28/loneliness-technological-elderly-internet-broadband

 

Why Envy is toxic

Posted on April 25, 2014 by Ros Coward0 Comments

WHY ENVY IS TOXIC

A very wise friend who was also a psychotherapist had just listened to my litany of complaints about a female colleague.  I was bothered by how little interest she took in things I had done, how little acknowledgement of my  work, and most of all by her constant put downs and snide remarks  about activities I was involved with. ‘Envy’ said my friend.  ‘Classic envious behaviour.  She doesn’t want you to have anything and what you have got she wants to spoil .’

It was obvious that  the two of us might be competitive.   We were in the same area of work, both trying to publish in the same outlets with children roughly the same age who had taken remarkably similar pathways. And while competitiveness is nothing to be proud of in such a situation – after all we could just become best friends with similar interests – nor is it that unusual, especially in an unsupportive work environment. But as my psychotherapist friend pointed out, envy is  different from competitiveness .Competitiveness, at its worse, might entail  flaunting your latest news and achievements, showing off, or trying to have or be the best.  But envy is  destructive. Envy isn’t just about trying to go one better. Envy is a grudge-bearing emotion, arising from wanting to spoil what the other person has or enjoys,  including any good feelings they might have about their achievements. .

Read the full article on the new website: welldoing.org

http://welldoing.org/envy-toxic/

Flight MH370: our morbid fascination is with the people, not the mystery

XXA rescue mission for the relatives is now as urgent as for those on board the missing plane.

Two weeks into the search for the missing Malaysian jet, the manager of the agency co-ordinating the search for debris has raised a hope that those on board might still be alive. “We want to find these objects because they might be the best lead to where we might find people to be rescued,” he said. The effect of these words on the relatives, most of whom are still waiting in hotels, is painful to imagine. While the general public exchange amazed theories about the mystery, the relatives’ situation is the nearest one can imagine to a living hell.

Read the full article:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/21/flight-mh370-fascination-mystery-relatives

After Leveson: a wider lens on privacy

Fascination with people’s lives is natural, and journalism has changed. We need a more nuanced debate on press intrusion.

Does William and Kate’s baby actually exist? You could be forgiven for wondering, given how few times George has actually been seen: he wasn’t there again for the Sandringham Christmas walkabout. With only two public appearances, and one family snap, he may be the least-seen royal baby of the photographic era. Presumably he is occasionally pushed outside the gates of the Middleton family home, but there are no paparazzi to snap him. These are post-Leveson days and there has been no greater beneficiary than the royal family, around whose privacy the press now gently treads.

George’s invisibility is in startling contrast to the coverage of William and Harry’s early years. By the mid-80s, tabloids were eagerly snapping away and speculating on everything they saw: whether or not Diana was breastfeeding, and who the nannies and playdates were. Diana played along, often co-operating with the press to allow casual and intimate photos.

Committed republicans probably welcome this invisibility: the less we hear about this boring family the better. But invisibility and mystique in fact serve monarchist causes far more effectively than public scrutiny.

Read full article;

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/01/privacy-media-leveson-royal-family

 

Diana, rewritten and erased

Sniggers over the recent biopic are part of a greater perception of Princess Diana herself – as an embarrassment to be forgotten.

The Princess Diana biopic has bombed in the US, making only the equivalent of £40,000 from initial screenings in 38 cinemas in its first weekend. It is tempting to conclude that America has finally fallen out of love with Diana. But much more likely is that potential audiences were deterred by the panning the film has received on both sides of the Atlantic.

I kept away from the film when it was released in British cinemas for precisely the same reason: it sounded cringe-making. Yet even as I kept away, I was puzzled by the wall-to-wall contempt it had provoked. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writing in the Independent on Sunday, found the critical sniggering excessive too; was it, she asked, because some elements of the story, especially Diana’s intimacy with a Pakistani doctor, were still unsettling?

 

For full story

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/08/diana-rewritten-erased-film-princess-embarrassment