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

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

It’s a nail in London’s coffin when gardens are covered over

The sterile fashion for hard surfaces instead of greenery is contributing to flooding and the disappearance of fauna

For the last six months the house opposite mine has been in the process of “renovation”. This means that, apart from its Victorian facade, every aspect has been “modernised” into a state of gleaming sterility. The finishing touches are being done now. The back garden is being concreted and the front garden covered with what looks like black bathroom tiles. Not an inch of ground has been left visible, let alone a hedge – indeed that was the first thing to go when the builders moved in. The developer is strolling about looking satisfied and the estate agent is in tow composing the brochure. But what he will doubtless describe as “finished to exacting standards”, I prefer to describe as another nail in the coffin of London’s environment.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/04/london-gardens-replaced-hard-surfaces-disaster

America’s other debt crisis

Amid the war of words taking place in Congress, nothing is said of the environmental cost of overconsumption

One word is missing in the American debate over the debt crisis: austerity. It’s a revealing absence. In spite of the vast deficit, and despite the US being the home of individualism, no way is being offered for individuals to make a difference by changing their lifestyles.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/29/us-debt-crisis-environment

Start talking rubbish

We should be asking why we are creating so much waste and how we can reuse it, rather than sweeping it under the carpet

News that the recycling chain has all but collapsed because of failed demand in China has produced the usual wringing of hands and a startling lack of alternative voices.

In terms of straight news reporting – last night’s BBC news for example, and today’s broadsheet coverage – the mountains of rubbish are presented as a “crisis” symptomatic of problems with the global economy. For the Daily Mail, this crisis is symptomatic of something else as well, not just a global crisis but proof that recycling is yet another pointless nanny-state demand on the already overburdened lives of the taxpayer. The paper hasn’t yet run the headline “Waste of time” but it can’t be far off.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/jan/10/recycling-credit-crunch

Royal Rebel

Royal rebel Prince Charles’s outburst against GM foods was mocked as an unscientific rant. But do his views deserve to be derided as green-ink ravings, or is he a green hero for our times?

For environmental campaigners who are also republicans, the Prince of Wales is a bit of a thorn in the flesh. He’s involved in just about all the principal issues – championing organic agriculture, supporting local produce, rainforest campaigning, and sounding off about GM foods. Whereas in the past it might have been possible to ignore him as an eccentric fellow traveller, these days his views often sound so like those of the leading environmental NGOs, that increasingly they are having to ask themselves: does he know what he’s talking about? Is he an asset or a liability?

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/aug/16/prince.charles.gm

A tree is not just for Christmas

Our annual celebration of Nordic non-drops is a cause for hope

Shopping at this time of year is enough to bring out the bah-humbug in anyone. Those mountains of useless expensive stuff encapsulate what’s gone awry in our attitude to the planet’s resources. Yet amid this disregard for nature is one puzzling note. Carted home in gas-guzzling SUVs, swathed in energy-profligate lights, and presiding over heaps of gift-wrapped plastic, the presence of the Christmas tree raises a doubt. Is there, after all, a little place in our hearts that still cherishes the nature we so readily destroy elsewhere?

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/dec/18/environment.comment

New mission for chimps’ champion

She has devoted her career to saving primates. Now scientist and campaigner Jane Goodall is 70 and embroiled in the toughest fight of her life

There are not many women who in their seventieth year take on more commitments and get deeper into public controversy, but Jane Goodall, the world’s leading primatologist, is not like other women.

While some her age draw pensions and play golf, she says she is ‘on the road 300 days a year’. She criss-crosses the world giving lectures, meeting conservationists, pouring energy into her chimp sanctuaries and the environment youth movement she recently founded. She returns whenever she can to the Tanzanian forest home of the chimps who made her famous.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/oct/10/academicexperts.environment

Nests in jeopardy, lairs to lose

As the EU expands, the battle between developers and conservationists intensifies – and its victims look set to be the unspoilt wildernesses and ancient species of the 10 new member states. Ros Coward reports

In her 87 years living in the village of Pely in the heart of the Hungarian countryside, Widow Rab Laszlone has seen many changes, including the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire, two world wars and the rise and fall of communism. But one thing has remained constant: storks, which return every year to nest next to her house. For the past decade, they have adopted the electricity pole by the gate, rather than her roof, but they still cohabit like close neighbours. “Why do you keep dropping those frogs on to my path?” she chides the two storks, reorganising their nest overhead. But Widow Rab isn’t angry. “It’s fine,” she says. “I like them. We’ve always had storks here, since I was a child. Let them stay.”

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/jul/31/europeanunion.weekendmagazine

Clear conflict

A plan to drain water from the Ebro in the north-east of Spain to supply tourism and agriculture in the arid south-east has given rise to mass protests in support of a vital wetland.

Last month a small group of protesters set out to walk 1,000 kilometres from Reinosa near the source of the Ebro river to Valencia in time for a demo at last week’s Ramsar Convention on wetlands. In every town they came to, thousands joined them. By Valencia on Sunday there were 100,000 protesters, including those who had walked a different route from the Pyrenees.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/nov/27/guardiansocietysupplement3