The future of food - No.1

Vivian Moses

We who live in Britain and buy our food here (only 60% of which is grown in the country, with the rest imported) cannot help but be interested in the current state of UK food production and its future prospects.

Are there dark threats on the horizon or glowing prospects? Might climate change have unpleasant consequences or will we benefit? Will champagne production really move from France to England as some have suggested?
Phil Bicknell 

To respond to these and related issues, Phil Bicknell, Head of Food & Farming at the National Farmers Union, fields questions from biotechnologist Vivian Moses representing the inquiring British layman. Most of us live in towns and cities with probably a rather hazy notion of the realities of farming and the origins of our food. This is a good chance to learn a bit more.

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The Wasp - Wine whine

comp_wasp

I always look forward to February 1st each year following my monthly abstinence from all kinds of alcohol during the preceding month. I feel it`s only fair to give my liver and perhaps, more importantly, my mind a rest from the highs and lows which invariably follow after excessive tippling over the festive season.

This year as always, I celebrated the first day of the second month with a gourmet supper and a good natter with a friend, who is not only a great imbiber but a fountain of knowledge of the demon drink. For our annual get together I served a delightful wine from Rueda, an area that I know well. Half way through the evening, I had one of those moments when you suddenly realise the cost of what is swiftly heading down your throat. I seethed as the two bottles totalled £26. This is not excessive, but my seethe was exacerbated by the fact that I remembered only  a few months ago whilst in Spain the same two bottles in a bar cost me only £8. My guest told me he had long given up financing wine merchants and supermarkets by shipping in wine directly.

I have never come across a poor wine merchant but to be fair to the trade, this country has some of the highest taxes on wine anywhere in Europe. I distinctly remember when we joined the EEC being promised that so many goods including wine would become much cheaper and would be on par with our European neighbours. What a con! Successive governments have done nothing but break those promises by continually ladling even more punitive taxes on imported wines and spirits. Excise duty on wine is £2.06.  Then of course there is the shopkeeper's profit and  another lump of tax to the government at 20% VAT.

Well, I have had enough of paying through the nose so after contacting the wine producer I have just received one case including shipping for £90 a saving of £66.

There are quite a number of  Spanish companies now shipping wines and spirits to the UK with huge savings and delivery within seven days. Incidentally, my delightful wine is a Verdejo called Adrede and can be purchased directly from Bodegabierta.es. They also have a fabulous shop and wine gallery in Madrid where you can also order wines at despacioarteyvino.com.


A. Tippler,
11th February 2016

 
A Year in Chicken Soup - Cock-a-leekie


chicken soup right

A Year in Chicken Soup


Cock-a-leekie 2


COCK-A-LEEKIE

 

Join Hattie Garlick for the final instalment of A Year in Chicken Soup. After twelve months of culinary globetrotting via soups from Cambodia to Syria, Mexico to Nigeria, she returns to these shores for a final get-together with friends old and new round a soothing bowl of cock-a-leekie.

 

 
Kitchen Man 2

Paul Levy 4

 

In his second podcast, "Japan", Paul Levy talks about the history of Japanese food, quoting Bee Wilson in her new book, First Bite, to show that our belief that it must have a long history is completely misconceived.  He also asks the question what other nation has changed their food culture as radically as the Japanese.  His answer is perhaps surprising.

 

 
Kafka's Soup

 

Kafkas Soup

 

Mark Crick’s  Kafka’s Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 17 recipes is a book often borrowed and seldom returned.  It is a joy to dip into this collection of literary pastiches for recipes written in the style of Raymond Chandler, Irvine Welsh, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Homer, Chaucer and so on.

Here the author has chosen to read for us Quick Miso Soup à la Franz Kafka and Tiramisu à la Marcel Proust.  A third recipe, Tarragon Eggs à la Jane Austen is read by Annie Sedgwick.

 

 

   

 
Wellbeloved

WellbelovedThe reputation of the Steak Pie - that staple of traditional British cuisine - has become diminished.  More glamorous dishes make the headlines; more photogenic recipes are illustrated on television and scores of inferior, industrial pies occupy the shelves of supermarkets throughout the land.  

It is time to look beyond these brightly lit aisles and discover the true ingredients of the perfect Steak Pie: Experience, Care and Dedication.  

It is time to go to Deptford, South East London. 

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Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

James Dean

 

Guess who made their first appearance, uncredited, in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952)

 

The GM Debates

One of the most contentious issues facing governments and the food industry is the subject of Genetically Modified Food. Argument has raged for years as to whether it should be banned or embraced. Scaremongering headlines such "Frankenfood" have sometimes drowned a more sober assessment of its risk and/or benefits. However, there is one thing both sides are agreed on and that is the growth of the world's population and the problem of feeding it in the future.

In order to understand in layman's language - in as much as it can be - the pros and cons of this deeply divisive subject, we invited experts from both sides of the divide to argue their case. A policy decision was taken by us that there was to be no editorial bias and so the debates are totally unedited.  They have been broken into parts for ease of watching as each one runs over an hour.  

To our knowledge, this is the first and only such series of debates and is intended to be a permanent record of an issue that affects us all.

Vivian MosesDiane Montague

INTRODUCTION TO GM:

Agricultural journalist and author, Diane Montague, interviews Vivian Moses, Visiting Professor of Biotechnology at King's College London, and the resulting discussion sets out what GM is and what the major issues are. It is a fitting introduction to the discussions which will follow. Watch video

Peter MelchettJonathan Jones

GM FOOD DEBATES (HOLT)

Jonathan Jones, FRS, Professor of Biology at the University of East Anglia, head to head with Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the Soil Association. Watch video

Cathie MartinCharlie ClutterbuckRupert Read

GM FOOD DEBATES (NORWICH)

A group of experts from both sides of the GM divide argue their case for best solving the impending world food shortage. They are: Professor Cathie Martin of UEA, Dr.Rupert Read of the Green Party and Dr. Charlie Clutterbuck of City University. Watch video

GM Food Debates Audio Broadcast

GM FOOD DEBATES (AUDIO BROADCAST)

A wide ranging and informative discussion with Michael Summers, an independent consultant specialising in plant breeding and biotechnology. Listen to audio