The Cow and the Coke Bottle

A Coke bottle washed up on Scotland’s isle of Mull. Break Free From Plastic’s audit found Coca-Cola to be the world’s top plastic polluter for the past four years. Photograph: Will Rose/Greenpeace

This weblog post is about food, in an increasingly environmentally stressed world. To begin, there are comments about the food systems pavilion at Cop27, the annual United Nations climate change conference, held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, between 2022-11-06 and -20. Most of today’s weblog post looks at both the past and the future of food. The past is symbolized by the cow, and the coke bottle; the future by fermentation vats, and the rewilding of agricultural land.

Food Systems Pavilion

The Food Systems Pavilion offered Cop27 participants 11 days of programming about transforming food systems, as part of climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Below is a list of themes. A program booklet is available about the program.

2022-11-06 Enhance resilience to climate and shocks.

2022-11-08 Enable a culture of sustainable, healthy and nutritious diets.

2022-11-09 Increase sustainable investments and financing to build food systems.

2022-11-10 Accelerate innovation and digitalization.

2022-11-11 Boost nature positive production and soil health.

2022-11-12 Scale climate resilient agriculture

2022-11-14 Embrace sustainable water and aquatic blue food diversity for climate smart food systems.

2022-11-15 Champion youth action in food systems.

2022-11-16 Protect and restore nature.

2022-11-17 Transform value chains and develop inclusive markets.

2022-11-18 Closing

The current food system is broken and unequal: Three billion people can’t afford a healthy diet; over two billion people suffer from micro-nutrient deficiencies; two billion people are overweight; almost five hundred million people are underweight; one third of greenhouse gasses are produced by the current food systems.

Nordic/ Scandinavian approaches were presented on 2022-11-12.

The Cow

Much of the content in this section, is from George Monbiot (1963 – ), author of Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet (2022) and the Reboot website, where he is quoted as saying: The elephant in the room at Cop27 is the cow. But thankfully this time, there really is a recipe for success. By rebooting our food systems with precision fermentation we can phase out animal agriculture while greatly increasing the amount of protein available for human consumption..

In my daily life, I do not practice the principles found in the reboot manifesto. Currently, it is just not available. However, as a chemical engineering student, I worked with bacteria in fermentation vats. My graduating essay relates to its use, along with genetic engineering, including gene splicing, in the production of antibiotics rather than food. In both cases, the principles are the same. Thus, I have a belief that these can be the foods of the future. Unlike today’s processed foods, that typically remove nutrition, but leave tasty yet empty calories, I have a firm belief that foods based on the use of fermentation vats, can be engineered into nutritious, healthy, tasty foods.

Confession 1: We currently buy milk and eggs directly from local farmers. In addition, we eat cheese, and I drink a type of buttermilk the local dairy – so far – has been unable to produce. However, I have assisted them in a trial production of a substitute. Other animal based products we eat include honey and meat. Of the twenty-one meals we eat weekly, about four of them contain meat: one with fowl (turkey sometimes, but mainly chicken), two with fish (white fish once, salmon once) and one with red meat.

The Reboot Manifesto

[People] are standing on the cusp of a revolution, a food revolution, one unprecedented since the dawn of farming 10,000 years ago. Agriculture today is the largest single cause of biodiversity loss and emits more greenhouse gases than all our cars, planes and ships put together. Most of the damage is caused by livestock farming, which on its own covers 28% of the Earth’s surface, more than all the world’s forests combined. The non-human living world is squeezed to the margins, and wild species have been decimated. By weight, just 4% of the world’s mammals are wild, 36% are humans and 60% are our livestock.

But it no longer has to be this way. Game-changing innovations in precision fermentation and biotech now make a different future possible, one where we no longer have to cruelly exploit animals for food, and where the majority of the land currently used for livestock can be returned to nature, even as the world’s population climbs towards 10 billion and the Global South emerges from poverty.

It’s time to Reboot Food.

The four principles of rebooting food are:
1. Make it plant-based.

2. Brew don’t slaughter. Healthy, whole and varied plant-based foods should be at the centre of everything. Animal farming should be phased out and replaced by identical precision fermentation products wherever possible.

3. Use as little land and ocean as possible, rewild everything else.

4. Open source everything to guarantee a just transition.

High yield, low impact farming must be prioritized to make as much space for nature as possible. Farmers should be paid to rewild the spared land. [I am not convinced that this is the best idea in many jurisdictions, because it would allow the private ownership of what are essentially nature reserves, are prevent access to the land. For the mental health of the population, it is important that there be provisions for a general right of access.] The benefits of the food revolution should be shared with all, with new technologies made open source and corporate concentration actively mitigated.

Precision fermentation allows us to move from farming macro-organisms (cows, sheep, pigs) to farming micro-organisms (yeasts and bacteria). Using genetics, these microorganisms can be programmed to produce exactly the same proteins and fats we currently obtain from animals, powered by clean energy from solar, wind and nuclear [I object to treating nuclear power as a sustainable source of energy, in part because current technology requires the storage of waste products for thousands of years]. This [food production] technology is commercially proven and globally scalable, already producing 99% of insulin and 80% of rennet worldwide.

Protein from precision fermentation is up to 40,900 times [Why not say 40 000? A single digit 4, followed by 4 zeros might even be something people could remember] more land efficient than beef, making it technically feasible to produce the entire world’s protein on an area of land smaller than Greater London [Wikipedia says it occupies 1 569 km2. If one allows it to be 1 600 km2, it could form a square 40 km x 40 km which is about 25 miles x 25 miles = 625 square miles]. Precision fermentation products can supplement a shift to plant-based diets, with everything from non-animal milk, cheese and ice cream to non-fish omega-3s. Many of these products have already reached the market in the United States, and could come to Europe soon. In essence, we are talking about a transition to farm-free foods for everything which is currently only available from livestock. But this revolution won’t happen by accident, and isn’t inevitable. Although billions in venture capital funding is pouring into these new innovations, the scale and speed of the transition needs to be [accelerated] with public money and government support. This manifesto calls for a dramatic shift in government support for food and agriculture, away from subsidising legacy animal industries and towards encouraging delicious and low-cost animal-free foods, while supporting a just transition for farmers and fisherfolk currently in these sectors.

To Reboot Food, governments must:
1. Invest 2.5% of GDP over 10 years into rebooting our food systems.
2. Stop subsidies for animal agriculture, pay farmers a land-based subsidy to rewild and sequester carbon instead.
3. Bring agriculture into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) so emissions are capped and costed.
4. Subsidize plant-based food at the point of sale to encourage a mass market.
5. Implement a just transition for farming and fishing communities.
6. Set land use reduction and rewilding targets, suspend organic targets until yields match those of conventional agriculture.
7. Limit patents on food innovation to 10 years and discourage corporate control.
8. Legalise gene editing, genetic modification and other new breeding techniques.
9. Make sustainability labelling mandatory.
10. Ban advertising of land- and carbon-intensive animal-based foods.

[Reboot Food] believe[s] that these measures, when combined, will make the food revolution unstoppable and make nutritious and affordable diets accessible to all the world’s people, while at the same time allowing an unprecedented regeneration of natural ecosystems on spared land. It is the single biggest thing we can do to stop and reverse the sixth mass extinction of biodiversity. And it is essential if we are to respect the Paris targets for tackling the climate emergency. The situation is urgent and the time is now. It’s time to Reboot Food.

Propaganda/ information from www.rebootfood.org // www.replanet.ngo .

Comments: While I am not anti-urbanist, I prefer to live in a rural environment, where I can have lots of trees as neighbours. A diverse community of trees improves the neighbourhood, making it a healthier place for people.

The Coke Bottle

Emma Priestland, a coordinator for Break Free From Plastic, a global alliance of organisations and individuals, said: Coca-Cola sponsoring the Cop27 is pure ‘greenwash’. Coca-Cola is one of the world’s biggest users of plastic. Over four years, we’ve found Cola-Cola to be the world’s top plastic polluter in our annual brand audits. It’s astounding that a company so tied to the fossil fuel industry is allowed to sponsor such a vital climate meeting.

Environmental campaigners described the partnership as baffling. At Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021, a petition called for an end to corporate sponsorship of Cop events, starting with the removal of Cola-Cola. Coca-Cola is the world’s biggest plastic polluter. It produces 120 billion throwaway plastic bottles a year. 99% of its plastics are made from fossil fuels. So far, Coca-Cola doesn’t acknowledge that this is a problem. They fail to explain their climate goals, or how they will end their plastic addiction.

Confession 2: I have drunk cola. Since returning to Norway on 2020-03-20, at the start of the pandemic, I have drunk 2 liters of Pepsi, when I was recovering from Covid-19, starting about 2022-09-13. The first sip tasted so terrible, that I vowed I would not repeat the experience, for the remainder of my lifetime. The orange and ginger beer drinks tasted much better.

Today’s assignment: Ahmed Rady, Coca-Cola’s vice-president of operations for north Africa, said: Coca-Cola’s firm belief that working together through meaningful partnerships will create shared opportunities for communities and people around the world and in Egypt. Comment on the greenwashing in the above sentence, especially related to: 1. meaningful partnerships, and 2. shared opportunities.

Cooktimes

In discussing this post with Trish, she decided that the cookbook she owned that best suited my personality, was Michele Evans, Fearless Cooking Against the Clock: Great Gourmet Menus in Minutes (1982). The advantage of this cookbook is that it works at the menu (in contrast to dish) level. The recipes in the book are divided into 15 minute, 30 minute and 60 minute “quick and easy” preparation times. Each recipe has been timed, so that the cook can plan accordingly.

Chapter 1, The Larder, begins with: “A well-stocked larder is essential for convenient and efficient quick cooking.” After a short introduction, it is divided into eight sections, named below, along with the number of ingredients in each section in parentheses: Herb and spice shelf (34), Canned products (11), Miscellaneous baking, bottled and packaged ingredients (43 – sometimes with many separate items listed under each ingredient), Dairy products (7), Fresh foods (6), Frozen foods (7 – but with 5 separate types listed under vegetables), Wines, spirits and liqueurs [solely for cooking] (13), and Kitchen supplies (7).

Chapter 2, Cooking Equipment, is similar in arrangement. There is an introduction, followed by five sections, named below, along with the number of items found in each section: Implements and equipment (53), Pots and pans (31), Miscellaneous (5), Knives (9), and Serving essentials (20).

Chapter 3, Strategies for Quick Cooking, will have all ten of its rules quoted here. 1. Select a menu. 2. Make a shopping list of those ingredients not in supply. Keep an ongoing shopping list in the kitchen. 3. Shop for first-quality ingredients at a convenient time. 4. Set table in advance, if possible, and have serving dishes, coffee cups and saucers, etcetera ready for immediate serving. 5. Read each recipe thoroughly before starting to cook. 6. Set out all ingredients needed for each dish on the menu, unless they require refrigeration or freezing. 7. Set out all pots, pans, cooking equipment and utensils needed for preparing meal. 8. Work at a steady pace; don’t poke or race. If there are others present who can help by washing and drying lettuce or chopping vegetables, welcome their assistance. 9. Keep waste basket near the work area and clean up as you work, when possible. 10. When it is convenient, serve main courses and vegetables in same serving dish or platter.

The chapters after this are: 4) 15-minute meals, occupying 64 pages. 5) 30-minute meals, using 76 pages. 6) 1-hour meals, over 98 pages. All three of these chapters are subdivided by main ingredient, typically a meat category, such as seafood, poultry or beef. 7) Holiday meals, has 56 pages, after an initial dinner party planning section, holidays appear chronologically through the year. 8) Cocktail parties has only 16 pages. After describing the bar, it looks at the topic by season. The last chapter, 9) Children’s parties, is only eight pages long. The book ends with an index, with 31 pages of entries.

While most menus and recipes are for four people, exceptions are made for celebrations where holidays typically involve 6, 8 or 12 people. Valentine’s day provides a menu for two. Cocktail parties are huge affairs, involving 12, 25 or 50 people. Birthday parties are for 12.

Evens has also written:

  • The Salad Book (1975)
  • The Slow Crock Cookbook (1975)
  • Fearless Cooking for Men (1977)
  • Fearless Cooking for One (1980)
  • Fearless Cooking for Company (1984)
  • Fearless Cooking for Crowds (1986) [8 to 50 people]

This is the third of an unspecified number of posts about cooking instructions for people who eat to live. All of these posts (will) begin with cook, which can be used as a search term to find previously published posts.

Cooksteps

A double page from Rosemary Wadey’s Mexican Cooking Step-by-Step (1994).

My son, Alasdair, commented that he liked the style of Rosemary Wadey, in her Mexican Cooking Step-by-Step (1994). While this offers something similar to the numbering of steps in a cookstrip, the colour photographs show what is to be done, and what the final dish should look like when served.

The recipe starts with a general description, putting the recipe in context. It also explains what the dish is expected to be served with. The preparation of these items is not described in the recipe.

After this is a statement about the number of servings the recipe will produce, typically this is 4. This allows people to adapt the recipe to accommodate the number of people expected, or to give an indication of the quantity of left-overs that will be produced.

Next comes a list of ingredients, with conventional names. While I am content with metric units, this cookbook also provides quantities in American/ British units. The condition of the ingredients as they are to be used is also provided here.

This is followed by procedural steps and timings. All of these should be read in advance. In the bean soup recipe depicted, croutons, for example, can be prepared two days (48-hours) in advance. This also comes with advice as to how to store the prepared food until it is needed.

The author also acknowledges that specific products can be difficult to purchase in certain markets. A variation box provides the name of other products that can substitute for the original.

Some of the other books written by Rosemary Wadey in the same style are:

  • Continental Cuisine Step by Step Cookbook (1987)
  • Step by Step Cooking for One and Two (1996)
  • Step by Step Wok Cooking (1996)
  • Step by Step Vegetarian (2001)
  • Step by Step Italian (2001)

This is the second of an unspecified number of posts (currently seven) about cooking instructions, all beginning with Cook… Yes, you can use that as a search term to find previously published posts. If you have a favourite way of interacting with cooking information, and would like to have that presented in a weblog post that, in a good week, reaches ten or more people, send your proposal in an email to: brock@mclellan.no

Cookstrips

Len & Alex Deighton’s first (relaunched) cookstrip that appeared in the Observer/ Guardian, 2017-04-23.

I imagine that if someone asked my wife, Trish, the name of the cookbook I appreciate best, she would look at that person with amazement. There is none. My name is totally dissociated with the act of cooking.

Part of the reason for this, is my childhood culinary education. It was limited to learning how to prepare a pot of tea, and serving it with milk and sugar. Through observation, I also learned to fry an egg. I would however, like to thank my maternal Grandmother, Jane Andison (nee Briggs, 1880 – 1972) for teaching me how to bake bread. Another part of this challenge is an inability to understand the details of a meal preparation timeline. I have a theoretical appreciation of it as a process with several finishing lines, commonly involving the serving of courses, as in appetizers, main course and desert with coffee or tea. A main course may involve up to several distinct dishes, using an assortment of animal, vegetable and fungal (mushroom) ingredients. Each dish has its own duration, in terms of preparation time and cooking time.

Over the past forty years, I have learned some basic skills. Main courses with three dishes, are no longer an insurmountably problem. Typically, at least for someone with my qualifications, there will be, at most, one desert. No appetizer will be offered.

This complexity means that for a given meal there will be numerous start times for the various dishes, and a limited number of locations (6 in total: 4 on the stove top, one in the oven, and one in the microwave oven) to cook them. Everything has to be planned. Some of the equipment may have to be washed up to several times, which adds yet another level/ dimension to the confusion.

Len Deighton (1929 – ) originally drew cookstrips as instructions to himself to prevent his expensive cookbooks from becoming dirty. Ray Hawkey, a graphics designer for The Observer, noticed some of these cookstrips in Deighton’s kitchen. The first cookstrip, Cooking Beef: Part 1, appeared in The Observer on 1962-03-18. They became part of its magazine-like look. An initial commitment for six strips was soon extended to 50. The last cookstrip in this series appeared on 1966-08-07.

These cookstrips were then recycled into Len Deighton’s French Cooking for Men: 50 Classic Cookstrips for Today’s Action Men. The first edition appeared in 1965, timed to coincide with the release of The Ipcress File film. In the film, a cookstrip appears on the wall behind the protagonist, Harry Palmer, played by Michael Cain, who appears to crack eggs with one hand. In reality the hands cracking the eggs belonged to Deighton.

A new, redesigned and updated edition of this book was republished 2020-02-01 in paperback. The publisher, HarperCollins, claimed that it, “will solve the mysteries of French cuisine and unlock the key to 500 memorable dishes.” This version is currently out of print.

Illustrated cookstrips from Deighton and his son Alex, have re-emerged in the Observer more than 50 years after the original series. They were relaunched 2017-04-23: New cookstrips appear at about monthly intervals.

Unfortunately, even if I had purchased Deighton’s cookbook in my youth, 1965 – 1970, I doubt if it would have transformed me. Today, I am even less fond of excessive eating, and the consumption of alcohol, which seems to be an integral part of French cooking. However, the making of cookstrips with a focus on Scandinavian cuisine does hold appeal.

Sources

There will be a post about cooking once a month in 2022.

Silicone: Introduction

Silicone kitchenware, hygienic and available in bright colours.

Silicon is a chemical element (Si), a hard dark-grey semiconducting metalloid which, as a crystal, is used to make electronic chips and solar cells. In contrast, silicones are polymers (large molecules with repeating sub-units). Here the repeats involve siloxane, which is a chain of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms, sometimes combined with carbon, hydrogen, and other elements.

Silicones exhibit many useful characteristics, including:

  • Low thermal conductivity. It insulates, rather than conducts heat.
  • Thermal stability. Heat does not break it down into new products, in a temperature range of −100 to 250 °C. It melts around 500 °C.
  • Low chemical reactivity. It doesn’t form new chemical compounds easily.
  • Low toxicity. It is not poisonous.
  • It repels water, useful for making watertight seals.
  • Does not stick to many substrates, but adheres very well to others, e.g. glass.
  • Does not support microbiological growth.
  • Resistance to oxygen, ozone, and ultraviolet (UV) light, resulting in its widespread use in the construction and automotive industries.
  • Can be formulated to be electrically insulative or conductive, it has a wide range of electrical applications.
  • High gas permeability, making silicone useful for medical applications in which increased aeration is desired. Conversely, silicone rubbers cannot be used where gas-tight seals are necessary.

Silicone can be a substitute for many plastics that have adverse health effects. If it is labelled FDA compliant, it means that the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved it as a food grade product, suitable for use in close proximity to food, beverages and pharmaceuticals, including their manufacturing, packaging and/ or storage. Other countries have their own way of expressing this. In Norwegian it is, næringsmiddelgodkjent.

Because FDA compliant silicone is non-toxic, it is a preferred material for making different forms of cookware, including bakeware and kitchen utensils. As will be shown in an upcoming weblog post, this makes the material suitable for many different DIY (do it yourself) projects.

Some silicone products are so inexpensive and widely available, that it is better to buy them than to make them. These include silicone spatulas and other utensils. These function better than their rubber equivalents. They do not melt and there will be no need to trim worn edges. They function at normal cooking and baking temperatures.

Other products are inexpensive, but could be fun to make. These include pot-holders, trivets and kitchen mats, that are made of silicone because of its heat-resistant characteristics. Silicone is, however, more heat-conductive than similar, but less dense fiber-based products. Since silicone is water repellent, as well as heat resistant to temperatures up to 260 °C , oven mitts can be made that allow one to reach into boiling water.

Some products can be made to incorporate important personal preferences. Bread (loaf), cake, muffin and pie forms/ molds/ pans/ pots as well as baking sheets can be made in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

In general the advantages of silicone bakeware include: grease free preparation; Pans heat quickly and bake evenly; baked goods are easily removed, if they are twisted slightly their sides pull away, allowing whatever is inside to emerge. While pans are hot to touch while in the oven, they cool down quickly.

Silicone containers are freezer, refrigerator, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe. One can bake, store, freeze, and reheat in the same pan. There is no need to adjust recipes with respect to batter or temperature.

Silicone products are lightweight, easy to clean, and retain their shape. No special considerations need to be taken with respect to their storage.

Some negative considerations. Some molds and pans may need a cookie sheet underneath to provide stability. Knives and other sharp objects can damage silicone cookware. Silicone products are not suitable for open flames or stovetop burners.

Oatly & Einride: A tidbit

Oatly has devised a process to provide a vegan alternative to milk. Now it is concentrating on making that process more sustainable, but reducing CO2 emissions. Artwork: Oatly.

My personal transition from omnivore to vegan/ vegetarian is proceeding almost as slowly as my transition away from driving a diesel to an electric vehicle. One positive change, is that we purchase our eggs and milk (and some honey as well as produce) from neighbouring farms, rather than grocery stores.

I asked my personal shopper to add some Oatly products onto her shopping list. Instead, she invited me to help her shop at the local Co-operative in Straumen. Thus, I was able to purchase one litre (about a quart) of havredrikk kalsium (oatmilk calcium). Unfortunately, I was unable to find the other products I wanted to try: havregurt vanilje (oatgurt vanilla); havregurt turkisk (oatgurt Turkish) and iMat fraiche (Oat creme fraiche).

Oatly is a Swedish vegan food brand, producing dairy alternatives from oats. Based on research at Lund University. The company’s enzyme technology turns oats into a nutritional liquid food suitable for the human digestive system. The company operates in southern Sweden with its headquarters in Malmö, with a production & development centre in Landskrona. The brand is available in more than 20 Asian and European countries, Australia, Canada and USA.

Oatly claims to be a sustainable food manufacturer. Artwork: Oatly

Oatly also tries to be sustainable, by reducing its contributions to global warming. They also produce a sustainability report. It shows that almost half of Oatly’s contribution to greenhouse gasses comes from the cultivation of ingredients, a quarter from transport, 15% from packaging and 6% from production (p. 26).

Oatly is not perfect. For example, there has been some controversy about it selling oat residue to a pig farm. On the other hand, it has benefited from two publicity attacks. First, Arla, the Swedish dairy company, attempted to discourage people from buying vegan alternatives to cow’s milk (mjölk in Swedish) using a fake brand Pjölk. Oatly responded by trademarking several fictitious brands Pjölk, Brölk, Sölk and Trölk and began using them on their packaging. Second, the Swedish dairy lobby LRF Mjölk, won a lawsuit against Oatly for using the phrase “Milk, but made for humans” for £ (sic) 100 000. When Oatly published the lawsuit text, it lead to a 45% increase in Oatly’s Swedish sales. Once again, this seems to suggest that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

On 2020-05-14, Oatly and Einride announced that Oatly will use four 42-tonne vehicles starting 2020-10 to transport goods from production sites in southern Sweden, using Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform. This is estimated to lower its climate footprint (on the affected routes) by 87% compared to diesel trucks: 107.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year per truck, about 430 tonnes per year in total, or 2 100 tonnes throughout the five year duration of the contract.

Part of the solution involves optimizing electric trucks operations using computer-controlled logistics with Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform software. Accurate transport planning allows 24 tonnes of goods to be transported an average of 120 kilometers without charging. It involves optimizing and coordinating drivers, vehicles, routes as well as charging. On a typical shift, three drivers will drive four different trucks. This means that one truck is always charging, which places less strain on batteries, and making the operation more durable and economical.

Oakly’s 42-tonne Einride trucks will feature a DAF glider, with Emoss driveline and Einride software. Photo: Einride

This initial iteration involves a DAF glider (a vehicle without a driveline/ prime mover/ power source, fitted with a Emoss motor. Future iterations may involve a Einride Pod, previously referred to as a T-pod.

The Charm of Sandwiches

Dagwood Bumstead eating an impossibly high Dagwood sandwiches. Image: Chic Young.

In a weblog post about sandwiches, no American or Canadian can fail to mention Dagwood Bumstead and his impossibly high Dagwood sandwiches. Chic Young (1901-1973) created the comic strip Blondie 1930-09-08. It relates the adventures of flapper Blondie Boopadoop both before, but especially after, her marriage to Dagwood, and their life together with children Alexander and Cookie and dog Daisy, in Joplin, Missouri. In my childhood, this comic strip was required reading.

Here, the topic is the vegan recreation of iconic meat based sandwiches including tuna, clubhouse and BLT – bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is inspired by an article in the Guardian, about upcoming vegetarian makeover at Pret a Manger:

Some common ingredients: Cheese, at Cliff Cottage, refers specifically to just one variant – Cheddar, which was the only type of cheese its residents actually grew up with; Roasted shiitake mushrooms are used to imitate rashers of bacon; mayonnaise can be regular or vegan, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a dietary consideration.

Cheese Fantasy (a Cheese Dream, but without the bacon)

Open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with roasted shiitake mushrooms.

FLT (Fungus, lettuce, tomato)

Pret a Manger refers to their equivalent as VLT, as if mushrooms were vegetables. Roasted shiitake mushrooms, with sliced tomatoes, green salad and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise can be filled with finely chopped tofu.

Funa (fake tuna)

Kabuli chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, can successfully mimic tuna. They are crushed then flavoured with chopped pickled onions, capers and seaweed mixed with vegan or regular mayonnaise, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a problem. The precise formulations are left as an experimental exercise.

Gladys sandwich

This sandwich is named after Gladys Love Presley (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) who made these sandwiches for her son, Elvis (1935 – 1977). It consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed banana. Originally it sometimes contained bacon. Where this taste is wanted, roasted shiitake mushrooms can be substituted. Honey is sometimes used as a condiment.

Hangout (is the new clubhouse)

Wikipedia tells us that vegetarian club sandwiches often include hummus, avocado or spinach, as well as substitute the real bacon with a vegetarian alternative. Mustard and sometimes honey mustard are common condiments. The sandwich is commonly served with an accompaniment of either coleslaw, or potato salad, and often garnished with a pickle. Due to high fat and carb content from the bread, bacon and dressing, club sandwiches have sometimes been criticized as unhealthy.

Waterloo Sandwich

Food writers James Beard (1903 – 1985) and Evan Jones (1915 – 1996) believed that the Denver sandwich was created by Chinese chefs who cooked for logging camps and railroad gangs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was probably derived from egg foo young. The first written reference to a Denver sandwich appears 1903-04-07 in the, Semi Weekly Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, Iowa), pg.  6, col. 1. In honour of this, the hamless equivalent of a Denver sandwich, has been renamed the Waterloo sandwich. It features shiitake mushrooms, onions and green peppers in a cheese omelette.

Conclusion

Reducing red meat consumption in sandwiches doesn’t seem to be a major problem, as long as one appreciates roasted shiitake mushrooms!

Milk

These are the ingredients that are the basis of my breakfast during six days of the week. From the left, four grain cereal – the four grains being oats, rye, wheat and barley, then there are containers with hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds (container courtesy Sun-Maid Raisins), almonds and pecans. Culture milk is available in a 1 liter carton. I usually eat an orange or half a grapefruit (alternate days) before the cereal, and sometimes a banana after it. I drink one cup of green tea with breakfast.
This is what the bowl of cereal looks like after culture milk has been added.

Welcome to yet another weblog post about Norwegian culture. All three definitions used, apply here. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, culture can refer to “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.” It can also refer to, “the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media.” A third definition refers to the, “acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills.” This will be done by introducing some norske ord = Norwegian words.

Wikipedia tells us, “Milk is a nutrient-rich, white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals (including humans who are breastfed) before they are able to digest other types of food.”

The average Norwegian consumes about 90 liters of melk = milk annually, along with 11 kg of yogurt = yogurt, 10 kg of krem = cream products and about 20 kg of ost = cheese. There are about 10 500 dairy farms in Norway, each with an average of 25 cows. Altogether there are about 230 000 dairy cows in Norway with each cow producing an average of 7 500 kg of milk each year. In addition, there are about 35 000 goats producing about 20 million liters of goat’s milk each year.

Sweet milk must be kept cool so as not to become sour. Without cooling technology, it was impossible to transport milk long distances, whether it was from farm to customer, from farm to dairy or from dairy to shop. The market for milk production was primarily in the cities. Therefore, the production of milk to drink was initially a niche for urban farming or for farms situated on the outskirts of the cities. Farmers who were farther away from the cities produced milk that could be processed into more durable and more easily transportable milk products such as smør = butter or cheese. Refrigeration technology has become increasingly important since the mid-1900s.

Until the middle of the 20th century milk in Norway was sold by the churn or pail. The dairies transported span = churns (milk containers) out to shops. The customers brought their own milk pails to the shops where the serving clerks poured milk from the large dairy churns. The customers also had their own smaller cream pails.

In the 1930s, provisions were made that all milk sold in stores should be pasteurized. Milk bottles were used in the interwar period, first in the big cities. Around 1960, clear glass milk bottles were replaced with brown bottles that better protected the milk from light. The milk bottles were returned by the customers to the stores.

In the 1960s, the melkekartong = milk cartons came into use, and with this, disposable packaging was introduced. By 1980, all Norwegian dairies had replaced bottles with milk cartons.

Since the 1970s, the selection of dairy products in the Norwegian grocery trade has multiplied. Yogurt was introduced around 1970, including yogurt flavored with fruit and berries.

Around 1960, skummet melk = skimmed milk came on the market. Lettmelk = low fat milk was not on sale until 1984, and in the 2000s, extra low fat milk was introduced to the market. Since the 1980s, low fat milk has accounted for an increasing proportion of the drinking milk volume.

Kulturmelk = cultured milk was originally a general type designation for soured milk, but from 2005 (together with skummet kulturmelk = skim cultured milk) it became protected by the Norwegian agricultural industry’s public labeling protected food names and belongs to Tine SA. Cultured milk is referred to by many as surmelk = sour milk as opposed to søtmelk = sweet milk, ordinary whole milk.

In contrast to North America, where similar types of milk can be made through acidification, pure lactic acid bacterial cultures are used to make cultured milk and to give it a distinctive taste and consistency, in contrast to regular homogenized milk. Regular cultured milk contains 3.8% fat, while skim cultured milk contains 0.4% fat.

Cultured milk is consumed as a drink, poured on assorted types of breakfast cereals, and is used as an ingredient in baked goods.

In Norway, one finds many other soured milk products. Tettemelk = dense milk and skjør are old varieties of Nordic cultured milk. Kefir is undoubtedly even older, but its use in Norway is more recent, as is that of yogurt. Cultura and Biola, which are Tine brands, are flavored cultured milk. Kesam or kvarg = quark, is a fresh cheese made from skimmed cultured milk.

I consume cultured milk almost exclusively, despite having to read the carton in Nynorsk = New Norwegian, the second and less popular Norwegian language that originates along the West Coast of Norway: Kulturmjølk. Syrna mjølk med lange tradisjonar. Heftig og frisk smak – ikkje ulik naturen mjølka kjem frå. (Nynorsk) = Kulturmelk. Surmelk med lange tradisjoner. Sterk og frisk smak – ikke ulik naturen melken kommer fra. (Bokmål) = Cultured Milk. Sour milk with long traditions. Strong and fresh taste – not unlike the nature, milk come from.

An irritation: Tine insists on telling me that cultured milk is traditional. I disagree. It is a modern, bacteriological enhanced milk product that has some superficial similarities to historic varieties. I also object to statements about milk being a natural product. It is a product from industrialized agriculture.

More information about milk (in Norwegian) can be found at: melk.no

An aside about food security

“Food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe food for an adequate diet that meets their nutritional needs and preferences, and which forms the basis for an active and healthy life.” United Nations definition

The term is sometimes used indiscriminately to cover also food safety, which means that the food does not contain microorganisms, environmental toxins or additives that negatively impact health, when food items are prepared and consumed as intended.

Norway is a net exporter of sea food. It produces more than enough of everything needed domestically, and its sea food exports significantly exceed its sea food imports. Norway is self-sufficient in milk. It is largely self-sufficient when it comes to meat. However, where it fails is its considerable – and increasing – deficit with respect to plant produce. It is now able to provide considerably less than 50%.

It is this lack of sufficiency in plant materials, that is prompting me to build a community greenhouse, with other members of Friends of the Earth, Inderøy, and to experiment with hydroponic gardening.

At this point, I should probably add that I do not have anything against gene modified organisms in principal. I would have no objection to using an artificial milk that is produced through bacterial processes, in vats. It seems much more humane than keeping cows. This does not mean that I support other gene modifications, such as Monsanto/ Bayer and their use of glyphosate herbicides. However, I have studied genetic engineering and microbiology, and see both fields as important contributors to increasing stocks of nutritious foods, if done properly.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market was launched in November 2014 to address the geographical and monetary challenges that bar communities from healthy food.

I’ve known about Thrive Market since 2019-03-08 at 07:20, about ten minutes before I started writing this web-log post. It happened when I read my daily Innovation of the Day email from trendwatching.com : “A plant-based version of canned tuna made by vegan food company Good Catch became available at Whole Foods and Thrive Market grocery stores in the US this quarter. The vegan ‘tuna’ was created in response to the issues of overfishing (around 90% of the fish supply has been overexploited or entirely depleted), bad conditions in fisheries and contaminants often found in real tuna, including mercury and plastics. Good Catch’s tuna is made from legumes, seaweed, and soy, and has approximately the same nutritional content as real tuna.”

That sounded interesting, but I also realized the Whole Foods had become a subsidiary of Amazon, which is a company with far too much influence in the marketplace to be of long-term benefit to consumers. I though I would look at Thrive Market, and see if it was a more suitable supplier for someone of my sensibilities.

According to Wikipedia, Thrive Market is an American e-commerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products at reduced costs. It was founded by Nick Green, Gunnar Lovelace, Kate Mulling, and Sasha Siddhartha. By 2016 they had raised $141 million across three rounds of funding following their launch in November 2014. For every paid Thrive Market membership, a free membership is donated to a family in need in the United States.

Company values are expressed in their Thrive Five. These are: 1. Organic, “We’re committed to organic farming – for the sake of your health and our planet’s. If a product can be produced organically, you’ll find that option on Thrive Market.” 2. Non-GMO, “Genetically modifying our food damages our soil, our water supply, and our health. You’ll never find food containing GMOs at Thrive Market.” 3. Sustainable, “We dig into the supply chains of every product we carry to be sure it’s been produced sustainably.” 4. Non toxic, “We’ve compiled more than 450 chemicals that meet FDA standards for safety, but not ours. Because questionable ingredients don’t belong anywhere near our homes or bodies.” 5. For you, “We all have different health goals. That’s why we’ve tagged every product according to 140 different diets, allergies, and lifestyle factors—so you can easily filter by what matters most to you.”

Organic foods are positive because: herbicides, pesticides and artificial growth hormones are prohibited; the entire production process – and not just the final product – is evaluated; food tastes better and provides better nutrition, given increased ripening times and a decrease in additives; cost savings from not using expensive chemicals; less chemicals seepage into the ground, resulting is less soil and water contamination. On the negative side, organic foods are more labour intensive; cross breeding with GMO-crops can occur.

There is a lot of discussion about genetically modified organisms. Having studied genetic engineering at the turn of the millennium, I am much more open to genetically modified organisms than much of the population in Europe. In particular, I support the production of Golden Rice, a variety of Oryza sativa produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It produces a fortified food for populations facing a shortage of dietary vitamin A. This deficiency is estimated to kill 670 000 children under the age of 5 and cause an additional 500 000 cases of irreversible childhood blindness, each year. Golden Rice 2, developed in 2005, produces 23 times more carotenoids than golden rice. So far, no Golden Rice or Golden Rice 2 has been produced for human consumption except in clinical trials. I am open to consuming other genetically modified organisms, that have been modified to improve nutritional characteristics.

Sustainability is a difficult subject to encompass in a single paragraph. The document that comes closest to expressing my views is the Earth Charter. Among the organizations supporting it, are the two religions that I feel closest to, The Unitarian Church and the Baha’i Faith. A copy of the charter is found in an appendix to this weblog post. Thrive Market claims to have become the country’s first e-commerce company to go zero waste, making 50 plus improvements to warehouses to reach this standard. They then open-sourced the template so that other e-commerce companies could follow it. They also claim that they use 99% post-consumer recycled packaging, and are carbon neutral with respect to shipping.

Non-toxic. This is the area where I probably agree strongest with Thrive Market. Many additives are unnecessary, and definitely not worth the health and environmental problems they cause. Here are some, Bisphenol-A (BPA), a hormone-mimicker found on tincan linings, is linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and behavioral problems, obesity and diabetes. Food preservatives BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) have reputations for being carcinogens, disrupting hormones and impacting male fertility. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST) can be a factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. Sodium Aluminum Sulphate and Potassium Aluminum Sulphate are linked to adverse reproductive, neurological, behavioral, and developmental effects. Food preservatives Sodium Nitrite/ Nitrate, are linked to many types of cancer.

Having food information linked is always a benefit. To test this value, a product was selected to learn about the features provided. Broccoli was entered, but did not return any edible vegetables. Carrots was then entered, and the only thing resembling a vegetable were some small 1.4 ounce (40 grams) pouches of carrot sticks costing $3.49. San Marzano tomatoes was entered, and out came Thrive Market Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce. Not a bullseye, and not good enough for a meal, but close enough for a test about product information.

The sauce came in a 25 ounce net weight (708 g) glass jar, and cost $4.99. It was listed as having the following 21 characteristics: certified kosher, certified organic, recyclable, sustainably farmed, gluten free, organic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, cholesterol free, dairy free, dye and color additive free, grain free, low fat, low sodium, no added sugar or sweeteners, Non-GMO, pesticide free, preservative free, soy free and yeast free. Ingredients were listed as: Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Organic Fresh Onions, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Fresh Basil.

Nutritional information provided: Serving Size: 1/2 cup (125g); Servings Per
Container: About 6; Amount per serving as a % of daily value: Calories 70, From fat35; Total Fat 4g or 6%; Saturated Fat 0g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg 0%; Sodium 400mg or 17%; Total Carbohydrate 7g or 2%; Dietary Fiber 2g or 6%; Sugars 3g: Protein 2g; Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 4%; Calcium 2%; Iron 6%. Not a low calorie food.

Conclusions

Trive Market has considerably greater appeal than Amazon. However, it may not have enough appeal to encourage main-stream people to use them. Many cooks will be irritated by Thrive Market, for not providing basic ingredients, raw vegetables, for example, essential to their kitchen. A prepared sauce is not the same as a raw ingredient. It means that instead of being able to engage in one-stop shopping on the internet, one has to find alternative sources.

Appendix: The Earth Charter

Preamble

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Principles

The four pillars and sixteen principles of the Earth Charter are:[

I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life

1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.

2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.

3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful.

4. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

II. Ecological Integrity

5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.

7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.

8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.

III. Social and Economic Justice

9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.

10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.

11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.

12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.

IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace

13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision-making, and access to justice.

14. Integrate into formal education and lifelong learning the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.

15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.

For further information see: http://earthcharter.org/

The Charm of Lemon Pudding

This web-log post is a co-operative venture between Patricia Joyce McLellan née Commins, and Brock. Trish has done all of the hard work needed to publish a recipe. As purchasing agent, she has selected all of the ingredients. As cook, she has transformed the ingredients into something edible. As administrator, she has written out the recipe, and sent it onwards to Brock. Brock’s role, in addition to that of dishwasher, has been to photograph the final product, and to transform provided information into a blog post.

Of all the deserts in the world, Brock’s favourite is lemon pudding. He ate it as a child and continues to eat it as long as it is regularly made for him. This recipe serves six. However, there is a difference between hot lemon pudding, out of the oven, and cold lemon pudding served the next day or later, out of the fridge. Both have their own special charm.

This is what lemon pudding looks like, out of the oven

At this point I should be pointing out all of the dangers involved in making lemon pudding, including: be careful with sharp knives, hot ovens, oven dishes (filled with hot water) set out to cool. These dangers don’t end even when the pudding is served, especially if someone has allergies/ sensitivity to: eggs, milk, flour (gluten). General caution: Living involves innumerable dangers, and will ultimately end in death. If you are reading this you have not gotten to this point yet.

Equipment needed: oven, mixing bowl, juicer, grater, rubber spatula, measuring cup, mixer for beating egg whites, pan of hot water, trivet.

Ingredient Metric amount American amount
White sugar 2 dl 1 scant cup
White flour 0.5 dl ¼ ample cup
Melted butter or oil 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
Grated lemon rind From one lemon From one lemon
Lemon juice 5 tbsp 5 tbsp
Egg yolks 3 3
Egg whites 3 3
Milk 4 dl 1.5 cups
Oven temperature 160 degrees C 325 degrees F

Preheat oven to the correct temperature.

Measure, then combine sugar, flour, and butter/oil in a mixing bowl. 

Use a grater to remove lemon rind. Cut lemon in half and use a juice squeezer to collect lemon juice. Add lemon juice and rind to the flour/sugar mixture. 

Add combined egg yolks and milk.  Mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites.  Pour into greased baking pan or individual cups. 

Put the baking pan or individual cups in a larger pan where you add hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a trivet.

Why?

Why was this post written? The main reason is to encourage others to start their own blogs, to write posts about interesting topics, and to distribute them to a limited group of family and friends. Putting the recipe into web-log form took about five minutes, it involved copying a table from an email, along with the instruction. The photograph was taken with a mobile device (aka cell phone), downloaded and added to the post. Additional time was taken researching and writing about lemon pudding.

People who are interested in the history of lemon pudding can look at: https://researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2015/07/mrs-goodfellow-lemon-pudding-before.html