I used to be quite fond of people in general, but I no longer like humans as much as I used to.
Humans have been on the planet only a short while, but no other species has managed to wreak even a fraction of the destruction that humans already have.
Humans also hunt and incarcerate each other, and sometimes kill each other, for no good reason. (Guantánamo, anyone? Migrant detention centres, anyone? 9/11 anyone? )
Humans approve of it when other humans want to build unhealthy concrete, plastic, steel and brick homes yet tend to object when other humans want to build homes made from branches and wood, or earth, or straw bales and adobe, or live in a hole excavated in the ground where they keep their books and the other kind of stuff that we all tend to have.
More and more humans, it looks like, gather and gather and gather, and steal, and build up reserves that would last them many lifetimes. It has a name, I believe. Consumerism.
So-called progress that happens for no more than the sake of the drive for bigger bigger bigger more more more has become the norm. (Third Heathrow runway, anyone?)
Sales for the sake of sales instead of the sake of contributing something worthwhile to the lives of others is still a major driver for many, as is the accumulation of monetary value, often to make up for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.
“It’s amazing! I have X euros/dollars/pounds’ worth of merchandise in my shop right now!”
Even a so-called stupid bird brain of a quaker parrot knows that in times of plenty, all that matters is that you have food in your hands – not how much someone else has – and that you should start building up a little stack of reserves for yourself when you notice that food is scarce.
This spunky creature, a quaker parrot called Sioux, was part of my household for 21 years Her life and death have changed my life forever. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time. It was against the law to release her, and she was unable to fly, so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. As I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and housed them together. Myiopsitta monachus.
Quaker parrots don’t round up other birds and their youngsters and put them in cages. They protect them, stand up for them (they stand up even for cats). In the wild, they share their amazing self-built homes that have separate spaces for various activities with other species, sometimes even predators. (Yet they are also highly territorial, protective of their homes.)
But many humans see them as “threats” and spread vile myths about them, mainly because their natural habitat was once limited to South-America.
Probably also because at some level, we humans feel threatened (challenged, made uncomfortable) by the intelligence and strong lively personalities of these birds. They can be highly opinionated.
Something similar goes for our city pigeons.
Birds have been on the planet so incredibly much longer than humans. They are highly aware of their own vulnerability (with to some degree the exception of birds of prey), so much that they will always try to hide it as well as they can. They don’t go around destroying their own habitat, and they tend to live quite peacefully with other species.
Humans are only one species. Homo sapiens.
We humans haven’t really learned a thing yet, have we?
These two embedded tweets below are supposed to show one image and one video.
This video will change everything. For anyone who thinks that crawfish and other sea life don’t suffer, watch this crawfish sever their own claw to escape a boiling pot. So powerful. Please RT. 💔 pic.twitter.com/tNEYlvlSv2
When the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a satellite into orbit on Oct. 13, it did so despite opposition from Inuit leaders in Canada and Greenland over its potential to contaminate an important Arctic area.
Most, but not all, of the rocket’s highly toxic fuel is burned during the launch. So, when the second stage of the rocket detached and fell back to Earth, it may have contained up to a tonne of unburned hydrazine fuel that was “deliberately deposited” into the North Water Polynya in northern Baffin Bay, between Nunavut and Greenland.
The polynya, or Pikialasorsuaq in Inuktitut, is an area of open water surrounded by sea ice. It is a critical habitat for Arctic species such as narwhal and seals, and is one of the Arctic’s most biologically productive areas. It is also considered to be an important part of the food supply for the Inuit communities who fish and hunt there.
Prior to the launch, the former Prime Minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, called the deposit of potentially dangerous rocket fuel into the Pikialasorsuaq “unacceptable.”
According to a study published earlier this month, at least 10 similar launches have discarded rocket stages in Pikialasorsuaq or in the Barents Sea, off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia, since 2002.
Article 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples asserts that states must ensure hazardous materials are not disposed in Indigenous territories without their consent. However, last week’s launch — like the others before it — involved no prior consultation with Inuit.
For Inuit, the rocket launch transcends geopolitics. It strains their ongoing concerns over food safety and food security. It also raises tensions over the rights of Indigenous peoples in contemporary Canada, including their right to food.
In Nunavut, food security remains a serious public health issue. More than two-thirds of Inuit households lack reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Climate change, environmental contaminants, high food prices and low income all affect food security.
The average cost of healthy foods in Nunavut is considerably more than the average in Canada, including chicken ($13.54 vs. $7.17 per kilogram), apples ($6.70 vs. $3.85 per kilogram) and carrots ($5.93 vs. $2.03 per kilogram). Meanwhile, employment income in small Nunavut communities such as Arctic Bay is less than half the median income of $32,800 that is the norm across Canada.
What if something goes wrong?
Hydrazine is an extremely toxic chemical now rarely used by space programs due to its immediate dangers. Researchers know little about how humans may be affected by long-term exposure to hydrazine, nor have they studied its behaviour in Arctic marine environments.
Hydrazine was used in last week’s ESA atmosphere-monitoring satellite launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. The ESA has denied the rocket stage presents any threat to the Arctic environment and Global Affairs Canada deemed risks to the marine environment as “very low.”
As Inuit have repeatedly pointed out, any risk associated with the Arctic environment may have an impact on their food security, nutrition and health, as well as on their livelihood and culture. To what extent have the potential harms to Inuit food systems been taken into account when governments evaluate the risks associated with falling rocket debris or other industrial activities?
‘This is our home’
Even though much of the Arctic is far removed from the world’s industrial centres, global pollution is having a profound effect on the North. Contaminants can travel long distances along ocean currents, rivers and streams, and in the atmosphere, reaching high levels in Arctic ecosystems.
Inuit generally prefer to eat food obtained through fishing, hunting and gathering, collectively called country foods. It is mostly through these country foods that Inuit are exposed to environmental contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals such as mercury. Studies show that Inuit living in Nunavut have higher levels of contaminants in their blood than the general Canadian population.
Contaminants are among many contemporary pressures on Inuit food systems.
“Hunting and gathering, this is how we live. This is our humanity,” said Jerry Natanine, the former mayor of Clyde River. These mounting pressures on marine ecosystems highlight how country foods are an existential matter for Inuit.
Inuit food systems can no longer simply be an afterthought to international sovereignty disputes and risk assessment. Indigenous Peoples in Canada and globally have drawn attention to the false imagination of their homes, lands and waters as a terra nullius – an empty no-man’s land.
As Okalik Eegeesiak, former chair of the ICC, has said of previous launches: “This rocket will not be falling into no-man’s land… This is our home.”
When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming – the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals – it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat.
Yet most of us probably won’t. Instead, we will mumble something about meat being tasty, that “everyone” eats it, and that we only buy “grass fed” beef.
Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and slaughtered for food around the world. Most of them will be reared in conditions that cause them to suffer unnecessarily while also harming people and the environment in significant ways.
This raises serious ethical problems. We’ve compiled a list of arguments against eating meat to help you decide for yourself what to put on your plate.
1. The environmental impact is huge
Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.
Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.
Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.
The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.
3. It hurts the global poor
Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.
If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.
High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialised countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.
These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits.
Currently, the average meat intake for someone living in a high-income country is 200-250g a day, far higher than the 80-90g recommended by the United Nations. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8m lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.
Ultimately, it’s unethical
Most people agree that as a basic rule an action that promotes the overall happiness of others is morally good, while an action that causes harm or suffering without good justification is morally wrong.
Meat eating is wrong not because there is something special about pigs or chickens or dogs or cats, but because of the harm it causes, whether that harm is caused to animals, humans, or the wider environment.
Most people living in industrialised countries have historically unprecedented dietary choice. And if our nutritional needs can now be met by consuming foods that are less harmful, then we ought to choose these over foods that are known to cause more harm.
Eating less meat and animal products is one of the easiest things we can do to live more ethically.
Tuna is one of the most ubiquitous seafoods. It can be eaten from a can or as high-end sashimi and in many forms in between. But some species are over-fished and some fishing methods are unsustainable. How do you know which type of tuna you’re eating?
Some tuna is certified as sustainably caught by groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that set standards for sustainable fishing. But these certifications are only good if they are credible.
In late August, several media outlets published stories about On the Hook, a new campaign by a consortium of retailers and academics who have taken issue with some fishing practices allowed by the MSC. As a university professor whose research focuses on private seafood governance, including certifications and traceability, and fisheries policy, I am deeply familiar with the issues at hand. I support the campaign, but don’t stand to gain from the outcome.
The Western and Central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery is one of the world’s biggest. Some of the tuna caught here carries the MSC’s blue label, identifying it as the best environmental choice for consumers. But the same boats making that sustainable catch may also use unsustainable methods to catch unsustainable fish on the same day.
The On the Hook coalition sees this as at odds with the MSC certification, as do I. Yes, sustainable and unsustainable fish can be separated; there are people on board whose sole job is to do this. But rewarding fishermen for their sustainable catch, while allowing them to fish unsustainably, dupes consumers into supporting companies that take part in bad behaviour.
Does sorting work?
The On the Hook campaign singles out one fishery in particular: the “purse seine” fishery in the tropical western Pacific Ocean. This fishery covers the waters of eight island nations, including Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Under the Nauru Agreement, these nations, usually referred to as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), collectively control access to about one quarter of the world’s tuna supply.
Fishermen can use nets to catch free-swimming adult tuna and earn MSC certification for their catch. But these same fishermen can also use fish aggregating devices (FADs) — instruments that attract all kinds of marine life, including adult tuna, juvenile tuna and hundreds of species of sharks, turtles and other fish — to net their catch. Fishing on FADs is faster and less costly, but these devices are associated with high levels of bycatch, one of the main sustainability concerns in many fisheries. Fishing on FDAs does not earn MSC certification.
Under normal operations, the fishermen use both methods. “Compartmentalization” is a technique that allows the unsustainable portion of the fish to be separated on board the vessel from the sustainable portion. This is supposed to provide assurance to consumers that they are making a sustainable choice. Yet the negative environmental impacts connected to FAD fishing operations should surely also be considered in an MSC assessment. Currently, this does not happen.
Compartmentalization remains necessary because there isn’t enough of an economic advantage for companies to make only sustainable catches. It costs fishermen more to fish sustainably because they have to find the tuna, instead of waiting for it to come to the FAD.
A fleet using both methods can be part of a higher value premium market and earn financial security from the high volume, yet unsustainable, fishery. If purse-seining tuna vessels need to subsidize their sustainable fishing with unsustainable practices, then MSC certification has not provided the incentive it set out to.
A holistic fishery
Millions of tonnes of tuna have been fished from the waters of the Western and Central Pacific fishery. But the countries controlling these waters have not benefited to a large extent, mostly due to a lack of cooperation in bargaining for benefits, which allowed distant nations to exploit the fishery.
In the past decade, these Pacific Island states have increased their bargaining power in regional negotiations by implementing a scheme that controls the number of boats that can enter their waters. Under the program, called the vessel day scheme (VDS), these countries can now charge higher fees to boats that want access.
For example, PNA countries used to extract between three per cent and six per cent of the value of tuna fishery in their waters. Since their bargaining power has increased, they can now extract more than 14 per cent of the value, and this number is likely to continue to rise.
This is no small accomplishment for these Pacific Island nations, and other coastal state collectives are now trying to emulate their success. But this does not mean that all of the practices they allow are commendable, including those that are not representative of the “best environmental choice” in seafood.
On my Facebook feed, a colleague recently commented: “A Pacific Islander owned sustainably certified fishery is the wrong target.”
Let me clear up this misconception. The On the Hook campaign is not targeting the PNA, but the MSC. It would like the MSC to delay the recertification — authorized by the accreditation body in September — of the PNA fishery until the compartmentalization practice has been addressed. The fishery needs to be considered holistically.
For example, the MSC could specify that to earn a certification, a boat cannot fish sustainably and unsustainably on the same fishing trip. Consumer dollars should not be supporting the very practices the MSC condemns.
Another colleague remarked that because the PNA is challenging big industry, the On the Hook campaign might benefit big industry and hurt the PNA. In fact, it is the same boats, the same fleet, the same companies that are fishing MSC-certified tuna and on FADs.
My colleagues also worry that the campaign calls into question the credibility of the MSC label. But this has actually become commonplace, with many groups pointing at examples of certified fisheries that are not sustainable. For example, the WWF has recommended that seafood buyers should stay away from MSC-certified Mexican tuna.
I would argue that the MSC is tarnishing itself by normalizing the practice of compartmentalization. It is no longer clear that fish carrying the MSC label offer the best environmental choice. Many Canadian fisheries, like lobster, herring, and Atlantic redfish, are MSC-certified. The faltering credibility of the MSC is a major risk for Canadian fish harvesters who rely on the MSC label to communicate their good fishing practices.
Additionally, Canadian consumers who are used to searching for the blue MSC check mark when they shop for seafood can no longer do so thinking that the logo conveys accurate information. Consumers need to know that the waters are muddy, that seafood sustainability is a moving target, and that it is not easy to make the right choice when standing in the aisle at the supermarket.
Governments and businesses need to make that choice easier for consumers. And they could start by dealing with compartmentalization in the PNA fishery — and elsewhere.
The PNA countries could also make demands. They could allow access rights only to vessels that agree to drop the practice of compartmentalization and that are transparent about their fishing practices.
More than anything, the MSC needs to take a good look at itself and remember what it is supposed to represent — the best environmental choice — not consumer confusion.
3⁄4 cup Spanish olive oil
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 10″ saute pan. Add potatoes and onions and cook, lifting and turning, until potatoes are soft but not brown, about 20 minutes.
Beat eggs in a large bowl until pale yellow. Transfer sauteed potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to beaten eggs. Reserve oil. Add the potato mixture while it’s hot enough to start cooking the eggs but not so hot as to souffle them.
Heat 1 tbsp. reserved oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add egg and potato mixture, spreading potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook uncovered until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Gently shake pan so tortilla doesn’t stick, then slide a spatula along edges and underneath tortilla. Place a large plate over pan and quickly turn plate and pan over so tortilla falls onto plate. Add 1 tsp. reserved oil to pan, slide tortilla back in (uncooked side down), carefully tuck in sides with a fork, and continue cooking over medium heat until eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (see notes)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup milk
Place the potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the paprika in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes evenly with the oil and seasonings.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times to ensure even cooking. Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the potatoes begin to develop some golden color. Add the onion, adjust the seasoning to taste, and continue to cook until the potatoes are lightly browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
While the potatoes cool, whisk the eggs together with the milk until slightly frothy. Stir in the cooled potatoes and combine well.
Film the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the egg-potato mixture and cook for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the top of the tortilla is set (just slightly wet). Be sure to shake the pan from time to time to keep the tortilla moving freely while it cooks.
Once the egg-potato mixture appears to be set on top, place a large, flat plate upside down on top of the pan, then flip the tortilla onto the plate. Gently slide it back into the pan to finish cooking on the second side ~ about 2 minutes should do it. Transfer to a plate and cut into wedges.
You can use just about any potato for this dish, but Yukon Gold is our preferred variety. Dice them into small cubes, about 3/8-inch, or slice them into 1/8-inch slices and be sure to season them well during the browning process.
The 2017 general election was highly unusual as far as the youth vote was concerned. The Labour party won 65% – the lion’s share – of the youth vote. The nearest comparisons are with 1964 and 1997. In both those years, Labour took 53% of the youth vote. In the 2015 election, just two years earlier, the party had won just 38% of the youth vote.
How the under-30s vote
The contrast between the youth vote in the 2010 and 2017 shows how radically youth voting patterns have changed. During this period, their turnout rose by 19%. This change in youth participation, combined with a massive swing to Labour, has unsurprisingly led some to talk of a “youthquake”.
What could have brought this about? Political and cultural drivers are clearly at work. That includes youth support for remaining in the EU and their preference for Jeremy Corbyn over Theresa May. Only a quarter of 18-to-25s voted to leave in the EU referendum compared with two-thirds of those over 65.
But economic drivers also played a crucial role. Young people, put simply, have lost out both in the economy and government policy making. Since 2010 the British government has been preoccupied with shoring up its political support among middle aged and retired voters. It has largely ignored the concerns of the young, very often dismissing them because, in the past, most young people did not vote. That all changed in 2017.
Paying for education
One obvious driver of youth voting is the rapid increase in student debt imposed by a government which sought to privatise higher education during the austerity years. Tuition fees were originally introduced in 1998 and had reached £3,000 per year by 2006-7. At the time, it was widely accepted that the considerable graduate premium which existed in lifetime earnings justified a contribution to the costs of higher education by the beneficiaries.
But things radically changed in 2010 when the coalition government introduced a fees cap of £9,000. Ironically, this increased privatisation of the costs of higher education was accompanied by ever-increasing regulation, so that the less the state supports higher education the more it wants to control it. This trend culminated in a 2016 proposal to scrap maintenance grants and raise fees to £9,250 while at the same time charging interest rates of 6.1% on student loans at a time when the Bank of England base rate was 0.25%.
Such a reckless disregard for the interests of more than 40% of the under-25s is quite hard to understand, particularly in light of the fate of the Liberal Democrats following their u-turn on tuition fees after they joined the coalition in 2010.
The bias against youth was not confined to university students. In April 2016, the minimum wage was raised to £7.50 an hour, but this change only applied to employed workers over the age of 25. The minimum wage for apprentices under the age of 19 was a meagre £3.50 and hour and this did not change. Young people were essentially ignored.
Another aspect of the same issue relates to the self-employed, none of whom receive the minimum wage. Historically, self-employed workers have been older than the workforce average age – but, in recent years, self-employment has grown faster among the under 25s than any other group with the exception of 40-year-olds. Between 2008 and 2015 the number of self-employed people in the UK increased from 3.8 million to 4.6 million people with part-time self-employment, often synonymous with under-employment, increasing by 88%. Thus young people have lost out on the increases in minimum wages, with many of them being underemployed and working part-time for wages that are well below average.
Are you even listening?
It was, therefore, no surprise that when the pollsters YouGov recently asked citizens to rank their priorities for the country, 46% of 18-24 year olds selected increasing the minimum wage to approximately £9 per hour. That compared to a national figure of 28% (and 19% among pensioners).
In our panel survey of the electorate conducted immediately before the 2017 general election, we asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “The government treats people like yourself fairly”. We found that 18% of the under-25s agreed with this statement compared with 28% of the over-65s. In contrast, 49% of the under-25s disagreed with it compared with 32% of the over-65s. Youth have not only been left behind but many of them are aware of this fact and have a sense of grievance arising from it. The stark difference in the responses of youth and pensioners to this statement is related to the differences in the government’s treatment of them.
The so called “triple lock” on pensions was introduced by the coalition government in 2010. It was a guarantee to increase the state pension every year by the rate of inflation, average earnings or by a minimum of 2.5% whichever was the highest. By 2016 it produced a situation in which retired people had average incomes £2,500 higher than in 2007/8, while those who were not retired earned an average of £300 less over this period. The latter reflects the fact that real wages have been flat-lining for more than a decade.
Given all this it is no surprise that the 2017 election was a case of youth striking back.
This article is based on research by Paul Whiteley, Harold Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Marianne Stewart. Paul Whiteley is speaking at Youthquake 2017! Can young voters transform the UK’s political landscape? a joint event between The Conversation and The British Academy on October 9, 2017.
Welfare reform and austerity in the UK has led to reductions in public spending on services that support older people. Age UK has highlighted how nearly one million older people have unmet social care needs. This is of particular concern as the winter months approach.
In ongoing research on food insecurity in older age, my colleagues and I have analysed survey data and interviewed older people who use foodbanks. We’re finding that many older people are at risk of under-nutrition because of poverty, or because they don’t get the support they need to shop, cook and eat.
While many older people have been less affected by the recent recession than other age groups, in part because of the triple lock protection for pensions, poverty can persist in old age. Data from 2015 shows that 1.6m pensioners live below the relative poverty line, and 8% of pensioners are in persistent poverty – defined as having spent three years out of any four-year period in a household with below 60% of median income.
Poverty and social isolation
Around 20% of older people have little or no private pension, housing or material wealth and retiring with debt is also a growing problem. There are 3.8m people aged 65 and older living alone in the UK and evidence from Age UK suggests that nearly one million people in this age group always or often feel lonely.
Older people living alone tend to eat less. This can lead to under-nutrition – a major cause of functional decline among older people. It can lead to poorer health outcomes, falls, delays in recovery from illness and longer periods in hospital, including delayed operations.
Evidence from the National Nutrition Screening Survey suggests that an estimated 1.3m people aged over 65 in the UK are not getting adequate protein or energy in their diet. On admission to hospital, 33% of people in this age group are identified as being at risk of under-nutrition.
Data we are analysing from the 2014 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing suggests that for around 10% of people aged 50 and over “too little money stops them buying their first choice of food items” and this has increased consistently since 2004. Evidence from the Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey in 2012 found that 12% of people aged over 65 had often or sometimes: “skimped on food so others in the household would have enough to eat”.
Embarrassment and stigma
The Health Survey of England consistently highlights the issue of unmet need among some older people. For example, 6% of people aged over 65 reported that they had not received help from anyone with shopping for food in the last month. In addition, 19% of this age group reported needing help to leave their home.
Evidence suggests that as food insecurity has increased in the UK, many older people have become reliant on food banks. In 2016, the food redistribution charity FareShare said that 13% of its clients were aged over 65.
Our interviews with older people using food banks have highlighted the challenges many older people can face. Some were having food parcels delivered by the food banks as they were unable to go themselves or did not want to be seen going.
Embarrassment and stigma were also a concern for one 69-year-old man who told us how he preferred coming to the food bank than asking family or friends for help. “I don’t believe in asking others, I don’t want to upset people,” he said. Another 65-year-old man told us: “My family would help but I don’t like to ask them, they have their own families to look after.” Others, however are either unable or too embarrassed to visit a food bank.
Food or warmth
One 54-year-old man said: “I can go for a couple of days without food… the gas is cut off and I get hot water from the kettle to wash.” There was also evidence that some older people were not fully recognising their nutritional needs. As one 60-year-old woman said: “When you are on your own… sometimes I don’t cook, depends how I feel.” Another 65-year-old man revealed his poor diet, stating how when he had no food he would: “Just eat cornflakes.”
Other people chose to cut back on food during the winter due to the costs of heating their home – suffering the cold as a result. As one 72-year-old woman stated: “Sometimes I just go without putting the heating on.”
An increasing number of older people are constrained in their spending on food, many are skipping meals and are not getting the social care support they need. Emergency food parcels are an inadequate and unsustainable way of addressing the issue of food insecurity.
There are currently 10m people in the UK aged over 65, but this is expected to increase to 19m by 2050 – that’s one in every four people.
As the size of the older population continues to grow, the reductions in local authority spending on social care raise concerns about their long-term welfare. Given the follow-on costs to the public purse, including in terms of healthcare, the government must do more to combat food insecurity amongst older people.
Last week, I saw a guy in India post on Twitter that he was about to make a wonderful jain organic vegetable biryani. I asked him for the recipe as I love a good vegetable biryani but it is hard to come by and I don’t know how to make it. He liked my request, but didn’t give me a recipe.
So I decided to start hunting down recipes for myself so that one day, I’ll be able to make a really delicious one.
So here goes. First off, using organic ingredients makes it relatively eco-friendly and healthier for you. Second, I haven’t actually tried any of these yet.
Preparation Time: 15 mins. Cooking Time: 40 mins. Total Time: 55 mins Serves 4.
For the rice
3 cups steamed rice
1/2 tsp saffron (kesar) strands
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves (phudina)
salt to taste
For the gravy
1 cup boiled mixed vegetables
2 bayleaves (tejpatta)
4 black peppercorns (kalimirch)
4 cloves (laung / lavang)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander-cumin seeds (dhania-jeera) powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (jaiphal) powder
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cream
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
For the rice
Warm the saffron, add a little water, rub it so the milk becomes yellow and add to the rice.
Mix in the rice, chopped mint leaves and salt and keep aside.
For the gravy
Heat the oil in a pan add bayleaves, peppercorns and cloves to it.Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander-cumin seed powder, asafoetida and nutmeg powder. Cook for a few minutes while mashing continuously till the oil separates from the mixture.
Add the tomato sauce and milk-corn flour mixture. Bring to a boil, add cream and mix well.
Mix the vegetables in the gravy and keep aside.
How to proceed
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a huge vessel make a layer by spreading 1/3 of the rice.
On it spread half the gravy and 1/3 of rice. Layer again with remaining half of the gravy and remaining 1/3 rice. Cover a lid and seal the edges with a dough.
Cook on a slow flame for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
This is not really a vegetable biryani, I suppose, as it contains dairy products, but it sounds delicious and offers you plenty of suggestions for variations.
Prep Time : 26-30 minutes
Cook time : 31-40 minutes
Serves : 4
Level Of Cooking : Easy
Taste : Spicy
Ingredients for Jain Dum Biryani Recipe
Rice soaked and drained 2 cups
Paneer (cottage cheese) cubes ¼ cup
French beans cut into diamonds ¼ cup
Babycorn halved ¼ cup
Green peas boiled 2 tablespoons
Black peppercorns 6-8
Bay leaf 1
Cinnamon 1 inch stick
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1 teaspoon
Green cardamoms 3-4
Ghee 4 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Yogurt 1 cup
Cornflour/ corn starch 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder ¼ teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Biryani masala 1 tablespoon
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh mint leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Fresh coriander leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Butter 1 tablespoon
Fresh cream 2 tablespoons
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
dough made of atta to seal
Boil water in a deep non-stick pan, add some peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds, green cardamoms, salt and some ghee and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook till the rice is 34th done. Drain and keep aside
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a non-stick pan, add almonds and cashewnuts and sauté till lightly browned. Set aside. Step 3
Add remaining peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf to the same pan and sauté for half a minute. Add French beans, babycorn, green peas and sauté till soft. Step 4
Mix yogurt and cornflour in a small bowl and add this to the pan. Step 5
Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, biryani masala, garam masala powder and salt and mix well. Step 6
Add fried nuts, paneer and mix well. Step 7
Add mint leaves and coriander leaves to the gravy and mix well. Add some water and rice. Step 8
Mix butter, fresh cream and saffron in a 2nd bowl. Step 9
Put the cream mixture to the biryani. Step 10
Cover the assembled biryani with a tight-fitting lid and seal the edges with atta (dough). Cook for 15-20 minutes. Step 11
Serve hot garnished with coriander and mint leaves.
Taste : Mild
Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani Recipe
Basmati Rice 1 1/2 cups
Carrots 2 medium
Carrots 1/2 inch pieces 2 medium
French beans 1/2 inch pieces 15
Cauliflower 10-12 florets
Green peas shelled 1 cup
Salt to taste
Green cardamons 8
Black cardamom 1
Cinnamon 1/2 inch stick
Bay leaf 1
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger-garlic paste 1 1/2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
Yogurt 1/2 cup
Rose water 1/2 teaspoon
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
Fresh tomato puree 1 cup
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh coriander leaves chopped 2 tablespoons
Fresh mint leaves chopped 2 tablespoons
Boil rice in four cups of salted boiling water with two green cardamoms, one black cardamom, five cloves, half inch stick of cinnamon, until three-fourth done. Drain excess water and set aside. Heat a non-stick pan. Add the remaining green cardamoms, cloves, black cardamom and cinnamon along with bay leaf and caraway seeds and roast. Add onions, carrot, French beans, cauliflower florets and green peas. Step 2
Sprinkle salt, cover and cook on medium heat for two minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste mixed with a little water and stir. Cover and cook for two minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder and cook.Whisk yogurt with rose water and saffron. Add a little water or milk and whisk well. Add tomato puree to the vegetables along with half teaspoon garam masala powder and mix well. Simmer for two minutes. Take a microwave safe deep bowl. Step 3
Arrange a layer of rice at the bottom. Over that arrange half the cooked vegetables followed by another layer of rice. Sprinkle half of the remaining garam masala powder, half the coriander leaves, half the mint leaves and half the yogurt mixture. Arrange the remaining vegetables followed by the remaining rice.Sprinkle the remaining garam masala powder, remaining coriander leaves, remaining mint leaves and the remaining yogurt mixture. Cover with a silicon lid and cook in the microwave oven for four to five minutes on HIGH (100%). Let it stand for five minutes. Serve hot.
TO GRIND :
GINGER 1 INCH
GREEN CHILLI 2 NO
MINT LEAVES FEW
FENNEL SEEDS 1/2 TSP
TOMATO(optional) 1 SMALL SIZE
VEGETABLES U NEED
CARROT 1 NO
BEANS 100 GMS
GREEN PEAS(FROZEN) 1 FISTFUL
CAULIFLOWER 5-6 FLORETS
CAPSICUM 1/2 NO
AND FINALLY BASMATI RICE 1 CUP.
Wash and soak the basmati rice in 1and 1/2 cups of water for 20 mins.
Grind the ingredients in the table no.1 into a fine paste. Cut the onions(optional) and capsicum into long thin slices.
In a kadai , put 2 tsp of oil and saute the capsicum till it emits a nice aroma and keep it separately Then add the cauliflower florets and saute by adding little salt till it cooks and gives a golden brown color This will take 7-10 mins. Keep this also separately.
Then again put a tsp of oil and add the thinly sliced onions to it and saute till golden brown . Now add the masala paste. Fry till the raw smell gets rid off.
Cut all the veggies, except peas ,into cubes and add it to the paste.
Let it gets nicely coated with the veggies.
Now add the rice keeping the water aside. Fry for 2 more mins. Then transfer everything to a rice cooker or a pressure cooker and add the water.
Add salt and a tsp of oil.
If using pressure cooker cook till 1 whistles and simmer it for 10 minutes . Finally add the capsicum and cauliflower.
Serve hot with onion raitha or any other raita of ur choice.
Basmati rice – 1 kg
Oil – 300 ml
Cinnamon – 2 (1-inch pieces)
Cloves – 4
Cardamom – 2
Onions – 250 gms
Ginger – 100 gms
Garlic – 100 gms
Potatoes – 200 gms
Carrots – 250 gms
Beans – 100 gms
Fresh peas – 100 gms, shelled
Tomatoes – 300 gms
Coriander leaves – ½ bunch
Mint leaves – ¼ bunch
Green chillies – 2-4, stem removed
Fresh yogurt – ½ cup
Red chilli powder – 2 heaped teaspoons
Salt – to taste
1. Wash the rice and soak for half-an-hour in 1.5 litres of water. 2. Wash all the vegetables. Slice the onions thinly. Chop the potatoes, carrots, beans and tomatoes into medium-sized pieces. Peel and grind the ginger and garlic into a fine paste. Chop the coriander and mint leaves finely.
3. Heat the oil in a wok and add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms.
4. Lower the flame to medium heat, add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the aroma rises.
6. Add all the vegetables including the tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add the green chillies, yogurt, chilli powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Allow to cook until the potatoes are tender (but not overcooked).
8. Now transfer the cooked gravy into a rice cooker or pressure cooker.
9. Add the soaked rice along with the water and add some more salt, as required. If the gravy does not have any liquid in it, you may need to add another half-a-litre of water.
10. Allow to cook until the water has evaporated and each grain of rice is cooked. In the pressure cooker, you can cook for up to 2 whistles. Take care not to overcook since each grain of the rice must be separate.
At least, that is what it looks like, like you’re growing vegetables inside a computer case. This is a TED Talk by Caleb Harper.
TED Talks won’t let me embed this TED Talk, so you will have to click on the above link.
You can grow your own tasty Isle of Wight, Spanish or Floridian tomatoes, lettuces, broccoli, and a lot more, by recreating local climate and nutritional conditions with the aid of a computer, using recipes that you can exchange for free.
I want one!!!
This YouTube video show you how you can build one. This is not for everyone, so it is a great projects for neighborhood communities!
Apparently, someone – an aide to the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – threatened to have food banks shut down if they continued to raise awareness about their activities and about food poverty in the UK. This aide has the wrong idea.
Only a few years ago, in 2011, I noticed a major discrepancy in this area. The Trussell Trust – which runs the food banks in the UK – wasn’t accomplishing even 10% of what Dutch food banks were doing.
UK food banks handed out 40,000 parcels per year.
900,000 per year were handed out by Dutch food banks.
The population of England & Wales on 27 March 2011 was 56,075,912. The population of Scotland on that day was 5,295,000.
On 1 January 2011, the population of the Netherlands was around 16,700,000 persons. That’s almost 45 million people less!
So, while British food banks were handing out 0.00065 parcel per person per year, Dutch food banks handed out 0.054 parcel per person per year. Or did my calculator trip me up badly?
Around 83 times more food parcels were being handed out in a tiny country with much greater equality and almost none of the appallingly deep poverty of the UK!
That is not the Trussell Trust’s fault.
While the number of food parcels handed out in the UK has gone up substantially since then, it still is nowhere near enough. The Trussell Trust gave emergency food to 913,138 people in the UK in 2013-2014. Presumably, that means ‘once’.
According to the Trussell Trust, 13,000,000 people in the UK live below the poverty threshold. (That’s what it also said three years ago.)
Conquering poverty would also benefit the nation’s budget, as the estimated cost of child poverty alone in the UK is £25 billion per year in terms of costs to business, the police, courts and health and education services.
Inhabitants of the Netherlands rank among the happiest people on the planet, year after year after year. Dutch children consider themselves very happy children, regardless of their socioeconomic background. The same cannot be said for British children.
At the end of 2010, UNICEF research into child inequality in 24 developed countries showed that income poverty has the greatest impact on child inequality in the UK. The UK ranks alongside countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. There is little inequality in the Netherlands, however, and the lives of children from the richest families differ little from the lives of the poorest Dutch children.
‘We must not lose sight of the importance of family income to eradicating child poverty in this country. We must ensure that no family with children has to live on an income which cannot provide the warmth, shelter and food they need.’
We need to hand out many more food parcels. There is no shame in handing out food, and none in accepting it either. The embarrassment is in not handing it out.