Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Bamboo and rabbits. Just don't.

Like 99% of the human population, I like to think I'm reasonably intelligent with a good head for common sense. But that obviously doesn't mean I live in a world of denial where everything I do is brilliant or has some higher purpose which is not immediately explainable. 

Case in point - bamboo.
not a panda in sight
It would appear to be common sense that you do not plant bamboo in your garden unless you're a fan of hard work or just really, really stupid. Just like you wouldn't put 6 pairs of rabbits in your backyard and check on them every 12 months. 

Black bamboo is strikingly beautiful, and while it doesn't spread like a weed, it does multiply over time if you don't keep control of it by knocking down new growth.

We didn't, and the price we paid was 2 days hard labour in 35 degree, 75%+ humidity, tropical heat. If we didn't have a chain saw, the use of a mini-excavator, and the help of 4 other lovely humans, it would have most likely taken about 3 months. Even so, I didn't enjoy it.

Lesson learned. 

Edit:

See comment from Passthecream and his photo below. Apparently I'm not alone when it comes to masochistic gardening.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Journalists vs my people...which one is leading the other?

Beyond my comfortable and fortunate bubble, the world can be a harsh, cruel place. I can rant and curse at those I despise, safe in the knowledge that I am unlikely to be harmed physically or by way of sanction. Australia has been referred to in the past as “the lucky country” and I certainly consider myself to be extremely lucky. While I have a healthy contempt for our politicians and law makers, life is many times more peaceful and free here than it is elsewhere.

So I guess that is part of the reason why our news content is the way it is – overwhelmingly focused on our own problems, when much larger and more devastating things are happening just beyond our shores.

The hostage situation in Sydney this week was a test of our journalists’ ethics, morals and talent. I am fairly certain, that as a whole, they failed on all counts. Clambering over each other to declare a terrorist attack in our largest city, it was almost as if some were disappointed that it was not the dreaded ISIL, but merely one deranged lunatic with severe mental problems.

Rupert Murdoch, aka Mr Burns, aka the scumbag oxygen thief, couldn't have said it any better:


Some of the news briefs during the ‘siege’ were so embarrassing; I was deeply ashamed and had to turn them off. The reporters seemed to be quite proud of the fact that the incident was receiving coverage overseas, particularly the US. It was like a little kid showing off his dead hamster to his big brother and being not-so-secretly chuffed at his sibling’s apparent concern. It was sickening.

Who gives a shit whether President Obama has been briefed on the incident? Why does that matter? Are we that desperate for attention and to be liked that we have sunk this low?

I don't really want to answer that last question because it is too depressing.

The situation in Sydney is certainly a tragic one for those that were involved, directly or indirectly - they should be afforded the time and platform to grieve and mourn as they see fit. My concern is for the wider community, who if you believe that the press reflects their interests in terms of priority, are not that bothered by the 141 people that were murdered in Pakistan. That most of them were children shouldn't matter.

Perhaps it is too cynical of me to think that, in our major newspapers' conference rooms, it’s a case of:

two white,fair haired Australians vs 141 brown Pakistanis

Mmm, which one is going to sell more papers? It may be an easy decision for Rupert to make, but I personally find our mainstream websites to be a sad indictment on journalism, and perhaps, us as a nation.
Worthy of interest
I certainly hope we are better than that. I very much hope that we are not so wrapped up in our fortunate world that we discard reports of atrocities as less newsworthy than whether a celebrity President was once mistaken for a waiter.  

Think what you will of Brad Pitt, but he summed it up quite well the other day, even though he was speaking of a completely different news story:

We shouldn't be participating and these sites that are disseminating them should stop. They won’t. And we should stop reading them. We won’t. It’s more of an indictment on us, I think.”

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Health Star Ratings - 100 different flavours of stupid

Unfortunately I have been motivated to have one last crack at the Government's latest IQ tester website. It now allows you to enter in some selected nutritional data into their IQ calculator and, as far as I can ascertain, the more stars = lower IQ if you actually eat them.

Some easy targets:


It is hardly surprising that bacon and butter score so low. Looking into it a bit further, if you enter in the standard data for a chook egg, you get a whopping 4 stars (hooray for real food!). 

data used for the egg rating

That is all well and good until you look at what else is considered worthy of 4 stars



data used for Uncle Toby's cereal
So there you have it. Eating sugary breakfast cereal really is as healthy as eating a chicken egg. What a relief for Uncle Toby and for everyone without a brain. 

But you can really fuck around with the numbers and see what happens if you dump 49g of sugar in a bowl, mix in 30g of protein powder, 15g of fibre (pysllium husks?) and then you get the ultimate health food.


OK, I don't actually know if you can put that mix together and get only 900 kilojoules, but the point is that anything with 49 grams of sugar in it, should automatically get zero stars. 

From what I can gather, you get bonus points for more fibre and protein and that counteracts the amount of sugar and fat. Not surprisingly, you get more penalty points for fat grams than you do sugar.

That they don't require you to enter in total carbohydrates or omega 6 polyunsaturated fats is a sadly predictable omission.  

The health star rating system was always going to be 100 different flavours of stupid, but I suppose it is nice that they've made it so obviously ridiculous that no one will pay any attention to it.

Hope springs eternal. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Dietitians in a douche riot

Just a quick one, because this is clearly not worth the time and effort of anyone who doesn't have a brain bloated with glucose.

The Association of UK Dietitians has given the paleo diet both barrels in their list of diets to avoid - listing it at number two, just behind the 'drink your piss' diet. 

It's probably not fair to point out the physical appearance of someone without knowing their background, but if you're the spokesperson for an authority who advises the general public on how to be healthy, I'm not sure your message will be that convincing if you look like this:


Sian Porter could be in peak health, but it doesn't look like it. I could be wrong. I guess it doesn't matter.

Anyway, the Dietitians Association of Australia has come out in support with typically illogical comments that make little sense to those not reading online news between hits of the crack pipe.

Damn you, stupid lazy people! We have a plan for you and you're not following directions! 

Never mind that the plan doesn't work, never has, but they keep ramming it into our faces with a tireless monotony that speaks of an obtuseness so magnificent to be truly breathtaking.

If I taught kids how to swim and year after year my students either drowned or failed to grasp the concept of keeping afloat, I'm pretty sure I'd eventually get the hint that perhaps my methods were faulty and try something different.

That's enough stupidity for today. The last word goes to Pete Evans:

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I have a thing for unattractive pigs

When surveying the meat section at supermarkets these days, there is an awful lot of lean meat on display. Even ignoring the “heart smart” branded nonsense, traditionally fatty cuts appear to be trimmed of external fat in what I can only assume to be an attempt at making it more attractive to prospective consumers.

Which is why it was a pleasant surprise when something like this is so unattractive to the average punter, that it is put in the discount section:
gorgeous pig
Don’t ask me why they cut the skin off – perhaps to sell it separately and make more money. Nonetheless, the fat crisped up nicely under a hot grill and the thick vein of lard running through the chops allowed the meat to cook without drying out. Pig fat is magic stuff.
crispy delicious pig
We added some sauerkraut because the Germans are undoubtedly switched on when it comes to matching side dishes with pig.
 
not pig, but delicious all the same
And that was dinner. A few beans, basmati rice for the kids and no complaints.

Speaking of pig skin, and therefore the conversion of it to crackling (scratchings/rind), I get quite a bit of practice cooking it and have found one particular strategy quite effective. I understand that anyone who likes pork will have their own tried and true method, but if that method doesn't involve coating the skin in a fairly thick layer of salt, and then letting it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, making it appear like it is sweating profusely, then you may want to give it a go. Brush the salt off, pat the skin down with paper towel, and reapply a light coating of salt before cooking. 
sweaty pig

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Humour is irrelevant in a world of terror

Context is vital and humour is extremely subjective. That might sound so obvious as to not warrant further discussion, but I'm bored and a bit light-on for things to write, so I'm going to discuss it with myself anyway.

A case in point - this is a complete email conversation from a few months ago between me and two work colleagues:
This brief email exchange made me laugh. A lot.  But my childish sense of humour aside - in terms of context, anyone  who had not been privy to the conversation that preceded the email exchange would probably have thought we’re all:
  • Crackers
  • Bigots
  • Up to no good  
  • All of the above
And that may well be true, but Ron had recently returned from Germany - where he had taken a tour of a restored concentration camp. Having grown up on a cattle farm, the way the Nazis had designed the camp reminded him of a cattle slaughter yard in terms of operational efficiency. 

He didn't infer any humour in the comparison whatsoever, it was just an observation that struck him at the time of the tour. Ron is a man that can talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles, so the conversation he had to explain his rationale was lengthy, overly detailed and totally serious.

If I didn't know any better I'd suggest he was borderline autistic, but I think it's just a redneck farm boy thing. He's a lovely man when he's not boring me to tears.

I related Ron's story to Andrew and, given his dry sense of humour and hobby of messing with Ron’s head, that is what instigated the reply.

I’m aware that explaining a joke is almost always pointless, but it was the context thing that had me thinking about what would happen if our beloved national security authorities decided to do a random (or not-so-random) review of our emails on that day.

Humour is subjective at the best of times, but it is irrelevant to an authority hell bent on operating within the realm of ‘rules are rules and humour has no place in a world full of terrorists'.

That was what made me stop laughing.

Given that our laws are being changed quickly and without public debate, my deep-seated paranoia is growing more realistic by the day.

"Police will have greater powers to curb the movements of terrorism suspects without charge and overseas spies will more easily share intelligence with the military under new national security legislation."

Now for something actually funny to normal people:
More Modern World by Tom Tomorrow here




Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Evolving in the wrong direction with vegan cheese.

Call me out of touch or just plain ignorant, but I’d never heard of vegan cheese before a few days ago. I’m vaguely familiar with fake bacon and other meat abominations, but I don’t usually spend time thinking about what the plant people eat, so it hadn't occurred to me that they might also have a substitute for cows’ most precious gift to human-kind. Besides beef, of course. And butter. And milk. And big brown eyes and the calming tone of their song.
 
Beautiful and delicious in almost every way possible.
I learned that typing ‘vegan cheese’ in to an internet search engine is comparable to watching an episode of Big Brother, or any other reality TV show for that matter. It figuratively blows your mind and has you wondering how humans have survived as a species if this is the result of billions of years of evolution.

I’m of the belief that having a nutritious and very tasty natural food product at your disposal and then substituting it with something that is neither is incomprehensible. As far as my care factor will allow me to ascertain, the process of making vegan cheese is as time consuming and pointless as putting your socks in a bucket, marinating them with 10 random ingredients for a couple of days and then slow roasting for 4 hours, basting them with the marinade every 20 minutes. The result is something you can put in your mouth and swallow, but it would make so much more sense if you just ate animal products instead.

No, I’ve never eaten vegan cheese, but I also don’t need to eat tofu burgers to know it would be a waste of time. Because beef.

I’m on board with eliminating the suffering of animals – but given the effort that people go to in manufacturing or sourcing these ridiculously poor excuses for food – surely that effort would be more wisely utilised in buying a cow, treating her well, asking her permission before you fondle her boobs, and then trading her grass and board for the delicious raw milk.

Everyone’s happy with that deal. No?

Look, I use artificial sweetener every now and then, but I’m under no illusions as to how shitty it makes food taste.  The low carb protein bars full of sugar alcohols are just wrong, in my opinion. I’m guilty of trying a few, but it was immediately obvious that they tasted awful and had no business being in my mouth. I’m also pretty sure that incorporating them into your regular diet would have your jaw muscles and taste buds on par with that of a porn industry fluffer. Both are tough on the mandible and leave a nasty taste in your mouth.

I quickly ceased these futile practices (protein bars, I've had no experience with the other). I learned from my mistakes. I adapted and ‘evolved’, to use the term incorrectly. I did not continue to put those things in my mouth and then attempt to convince the voices in my head that what they were not some disgusting tasting, artificial and immoral gunk – but in fact a healthy, nutritious and delightful indulgence. Sorry, but the voices in my head cannot be bullshitted so easily.

If I want to eat something that tastes good and happens to be sweet, I eat nicely prepared food with sugar in it. It doesn't happen often these days, but it happens. If I want to eat pizza every few months, I make it myself and eat it. That might sound like common sense, but there are some human beings who make it their quest to complicate matters for the sake of absolute nonsense.

Mmmmm...grated stuff that looks like rubber.
I can see a certain amount of sense in substituting ingredients with something of nutritional value, e.g. cauliflower pizza bases, almond flour in cakes etc. but tofu? I don’t even know what that is or why it is supposedly fit for human consumption.

I ate it a few times in mapo tofu, but it never made any sense to me. The dish is mainly fatty pork mince and someone has decided to infiltrate that deliciousness with some white, slimy shit. I don't get it and can only assume it is another silly white man joke like chopsticks.


Apparently that was not a rhetorical question
The online advertisements and blog posts about the wonders of vegan cheese are so transparent to be laughable. They will have you believe that their mutant cheese substitute is so delicious that you’ll never crave the wonders of real cheese again.  

I agree, life is too short. But not so short that you don't have time to stop, think and realise that what you're wasting your time eating is an affront to your self respect and human decency in general.

Stop it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Paleo and the Devil you know

Demons, devils…whatever. 

It seems the club doctor of the Melbourne Demons, Dr Zeeshan Arain has had an influence on their nutritional plan and is implementing, what the press are calling, a 'paleo' approach. 

The Demons are probably the worst performing club over the last 5-10 years, so maybe it was desperation that led them to try this. Whatever it was, it'll be interesting to see how they go. 
Neil Mitchell is an idiot, so that should be fun.
Australian rules football is our number one sport by a fair margin. In terms of attendance at sporting events, nothing really comes close. Except maybe horse racing but that's just too sad to talk about. 

While the players might have a reputation of being tough and strong (they are), these days the elite are more comparable with middle distance runners than rugby players. Mid-field position players can run anywhere between 12-20 kilometres (7-12 miles) in a game that lasts roughly 2 hours. All while tackling, kicking and punching (the ball, mostly).
 
Pretty? No. Hard as nails? Yes. 
So, it is hardly surprising that a diet that relies on fat for fuel is becoming popular. They might call it paleo, but I suspect it is more LCHF. The name ‘paleo’ is easier for the journos and great unwashed to identify and there’s no way they’d call it Atkins, because everyone knows that would give them all heart disease.

“The Dees are allowed to eat rice and milk, but otherwise avoid processed foods and carbohydrates.

A clue there, as I'm pretty sure milk and rice are paleo no-nos. 


It was introduced to Melbourne by club doctor Zeeshan Arain and its benefits sold to the players by renowned South African sports and nutrition professor Tim Noakes.

So, while it's a pity that all low carb diets appear to be branded as 'paleo', at least the high fat message is filtering through mainstream. Like it or not, these blokes are role models for young and old, so hopefully what they do, catches on.

“It’s individual, but a lot of them have said: ‘I’m not going back, I feel great on it, I’m sleeping well, I’m recovering really well and I’m performing well at training’.”
The Demon has the ball. Probably because the Hawks appear to be dancing.

Edit, it seems not all journos are so lazy to ignore the term "LCHF" altogether - http://www.afl.com.au/news/2014-11-24/dees-turn-to-fat-for-fitness

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

That Sugar Film

Nutrition propaganda films can be pretty shitty sometimes. I liked Cereal Killers, didn't like Carb Loaded. Fat Head was OK and I didn't watch Super Size Me because I'm not in to self-harm.

I'm aware that there's every chance That Sugar Film will be nothing but a tame experiment in futility, but it looks promising, going by the advert. Damon Gameau can act, at least, which is a good start. Stephen Fry seems to be on board, so all the better. Not that he's any authority on health, but popularity will spread the word. Taubes is compulsory, of course - I wonder if he'll smile in this one.

Of course there will be the usual (very long) line of total smart arses who will proclaim this is nothing new, that they knew sugar was bad for them already and that nutrition is easy - everything in moderation and maintain a calorie deficit (your body likes starvation). Sugar really isn't that bad as long as you wrap it in kale or sprinkle it on with a blend of chia seeds.

And of course I will be imagining my fist flattening their nose, because that is clearly bullshit and I hate their stupid, smug tossbag fuckwittery.

Frustrated and spiteful rage aside, I'm optimistic the venture will be worthwhile - I just hope it isn't too easy on the nutritional authorities that think the foods he ate are all part of a 'balanced diet' - whatever the hell that means. 

The Heart Foundation are quite open about their belief in the innocuous nature of sugar, so they deserve a high profile kick in the pants. Fingers crossed, they get it. 

Due out early next year. Looking forward to it.







THE EXPERIMENT:

Damon only eats the perceived 'healthy' foods that are in fact laden with hidden sugars like low fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices and cereals.

THE EXPERIMENT:

Damon only eats the perceived 'healthy' foods that are in fact laden with hidden sugars like low fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices and cereals.

THE EXPERIMENT:

Damon only eats the perceived 'healthy' foods that are in fact laden with hidden sugars like low fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices and cereals.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Catalyst and Demasi... shit-stirring again.

It’s with a considerable, but obviously misplaced, sense of pride that I watched last night’s Catalyst episode featuring Dr Maryanne Demasi – the crew that had the Heart Foundation spitting chips last year about the endangerment of pharmaceutical companies’ profits.

While the episodes from 12 months ago were about saturated fat and statins – episodes so dangerous to public health that they had to be taken down from the website - this time she’s suggested that basing 60%+ of your calories on a macronutrient that ultimately ends up as sugar in your blood stream – is perhaps as stupid as it sounds.

Considering they have to pack in as much as possible in half an hour, they did a pretty good job, and not mentioning Mr Keys once was a refreshing change. I had the opportunity to watch Cereal Killers recently and the Catalyst episode seems to be a kind of "Cereal Killers 1 and a half", with Tim Noakes and Steve Phinney featuring prominently and the proper sequel due out early next year. 

You can bet your boots that nutritionists and the Heart Foundation will be fielding all sorts of inane journo questions in the coming days. It would not surprise me in the slightest if they organise enough complaints and pressure to get the video pulled – so if you’re interested in seeing it, you won’t want to dawdle.

Of interest to weird people like me who watch cricket, was the presence of Shane Watson, a player who has historically had that ‘pudgy’ look about him, despite being a professional athlete. Cricket isn't exactly comparable with football or triathlons, but the level of training would still be significant. His experience with LCHF is something the doubters should find hard to ignore, but I'm sure they will anyway. Doubters gotta doubt.

The Australian team also has a committed vegan in their ranks, so the banter at lunch might have initially been interesting.  

Anyway, the last 12 months has seen a slowly growing chorus of dissenting voices in the world of nutrition. Pressure on the authorities and having people questioning the all-conquering guidelines is something I hope continues. They've had it way too easy for way too long.

A lot more shit stirring is what is called for. Bring it on.
Demasi playing the role of temptress
I downloaded the episode before it was taken down, but unfortunately it is too big for blogger, so thanks to Eddie and Ash Simmonds for the video of the full episode on YouTube:


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Uncle Toby wants to give you lollies and free hugs

I had forgotten about the health star ratings thing. It seems the madness has commenced and, not surprisingly, total nutritional idiocy is ensuing.
25% sugar is obviously great nutrition
Although the scheme is voluntary, Uncle Tobys appears to be leading the charge – “All UNCLE TOBYS cereals are a source of fibre and wholegrain, and are Heart Foundation Tick Approved

I know the list of Heart Foundation Tick approved foods are generally hilarious as long as you don't eat any of them, but the star rating appears to be competing for the same laughs. 

They are quite proud of the 4 stars for items such as their Plus cereal range that includes beauties such as:

Plus Sports -  only 70% carbohydrate and 23.9% sugar. I can only assume they call it “sports” because you need that much sugar to play sport. Der, where else are you going to get energy from? The sun?

Plus Protein -  which, funnily enough, is actually 23.8% sugar. With only 13.5% protein, I guess they couldn't call it “Plus Sugar”. The ingredients are interesting – I don’t know what defatted soy flour is, but it’s not something I’ll be ingesting any time soon.
 
Plus Sugar. 
Honey Cheerios get 3.5 stars -  0.7% saturated fat is obviously pretty awesome. Pity about the 19.9% sugar.

I had no idea Uncle Toby was such a funny fucker:

“Many people mistakenly believe breakfast cereals are a big source of sugar.” 

I feel so foolish, for believing this. Thank you Uncle Toby.

Nor did I know: “Low sugar cereals are not always a healthy choice. Some are also low in other nutrients too meaning you’re just getting ‘empty’ kilojoules.

Or “Buying a nutritious, wholegrain cereal that has been lightly sweetened may = same sugar content as a plainer cereal with add-ins at home.”

And “Research shows kids who eat a pre-sweetened cereal still get essential nutrients + nutritious carbs + fibre and do not clock up more total sugar, saturated fat, sodium or kilojoules in their overall eating plan.

Thank baby Jesus for that.

The hilariousness is on every page of the website, so if  you are feeling a bit blue, I recommend you take a look and let the laughs flow.

Despite his jolly demeanour, don’t let Uncle Toby get you alone, in the kitchen, vulnerable. You’ll feel dirty and used and your internal organs may be scarred for life.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

You can never have too many friends

It’s one of those sayings that sounds cool and true enough, until you start thinking about the psychotic arseholes from years gone by that you wish you’d never had the misfortune of having to associate with.

It does work out OK, though, when one of your friends happens to import hand-made knives from Japan. 
He let me have these beauties for ‘mates rates’

Made by Honmamon from blue paper (Aogami) steel – it only took me a couple of uses to cut myself on the insanely sharp blade. 

I am just a silly white man, after all, and as such it pays to have friends such as this one. Apart from being a nice bloke, he enlightens me on matters both useful and fascinating and sometimes supposedly top secret. 

For example, he says that chopsticks are an inside joke on white people. My attempts at eating with chopsticks range from incompetent to farcical, so the joke makes a lot of sense and he saved me the wasted time of learning a new skill based on nonsense, which is nice.

He also gave me tips on how to raise genius children – but I seldom know whether he’s being serious about these things or just playing another ‘silly white man’ joke. Either way, I won’t be chaining my daughter to her desk and berating her for failing to solve complex algebra problems at age 10, any day soon. 

Suffice to say, our conversations are almost entirely politically incorrect and could very easily be taken out of context. The context being that I play the stereotypical idiot Caucasian man and he plays the stereotypical genius Asian man.  

I'm sure this could easily be construed as racist behaviour by the ever-growing tribe of perpetually offended - but it keeps us amused, so I don't care. With a never-ending supply of stupid white people to steal material from, it is an easy and cheap source of entertainment. A bit like reality TV, but I don't need the TV and don't feel like poking my eyes out during the show. 

Anyway, the knives are brilliant – I can’t drink alcohol while cooking any more, but that's a minor inconvenience. 

How sharp are they? I don't have a silk scarf so I can't try the Kevin Costner bodyguard trick. I'm not quite silly enough to put the blade to my face and attempt to shave with it. They're sharp and they cut food very well. That is all.





Friday, 7 November 2014

Debunking the law of supply and demand

Firstly - I hate the word 'debunk'. It's an ugly sounding word, usually spoken with an arrogant inflection and quite often by particularly unpleasant people.

The origin of the word is suitably nonsensical considering I have no idea what 'bunk' is and no inclination to find out. Especially if it is anything similar to 'spunk' - the gross definition.
I am neither arrogant or unpleasant, my mum will confirm this. I therefore promise to never use the word again. Starting...now.

To the point of today's rambling - the laws of supply and demand do not always work for me because I demand a particular product and it is not supplied to me by the supplier I demanded it from. Demand exists, but there is no supply. I am fulfilling my part of the bargain, but the supplier is not. They broke the economic law of price equilibrium, I am merely an innocent bystander.

OK, I admit, I hated economics at Uni and might not have grasped the concept - but that probably had a lot to do with my lecturer being an egotistical twat, hiding in his self-built kingdom of intellectualism, only venturing out to display an extraordinary lack of personality by jogging along the esplanade with white shorts, white shoes and no shirt. 

Strange man.


In Australia we have two major grocery chains – Woolworths and Coles – from here on referred to as TD (the duopoly). I live in a remote area so these two are pretty much all I have available in terms of food stuffs – plus one or two specialty shops and butchers with ‘specialty’ prices. While I would love to eat only organic, grass-fed animals, I learned enough in economics to know that if I did, I would have to go without other items such as clothes and electricity.

It’s no secret that TD stock loads of food that is no good for human consumption – that’s obviously where the money is. The decent food they do sell, appears to be a small proportion of overall shelf space. As paranoid and conspiracy-prone that I am, there is no avoiding the conclusion that demand for the shitty products is high.

Although this is alarming on a societal level, in the spirit of selfish bastardry – I don’t ingest the crap, so I don’t really give a damn. What I do care about is when the supplier has decided that my demand is insufficient to warrant the supply of something delicious and nutritious.

A case in point - in the last few months TD have stopped stocking lard and beef dripping (tallow) – previously an infinitesimal section of the fridge, consisting of one brand of one product. The disappearance of a dietary staple, apart from being bloody annoying, presents some interesting questions on demand and supply because the decision is a nation-wide one. Granted, they have only 23-24 Million consumers to satisfy, but given that TD stock many different flavours of shitty fat, this tells me that they must sell quite a bit of it – they wouldn’t waste shelf and fridge space if they didn't.

Focussing specifically on the yellow spread section of the fridge, because that’s where the animal fat sat – I guestimate that the percentage taken up by butter and lard/dripping is/was roughly 10-20% of total shelf space - animal fat taking up approximately 1%. 
spot the real butter
Of course, when I say ‘butter’, I mean the real stuff made from cow juice, not the yellow slime and the ‘butter blends’ where they’ve decided to mix butter with canola oil or other vague 'vegetable oils' to make it easier to give you cancer. They are also easier to spread because that is apparently the only thing you do with butter - spread it on bread and/or rice crackers or possibly some 99% fat free piece of nutritionally void cardboard. 

Obviously no one has the time to take butter out of the fridge and let it soften these days. Forward planning is so inconvenient when there are social media feeds to check and ‘like’ or ‘re-twit’ icons to click on or whatever the hell you do on those things.
Magic slime that will reduce your cholesterol. Just try not to think about the cancer.
My hatred of social media aside, I have curiosity in this instance, so I sent an email to both companies, asking why their shops are now lard and dripping-free zones. Hard core and direct - that's me.

Woolies said Allowrie Lard was deleted from our range after a review of our products in this category. Demand for this product was not in line with customer expectation.”

Who knows what they define as a ‘category’, given that it was the only product in the ‘refrigerated non-butter awesome animal fat’ category. 

"Demand for this product was not in line with customer expectation" is totally confusing unless "customer expectation" somehow means "what we expected our customers to buy". 

Coles did not reply because they are probably incredibly busy deciding which product, that I demand, to stop supplying next. Economic anarchists to a tee.

Seeing as it was up to me to restore the solid foundations of the science of economics (I'm pretty sure there are many people who truly believe there are some. And that it's a 'science'), I found an online supplier willing to transport animal fat 4,000 kilometres to my door. Grass fed, organic, the whole damn box and dice. Hell, they even render fat from Wagyu cows and sheep. Sounds awesome.
fat from happy cows in a bucket
While the products aren't as cheap as blended vegetable oil or flora pro-active with chlorine-flavoured pixy sterols, I won't have to sell my first born or a kidney to buy them. 

Equilibrium is restored. At least in my house. The masses will continue to demand cheap, processed crap because eating real food is a dangerous fad and not sustainable. 

And there are no wholegrains in animal fat.

Friday, 31 October 2014

It's Anseranas semipalmata hunting season

The motivation required for me to wake up at 3:30am on a Saturday morning is considerable, so it would seem that I quite like hunting Magpie Geese. The lean, gamey meat that is your prize is hardly a gourmet delight – you either like it or you don’t. The flesh requires considerable cooking smarts to make it palatable and considering it’s the only lean meat I eat these days, I wouldn't waste my time if I didn’t enjoy eating it.

No, it definitely does not taste like chicken.

The trip to the shooting reserve takes only 45 minutes to an hour, stopping briefly at one of the few service stations on the highway for ice and a breakfast that we’ll most likely regret. The only customers you’ll see at that time of the morning are either on their way fishing or shooting, some still inebriated from the night before and quite possibly have gone without sleep altogether. Guns or boats and stupidity don't mix, but unfortunately some people don't get it. Probably because they're stupid.

Of course a boat is a giveaway as to where they are headed, as is the camouflage shirts and the quad-bikes on trailers. We have neither, just a conservative-looking 4x4 with an esky in the tray, but we’re keen to get ahead of the hunters with more money than they know what to do with, so we don’t hang around.

Arriving at what we consider to be a good spot, it is still pitch black, the mosquitoes welcoming us with a frenzied affection. The convoys of headlights tell us we’ll have plenty of company on the reserve but the distinctive orchestra of honking geese tells us there should be plenty to go around. Assuming, of course, they decide to get off their arses and fly.

sunrise over honking waters
The first sign of light reveals a beautiful landscape of long grass covered with a thin layer of mist. You might suspect it a cold, frosty morning, however if it weren't for the mozzies, we’d be wearing a lot less than the long thin pants and shirts we have on. By the time the sun peeks over the horizon, it’ll be roughly 30 degrees (86F) and 85% humidity. By the time we leave around 11am it’ll be closer to 35 (95F). Heat is unimportant when you're having fun.

The weapon of choice is a double barrel (under and over) 12 gauge shotgun. Pump actions and semi-autos were outlawed in the late 90’s, indirectly as a result of the Port Arthur massacre, so gone are the days when six or more shots could be fired in a number of seconds – a good thing for many reasons, in my opinion. 

You get two shots, with roughly 5 seconds to reload, at which point the birds will most likely be out of the 30-50 metre range of the weapon. Geese are not as dumb as they look and will often fly just beyond firing range – you may hear the pellets hitting their wings, but not with enough force to break their stride.
 
My mate gives me the 'all clear'. Or something.
Regardless of shooting prowess, luck is always required on the reserve because the birds will decide to fly or they won’t – simply sitting in a massive congregation in the middle of the water. Even if they were within range, retrieval would be impossible due to the company they keep. No goose is worth the risk of getting eaten by one of the resident crocodiles that you don't see, but logic would suggest are there. Somewhere.

Our luck is pretty good and we finish with a bag of 23 geese and one duck from four shooters - the bag limit is 10 per shooter so we are well under. The birds are either dead in the air or despatched quickly upon hitting the ground – they do not suffer and are treated with respect.

Unfortunately there are some that will only take the breast meat and perhaps the legs, but we take almost everything, including the heart and gizzard, which make for a tasty stew.

The gizzard (or giblet as we call it) is an interesting organ - a ball of muscle that the birds use to mechanically digest their food. Like other animals, they swallow small rocks and sand to assist in the process, as you can see in this photo:
giblet, sliced open
The geese are either plucked or skinned - the birds are extremely lean, so there will be little to no fat and the skin will not crisp up as well as duck or pork. I'm guessing the calories people would consider them to be very healthy, but I can't see them being sold in supermarkets any time soon given the acquired taste - a gamey flavour and meat that will be tough unless you stew it for hours or lightly grill the breast meat for a few seconds.

I know hunting is stereotypically some macho bullshit thing that can be hard to comprehend for some people, but it's a hobby that we've enjoyed since we were kids. The annual season is only 3 and a bit months long, the meat is shared among family and friends and it's an enjoyable morning out. As long as you avoid the crocs and the stupid people.

Cheers.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A born again lipophile, but not actively spreading the Good Word

Luckily for me, this doesn't get you thrown out of the church. Not that there is a Fat Church, but logic or facts aren't important when you're trying to make lazy metaphors. 

"Just read this book."

"Just watch this documentary."

Website comment sections, forums and social media are chocka-block full of similar pleading statements by well-meaning people who just want others to embrace and enjoy the nutrition that has brought them health improvements. The plant people will tell you to “just read the China Study” or “just watch Forks Over Knives”. The calories people might direct you to Super Size Me or the latest nutritional guidelines. For the low carbers, it will most likely be “read Good Calories, Bad Calories” and the paleo mob…well, I struggle keeping track of what they’re up to. I think I understand but then one of their crew will starting talking about early humans farming potatoes and then they just lose me.

All this amounts to a sea of good intentions that I wager will result in only a few drops of conversion. I guess that is OK - the Mormons that cycle around our neighbourhood certainly think so. The nutrition do-gooders may travel to dozens of websites to proclaim the benefits of their particular diet and if they can convert just one lost soul, then I suppose that may be worth the effort. The rest of the non-believers will probably look upon the missionary as a sad, ignorant fool who has been misled by a charlatan guru.

I suspect that I’ve been viewed as this ignorant fool on more than one occasion. For starters, I am not a salesperson, nor do I have an outgoing personality. Many years ago, after earning qualifications in the finance industry, I realised that my employers required me not to help people, but to sell stuff to clients that they clearly did not need. Failure at that career followed soon after.

Similarly, I am no good at selling health benefits to overweight or unhealthy people. I tried a few times early on after my conversion (my rebirth?). My intentions were pure and good – but the response was always an eerie silence and afterward observing the people weighing their nutritionally void, low calorie shit food. I sent them links to websites, to links for books that I’d read and enjoyed…nothing. Why could they not “see” my version of the truth? It was maddening.

Call me a quitter, but I eventually gave up on that too and I’m now much less worried about what people put in their mouths - my care factor as well as my anxiety about being viewed as a weirdo is fairly low these days. It saddens me that they struggle with health and seem unhappy but I also understand that when someone says “just read this book” or “just do this”– it’s about as convincing as a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on your door and asking you to read The Watch Tower. That the book you’re recommending requires them to ignore decades of nutritional dogma doesn't help.
 
I have a question. Why is Jesus white?
I suppose most people just need to find their particular solution (whatever that may be) themselves and if they want it badly enough, you hope they make an effort to find it. Say what you like about the internet age, but it means information is not hard to come by. Knowing how to look for it and discard the nonsense, is perhaps another matter.

I don’t remember exactly how I came to discover my method of self-nourishment. Always having an interest in human health, I veraciously searched for and read books with titles like “the secret to 6 pack abs” and “the Holy Grail of Body Transformation”. Not surprisingly, some provided helpful tid-bits but most were spruiking the usual rubbish about balancing calorie intake with expenditure and training hard in the gym or in the park. One of the last e-books I read in this vein was in regard to intermittent fasting, so perhaps that was a stepping stone to a diet void of processed carbohydrates.

What I eat isn't really important in this post and I imagine isn't that interesting anyway. I’m an internet nobody, I’ve never been morbidly obese (though I did a good impression of a marshmallow man in my early 20s) and I have little interest in selling or sharing my knowledge to anyone who isn't a member of my close family or friends. Which makes why I enjoy putting my thoughts down on a screen and publishing them for anyone or no-one to read is a bit hard to explain.

As a teenager I would have drowned a bag of cute kittens if it meant I could get the characteristic bicep vein that lean, muscular men had. Visible abdominal muscles were second on the wish list and, being a teenage boy, you can probably guess what body part came an extremely close third.

That it took me roughly 2 decades to discover a method of obtaining 1 & 2 (3 still eludes me, dammit) is a source of annoyance. That the method was so simple adds to the anger about being misled by people paid to tell me how to achieve ultimate health. 

I understand that quite a few of my posts can read as overly obnoxious or sarcastic and I suppose that’s where it stems from. It’s not about the biceps or the abs, it’s about being conned into punishing my internal organs for no reason other than simple incompetence or corruption. That I didn't develop type 2 diabetes over that time, I can only put down to good luck and a particularly hardy pancreas.

I’m sure the anger will subside eventually. Just not yet.
Just read this book. 
Shantaram has no nutritional advice, and quite possibly is a 'true story' based on one man's imagination, but it rates as one of my favourite books. 
 P.S. I first read the term “lipophile” on Peter’s blog in reference to those who love to eat fat, but urban dictionary tells me it is also a term used for someone who is sexually attracted to fat people. Not that there is anything wrong with the second definition, but I use the word in the first context.