Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Food & Advocacy: Tony Bilson & The Intervention: Evelyln Bilson & her Christmas Pudd

There's nothing like mixing politics and food.  My Aunt Bina used to mix her Marxism with interior decoration and dressmaking.  Thanks to Cheryl and Michele for passing on this letter of protest from well-known Sydney chef, Tony Bilson, to Jenny Macklin the Minister responsible for the horrors of the Intervention.
As well, I am taking the opportunity because of the Season to pass on a recipe for Christmas Pudding.  Behind every great man is a mother and behind Tony Bilson (Bilson's)  is his mother Evelyn who makes the most wonderful Pudd.  I have Evelyn Bilson's recipe from the Good Living magazine of The Sydney Morning Herald of Nov 23-Nov29 1999.  The recipe was republished at a reader's request from Good Weekend sometime in 1995. I make Evelyn's Pudd and highly commend it. Tony is serving the Pudd on his Christmas Lunch menu at his wine bar number one.  
So first, Tony's letter; then Evelyn's wonderful Pudd. BTW, the links inserted in the text are done by me.
----- Original Message -----
From: Tony Bilson
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2010 3:19 PM
Subject: Indigenous Racial Disrimination Act and NT Intervention
Dear Minister,
I write as an extremely concerned Labor supporter of many years standing.
I have been working with the One Laptop Per Child organisation and other activities including a dinner in Parramatta to celebrate Indigenous culture at the time of Govenor Macquarie.
My time spent with the Yolngu in Arnhem Land and on the homelands has given me the highest degree of respect for the complexity and moral strength of their culture.
I am currently involved in two programs to try to promote their culture in a contemporary context.
One is with Professor Bob Holman of Columbia University NY who will be coming out to Australia to work with Yolngu poets and musicians to formulate a celebration of Alan Ginsberg's time spent with them in 1972 for the 'Ginsberg Year' next year. From this collaboration will emerge a celebration to tour here and the USA.
Secondly I am doing a small Australian cultural/trade festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh for two weeks in February featuring new music from Yolngu musicians.
At the same time I have been working with financial benefactors to provide training at the highest technological levels to allow the production and export of high quality food products from the community at Yirrkala.
My wife Amanda and I attended last night a screening of the film Our Generation, produced by Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis and were shocked by the proposals of the 'intervention' and the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.
We had previously been totally unaware of the campaign of falsehoods used to justify the intervention policy of the previous Liberal and Labor Governments and the cynical misuse of accusations of systemic pederasty to justify this inhumane and socially destructive policy. We now know these accusations were totally without foundation. A lie of Goebellian proportions.
We appeal to you in the strongest possible terms to abandon this policy and to institute a genuine dialogue with Indigenous representatives of the communities so as to guarantee theintegrity and continuity of their culture.
If you have not seen the film I ask that you do so as a matter of urgency. Here is the link :
Please Minister do not let our nation be further shamed by these proposals to treat our Indigenous peoples and cultures with what may be a final blow to their very continuity - in a word, genocide.
Yours sincerely
Tony and Amanda Bilson
Evelyn Bilson's Christmas Pudding
(serves 12)

1 and 1/2 cups suet
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond meal
4 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 and a half cups mixed fruit (raisin, sultanas, currants, figs)
1/3 cup mixed peel
1/2 cup stout
4 eggs
2 tablespoons marmalade
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 fresh tart apple, grated
4 tablespoons of rum or cognac
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted.

Rub suet into the flour and add remaining dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add stout, stir in eggs and add marmalade.  Add lemon zest, juice, and apple and finally the rum or cognac.  Let stand in a cool place overnight for the flavours to amalgamate.  Take a wet pudding cloth (use a 75cm square of unbleached calico) and wring it out.  Sprinkle liberally with the extra flour and place the pudding on top.  This helps give the pudding a better skin.  Gather corners and sides of the cloth around the pudding and pull tightly to give it a good, round shape. Tie tightly with string about 2.5cm above the top of the pudding to allow for expansion.  Steam pudding in a bowl sitting in boiling water in a large saucepan for 4 hours and then hang it in the pantry for at least 2 weeks, until Christmas.  This pudding must not touch anything. In hot weather, it is better to store it in the refrigerator. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thinking about your food: a school grows and kills its own turkeys - and the ramifications


I don't know how many schools in Australia operate like the Arthur Morgan School, in North Carolina, USA.  I found this article about growing and killing your own turkeys for Thanksgiving - and the ramifications of this decision - of great interest.

The issue of raising and killing animals, for those at Arthur Morgan School, turned into controversy, discussion, in-school politicisation and became "a rich experiential tool"  to teach children about ethics, economics, health, and the environment.

What I took from my reading of the article was how deeply the students and school community thought about their food - and the violence that is attached to eating animals for their meat.

I know there are people in Australia working in schools to turn attention towards food - not least of whom is Stephanie Alexander through her Kitchen Garden Foundation.  I don't know whether there is in-school experience of raising animals for food except for the sort of program similar to Ironbark, which is part of St Peter's Lutheran College. My daughter had a wonderful term at Ironbark when she was at St Peter's. 

Do Tucker Lovers know of Australian schools where this is happening?  

If animals are being raised, what occurs in regard to slaughtering the animals for food?  How is this handled?  Is there the same level of discussion about killing and violent death as has occurred within the Arthur Morgan School community?

As someone who wants people to think more about 
  • what they eat
  • where it comes from
  • how it is produced
  • how it comes to store and table, and 
  • the ethics involved in all of this 
I would be interested to hear of the experiences of others.  Just drop me a line at misseaglesnetwork(at)gmail(dot)com.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The coal miners of Pike River, NZ and their families are in my thoughts

Mine says:

Thinking and praying for those below the ground and those above. 

Peace be to you and may your men come home to where they belong


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

OSAMA - Inspired by a true story, this film which centres on three generations of women, deeply affected by the advent of the Taliban's rule in their land. "Osama," is a Golden Globe award winning film. It was the first feature film to be made in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Some review comments: “a powerful film”…. “ offers valuable insights into a foreign culture that few of us have more than a cursory knowledge about” …. “great films like Osama, thoughtfully considered, give us the ability to withhold blanket judgments and come that much closer to the truth” · Note: The film is rated M. It is not suitable for children under 15 years of age.
· John Tresidder is TEAR’s Pakistan coordinator. He will have been back from Pakistan from less than one week. He will give an up-to-date description of the post-flood situation in Pakistan, how TEAR is involved in the re-development of communities and how future funds will be spent. · Pakistan Christian Fellowship has kindly offered to supply supper for the evening, so there will be plenty of tasty snacks to enjoy during the evening. · Suggested donation: $15 (all funds go to TEARs Pakistan and North India Flood Appeal)

ETAG (Eastern TEAR Action Group) are organising the night
Blackburn South.

Because this is being held at a private address, 
Miss Eagle is not including this in the post. 
If you are keen to come and need more information,
 please email misseaglesnetwork(at)gmail(dot)com
Saturday 20 November, 7:30pm – 10pm
“In the past I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this”
(UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon).
In the worst flooding in 80 years, up to 2.6 million people in Pakistan have been made homeless. The waters have swept through 124 districts and have led to the widespread loss of houses, crops and livestock, as well as civil infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and irrigation systems and schools. While the world’s media has largely moved on from the situation in Pakistan, the reality of re-building from one of the worst natural disasters in history continue for millions of people. This night will help raise much needed funds as well as provide an opportunity to hear an on-ground account of the current situation.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Fair Trade is getting fairer: Tim Tams are moving it ahead.

Arnott’s ensure Tim Tams are free from child labour October 29, 2010 
Josette Dunn 

World Vision Australia today welcomed Arnott’s announcement that it will source ethical cocoa that has not been made with the use of child labour for all of its chocolate-based products, including the iconic Tim Tam biscuit.

In response to a public campaign by World Vision earlier this year, Arnott’s said on 30 March that it was “committed to playing its part by sourcing sustainable cocoa that avoids the use of child trafficking and unacceptable forms of child labour” by the “end September 2010″.

World Vision’s CEO Tim Costello met with Arnott’s last night and said he was pleased to hear the company had now committed to ensure its cocoa supply chains were free from child labour.

Arnott’s sources 24 percent of its cocoa from Ghana in West Africa where there is widespread use of child labour in the cocoa industry. As CEO of World Vision I have visited the cocoa fields in West Africa where kids use dangerous machetes and pesticides, work long hours and often don’t go to school, he said. World Vision understands that Arnott’s has signed an agreement to source its West African cocoa until 2012 through Fairtrade’s independent certification scheme. We are very pleased with Arnott’s commitment to source ethical cocoa. The lack of a fair and stable price for cocoa farmers is a root cause of the exploitative labour problem. Farmers typically receive only a very small proportion of the final retail price for their cocoa, which means they are forced to produce it below the fair cost of production. It’s these conditions that often lead farmers to use child labour. By sourcing its cocoa through the Fairtrade certification system, Arnott’s is helping farmers get a fair price for their cocoa. It will also protect Arnott’s supply chain from exploitative labour practices.

The US Department of State’s June 2010 Trafficking in Persons report said a majority of modern slaves were in agriculture and mining and that forced labour was prevalent in many products including chocolate.

The report also said reputable companies could profit from abuse when they did not protect their supply chain from modern slavery. World Vision Australia’s Don’t Trade Lives campaign is calling on the global chocolate industry to guarantee farmers a fair price for their cocoa and to eliminate all exploited labour from cocoa production by 2018. “If you want to enjoy your chocolate guilt-free, join World Vision’s Don’t Trade Lives campaign or contact chocolate manufacturers and ask them to commit to buying cocoa that is independently and ethically certified,” Mr Costello said.

Cadbury and Green and Black’s recently agreed to clean up their cocoa supply chains. The Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate block is now Fairtrade certified and 90 percent of Green and Blacks product's will be Fairtrade certified by the end of 2010.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Alice Waters and Australian women foodies - ancient and modern

I have just come across here a marvellous article by Tom Philpott acknowledging women's role in the sustainable food movement.  He mentions Alice Waters, she of great fame and pictured above, along with other influential women.

This set me to thinking of great female Australian foodies and I offer up a small but not all selection.  Tucker Lovers may forward their own contributions and favourites. Perhaps not all are as politically astute and culturally sensitive as Alice and the younger ones are yet to fully develop for us to assess their mark on the nation's culinary tastes and knowledge.  But here goes....

The first is the woman to whom this blog is dedicated, Amy Schauer.  One can find references to and recipes from Miss Schauer in this blog here.  And then there is a wonderful mixture ...

From top left clockwise:

The one who is impacting me most at this point in time is Poh. Poh is a multi-talented bright spark.  What really endears her to me is her love (and that of her aunties) for Nonya food.  I have found Nonya food little known among Australians.  However, long ago in the last part of the 20th century, I was living in the Northern Territory.  A couple of times a year, I used to go to Darwin and the place I stayed at on Daly Street had a restaurant named Victoria's (is it still there??) which specialised in Nonya food.  I loved it. Clay pots, spicy, different.  The meals at Victoria's were the highlight of the trip and live long in the memory - and Poh helps me to relive the memory of that food.


The New Mrs. Lee's Cookbook: Nonya Cuisine

Nonya Favourites (Periplus Mini Cookbook)

The Schauer Australian Cookery Book

Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion
The Cook's Companion: The Complete Book of Ingredients and Recipes for the Australian Kitchen 
Kitchen Garden Cooking for Kids 
The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 
Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food & Cookery: The Complete Kitchen Companion from A to Z 
 Maggie's Harvest 
Maggie's Table 
Simple Chinese Cooking 
My China: A Feast for All the Senses 
Kylie Kwong: Recipes and Stories