What’s cooking – radioactive fish, colonial scones and jam ?

To be honest I’m almost too depressed to write anything this week. I’m back on about food.  What can I peaceably eat without turning my life into a obsessive compulsive over-analysis of all things good or bad or both at the same time for me, others, and the environment? Caffeine is bad for you. But fair trade organic coffee is good for somebody else.  Raising animals to eat is highly costly in terms of water, feed and land usage. What about fish? OK then, what if it’s sustainably farmed? Probably still bad as oceans potentially become radioactive.

But let me start at the start.  With last weekend’s camping trip to celebrate my birthday came amazing food: pancakes with mangos and blueberries (did you know that although blueberries are very high in antioxidants they are also among some of the most heavily sprayed fruits?), a saucy (sustainable?) snapper stuffed with coriander, chili and lemongrass. Some bacon (yes free range organic one) cooked to crispy perfection.  But it was the tea with scones and jam and cream at Hermannsburg that undid me. I actually find scones with jam and cream really delicious; it’s the colonial associations around them that I can’t stomach.

Anyway so then that set me off on other culinary occupants of other countries, such as French baguettes and croissants in Morocco or Cambodia. But then food can also be a tool for creating bonds between people and is often credited with bridging cultural differences. Listening to the radio the other day I heard someone describe the kitchen of Occupy Melbourne as the epicenter of the entire protest. By joining people through the common denominator of food it’s drawn in the homeless population and is seen as generally tightening the bonds of the Melbourne community.

The bigger picture stuff of food security is boggling too when there is apparently enough food in the world to feed everyone, the problem being around corporate power plays, distribution systems and the political trade systems that have divvied up the world’s food bowls. Standing in the supermarket for the first time in over a month, I had an actual physical sensation that goes beyond this rational mind stuff.  I felt that sensation of being afraid, imagining what would happen in Alice Springs and the surrounding communities, if all the shelves were one day empty.

Who will inherit this planet when people of nations like Tuvalu (that have done so little to induce climate change) have become climate change refugees and are denied refuge in countries like Australia (which has the highest carbon emissions per capita in the OECD)?  Will it be the powerful/rich who survive the upcoming scramble for resources? Or maybe this civilization will just end like many less global civilisations have ended, a mere blip on the history of the planet’s radar …

I don’t think these despair-type feelings are unreasonable in the face of ghost nets snaring marine life, deep seabed mining in the Pacific, uranium mining and dumping at every other turn. The question is what to do?  I’m not sure how to combine a desire to head for the hills, creating a place secure enough to avoid the resource scramble and the desire to work to prevent it …  And now (optimistically?) I am going to try and find a free-range organic whole chicken with a responsible ecological footprint to cook at the request of a friend for her farewell dinner.

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