Friday, July 21, 2023

If It Must Be

 If we must have summer, then I want more summers like this July has been! We had our heatwave earlier in the season. By that I mean an Irish heatwave, which is quite mild (even if too hot for me) and would feel quite cool for millions of people right about now. I am no fan of bright sunny days and hot temperatures, but I am mindful of the fact that so many are suffering in dreadfully hot conditions right now. We don't get that kind of thing for which I am eternally grateful.

What we do get is rain. It has been pretty rainy for the month of July. There were a few mornings that felt like the edge of autumnal, at least for a few hours. I sat in the conservatory, sipped tea, and just enjoyed it. Today has been a rainy day--the kind I love. Rain, rain, more rain, and then it rained some more, sometimes heavy showers. You can't see the rain very well in this picture, but it was lashing down at the time--it's just visible in the top left and bottom right corners. 

More rain is expected through tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night--yay! The downside is the increased levels of various sorts of fungal spores. As usual at this time of year, I have a scratchy throat with an occasional tickle which makes me cough, fatigue, and other issues as a result. But here we are, in what seems like the blink of an eye, staring down the end of July. 

It's cool enough that people have their fires burning--they do love their open fires here and stores sell various sorts of fuel year-round. Whatever the neighbourhood fire is being fueled by tonight, it smells gross.

Whatever the weather in your part of the world, I hope July has been a good one for you and if it's roasting, I hope it cools off soon!

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Lost Supper By Taras Grescoe

 The Lost Supper: Searching for the Future of Food in the Flavors of the Past
by Taras Grescoe
Published by Greystone Books in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute 19 September 2023
ISBN 9781771647632
In The Lost Supper, Taras Grescoe takes us on a journey as he describes his attempts to 'deindustrialize' his diet and to make the case that the world can benefit from traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). To do this, he takes a deep dive into foods of the past, travelling around the world to educate himself about what people ate in the past and what remains of that food today. He speaks to archaeologists, growers, chefs, and those who harvest various kinds of food. It's a fascinating and highly readable book. It's no secret that industrial food and the standard diet of most people in wealthy nations in not healthy for people or the environment, but the facts as he lays them out are still startling. For example, in his Prologue, he says that 9 out of 10 gallons of milk in the US 'now comes from freakishly productive Holstein-Friesian cows, all of which are descended from only two bulls.' He also makes the point that our diets are far more limited now than they were in the past. 'At a single 23,000-year-old site in Africa's Rift Valley, archaeologists have found evidence that Paleolithic foragers feasted on 20 small and large animals, 16 families of birds, and 140 different kinds of fruit, nuts, seeds, and legumes, a diet drawn from wetland, savannah, woodland, and desert food webs' (also from the Prologue--there were no page numbers in my copy). Obviously, the human diet is far less varied today. Grescoe is not making the argument that agriculture is bad, nor is he saying the 'paleo diet' fad is good. Industrial agriculture as it is currently practiced is problematic and the Paleo diet has nothing to do with the reality of what Paleolithic populations ate. Rather, he is making the case that we need to expand our options and take lessons from what and how people ate in the past for our own health and that of the environment in which we live. What he found in his travels, though, was a mixed bag--sometimes the stories were hopeful, but sometimes they were not.

He went to Mexico City to discover and taste some bugs that used to be a staple food, but now, due to development, the bugs are hard to come by and very expensive to buy, thus putting them out of reach for those without the money to spend on such delicacies. When he visited his hometown on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, he talked to the indigenous population who have been denied access to their own Native foods for centuries. One man dubbed this 'food warfare' which is a good way to put it. Without traditional Native foods, people became reliant on empty calories, white flour, sugar, etc and health deteriorated. This is a common situation worldwide. On the more hopeful side, he visited some cheese makers in the UK who were building a successful business making cheese that is good for people, the cows, and the land. These are just a few examples the author focuses on--there are many more, each one quite fascinating.

I loved this book. Not only did I learn about foods I'd never heard of, but also about the locations where these foods thrived--the geography, environments, cultures, and prehistories/histories. I think these things are worth knowing, even if only for the ideas they can bring and the lessons we can apply to our lives today. I do not think that even the successful enterprises he visited will be a solution to current and future food problems. There are too many people on the planet and as these food entrepreneurs pointed out, high quality food is more expensive. Many people cannot afford it and many of those that can, don't want to pay more. We cannot recreate the past, but we can learn from it. 

This is a fine book that is definitely worth reading if you're in any way interested in food, food culture, history/prehistory, cultures in general, and food history.

I receieved a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I thank them, the publisher, and the author.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023


 Last night, I finished a pair of socks. Today, I have happy feet. Love, love, love! 

Yarn is King Cole Zig Zag sock yarn in the colourway Butterfly. It's 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. A skein is 100 grams/460 yards/420 metres. Created with a size E/3.5mm bamboo crochet hook. Crochet design is my own. There is an afterthought heel, which means that when that wears out, I can cut it off and make a new one, thus extending the life of the socks. My socks always wear out on the bottom of my foot at the heel end, so this is good. 

They're extremely comfortable, fit my feet perfectly, and I love the bold colours which make me smile every time I look at them. And I have a fair bit of the yarn left, so I will be able to use it in a future scrappy project. At least some of it will be used on my triangle pin loom--I am really looking forward to seeing how it weaves up on that.