Sunday Roast 28th March #weeklyfoodnews

Yes, yes, yes…I’m sorry – once again I am posting the Sunday Roast on Monday but I am just so busy guysss. I even got a pleading message from my friend asking where his Roast is: a day later, he’s probably still sat at his laptop waiting for some juicy morsels of food (news). So, here we go, I’m up at 6.30am on a Monday morning providing you with a five course six course (yes, I’m that nice) Sunday Roast.


Healthy ‘carrot cake’ porridge by Mind Body Green

I talk often about my love for Marmite/Vegemite on toast, but this week I want to share another breakfast favourite: porridge. Whenever I eat porridge, it just reminds me of camping and early morning breakfasts – taking in mouthfuls of hot, sugary oats and seeing your breath mingle with the cold, frosty air.

Our nation’s love affair with oats is not novel, but there is a growing popularity for eating porridge outside of the breakfast window. For example, the pop-up Porridge Cafe, London, served gourmet porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No longer are the days where porridge comes with just salt or sugar; you now can have mango and coconut cream, banana and peanut butter, slow-cooked beef and feta. Crazy times, people.

I thought I would add a recipe to the oat bandwagon…Being a member of a boot camp, I’m in dire need of porridge and its complex carbs, high iron and phosphorus content. Not only are we called ‘troops’, but I had to carry a woman around a field yesterday (the instructor called them our ‘victim’) and then crawl ‘bear style’ with a water-filled car tyre attached to my waist by a horrifically abrasive rope.

Despite the fact I accidentally dropped my victim, I absolutely love it. 
Getting ‘tyred’ out in South Parks, Oxford
To treat both my muscles and my post-workout cake cravings, I made myself a healthy ‘carrot cake’ porridge. The recipe is adapted from Mind Body Green, and if you want to see a high quality photo of what it should look like, please check out their website. Mine tasted great, but my £40 Nokia is not particularly great at photogenic shots…
  • 1/2 cup of organic porridge oats
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 egg white (lightly whisked)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Big squirt of honey or another sweetener (e.g. agave, rice malt syrup)
  • 1 tbsp dried dates/raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated organic carrot
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • Add oats to boiling water and simmer for several minutes on a medium heat until most of the water is absorbed.
  • At this point, whisk in the egg white. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, chuck in two… Go on, you only live once.
  • Once thick and creamy, add vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon, salt and then stir until combined
  • Stir through the grated carrot and dried fruit, top with walnuts.
  • Eat and enjoy*
*I found that the carrot was slightly too crunchy. One idea would be to soak the oats with apple juice and grated carrot over night… 


Not Eating Out In New York by Cathy Erway

There are many reasons why I want to feature this blog, a main one being how timely it is in the debate on role of food services in influencing our health and environments.
Our food service sector includes restaurants, quick service outlets (e.g. fast food joints, Starbucks and Pret…), public services (e.g. education, hospitals, prisons), pubs, catering and so on. Despite food services only comprising 19% of a £234 billion UK food sector, it has a significant impact on the way and what we eat. For example, a report recently exposed the top unhealthiest streets in Britain, with high concentrations of fast food joints alongside bookkeepers and tanning salons causing major implications on our mental and physical health.
As consumers, we are not passive in our growing health and environment epidemics. In fact, we are pivotal in shaping the geography of this sector and determining whether it plays a destructive or supportive role in our food system. 

Positive changes so far include reacting to the latest consumer demands such as gluten-free or local foods, putting pressure on big food chains to improve animal welfare and food quality, and there has been a boom in independent pop-ups and street food joints as a response to our growing curiosity for authentic, exotic gastronomic experiences (over half of these are in London).

We can also choose not to eat out. One consumer and blog writer, Cathy, decided to find out about the other routes to feeding ourselves:

“I tried to explore other avenues of “not eating out” — diving into dumpsters, foraging for edible weeds, cooking for communal dinners and supper clubs, and throwing or participating in amateur cook-offs and events”

Her conclusions are written in a creative list of reasons not to ‘eat out’, ranging from better experiencing the seasons to being safe in the knowledge that the hair in the food is yours. She also provides a selection of recipes to get you back into humble, communal home-cooking.

It is a down-to-earth blog, helping consumers access information on how they can play a role in obesity, sustainability and ethical challenges facing our Western food culture. It broadens the definition of ‘treating yourself’, showing that you can have a good time and good food even when not ‘eating out’. 

You know you want to achieve that amount of satisfaction…


Last week I devoted the Sunday Roast to water, and this week is another occasion for celebration of this finite resource. Costa Rica has been running on hydropower for the past 75 days, with any dips in energy levels coming from geothermal, solar and wind power. 
How have they achieved this?
First, they had a tonne of rainfall (obviously) and are located in a tectonically active area. Second, they are a very small nation with only 4.8 people. Consumption per capita is relatively low as the economy relies mainly on tourism and small-scale agriculture as livelihoods. Oh, and they haven’t had a military since 1948, so funds are not diverted away from the lives and environments that matter most.
While Costa Rica has exceptional factors contributing to this inspiring feat, this is not a reason to dismiss this reality as something larger nations cannot achieve or at the very least act towards.
Take Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than GDP as a development index as another example. The pillars of Bhutan’s GNH are good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation. It is these values that lay the foundations for the success Bhutan has shown in longevity, education, thriving ecosystems and non-intensive sustainable development. They are also values that the UN encouraged policy makers and governments to adopt in climate talks in Doha, 2012, and that the annual International Day of Happiness encourages each year.
I just hope that we draw similar inspiration from Costa Rican values. While many renewable energy projects are funded by external donors and investors, it is Costa Rica’s prerequisite values and prioritisation of ecosystems and long-term development over economic booms (or, as Amartya Sen terms ‘unaimed opulence‘) that lays foundations for this inspiring 75 days. 
We can all learn from that.


Cultivating Equality In Our Food System by Danielle Nierenberg.

This week I am providing a TEDx talk rather than an academic journal. It’s Sunday, and our tired eyes and minds may not cope with a lengthy piece of prose. TEDx runs on the same premise as TED talks – ‘ideas worth spreading’ – but is a platform for independently organised, community-based talks.

Danielle Nierenberg, one of the founders of Food Tank, illustrates the case for supporting the ‘hidden women’ behind our food system in this fantastic TEDx talk.

Making up 43% of global agricultural labour force, women play a crucial yet often invisible role in the knowledge, practices and networks underpinning our food and ecological systems and rural economies.

Invisibility is not synonymous with victimhood. Women in the food system have a voice, it just needs to be highlighted and made visible both to men in their communities and to global policy-makers and business. Danielle does just this, giving examples from her own research and travels along with providing other inspirational case studies from around the world.

With only 14 minutes, she can only touch upon the major issues surrounding equality, gender and our food system, but lists various organisations and research projects for people to continue learning from and help catalyse positive progress. As she passionately remarks:

“I promise you we will see progress in the fight for sustainability in the food system and women’s equality…as, as does the fate of women, so does the fate of the world”. (Danielle Nierenberg, TEDx).

Watch it, be part of this (educational) fight.


It seems videos and live talks are my go-to this week. For inspiration, there are two upcoming Guardian live chats – one on Tuesday 31st March and the next on Wednesday 1st April – that will hopefully evoke inspiring thoughts and debate.

Will the smart machine help or hinder sustainability?

As Ester Boserup famously said: Necessity is the mother of all invention’. We are in urgent need of sustainable, ethical alternatives to managing our natural resources – in particular, food, water, energy and waste. These are all interrelated. As I indicated last week, our food choices influence our water usage, and the above example of Costa Rica indicates how water can provide a foundation for renewable energy.
If all are part of a nexus, then it should be relatively easy to start a ‘domino effect’ of positive change, right? We need to remember that humans – particularly our mindsets – also play a role in this. We have particular everyday habits and lifestyles that we are accustomed to, and they are hard to budge. The question is, as we all become more dependent on technology in our everyday lives, can we use technology and ‘smart machines’ to re-programme sustainability into our society? 
The promises and risks, types of innovation and investment surrounding smart machines in a sustainable world will be discussed. The above question, plus plenty more (including your own – you can live Tweet or ask a question via the Guardian website), will be the subject of Tuesday’s debate. I just hope that there will be a focus on technological innovation that we need rather than simply what we want. 
Tuesday 31st March, 2015. 
Time: 1 – 2pm BST (12 – 1pm GMT) 

Zero waste: is it desirable or achievable? Live chat

Source: via
Feeding nicely into this, there is a second live chat on zero waste and whether it is desirable or achievable.
It will be interesting to see how waste interplays with different sectors – food and agriculture, water, industry and energy, transport, retail and so on – and where most of the investment and action tackling waste lies.
On the topic of food, I am sure there will be talk of how technology interplays with this – e.g. smart fridges or labels telling you when your food is off – but also how we as humans are playing a role. When it comes to food waste, the aforementioned barrier of human habit/mindset seems to be breaking down – particularly in civil society. We have no-waste restaurants being set up, a ‘war on waste’, and movements promoting ugly fruits and veg, feeding food waste to pigs and using ‘wasted’ supermarket food in healthy, accessible meals.
Let’s just hope that these civil society movements are highlighted in the discussion, especially as the expert panel is composed mainly of the ‘big boys’ in retail and policy such as Unilever and the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Time: 1 – 2pm BST (12 – 1pm GMT) 

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