Saturday, 10 April 2010

Punk Punk Punk, Punk-punk-punk It Up

When I was in my twenties, I wouldn’t have given you two bob for him.  I grew up with folk and country music, and in typical kid fashion, shook it all off for contemporary music, for Pink Floyd and Gong, Master’s Apprentices and Twisted Sister and oh yeah the more pop mainstream stuff of course.  But Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols?  Puh-leeese!  Hate-driven music never was my cup of tea.

But then came an album that changed my opinion, with a social conscience and some great music.  Duck Rock was born   And today, 09 April 2010, a great man died.

Just before midday today, Trish and I were out driving. I had a memory chip in the stereo which had my old vinyl ripped to it, and Aria On Air came on, and gave us both goosebumps.  And on a whim, I played the next track too – Punk It Up.  And sang along because it felt like the right thing to do.  Then on the evening news I heard about it, and the goosebumps started.  See, I lived a significant portion of my life in Wittenoom, an asbestos town that has managed to kill a great many of it’s citizen with asbestos related diseases.
I myself have emphysema but it’s from smoking.  And what did Malcolm McLaren die of?  Mesothelioma, the asbestos disease…

Tomorrow I think I’ll play Punk It Up at full volume on the outside speaker system. It’s the least I can do for someone that made such a success out of crap music, and then made such good music that everyone dismissed as crap…

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Monday, 5 April 2010

Meat To Squeeze You

"Meat to Please ya!" used to be the little joke of the town butcher when I was a kid.  Hey, HE thought it was cool...  Back then, the butcher cut steaks and fillets off an animal, in front of you sometimes, and then weighed it up and charged you for it, wrapped it up in paper, and you took your 5lb roast home and it was damn good.  So okay, sometimes a butcher was caught by Weights & Measures for devaluing the pound, or for leveraging a few extra ounces worth out of customers by sneakily adding a thumb under part of the scales, that was up to you to be observant and call them on it.

And if caught, they'd always be generous, cos giving you a few extra steaks would be cheaper in the long run than a run-in with Dept  of W&M...  It was a pretty open type of give and take, no way was it honest, but at least it was something you could do something about.  Wouldn't it be good if that kind of mischievousness was all we had to deal with nowadays?

See, we've let the butcher out of our sight.  We walk into the meat section of the supermarket and it's all already on trays, packed and weighed and priced.  We have NO idea what's actually under the plastic.  The butchers sneak around behind the cover of their back rooms and for some reason when someone is unobserved they feel a lot easier about doing things that they might not try when in full view of their customers.

Now don't get me wrong - this is not a major attack on butchers, it's a major attack on ALL food producers and processors that have built themselves a hide-away of four walls and a lot of legal loopholes.  And that's pretty much all of them.  But in this case the concrete example I have is from a large chain of butchers, but not one associated with a major supermarket chain.  It's an example of how a smaller butcher starts to grow, and in order to ensure growth and success, does something that "everyone else is doing" but that everyone knows is not honest.  But what the hell, in order to get big you have to screw someone, and it may as well be the clueless customers.  (That's us, by the way.  We're the ones paying for the smaller butcher becoming a large corporation...)

In this case, it was a tray of sausages that I caught out.  And once you see this trick and how much money it can make once a company gets larger, you'll shit bricks.  I promise you.  

As far as my pocket goes, it's not much.  At $5 a kilo, breakfast sausages are cheap tucker in anyone's book - right?  But this particular tray of sausages (0.604Kg, around $3 something) ended up not being needed and got relegated to the freezer.  When I took the tray out of the freezer and opened it, this is what I ended up seeing:
Just Add Water...
As you can see, there's a fair bit of ice in that tray. Just for interest, I stuck the seven sausages (only three in the pic above as I took it after I'd discovered this little rort) and the tray and the ice on the scales and slid the balance weights.  Hmm, 600 grams.  I added the plastic shrink wrapping.  604 grams.  Exactly what I'd paid for, 0.604Kg.  Weighed just the tray and the plastic and the ice, a touch over 100g.  Just to double check, I weighed the sausages by themselves, and yep they came to a shade over 500 grams.  About 18% of what I'd paid was just packaging and water.  54c worth of shit, roughly.

Now the interesting thing is that when you work this out in quantities, you begin to see why the local butcher is less likely to do this, whereas larger companies will be all about those shaved percents.  See, if you can make an extra dollar on every kilo of sausages you sell, and you're a local butcher, you might make sell 20 kilos of sausages a week, and make $20 in ill-gotten gains. If you're that butcher that sells his product all over Australia at independent markets, you might sell 20,000 kilos of sausages in a week, and that's an extra $20,000 a week for nothing...  

That's why food manufacturers ship in palm oil at considerable cost to the environment both in clearing land for the palms, and pollution from tending and harvesting, then shipping. Because YOU'RE NOT WATCHING!  They can shave precious cents off the cost and sell to you for a few precious cents more for the "new and improved" formula...  On this and on the Zen Cookbook Blog I say it so often that it's become a thing I say in my sleep.  KEEP THE BASTARDS HONEST!  Take a bit of personal responsibility, take the trouble to check into everything, and make your feelings well known to your food outlets.  If they want to be dishonest, want to create environmental disasters, want to use cheaper ingredients that are known to have serious health issues, or want to keep the packaging the same size but put a few grams less in - then you damn well let them know it's not acceptable.  

If more of us do this, maybe some orang outan somewhere will thank us from its treetop...  

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Still Over The Prostate Cancer.

It's now four years since my PSAs came back beautiful and low.  Quick update for people that don't know it - in mid-late 2005 I had a high blood PSA and went for a biopsy which showed 60% hyperplasic cells in my old mate the prostate.  That meant that cancer was pretty much gnawing at the door so to speak, and I shat myself.  Not literally, of course.  There was a doctor examining me with a sharp biopsy needle shoved into a pretty sensitive bit of myself, would NOT have been a good look...

My urologist saved my gonads when he suggested using red wine, tomato paste, pomegranate juice, and selenium.  He didn't give me any indication of how much or how often, except for the selenium, which he was quite sure needed to be "pulsed."

I had to research the diet myself, and tested it on myself as I discovered the magic figures and facts.  I also made some surprising discoveries along the way, such as: other ingredients benefit from being taken in pulses as well.  Some ingredients if taken at the same time cancel each other out.  Some helper foods allowed my body to absorb as much as ten times the amounts of active ingredients from the same sized serving of food.  Some foods really needed to be taken with other foods as one supplemented what another prevented me from absorbing.  And the fact that it was not a consistent diet, you used certain foods aggressively, then tapered off on them, then went back to aggressive use at the appropriate time.

Being a foodie, it also had to taste pretty much as I'd always been used to, too.  So I adapted recipes to suit.

The upshot of it all was that a mere seven (7) months later, I went back for the next PSA tests and my PSA had dropped to a level that a person half my age would have had.  Almost like winding back the clock by 25 years.  And it's stayed there ever since.

I also find that the rules of the diet can be applied to pretty much all everyday cooking and meal planning (inasmuch as I can be said to "plan" meals at all...) and seems to help with type 2 diabetes, arterial health, and more.  (My father was having strokes by my age, on a generally much more natural diet, while my echo's and sono's all came back clear as a bell.)

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