Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Eating your way to a cooler planet

It turns out that facebook might actually be useful for something after all (other than the inevitable "how many 'friends' can you collect" competition).

A (real) friend in the US posted a link to this article in Saturday's New Your Times.

It seems she reads the Times on weekends too, not just to avoid ease my way into work weekday mornings, like me.

While I don't entirely agree with his argument, Mr Bittman raises some valid points, and it's good to see a declared non-vegetarian tackling the issues raised by the intersection of meat production and the environment.

Industrial farming (whether it be for meat or vegetables) is unsustainable. There is no argument to be had here, the facts speak for themselves. Even the (somewhat) less intensive factory farming practices in Australia has dire environmental consequences.

Anyone professing a concern for our planet's future (and that's everyone these days isn't it? It's a cause celeb and people toss phrases like "carbon offsetting" and "global warming" into every day conversations with reckless abandon) should stop and think about what they consume and how it got to be on their plate.

Not a day goes by without me hearing someone make some kind of declaration about the state of the environment. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing, but if these declarers (and the rest of us) are going to implement the ideals they espouse (practice what they preach, so to speak), the first segment of their lives they should examine is their diet.

It's great to have a short shower (or no shower at all) and switch lights off when you don't need them, but sitting in the dark with slightly stinky armpits while guzzling down a factory farmed steak and three (monocultured) vege isn't making the workd a better place.

If we are going to get serious about global warming there is no time like the present (in fact, if we don't get serious about it soon, in future there may not be a present at all). And the first thing we should all do is a quick impact assessment of our eating habits.

It's not so hard:

In general, the less distance food has travelled from the farm to your plate the better. I say "in general" because you should make an exception for organically produced processed foods which are better than their non-organically produced counterparts - even if they have travelled half way around the world to get to you.

This leads neatly to the next point: eat organic where ever possible (especially processed foods). Organic farming methods enhance - rather than degrade - soils, produce healthier foods, and are far more sustainable.

Eat less processed foods. The shorter the ingredients list on the packet the better. No packaging is even better (farmers markets and co-ops are great places to avoid packaging - just remember to bring a few recycled bags with you)

Minimise your intake of meat. Obviously eliminating it altogether is far better, but one step at a time. Vegetarian (and vegan) foods are amazing if you make a small effort in the preparation. If you would like to try the vegie option (even just one meal a week makes a huge difference) there are plenty of easy and tasty options right here on this blog (or collated at our other blog - the political kitchen).

That turned into more of a rant than intended. Funny what can happen when you randomly log into facebook over breakfast (not something I make a habit of doing).

Monday, 28 January 2008

When I grow up

When I graduated from university I took some time off and backpacked around Asia. At the time I really felt as though this was my last moment of freedom before I returned home to start my career.

Once I got home I moved up to Sydney, put on a suit and went to work everyday at Big Corporate Law Firm (BCLF). I certainly hoped that I would not remain there forever, but generally I thought that this was my new life and that it was just a matter of gaining more experience and skills and moving forward within the legal job world. I guess I thought that I spent all that time at law school to become a lawyer and now it was just a matter of deciding what kind of lawyer I would be.

Well, life never really works out the way you plan does it?

It turned out that I hated working at BCLF. To be fair, the work was OK and many of my colleagues were kind and interesting people, but I felt completely wrong going to work there every single day. I would get off the bus at Wynyard and walk up Martin Place with a growing feeling a despair in my stomach. I found myself wondering where I took the wrong turn in life in order to end up where I was. I was utterly miserable.

At first my plan was to just keep an eye out for other jobs and to apply when they came up. The first position that caught my eye was at Redfern Legal Centre, a place where I already volunteered once a week. I wrote my application excitedly and was absolutely thrilled when I got an interview.

I didn't get the position though. They were looking for someone with at least two years experience and I had only been a solicitor for 4 months. At the time another 20 months at BCLF seemed like a life sentence.

A few months later another position caught my eye. This one was at the Environmental Defender's Office. It just so happened that I worked in Environmental Law for BCLF and so I felt a little more confident about this one as I wrote my application. Again I was excited when I got an interview and even more so when they seemed genuinely impressed by my qualifications and keenness.

Once again, however, the position was given to someone with many more years experience than me and I began to realise that I was going to have to stay where I was for quite some time before I would be able to get the kind of job that I was interested in.

Then I met P. (again) and fell in love. My job at BCLF started to seem even worse when it meant that I had to keep canceling our dates because I had to work back late or fly interstate at no notice to work on boring due diligence projects. And so I started to think more broadly about my career options.

I realised that I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to be a lawyer for the rest of my life and that I was really interested in broader social justice issues than those that could be addressed through litigation alone. However, I wasn't qualified for the kind of positions that I saw come up and so I started browsing university degrees instead.

By the time the following year had rolled around, I was enrolled in a Masters degree, which then rolled into a PhD and now, 4 years later, I am still at university! Crazily enough, I still have another two years to go (part time) on my PhD and I am starting to feel as though I missed the boat on this whole career thing. My suits and shirts sit in the cupboard unused - looking rather silly really given what my day-to-day life involved right now.

It has been so long now that I feel as though I will be starting all over and I am back to not knowing what I am going to be 'when I grow up'. I guess a lot of people in my generation are like this - we like to keep our options open and sometimes by doing so it seems as though nothing is possible, simply because everything is (in theory) and that is just too much choice.

Maybe I should have just stayed at BCLF. I would certainly have a lot more money...

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Where is my brain?

Last night I woke up with a feeling of dread. I had suddenly remembered that I had stood up a friend the day before.

That wasn't even the worst part. The worst part was that I had promised to go over to her place on Tuesday morning after having stood her up the week before.

This is the kind of behaviour that I hate. If someone stands me up or is really late to meet me, I feel as though they are saying that they think that I have no life; that their time is more important than mine and that they don't have a lot of respect for me. As a result I normally go into a panic if I am running late to meet someone and I have never ever stood anyone up before. Until motherhood that is.

These days I find it hard to get anywhere on time, hard to call people back, and I have (now) committed the terrible sin of standing up a friend two weeks in a row. It sort of feels like I am sinking in quick sand - slowing becoming a terrible friend due to my inability to remember anything or to get organised. I hate it.

And it's not just my performance as a friend that is suffering. I live in constant fear that I will forget something like paying a bill, or removing food from the oven (I have already burned several saucepans), or getting along to a doctor's appointment.

When they tell you that children will take away your control over life this is what they mean. You can make plans, but they may sleep right through them - or you might just forget all about them. You can prefer a clean house, but they may have other plans. You may like a good night's sleep before a big day, but that is no longer your choice.

Don't get me wrong. Lily is great. She is wonderful company and watching her grow is the most incredible experience in the world. Sometimes, however, I wish that I could experience it with a little more poise.

Monday, 21 January 2008

First steps!

Lily took her first steps today. P and I were both there to see them, which was lucky.

I am guessing that she will be walking (albeit unsteadily) by the end of the week. Oh boy! What fun.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Cloned meat is safe for consumers, say US officials

And pigs, it seems, may well fly...

Next: Europe will legislate a ban.

And then, the US will submit a challenge in the WTO.

And win.

And then, Europe will submit.

And then, it'll be our turn.

Vegan anyone?

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Feeding all night

A couple of weeks ago I thought that I was ready to do something about Lily's sleeping. You see she wakes up a lot - often every hour - and wants to feed back to sleep. She also doesn't like sleep by herself in the evenings, meaning that I generally go to bed when she does (or shortly afterwards).

Now I am quite aware that she does not need to feed every hour. And I am acutely aware that my sleep would be drastically improved if, in fact, she didn't. But the thing is that as I approached the first few nights when I was planning to apply Elizabeth Pantley's techniques to encourage her to feed less and sleep more, I realised that I really wasn't ready.

[I should say that I do apply some of Pantley's techniques. Lily has a fairly consistent bedtime and routine, a good naptime schedule, and a blankie. However, it has become clear that we will have to take more drastic action in order to slow down the nighttime feeding (or get her to go down to bed by herself) and it is this more drastic action that I don't have the inclination to apply right now.]

The thing is that I think that Lily is still very little and that she is currently benefiting from our current arrangements. I also realised that as much as I would quite like a better night's sleep, I wasn't planning to change the arrangement for myself, but rather I was planning to change it because I felt as though everyone else thought that she ought to be sleeping better. It wasn't so much that I wanted to meet anyone's expectations. It was more like I was starting to feel guilty for having a child that doesn't sleep through the night - as though I had failed somehow and that lack of sleep was my punishment.

Once I realised that I really wasn't committed to changing things at the moment, suddenly it all seemed so much easier. I no longer felt so tired in the mornings now that I wasn't viewing my lack of sleep as a punishment. Instead I just saw it as a stage that we are going through and one that I have the capacity to change when I am good and ready (and mostly that will be when I think that Lily is good and ready).

The funny thing was that immediately after making this decision I started reading all these blog posts by people whose babies were also feeding all night, and that made me feel even better. That's one of the things that I love about the blogosphere - it is such a great way of linking up with people who share similar values and experiences, no matter where they happen to live. Having the confidence to follow my own parenting instincts can be challenging sometimes, and knowing that I am not alone in my crazy ideas can make it so much easier. So, thank you!

Monday, 14 January 2008

10 months

Dear Lily

Today you turned 10 months old.

To be honest, you are not having the best day today. Your teeth are bothering you and (as a consequence) you haven't quite had enough sleep. Generally, however, you are going through quite an excellent stage at the moment. You are such a happy little thing and you also seem to be calming down a little and will often occupy yourself quite happy for fairly long stretches of time - 'reading' your books and playing with your toys (or any other found object that we don't take away from you).

It has been a pretty huge month. Christmas naturally played a bit part in that. We had a massive family bonanza of a day and you received far too many presents for one so small, and you loved every single second of it - except perhaps those in which you weren't allowed to steal your cousin Joel's presents...

We then took a trip up to Sydney where you got to try new foods (you decided that you love domaldes, grilled eggplant, falafel and tahini), frollick on the beach, and watch the Sydney NYE fireworks from Grandma and Grandpa's front porch.

When we got back to Canberra the weather turned hot hot hot and that was all a bit much really. We did, however, stumble on a few activities that made the heat a little more bearable. First we had some water play at home, which turned out to be quite fun and very messy.

The best plan, however, was to go to the pool and we have been doing a lot of that. You just love the water and being surrounded by so many other little people having a great time. You also seem to have the makings of quite a good swimmer. Although you cannot swim yet, despite what you appear to believe when you try to throw yourself out of my arms into the water.

What you can do now is stand up all by yourself. Although you do not appear to have a lot of confidence in this new ability and tend to squat yourself down once you realise what you are doing. It usually happens when you get so absorbed in playing that you don't realise that you have let go of the toy box in order to pick up toys in both of your hands. Hopefully you will start to realise that you are actually very stable and, perhaps, even take a few little steps for us. That will be a lot of fun!

Another new developments this month has been your new love of books. You will pull every book off your bookshelf and hand them to me one by one to be read and then demand that we start all over again when we are finished. This has made me a regular visitor at the local library, where we can borrow piles of books at a time in order to freshen up the experience a little.

You have also started to show a real interest in food. You stand up at your little table, which I pile with finger food, and graze on five meals a day. Your absolute favourite food is avocado, which you will eat in preference to almost anything else. But you also love tempeh, tofu, bread, pasta, mango, nectarine, peach, apricots, kiwi fruit, peas, beans, broccoli, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, tomato, and rice cakes. I have also recently started to make you ice blocks out of blended mango and lime juice, which have been a real hit!

Finally, you have figured out how to blow raspberries on papa and I - paying us back for all the raspberries that we blow on your tummy. You blow them on my thighs, tummy and face and then cackle with delight. It is very cute.

Lila, I am very much looking forward to seeing what else you do over the next month (and years to come). You are such great company and so much fun to hang around.


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Enough about me

I found out this morning at HPP that last week was Delurker's Week - a week when people who tend to read blogs but rarely if ever comment are implored to shed their lurking cloaks (for a little while) and come out and share.

[Button stolen from Paper Napkin via Half Pint Pixie]

Well, I may be a little late, but it is still last week in much of the world so why don't you take a moment to say hello and tell us about yourself.

Perhaps you could answer a few questions for us?
  1. How did you first find our site?
  2. Are you a regular or occasional reader, or a first time visitor?
  3. Where do you live?
  4. What are some of your other favourite blogs?
Thank you in advance for sharing! (Even if you aren't actually a lurker, please feel free to join in.)

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Food photos - recipes to follow

I've been terribly slack on the food blogging front (well on the blogging front in general) and so I thought that I would share a few photos of what we have been cooking (and eating) and that this might prompt me to get some recipes up to go with the images.

Beans on toast (with parsley, tomatoes and spices)

Lentil and rocket salad (with a tahini and lemon juice dressing)

Grilled veggies (mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant)

Rosemary roast veggies (pumpkin and sweet potato)

Polenta encrusted tofu (with mushrooms, asparagus and fried polenta)

Choc-chip cookies

Coconut sticky rice

Monday, 7 January 2008

Weekend bliss

Often on the weekend we fall into the trap of trying to get too much done. We rush around the house trying to clean up from the week and finish little projects. We rush around the shops getting groceries and running errands - dragging poor Lily along as we all get more exhausted and grumpy. And we generally fail to actually relax and recharge for the week.

Yesterday I think that we actually got it right.

We had a leisurely breakfast together and then P. and I relaxed while Lily had her morning nap. Then we packed a picnic and went to the pool where we swam and caught up with some friends in a shady spot under the trees.

Tuckered out from all the fun, Lily then had her afternoon nap while P and I started to get a little organised for the week. Then we all had an early dinner of rice paper rolls (well P and I had rice paper rolls, Lily had rice pasta, peas, corn & tofu).

We also took our new favourite toy to the pool and got some shots of Lily enjoying the water. Well, 225 shots to be precise. All in about 20 minutes! It is so fast and so much fun.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

It's "Fully Sick" mate

I hate summernats. For those of you lucky enough not to live in our nation's capital and who have no idea what I'm talking about, summernats is an annual event during which the vast majority of the nation's petrol heads drive their inefficient (but apparently "fully sick") petrol guzzling cars to Canberra in order to drive them around in circles and see who can:

a) make the most blue smoke;
b) drive the fastest down a ludicrously short track;
c) get the drunkest;
d) be the worst tourist in town (this one is especially hotly contested); and
e) be the most sexist arsehole in existence.

I can't remember the last time I was in Canberra at this time of year, and I hope this will be the last time in living memory (I swear it's worse than when I lived waaaaay too close to the formula one race track in Melbourne).

To top off all the general ickyness, the bastards had so many fireworks going off this evening that Lily ahs only just gotten to sleep.

It seems $1.50 a litre isn't enough to dissuade them. It's a good thing the price of petrol will just keep on rising. I wonder how expensive it will have to get before these infantile events become prohibitively expensive and die a sad and lonely death? Can't come too soon as far as the planet and I are concerned.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Digital SLR and some Resolutions

After years of waiting P. and I finally bought a digital SLR - A Canon 400D. Very exciting!

It is just so cool. There is no shutter delay (unlike our little digital compact that annoys me so much) and it doesn't use film (unlike our film SLRs that I love but almost never use anymore). I think that this may be the inspiration that I was waiting for to entice me back to blogging.

Now, some New Year's resolutions:
1. Continue to enjoy Lily's company.
2. Eat more food that is organic, local & in season (and vegan, of course!).
3. Get back into photography.
4.. Get close to completing my PhD.
5. Eat a little less chocolate.
6. Get more sleep.
7. Get back into yoga.
8. Do some swimming.

That'll do!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Peak Oil?

Looks like it's all happening. Oil hit US$100 a barrel last night for the first time in the history of the trade.

I read Sonia Shah's Crude: The Story of Oil over the xmas/new year break and while it was a little light on it really illuminated the insidiousness of the industry for me.

You can preview exercpts on Amazon and actually watch the associated documentary on the ABC website. We've got it sitting on the hard drive at home (from when the ABC showed it about 6 months ago). C has watched it but I haven't gotten to it yet. The first 5 minutes looked pretty good though, and perhaps better than the book.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin