Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Foraging: Living Off the Fat of the Land

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 02:18:22 PM EST

[editor's note, by Migeru] Originally published on May 21

Noun 1. foraging - the act of searching for food and provisions.  

The prices of staple foods such as rice could stay high for the next three years, hindering the battle against poverty, a top World Bank official said Tuesday. I personally think this may be the understatement of the year. With oil prices to hit $200, widely predicted by our own Jérome a Paris and others, I doubt very much staple food will come down as the price to fill a gas tank could, more or less, double within the next five years. Foodstuffs need reasonably priced transportation and it looks as though it's going to get worse before it gets better.  

Welcome to world of foraging, a lost art for most as more and more convenient stores and supermarket chains crop up in neighborhoods with dizzying regularity. Try this for a change: take your family to the nearest forest, gather wild produce and see if you can bring home the bacon, so to speak.

Cross-posted on DKos & PolitiCook

Promoted by Migeru

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9.2 billion by 2050. Will We Have Enough Food & Water?

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 06:37:59 AM EST

The answer is no. Since 1950, the earth's population has risen by more than four billion people, to 6.6 billion and UN projections put world population at 9.2 billion by 2050. The world currently faces a food crisis before the full impact of climate change and a 42% rise in population. The Malthusian vision may yet be vindicated. Most economists today are lucky that their predictions don't even have a shelf life. In this modern age of punditry, brass balls are a lot more important than prescience.

Food and water are essential elements that all human beings should have access to in order to live. Access to the minimum essential food & water are considered human rights. All else pales in significance.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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Food News Roundup

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Fri May 30th, 2008 at 07:50:04 AM EST

I've been addicted to comestibles and their "relatives" since childhood. That's the price I was glad to pay being from a family of hoteliers and restaurateurs. At the tender age of seven I was taught how to differentiate a Burgundy from a Claret, and all my spare time was spent in the hotel kitchens, spying on the chefs, pestering all and sundry with endless questioning, poking my nose into this and that, checking out all the incoming supplies. My hard copy files, collected over the last thirty years or so, run into thousands of pages, and since the advent of the "internets", I have now several hundreds of thousands more, being subscribed to email alerts from all kinds of sites that are connected to food & beverages producers and odds and sods.

In this month's selection, I've added a treat: the top 50 restaurants in the world are listed in the link below, starting with the number 1. Click on each page to read a little about the chefs and their signature dishes.

Cross-posted on DKos & PolitiCook.net

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Eating Close to Home: the Locavore and Other Challenges

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Thu May 29th, 2008 at 07:50:49 AM EST

What happens when one takes on the challenge to eat only locally produced food (and wine) and all within a 160 kilometer radius (100 miles) for an entire month? It's about getting back to our grassroots, supporting our local farmers and reducing the miles our food travels from paddock to plate. It's that simple. It is a movement sweeping the world.

Coined by a Bay Area group, the term "locavore" refers to people who only eat food grown, processed and produced within a 100 mile radius of where they live.

More and more of us are turning our backs on imported products and getting back to our grassroots supporting local farmers and producers. Eating local food cuts back the distance it travels from the paddock to the plate and in turn reduces harm to the environment.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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News You Won't Read in the MSM

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Mon May 26th, 2008 at 05:38:06 AM EST

An outbreak of sharp eyespot disease (SED), which affects cereals, is threatening 72.46 million mu (4.83 million hectares) of wheat in China's major producing regions, according to local agricultural authorities.

This is exactly what I warned about in earlier diaries on the grain situation. With grain inventories at 40 year lows and demand booming the earth cannot afford any crop failures or outbreak of diseases that will lower yields. All we need is a drought here and a pestilence there, and we're toast.

I hope the Democrats have a plan of action 'cause we sure can't rely on the "repubescents" to come up with anything except showering bombs anywhere in the Middle East.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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The New Grim Reapers: Debt Collectors

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sat May 24th, 2008 at 08:22:45 PM EST

If you have started this year buried in debt after enthusiastically embracing those pre and post-Christmas sales, Valentine Day, and Easter shopping sprees, think twice when you hear the doorbell! And leave the answering machine on, just in case. It could be a debt collector. And a mean one, threatening legal action.

Credit card debt has grown astronomically in the last 25 years to over $900 billion and is rapidly approaching the trillion mark, and that may have happened already. About half of Americans carry credit card debt: The families average $8,000 to 9,000; the individuals average $10,000 to $12,000, upwards to 50,000 and above.

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Water News May 08 Roundup

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Mon May 19th, 2008 at 05:23:11 PM EST

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation. Now you too can figure out your water footprint using the calculator at waterfootprint.org. Additionally, they have a gallery of commonly consumed products and how much water it takes to produce them and case studies of water footprints of specific countries like China and Israel.

Remember, water conservation is essential.

Water in numbers:

1% is the amount of the world's water currently fit for human consumption.
97% is the percentage of Earth's water that is saltwater.
6% is the amount of world's freshwater that will be processed in desalination facilities by 2015, (which is roughly double of the current amount)
2 billion is the number of people the UN estimates will lack sufficient water by 2050.

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A Ray of Hope: G8 to Start Tackling Global Food Crisis

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sun May 18th, 2008 at 11:11:44 AM EST

On the Project Concern site, there's this message:

Here is a challenge to consider: tonight - for just one night - go without dinner; go to bed hungry. This act of conviction serves to remind each of us of the global emergency that is currently being described by the World Food Program as the "silent tsunami."

Imagine having to go without food for days on end as roughly a billion people do on a regular basis. Imagine having to put your kids to sleep at night hungry. How did we get to this point and what did the various governments in the world do to alleviate the hunger and the suffering? Not much, as most States still spend a large portion of their GDP, doggedly, in defense, shoring up armies and armament as if there's no tomorrow, still drawing invisible battle lines on the earth, water and space.

However, there is movement at the station, to paraphrase Banjo Paterson.

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Water: the Incoming Apocalypse

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sat May 17th, 2008 at 06:10:41 AM EST

Scouring the "internets" for water news I came across this dire warning:

Water: the Incoming Apocalypse. Not many people realize the seriousness of this issue.

Oil, of course, still dominates world economics and politics. But some day in the not so distant future, with peak oil, alternative fuels and other clean technologies, combined with the rising costs of extracting oil, will diminish petroleum's influence once and for all. Water will be the next oil. One hundred years ago, if someone had told you that water will be sold in stores, under "premium" brand names for as much as $3 for a liter, you would have said that this person is insane.

Well, insanity has caught up to reality. Water privatization is gaining on us, and unless we act, fast, you will be paying through the nose for every liter of water.

Cross-posted at DKos and PolitiCook

Diary rescue by Migeru

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Poverty, Tax Shelters, Tax Havens, Bono, Rolling Stones, The Netherlands

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed May 14th, 2008 at 10:37:13 AM EST

After watching Bono making another deeply felt statement last January at Davos, my Irony Meter Alert glowed from orange to red as the gentle bs from the well-meaning rockstar flowed lyrically. I have no problem with him saying that

"we must move beyond mere moral statements if we are to meet our commiments to the world's poorest people"
No, however, as I reported in a previous diary, Bono would be well served if he were to observe the old adage that charity begins at home. Having moved his publishing empire to a notorious Netherlands tax haven, he is again berating the Irish government for not giving enough money to NGOs to combat poverty, worldwide. Another irony, of course, is that Davos is situated in Switzerland, one of the pioneer State in tax avoidance, secrecy and money laundering (to this day, tax evasion is not considered an offence, but only a misdemeanor.)

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Sunday Night Esoterica: A Musical Confession

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sun May 11th, 2008 at 06:25:06 PM EST

Someone remarked that I tend to write scary diaries. Well, running out of water is kind of scary but I have other interests as well besides writing about food & water.

I have to confess that I am an ardent admirer of Jean Sibelius, the Finnish composer, whose music has haunted me since I was eleven. It started with "Valse Triste", a rather somber, short piece of music which was included in a collection titled "The best of Romantic Tunes of the 20th Century". I was hooked. I must have played that track thousands of times over the next years, possibly boring to death those around me. Then I came across "Finlandia" playing on the wireless, his signature composition, a stirring, nationalistic work that was designed to rouse Finnish's anti-Russian sentiments. A few years later, as a young man immersed in rock music and jazz, I stumbled across a box of cassettes containing his seven symphonies and became an aficionado for life. I couldn't help liking the man who wrote  this about the start of his 4th symphony: "the first chord must be struck hard, like destiny!"

Nowadays I am the only one that listens to him in the household so I bought a separate stereo system which I have placed in the almost soundproof conservatory where I can turn up the volume while I attempt to write and entertain the local bird population. And what a strange "bird" this man was.

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Panic Buying from Speculators: Casino Capitalism

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sun May 11th, 2008 at 08:57:05 AM EST

Panic over commodity shortages continues to emerge as the dominant factor in the global markets, with both end user and speculative buyers of corn, soybean, cotton, rice and a host of other commodities taking note of what's happening with the wheat shortcomings. Commodity markets are now seen as the main factor behind price rises. But rising fuel prices, Chinese demands and a lack of infrastructure to deal with extreme weather in countries such as Bangladesh and Australia have also played their part.

Farmers and food executives have appealed fruitlessly to federal officials for regulatory steps to limit speculative buying that is helping to drive food prices higher.  "Casino capitalism has taken a seat at the table of the poor" said EU Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz yesterday, "this is immorality carried to the extreme. This is why we need international controls on financial markets."

Meanwhile, some Americans are stocking up on staples such as rice, flour and oil in anticipation of high prices and shortages spreading from overseas.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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The Book of John McCain: a Life of Thinly Veiled Opportunism

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Fri May 9th, 2008 at 06:47:49 PM EST

I have rarely detested someone in my life as much as I detest John McCain. When I lived in L.A. (89 to 94) I traveled quite a bit throughout the States. Once driving with my family to visit a friend in Hillsborough (NM) we stopped overnight in Tucson. After finishing a meal in the hotel where we stayed, I wandered about and spotted the lounge, it was empty and thought that it would be a good place for a nightcap and quiet enough for my daily bout of crosswords. The bar was tendered by a man who would have been in his late seventies. Coming from a hotelier family, I thought, this is cool, must be the owner or a close relative (my own great grandfather used to do a spot of bar tending at the tender age of 81, kept him sharp, used to say).

Anyway I got my drink and instead of making a beeline for a table I stayed at the bar and sort of started a conversation with the usual opening lines, weather, surroundings etc...he asked me where I was from and what kind of line I was in and we got to talk about work ethics in the hotel industry. I mentioned that my great grandfather did cover a lot of jobs in his lifetime, from gardening to filling in for a sick dishwasher to bar tending and that's when he said that he had only a few months experience in the hotel world.

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Don't Take Your Eyes Off This Ball!

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Fri May 9th, 2008 at 10:59:08 AM EST

This ball, our ball.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals--and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me--
nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Promoted by Migeru

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The Other Blue Revolution we Should Be Having

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Thu May 8th, 2008 at 05:45:07 AM EST

The world needs to start another revolution, IMO, to preserve, conserve and manage freshwater supplies in the face of huge growing demands from population growth, irrigated agriculture, unregulated industries (in most parts of the world) and sheer wastage: a Blue Revolution. Although this concept is not new, it should be given serious thought.

Just as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture in the 1960s, a Blue Revolution ought to galvanize this earth into action, and everyone, from those in government to the multinationals and from the self-employed to the workforce and those at home should play a role as there is no more water on earth now than there was 2,000 years ago, when the population was less than 3% of its current size. Glib? It's worse than that as per-capita water consumption is rising twice as fast as the world's population.  

Diary rescue by Migeru

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World Food News Roundup: the Good, the Bad, and the Truly Ugly!

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed May 7th, 2008 at 04:48:44 PM EST

Cruising "the Internets" today for the latest food news and trends, I have found these tasty morsels for you. Some good news and some not so good.

The last two items will bring a smile to your face: perhaps almost as big as the news from the Obama camp!

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Water News

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Mon May 5th, 2008 at 08:31:03 AM EST

A recent Gallup Poll showed that Americans perceived polluted drinking water as more of a threat than climate change, with 53% saying that they worried "a great deal" about it and 37% expressing the same level of concern over global warming. Gallup noted that pollution of drinking water has been a major concern since 1990.

"These poll results demonstrate that the public is out in front of policymakers,"
commented CEO Stephen E. Sandherr of the Associated General Contractors of America.
"They recognize that our deteriorating water delivery systems are in need of repair."

WATER is among the five primordial elements considered to be vital for any type of life or vegetation on this planet. Great civilizations of the world grew and developed on the banks of big watercourses. May it be the grand Nile or the majestic Indus or other lakes and springs, water has been so important that ancient inhabitants choose it as their first preference to settle nearby. Therapeutic value of both food and water mattered to mankind right from the early days.

Originally posted on May 1st - promoted by In Wales.

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The World of Stir-Fries: an Inexpensive Alternative

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sun May 4th, 2008 at 06:25:55 PM EST

Have wok, will travel! Who doesn't love a good, healthy stir-fry on a summer night? Or a winter night for that matter? It can be as elaborate as you wish or just a quick fix. Stir frying is an umbrella term used to describe two fast Chinese cooking techniques: chao and bào. The term stir-fry was introduced into the English language by Buwei Yang Chao, in her book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, to describe the chao technique.


There are countless options & combinations at your fingertips, with meat or poultry or without, fish or vegetables or both, with rice, or noodles, using any kind of pulse, beans, fungi, grains, fresh or dried...and it's a great way to clear what's in your refrigerator: put the wok on, pour a little oil of your choice, and begin stirring in whatever takes your fancy or the leftovers from the the previous day. This is SURVIVAL food! By thinking ahead and plan menus, you should be able to incorporate more grain in your diet, a great way to not only stay healthy but also to "watch your pennies"!

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Tackling World Food Crisis: Agricultural Reform

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Thu May 1st, 2008 at 03:50:08 AM EST

It took more than 400 scientists and three years of haggling, wrangling and heated arguments to come up with the report by the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) as dire warnings from the World Bank, the IMF and the UN's World Food Programme splashed the front pages of the world press in the last few weeks (the Executive summary, the Global summary and all its regional summaries are here in both pdf & HTML forms, a great trove of information for those who are interested). I have read all summaries and will endeavor to read the regional pieces as well in the next few weeks.

The 2,500 pages report concluded that while advances over the last fifty years had resulted in the world's food production increasing at a much faster rate than its population, the present system of production and trade meant the benefits were spread unevenly, and as we know, at intolerable price paid by the small farmers, workers and rural communities and of course, the environment.

Promoted by Migeru

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A Perfect Storm is Heading our Way

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed Apr 30th, 2008 at 03:00:17 PM EST

With food riots about to topple the Haitian government, from Mexico to Pakistan, Egypt to Cameroon, protests have turned violent. Rioters tore through three cities in the West African nation of Burkina Fasom a few weeks ago, burning government buildings and looting stores. Similar protests exploded in Senegal and Mauritania late last year. And Indian protesters burned hundreds of food-ration stores in West Bengal last October, accusing the owners of selling government-subsidized food on the lucrative black market.

Is this a sign of things to come? The answer is yes, because the world's governments have so far turned a blind eye to this crisis. Was this discussed at Davos in any length? Yes, up to a point, as Evelyn Vaughn would surmise, as Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath warned that prices of some foodstuffs had doubled in his country. So when are we going to set up a food summit, we ask? Referring to the challenge of providing food at affordable prices, he said: "Next year in Davos we'll be discussing this." Next year! Once again, the Gods of procrastination are smiling. In the meantime, let them eat grass.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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