Fields of Gold: Lifting the Veil on Europe's Farm Subsidies

The European Union spends €55 billion a year on farm subsidies. Until recently the question of where the money goes was a closely-guarded secret. But thanks to a campaign by journalists, researchers and computer programmers, European taxpayers now have the right to know how their tax money is spent. This short film tells the story of

Fields of Gold: Lifting the Veil on Europe’s Farm Subsidies from on Vimeo.

Thoughts before the weekend begins…

In the largest dietary study ever American researchers followed over 800 overweight subjects for two years. The participants followed four popular diets and they all lost weight. After six months the average weight loss was six kilos then this planed out and after two years the average loss was between three to four kilos. Only 15% of the participants lost 10% of their original weight and only 4% lost more than 20 kilos. The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

I guess that this is good news for those of us who do not like dieting – the solution is basically what we all know. Ignore all the fancy diets. Stick to the basics: eat less, exercise more.It may sound boring but it seems to be the most simple and efficient method that does not involve surgery 🙂

Actually I do want to leave some tips I picked up from here: 14 Habits That Make You Fat

1 TV Watching
2 Eating Too Fast
3 Task Snacking
4 Frequent Fast Food Consumption
5 Eating To Manage Feelings
6 Too Busy To Exercise
7 Your Friends Can Make You Fat
8 Lack Of Sleep
9 Unaware Of Calories And Fat
10 Credit Cards
11 Missing Meals
12 Uncomfortable Clothing
13 Neglecting Scales
14 Boredom

For more details follow the link – have a good weekend.

More crap in the kitchen

How much unnecessary technological crap can you fit in a kitchen? Obviously this depends on your definition of unnecessary, technological and crap – in addition to the size of your wallet and kitchen. But taking a walk through the aisles of kitchen products available is a frightening display of the excellent collaboration between product developers and marketing departments.

In much of the developed world the basic kitchen contains a cooker, an oven, a fridge and a freezer. Beyond this some would argue that the microwave is a basic necessity but after that things get more complicated since the line between necessary and unnecessary becomes blurred and ever more subjective and difficult: Is a toaster a necessity? What about a coffeemaker?

Even if we limit this exploration to those products that require a powersource the list is impressive: A bread maker, rice maker, pizza maker, popcorn maker, juice maker, kitchen aid, electic knife sharpener, milk foamer, egg boiler, juicer and sandwich maker…


popcorn1 eggs

Of these strange products that surprise and annoy me the most are the ones which are completely unnecessary – I know the term is vague – the pizza maker, the egg boiler and popcorn maker are all excellent examples of products which do not really increase efficiency in the kitchen. These three machines do not make the tasks of boiling eggs, poping corn or making pizza any easier. They are products which show the great advances which can be made so long as there is a strong marketing department creating desire.

Grapes with licensing agreement

Via Boing Boing comes this marvel of legal wackiness. The plastic bag containing grapes has the text:

The recipient of the produce contained in this package agrees not to propagate or reproduce any portion of the produce, including (but not limited to) seeds, stems, tissue and fruit.

I suppose that the sellers are trying to make an analogy with shrinkwrap licenses. The result, if the text on the bag is upheld in court, would mean that any attempt to grow new grapes from the content of the bag is in violation of the “license” (for the want of a better word). Violating a contract does not mean automatically that the seller or producer can recieve damages so what is left? If you manage to grow something from this bag you will have to give back the original grapes? Its all too confusing.

photo: Grapes with an EULA by dasmart (CC by-nc-nd)

Giraffe is kosher

Who says that religion is static and does not develop…

An Israeli rabbi has declared giraffe meat and milk to be kosher, although his pronouncement is unlikely to have observant Jews clamouring to consume the exotic products, a daily reported on Friday.

“The giraffe has all the signs of a ritually pure animal, and the milk forms curds, which strengthened that view,” the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot quoted Rabbi Shlomo Mahfoud as saying. (article at Breitbart)

The article does not mention how the giraffes reacted to the news.

Seafood is Politics

Eat fish, don’t eat fish, don’t eat cod, eat salmon, shellfish is bad, or good. Giant prawns help developing countries or screw up the environment.

Fish is confusing. Since I don’t eat meat or poulty fish is the main source of food confusion. It should be easier since I don’t have to worry about so may foodstuffs… its not I am confused and I have, I admit, been avoiding the issue.

Some help in this tangle of issues is the the booklet Fish Dish: Exposing the Unacceptable Face of Seafood published by the WWF (2006).

  • Illegal fishing
  • Overfishing
  • Wasteful fishing
  • Unselective fishing
  • Destructive fishing
  • Unfair fishing

The text does not make life easier but it does inform in a brutally honest way. Treat your next plate of sushi with respect – read Fish Dish.
(Via Lunkens Blog)

What the world eats

Every now and then you come across a book which is just inspired. This idea fits the bill exactly. What a brilliant idea.

Photographer Peter Menzel and author-journalist Faith D’Alusio have put together the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. The book is a comparative photo-chronicle of their visits to 30 families in 24 countries.

The family snapshot shows the family with a typical week’s worth of food purchases, weekly food-intake lists with costs noted, typical family recipes and essays, such as “Diabesity,” on the growing threat of obesity and diabetes.

It is difficult not to get political when you see the amounts spent on family food for a week from $500 (for a family of 4) to $1.23 (for a family of six) weekly.

Time Magazine has done a photo essay based on the book so for a sneak preview go there.

(via Boing Boing)

Food for Fuel

Over at Owen’s Musings (via Memex 1.0) I read the following

I have just learned from DFIDâ??s Chief Economist, Tony Venables, that the grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year.

While I had not seen this nugget of information before I know that in Sweden it is cheaper to heat ones home by burning grain rather than oil. It may seem to be a bit naive of me but I do get upset when people heat their houses by burning grain since it is cheaper than oil.

OK – now that I have written this I am expecting to be set straight by Johan my resident environmentalist (and some time guilty conscious) . So Johan is the example correct, relevant and interesting?

Scientific Pizza

A team of scientists at the University of Maryland have “discovered” a way of making healthier pizza. The scientists have:

developed a way of baking and fermenting dough which can increase levels of antioxidants, which protect against cell and tissue damage.

It may not be the cure for cancer nor the common cold but it is apparently a scientific approach to the pizza. It brings to mind the funniest science quote ever made on film:

Back off man, I am a scientist! (Bill Murray in Ghostbusters)

Why would anyone want to create a healthier pizza? Do you think they have applied for, and received, government funding for this breakthrough in science?

(via BBC Health)

You can't say McJob

After films and books like Supersize Me and Nickel and Dimed. Not to mention things like McLibel (documentary, book and lawsuit). It may be understandable that McDonald’s have had enough of bad publicity. So bad has the publicity become that the word McJob has now become synonymous with a badly paid shitty jobs. It’s even in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)

The word McJob, as the OED definition makes clear, is “depreciative.” It goes on to define the term as: “An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.” It found its way into the dictionary in March 2001, 15 years after it was apparently coined by the Washington Post. (Speigel Online)

But now McDonald’s has had enough and is demanding that the word McJob be stricken from the OED.

“Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And it this case, they got it completely wrong,” Walt Riker, a Mickey D’s McSpokesman complained to the Associated Press. “It’s a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that’s been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years.” (Speigel Online)

Apparently McD is arguing that the definition is outdated and old-fashioned. That may be true but the last time I looked into a McDonald’s the people working there sure seemed to have really classic McJobs.