Republic of Moreland

March 17, 2011

Anyone want the Republic of Moreland?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kath @ 5:27 pm

I haven’t posted in a year, see. That’s cos I’m now living an hour out of Melbourne, in the sticks.

If anyone wants to take over this site please leave a comment and I’ll be in touch.

March 24, 2010

Practising what we preach

I’m conflicted about vege2go in Lygon Street, Brunswick. The food is okay, the prices are somewhat okay, the place is clean and pleasant. And the folk are very nice and they’re kiddy-friendly and all. But while they preach saving the earth, with Peter Singer sermons plastered over their walls, the place whifs of petrochemical excess. Not only are the chairs and tables plastic, but their smoothies and juices — even ‘eat-in’ versions — are served in plastic cups with plastic lids. Half the cutlery is disposable plastic, too. You may as well be eating at McDonald’s. And much of their produce is out of season, and so would’ve accrued lots of fossil-fuelled food miles. I’ve seen melon & berries in their winter fruit salad, for example. And the pantry stuff on their shelves is all imported.

And when the vege2go folk preach good nutrition, perhaps they might reconsider zapping their food in the microwave. Several studies show significant nutrient loss from food subject to microwaving. And perhaps they should reconsider selling the coloured lolly-water posing as health tonic.

Compare and contrast with Each Peach, just a few shops up. The folk there source local produce, would not at gunpoint even consider microwaving their food, and they sell home-made pantry goods. Their furniture and adornments are reused and recycled stuff. And their walls don’t preach saving the planet. They’re just doing it, in their own delicious way.

Perhaps vege2go just has more mainstream appeal, which is good. Different strokes, I suppose.

September 28, 2009

Tinpan Orange launch

Filed under: cafes & pubs,events,music — Kath @ 1:03 pm

Absolutely beautiful achy bittersweet storybook.

tinpan-orange

April 29, 2009

Thrift and the single foodie

Filed under: environment,food,health,urban farming — Kath @ 6:54 pm

The Avenue has been blessed with a gorgeous little squdgey 3-month-old lassie who’s keeping me sleepless, lactating and honest. (But criminally neglectful of my poor chickens.) Having split with The Father Formerly Known As Bloke On The Av, I’m venturing into the dark depths of single parenthood (though TFFKABOTA still visits daily).

Life is good, but with property settlement, mortgages and all those other adventures, the prospect of losing my beautiful home has forced me to ruminate on ways to be thrifty.

But when it comes to food, price is WAY down my scale of priorities. Buggered if I’m going to start buying cardboard-flavoured mandarins from the US just cos they’re two bucks a kilo. So I’ve been considering how to get more crunch for my apple. (Sorry.)

I’m looking for thrifty ways with produce. Here are a few of my own:

  • My grandma used to save pineapple skins and boil them up. She’d simmer them for a couple of hours, strain them through cheesecloth, and make cordial or jelly with the syrup.
  • A friend once told me off for discarding the bottom bits of broccoli. I’ve now devised a recipe with them: toss them in a hot wok with macadamia oil, crushed macadamias, white pepper, sumac and lemon. You can throw in shredded nori and serve on soba noodles. YUM.
  • I HATE the seedless variety of watermelon — and not only because it tastes rank. It’s because the fat black seeds of the old variety are YUMMY, high in protein and vitamin E, and should be a delicacy. In fact they ARE a delicacy in Singapore, where they are the key ingredient* in the celebrated Mooncake.
  • And watermelon skins! LOVE ‘EM! Yep, the green bits. Crispy, juicy, full of vitamin A and gorgeous when sliced thinly and tossed into salads. I’ve done this a couple of times and no-one has noticed. I suppose they thought twas cucumber, unless they were being polite. Watermelon rinds can also be pickled, of course.

Anyhoo, I’m too goddam sleep-deprived to think of more, but would be SO thankful if I could find a use for green apple peels. See, I’ve been making a lot of Stephanie Alexander’s quick apple cake of late (but to make it really special, add lemon rind, sultanas and walnut), and the curly peel is now taking up acreage. It makes good compost and chook scraps, but it seems a shame not to make it into sumthin’.

__________________________

* though Wiki lists the paste from watermelon seeds as one of many optional ingredients: (五仁, wǔ rén): A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped and held together with maltosewalnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame, or almonds. syrup.

April 16, 2009

Coburg Urban Harvest

Filed under: Coburg,gardening,neighbours,notices,urban farming — Kath @ 3:52 pm

urban-harvest-general-20091

December 12, 2008

Hellenic Republic

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food — Kath @ 9:47 am

I was thinking of going there tonight, but here is a customer review of Hellenic Republic from ador dining out reveiws . For $95 per person, I think I’ll wait for other people’s responses before going. Here is the review:

Overall: 3.0   Food: 2.0   Environment: 4.0   Service: 3.0   Cost Per Person: $95.00

“We were a group of four people and opted for the set menu for the first time there, we were disappointed with the food for a number of reasons. the first was the mezza was very oridinary especially the marinated octopus which was quite mushy also the bread was sliced rye and had nothing to recomend it, with the mains the meat was orginary and there was only one average size piece each.

We finished with a fruit platter also very small portions and not very appertising in presentation. We expected it to be more authentic Greek/Cypriot cuisine with that flair the Greeks have of making fairly plain food tasty.

In order to improve the food little things like the bread and food portions need to be addressed.We were there on the first night it opened and we hope it was only a glich.

I have been to the sister restaurant The Press Club many times as it is a fabulous restaurant and I have recommended it to many people, and I was looking forward to a Greek restaurant in the Taverna style, and felt if anyone George Colombaris would be able to achieve this, so in all fairness I would go back to the Hellenic Republic again in about a month and order individual dishes and see if the food had improved.Until I do this I would not recommend it because as a group of four we were disappointed.”

December 11, 2008

Coburg pool opening!

Filed under: architecture,Coburg,events — Kath @ 4:26 pm

coburg

September 29, 2008

Water for Moreland vegie patches

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kath @ 8:58 am

There’s a Public Forum on “Save Water and the Vegie Patch” this Wednesday 1 October, 7-9pm at Brunswick Town Hall. Speaker include the ABC’s Jane Edmanson, David Holmgren of Permaculture fame, Clive Beazley of Diggers Seeds, and Helen Tuton from  Sustainable Gardening Australia. Details on the Food Gardeners Alliance.

September 11, 2008

Letter from an Australian Idle

Filed under: mischief,music — Kath @ 3:33 pm
Tags:

Dear Sophie Paterson,

There’s no getting around it. I confess to watching you on Australian Idol.

Oh, the shame: someone else’s child turned on Channel 10 (as other people’s offspring will). I promise I’d never seen Idol before. But that wouldn’t explain, I suppose, why I then switched on the telly, night after night, in the hope that you’d appear.

Look, when I saw that early episode, featuring expat wannabees auditioning in London, I was sucked in. As soon as you opened up  your achingly soulful, indy, folksy, jazzy, bluegrassy voice (with your own composition!) I forgave your bogan-bleached hair and recognised that Channel 10 had, despite itself, stumbled upon something interesting. You’re only twenty-two, for chrissakes. My mind trawled for comparisons —Laura Marling, perhaps, or Gillian Welch, Jolie Holland, Sheryl Crow, Fiona Apple… but you’re none of these.

As the judges scraped their jaws off the floor, they, too, knew you had more originality in your twenty-two-year-old larynx than the three of their careers put together. “Wow, wow, yay yay yay… astounding,” was about all the eloquence Darren Hayes and Tina Arena could muster.

I missed the next few Idol episodes, thinking it best that I stop defrauding the government and instead work on my thesis. But I switched on the telly last Wednesday to behold your sultry, edgy, witty, bluesy interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. Never much liked that song, but your version floored me.

To be sure, you peed all over the other contestants. Lovely voices, all of them: but while they belted out songs, you interpreted. More, your delivery came from the gut and the heart and the groin, and the judges — even that Neanderthal windbag Kyle Sandilands  — thought they were backing a winner when they gushed, “That was the standout performance of the whole series.”

But then the vote was turned over to the audience, and the audience — at least those with mobile phones and agile fingers — voted for mediocrity. Instead of you, they voted for two cute contestants with pretty voices and competent, predictable performances. That’s always been the trouble with democracy: even plonkers get to vote.

But of course Idol is no more about democracy (or quality) than Coles supermarket is: it’s a marketplace, with all those free-market structural biases and injustices. You have to remember, Sophie, that even the ‘democratic’ Wikipedia gives more space to folk like Brittney Spears than to any of the music greats who don’t enjoy the same populist scaffolding.

Maybe I’m mounting an elitist argument here, but as Nikki Tranter wrote on PopMatters: “Idol doesn’t claim to discover ‘real’ musicians. It doesn’t hide the fact that contestants are singers competing for a record deal for the sole purpose of making money for BMG.”

So, Sophie, I’m not sure what Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson was supposing when he told you: “What we hoped this year was that we’d get real individuals: people who’d stand out and take risks, and you did… you stood out.” That might be what Dicko wants, but a standout risk-taker is not what the Idol market wants, Sophie.

And when Kyle Sandilands assured you that what you are doing “is really hot at the moment”, he was speaking out of his nether regions. He reminds me of that wonderful quote often directed toward me by Bloke on The Avenue (but attributed to Mark Twain): “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

That fool the market has spoken, and it has rejected you. But for goodness sakes, don’t let this be a measure of your worth. You’re only twenty-two. Your talent alone will most certainly see you with a recording deal before long, because you’ll be snapped up by that oxymoronic sector, the ‘alternative market’ (much the same as that other misnomer, the ‘indy genre’), which has its way of worming into the mainstream. (Or rather, the mainstream has its way of gobbling up any resistance.) Mark my words, Sophie. You read it here first. And I’ll be first in the queue for your debut CD, and one day I’ll be telling my kids: “Yeah, me too, but I prefer her early work.”

Your fan,

Girl on The Avenue

_________

POSTSCRIPT: I snuck a glance at Idol on Monday. In a masterstroke of market intervention, Idol has this thing called ‘wildcard’ where rejected singers somehow get back into the game. Sophie’s apparently back in, but I can’t stand to watch again because the shame, oh the shame. So if anyone else has watched and is willing to admit it, please let me know what’s going on with Sophie.

August 13, 2008

Each Peach

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Kath @ 11:44 am

A very positive review of Each Peach appeared in yesterday’s Age. I admit given the owner’s background with the superb Loafer Bread I had the impression it was a a bakery rather than a cafe, so thus far I’ve been disappointed with Each Peach. But by all other accounts it’s a fine little establishment.

Here’s an extract from the review:

Home-made ginger beer, a three-citrus squeezed juice, an organic hot chocolate and a little “cup of foam” join the coffees. There are toasties of ham and melty Italian fontina cheese, or a selection of sourdough panini using bread from Zeally Bay. Like much on offer here, it’s organic.

The panini arrive crunchy, burny-fingers hot, and filled with fresh, pleasantly understated combinations such as thick seams of snowy ricotta and sweet, chunky pumpkin with Coburg pesto – so named because it is made from basil grown in a local back garden – or milky sour goat’s curd with meaty rough-cut green olive tapenade and a wad of rocket. They are very good.

June 13, 2008

“Green” eggs show their true colours

Our chooks have gone off the lay for winter, and I find myself furious.

When it comes to buying eggs, ‘free range’ can of course mean anything from a vast grassy pasture to an undersized concrete run. And the wholesome-sounding ‘barn laid’ claim, which the RSPCA has — to its eternal shame — endorsed for a tidy sum, is a euphemism for those noisy, cruel, putrid concentration camps in which thousands of debeaked chickens compete for space.

To be on the safe side, I avoid those notorious Pace Farm eggs, and to go for certified organic. But just recently, I learned of ethical Green Eggs. My beloved, trusted Sugardough Bakery (left) in Lygon St uses, recommends and sells them, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. “You can’t get fresher than that,” is the Green Eggs motto, and the company has won many awards as an ethical, sustainable free-range enterprise.

But when broken into a bowl, these Green Eggs eggs collapsed into a slimy sludge. Their yolks were so pallid that when scrambled, they came out not so much yellow as a pale beige.

Our home-laid eggs, on the other hand, have yolks so rich they’re almost burnt orange in colour, and when scrambled, remain an intense sunflower yellow. Our home-laid eggs never collapse when broken: their whites hold together in a firm ring and their yolks sit upright and high.

I’m convinced this is partly because our chooks eat a good mix of high-protein unprocessed grains, but more importantly, they eat greens every day. Cabbage and lettuce leaves, grasses, weeds: whenever we go for a walk we come home with green bounty from Coburg’s nature strips.

Chooks need and love greens, and the greener your chooks’ diets, the richer their eggs’ yolks. All eggs aren’t equal when it comes to nutrient density. (And as Michael Pollan so elegantly puts it: “You are what you eat eats.”) None of the commercial brands seems to have decent-coloured yolk: a good indicator of chook health, as well as the nutritional composition of the egg. It seems no commercial egg farmer is giving chooks the greens they require — not, it would appear, even at the pastured ‘Green Eggs’ company.

June 10, 2008

Lurking in Lygon St

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Faithh @ 1:08 pm

Our local chunk of Lygon St has generally been a bit dull. Unless you’re into gambling and McDonalds followed by a bit-of-a-hoon in a motorized wheelchair that doubles as a Jason recliner, in which case you might well enjoy it. I don’t to get to do any of this stuff any more since the four-year-old came along.

However things are looking up. At least for me.

Artisan Espresso opened recently at 438 Lygon St, down near the tram stop opposite CJ Fabrics. One of the owners, Marinus Jansen (of appetite food store, North Melbourne) has paired up with Josh-the-coffee-roaster-Bailey to provide a little piece of heaven locally. What’s great about the place is they do coffee and ONLY coffee. Well, Ok, they do other beverages, but no food. Soon there will also be a retail coffee outlet opening there from where you will be able to buy your beans. And they are in the process of moving Josh’s roaster onto the premises so soon I’ll be able to tend the chooks and wrangle the vegies (or is that the other way around) while the heavenly aroma of roasting coffee comes wafting up the laneway. Now thats going to be good for productivity! The house-blend, Padre is a great all-rounder and has become our coffee of choice at home with good reviews from all of our vistors. Meanwhile at Artisan Espresso itself you can regularly try the various beans as they are roasted and experimented with.

It gets even better. Just a little further up, where the wool shop used to be, an organic bakery and cafe will be opening. The owner is a pastry chef who previously worked with the guys from Loaf of Bread in Nth Fitzroy. Now I’m looking forward to that!

And if you want real unsubstantiated gossip, the old cheesecake shop is currently undergoing extensive renovations and the rumour-mill insists that it is all being done for George Calombaris of The Press Club. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen but it certainly adds to a sense of rejuvenation in the strip.

Vegie2Go also opened in this strip of Lygon St late last year and while the franchise-style doesn’t do much for me the Italian based vegetarian food is always delicious. Handy as a take-away alternative. Can’t quite come at eating there.

Lush is another new addition; an enormous place (three shop frontages I think) packed full of furniture, clothes, jewellery, and thingies all of a very lush persuasion. Again I have to admit it’s not really my style so I can’t vouch for the place but if you suspect ‘lush’ is what you’re after then it would be worth a look.

pict0421.jpgAnd of course there are our old favourites, the record shop with a picnic set for sale in the window, the Organic Grocery Store, Casa Della Pasta (who now also make fresh organic pasta), Nabil the hairdresser, (love that waft of patchouli everytime you ruffle your son’s hair) and a fabulous Indian herbs and spices store where you can also pick up the latest bollywood DVDs.

Foodworks mind you, I could live without. For the handfull of things I do buy in a supermarket you still can’t go past IGA in Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

June 9, 2008

Tapas ticket

Filed under: Uncategorized — Faithh @ 8:00 pm

I was going to try and write something pithy and contructive around this point but it’s obviously beyond me so I’ll just get to the point. Has anyone else seen the prices of the tapas at A Minor Place?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Place and have been known to waste hours a day there and was pleased-as-punch when they announced they would be opening evenings for wine and tapas. My husband and my addiction to wine and tapas meant our son spent much of his first year parked on a terrace in successive north-western spanish towns while we indulged in broadening his cultural education. But jeetjes, even we can’t come at these prices! Well we did once, just to be fair, but NEVER again. Shame, it was all looking so promising.

And since I’m being trivial and petty, someone obviously forgot to tell Clem Bastow at The Age that the expression is “very new Brunswick”, not “very Brunswick”. Or maybe he is creating his own sub-category? Whatever, interesting though that he felt the need to explain the use of the term.

May 3, 2008

Breakfast blog

Filed under: food — Kath @ 12:16 pm

For Pete’s sake, will you look at this excellent breakfast blog. It’s been going since 2005. Like The Age, it tends to have a southern and eastern inner-suburbs bias, but it’s ace.

April 9, 2008

Call to action: save Coburg pool

Filed under: architecture,Coburg,politics,urban planning — Kath @ 10:50 am

The campaign to save Coburg Olympic pool is still going strong. The campaign has a website here, where you can download fliers, get background information and attend action meetings.

Meeting in Brunswick to discuss proposed freeway

The following is from the Moreland Greens’ Mike Puleston:

Moreland Council will be sponsoring a Public Meeting on the proposed East-West Freeway at Brunswick Town Hall on Sunday April 13 at 2.00. This will follow the Cyclovia, [pictured] when Sydney Rd will be closed to motor vehicles from Bell St to Brunswick Rd for the morning.

The Greens are opposed to the proposed freeway for a number of reasons:

1. The project puts motor vehicles at the centre of a transport strategy that should be looking first and foremost at public transport in this era of climate change. For example, motor traffic would be greatly reduced by construction of a light railway from Doncaster along the Eastern Freeway to link up with inner city public transport – this railway has been on the books since the 1970s.

2. Provision of freeways is massively more expensive than public transport options. The billions earmarked for the East-West Freeway could be better spent on public transport, including better rail connections to outer suburbs.

3. The freeway would funnel even larger numbers of motor vehicles into inner suburbs. Even though Eddington does not have off-ramps into the City in his report, there is general agreement that the project’s financial backers would not accept a lack of off-ramps. The increased congestion would not only affect suburbs such as Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton. It would also cause slowdowns to trams coming from further out, and greater risks to cyclists.

4. The freeway would cause massive disfigurement of Royal Park – which has already suffered from land grabs in recent years.

And so it goes on.

It would be good to have a strong turnout of Greens members and supporters. Please bring your Greens triangles – there will be triangles available if you do not have one.

Brunswick Labor MP for Brunswick Carlo Carli is showing uncharacteristic energy on this issue, and will speak at the meeting. It is hard not to think that Carlo’s rare burst of vigour has been largely promptly by the threat to his seat posed by the 30% Greeens vote in 2006 – the highest in the state. With a few more % in the primary vote and favorable preferences, the Greens will take this seat in 2010, as we will take Melbourne, Richmond, and possibly Northcote.

Although Carlo may speak out against the freeway, he is a small cog in the Brumby Labor machine. When it comes to voting in Parliament Carlo will toe the Party line – to do otherwise would be political suicide.

We need more Greens in state parliament to ask the questions others are afraid to ask.

April 8, 2008

Your cardigan is a national security threat

Filed under: crime,politics — Kath @ 10:26 am

And your washing machine is spying on you. Read about it here.

March 20, 2008

“Tanti-social” toilets in Coburg

Filed under: Coburg,crime,Sydney Road,urban planning — Kath @ 11:45 pm

What larks to see Media Watch pick up on the Moreland Leader‘s sub-editing issues. And following The Republic’s exposé on Coburg’s über-toilet scandal (see post below), the Leader ran a campaign to “stop the tanti-social behavior” in Coburg toilets.

You what?

Tanti-social issues are one thing (and don’t we all have ‘em?), but spelling ‘behaviour’ American-style is just a steaming pile of jobbies. Still, bottoms up to the Leader subs who remembered to replace “Toilet headline in here thanks ta” with:

Toilet backflip a big relief for Coburg shoppers

It’s punny, innit? (I bet you can think of a dozen variations — “Shoppers’ fears flushed away” and so on.) The story then describes a dangerous Alan Jones phenomenon in Cobes that’s threatening family values:

A lack of toilets in the central shopping district had forced families and parents with prams to use underground toilets also used by men cruising for sex.

I’m just busting for A Current Affair to pick up on this one. Read the full report here.

March 15, 2008

A toyme in the loyfe of a Cobufoyle

Filed under: Coburg — Kath @ 11:38 pm

It’s been a very Coburg toyme.

• The excellent Cobes butcher that sells free-range meats twice gave me a voucher to Baker’s Delight™. I’d rather eat my mother-in-law’s year-old kidney fry than bread from Baker’s Delight™, but Bloke on The Avenue was with me and it was simply against his high principles to waste a freebie, so we had Bakers Delight™’s dinner rolls with our bbq. (They were better than anything m-i-l has served up.) The second time Little One was with me and he, too, insisted on an anemic-looking Pizza Roll. To the chicks at Baker’s Delight™, you have to pronounce that “Peeetsa Roewell.” Or they don’t understand you.

• Bladder bursting, I queued for at least 15 minutes to get into Coburg’s new multimillion $ state-of-the-art stainless steel space-aged-unisex-self-flushing-self-cleaning-auto-loo conveniently located next to the library. Have you seen the boastful public notices about this beast? It’s intuitive, you know — you don’t have to touch anything. Kewl. But when I finally got in, I washed my hands, grotty after aforementioned Peeetsa Roewell (okay, I shared it with Little One, and it was ace). Which automatically flushed Loo before I’d done my business. Wasteful! I scolded Loo — and to get back at me, after I’d done my business, it wouldn’t let me wash my hands a second time. Did not compute. Hence it wouldn’t automatically flush (IF=handwashing THEN=flush). I had a bit of explaining to do to the next person in the queue.

• Under duress, I took some Easter Bunny colouring sheets from the supermarket counter for Little One and his Little Brunswick Mate to colour in. Only they’re not innocent bunny colouring sheets: they’re the Coles® Land of Cadbury™ Colouring® Competition™. Little One and Brunswick Junior wanted to enter their fine colouring, but alas, I secreted their entries to the recycling bin, as the Conditions of Entry™ says their addresses and details will remain the property of Coles® for all time for marketing purposes and whatever other purposes Coles® deems fit.

• I took down a hoon’s details with full intention of dobbing him in. What an aresehole, scooting between traffic at 150k with his doof-doof. I got home and inertia set in.

March 10, 2008

The FLY!

Filed under: environment,food,gardening,urban farming — Faithh @ 5:21 pm

Should I be worried? Can I take precautions? Do fruit fly like quince?

The news that a backyard in Ascot Vale has been quarantined after the discovery of fruit-fly has me in a small, but still significant, panic. How many backyards between that one and mine, and how many contain fruit? I’m guessing, not many, and all of them, respectively.

My grandparents lived near the NSW border and so I grew up spending a large part of the summer holidays parked on the side of the road while grandma force-fed us fruit prior to us being inspected at the fruit-fly post. Apparently this was because the alternative, throwing the fruit into the bin provided, would be ‘wasting it’. Should we be setting set up a Checkpoint Charlie at Puckle St? Destroying our fruit? Checking it? I’m off to do some research, what does fruit fly look like and what should we be doing? (Of course I could have done that before I posted but that would go against the spirit of the internet now wouldn’t it?)

March 9, 2008

Headline in here thanks ta

Filed under: books & writing,nonsense — Kath @ 9:04 pm

Moreland Leader’s savvy-sub-editors working overtime.

But if you want to witness the nadir of suburban newspaper reportage, read Helen’s post here.

February 29, 2008

Smear of scientists

Filed under: food,health,politics — Kath @ 9:22 pm

I think that’s a good collective noun, isn’t it? “There was a smear of scientists at the convention”. If you can think of a better collective noun for them, let me know. Anyhoo, the following smear was published in Crikey yesterday:

______________

Tomorrow ends Victoria’s ban on genetically manipulated (GM) food crops — and following widespread media exposure of the putative health and environmental hazards of GM food, chief scientist Gustav Nossal will be joined by three scientists for a media conference to brief journalists on “Which concerns [about GM food crops] are the most justified? Which risks can be managed and which can’t?”

Yet tomorrow’s briefing is “vested interests masquerading as public interest science” claims Greenpeace spokesperson Louise Sales. Comprising scientists who campaigned in support of lifting the bans, it was organised by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC), which claims itself “free of bias”.

But absent are independent scientists who warn of dangers of GM food: biochemist and nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM; or medical scientist Professor Stephen Leeder; or epidemiologist Dr Judy Carman; or crop research scientist Dr Maartan Stapper. There are many.

Media Manager Lyndal Gully told Crikey in an email:

“There was no attempt to line up a panel with a particular GM viewpoint… [but] if scientists on the panel are more likely to end up arguing with each other rather than answering journalists’ questions, then there is a good chance that the science (that either side is trying to communicate) will be lost in the story.”

Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps said the selected scientists “are speaking way outside their area of scientific expertise.” But AusSMC CEO Susannah Eliot said the panel was chosen because “they have done the research and have the knowledge-base, and they are happy to be grilled by the media.”

One panellist, Dr TJ Higgins, is CSIRO’s co-inventor of the ill-fated GM field pea, abandoned because it caused lung-damage when fed to mice. His published claims that “there isn’t a single piece of evidence that [GM food is] any less safe than conventional food” reportedly prompted the ire of environmental scientist Dr Brian John, who branded these claims “a lie.” Experimental biologist Dr Arpad Puzstai also saidMost of Dr Higgins’ comments are factually incorrect… the final refuge of the incompetent.”

Critics of second panelist Dr Chris Preston claim his published reviews ignore negative studies. Professor Rainer Mosenthin reportedly said Preston’s methods should be disregarded as they “have limited scientific value.”

And third panelist Professor Rick Roush reportedly failed to disclose his research funding by GM companies. Allegedly as a result, Science journal revised its disclosure policy, as it is recognised that industry-funded research tends to be much more industry-favourable than independent research.

Accusations don’t amount to guilt — and many anti-GM-food scientists also face public mud-slinging (including from some on this panel). This is the problem, says AusSMC’s CEO Susannah Eliot. “The issue is so polarised it gets tricky to select a panel. Many scientists are happy to discuss the issues privately but aren’t willing to speak publicly because they don’t want to be labelled as pro- or anti-GM.”

_________

Postscript:

Professor Rick Roush said today:

“We know that eggs and nuts can be harmful to people — there is no evidence GM foods can be.”

Obviously Professor Roush missed this. And this.

February 14, 2008

Modesty prevents him*

Filed under: art,books & writing — Kath @ 5:22 pm

Okay, I’m gonna to do something that’s frowned upon within the interwebs. I’m gonna out a psuedonymous blogger.

The Republic of Moreland’s ‘Leonaardo’ is actually — ta-da-da-da — the painter Robert Hollingworth!

Don’t know Robert’s art? You may know his words. Robert’s a terrific writer. Last night I went to the launch of his latest book, They Called Me The Wildman, at Readings in Carlton. Published by Murdoch Books, the book’s publicity blurb reads thus:

They Called Me the Wildman is historian and artist Robert Hollingworth’s captivating reconstruction of Swedish-born naturalist Henricke Nelsen’s solitary life. Henricke lived on a mountain in Victoria’s Tallarook Ranges in the 1860s. Robert Hollingworth has written Henricke’s life story in the form of a prison diary. No imaginary work could arrange a better cast of characters than this meticulously researched story.

Never mind the blurb (and Robert insists he’s not a historian — even though the book is based on historical records). I can tell you it’s a terrific read. I read it in manuscript stage, and ’twas one of those page-turners that keep me up into the wee hours. And I don’t even tend to read this kind of genre. I promise you it was authentic and moving and wondrous. It hit me right here:

*pounds heart*

Now, it’s in hard-cover, beautifully bound, with gorgeous paperstock and old illustrations. It’s a fine object as well as a wonderful read. If you buy one as a present it will be treasured, I promise.

You can listen to Leonaardo talk about it on ABC Radio National.

Local and or general

I’ve decided to try and incorporate more indigenous plants in my plans for the garden. This started off as a way to encourage local frogs into our pond and grew from there. It’s not that I plan to get rid of everything else, just to inform myself about what the indigenous possibilities might be. Towards this I was planning on going to a talk on indigenous plants of Moreland at Coburg library recently.

Alas, like most good intentions it was lost somewhere between the coffee breaks and urgent internet-browsing. Luckily Ceres has a range of plants indigenous to Merri Creek and surounding areas and recently I discovered (only in the virtual sense so far) the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Cooperative (VINC) at Fairfield which looks like it would be worth a real-life visit. The Keelbundora Indigenous Nursery at Latrobe Uni also looks very interesting.

This morning however while indulging in the sort of internet-surfing that meant I missed the original talk in the first place, I found Gardening with Indigenous Plants in Moreland, a 16 page booklet produced for Moreland City Council by Merri Creek management committee with an extensive list of plants and trees complete with illustrations.

Armed with this and the Moreland Nature Strip Beautification Guidelines how can I go wrong?

Trash and treasure

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,environment — Faithh @ 1:44 pm

Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Here in the southern states of the Greater Republic of Moreland (Brunswick, that is….) the annual hard waste collections are about to start. I’m just as excited as those who engage in Boxing-Day-stampedes and am busy clearing space in the shed, down the side of the house, on the roof and under the house while my husband is threatening to host a support group for men-whose-wives-trawl-the-streets-and-laneways-and-drag-home-junk.

Mind you it’s not all mindless consumption; I am planning to get rid of a few things. Last year we watched bemused as one of our neighbours scoured our castoffs and triumphantly bore away a rotting compost bin. On the other hand it’s the discarded, and gorgeously rusted, corrugated iron from their back verandah that now adorns the front of our home-office. As they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Maybe even more so when that man is a woman.

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