It's all because of the time of year, yes—but also an unusual factor that we can't change.
If you're thinking of blaming the unusually high cost of your favorite breakfast staple on Easter, you aren't wrong—egg prices in the United States have soared to all-time high after many home cooks served (and decorated!) classic egg dishes last Sunday.
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the wholesale cost of a dozen eggs in the Midwest is now two times what it was at the beginning of March. On average, eggs are ringing up at $2.71 per dozen for wholesalers, just under the record of $2.77 set in August 2015 when the European avian flu was a major concern, as Bloomberg reports.
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And for shoppers like you, maybe you've noticed that prices for a dozen eggs are almost 40 percent higher than what they've normally been. A survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation illustrated the price jump, which is a big difference from this time last year, where prices were low at an average of $1.32 per dozen.
Photo courtesy of Target.
It's no secret that egg prices often rise in the weeks leading up to Easter, due to demand. (If you still have leftovers, now is a good time to make some deviled eggs.) But Easter came earlier this year, and smack in the middle of one of the worst winter seasons for Americans along the Atlantic seaboard. We all know too well that adverse weather can drive up prices at the supermarket.
There's a silver lining: The United States had more than 385 million hens in March, the most in over a decade, and up 2.5 percent since 2016, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
With all those hens, there will be lots of eggs to be had—and if you remember anything from economics class, more supply equals less demand and, eventually, lower prices.
This Is What The Trump Family Actually Eats
Since his inauguration as 45th president of the USA, Donald Trump's eating habits have become the stuff of legend. Nowadays, who isn't aware of his unabashed love of fast food, his penchant for a burnt steak, or his inexplicable need to drink a dozen Diet Cokes a day? To many people, Trump's diet is one of the things that defines his character — for better or worse.
But he's not the only Trump. The first family is made up of a number of distinctive personalities, and each has their own way of approaching their diets. You've got Melania by Donald's side, while moving further down the table you've got Ivanka, Eric, Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Tiffany, and Barron (though we're not too sure what Trump's youngest son has on his plate). It's a big family, and although one of them is renowned for his obsession with the unhealthier things on the menu, other Trumps have a love of salads, fruits, fine dining, hearty cooking, and even Slavic cuisine. This is what the Trump family really eats.
The ultimate triumph of style over substance, Absolut vodka has won every advertising gong going since its launch in 1979, and is now the world's third biggest spirit brand. Though produced in Sweden, it was a US adman who coined the first slogan, 'Absolut perfection', which was soon followed by other witticisms that you can pore over on the immensely tedious website (www.absolut.com). Even flavouring it with jalapeño peppers (Peppar), blackcurrants (Kurant) and, most recently, mandarin (Mandrin, natch) can't disguise its basic dullness - though its success gives comfort to those who can't spll.
The Action Cookbook, by Len Deighton
A seminal moment in modern cookery comes when Michael Caine pulls by making an omelette in the film of The Ipcress File. In 1962, journalist/designer Len Deighton published the book of that film, and, this book based on his strip that appeared first in the Daily Express and then the Observer. As practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth as his fictional hero, and enlivened by a characteristic, offbeat wit, it was the first manifesto to claim the domestic kitchen as male territory. The rest is history.
Status symbol, design classic, Joanna Trollope scene setter, bum warmer, teacloth dryer, ultimate cooking machine (ho ho). A snip at £12,000 new. Invented by Swedish Nobel prize winner, Nils Gustaf Dalen, in 1922, it was a breakthrough in state-of-the-art cooking technology. The Aga's defenders would have you believe that no better cooker has come along since. Utter nonsense: it's grand for stews, bread and very slow cooking - that's about it.
What health freaks would have drunk if they'd thrown a dinner party in the 1980s, when this sickly, melon-flavoured, non-alcoholic drink was regarded as the height of sophistication. Based on a Swiss recipe combining fruit juices and plant extracts, it's supposed to have an 'alkalising' effect on the body, providing a 'natural balance to an acid forming diet'. Ah well, at least it's better than lo-alcohol chardonnay.
Might well have been created to meet the request, 'And something sweet for the lady', yet Baileys has been a runaway success since its 1974 launch. A quarter of the cows in Ireland are apparently used in producing the 50 million gallons of milk it takes to meet annual demand for this sickly cream and Irish whiskey-based liqueur. They must be making a fortune (GuinnessUDV, not the cows), given that it costs £12 a pop. Target audience is women who watch Sex And The City: 'modern, sophisticated and sensual'. Hmmm.
Chefs loved balsamic in the early 1990s. They drizzled it, dotted it on plates, poured it over ice cream: it was hard to escape the stuff. Not that they often used real aceto balsamico tradizionale, which takes up to 30 years to mature and costs a bomb. Made from the cooked must of trebbiano grapes, it's aged in barrels made of chestnut, cherry or mulberry. Why did it go out of fashion? Mere mortals couldn't drizzle: they just dolloped great inedible gouts of it on their salads.
The man who brought us Food & Drink Ready, Steady, Cook Can't Cook, Won't Cook (not to mention Big Brother, Ground Force, Pet Rescue and a whole lot more top-drawer TV). Great-grandson of the great Victorian sewage engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette. Got his start in TV as a researcher on the much-missed That's Life. Leaped to eminence with Food & Drink, and has remained there ever since. A stout, silver-tongued defender of contemporary TV standards. Which he can afford to be: his company has a £40m turnover.
Blue Nun Liebfraumilch
This famous hock was created with the 1921 vintage of Liebfraumilch by the firm of H Sichel Söhne in the Rheinhessen. For years, it was the number one wine brand in the UK, back when the Times had only classifieds on its front page. Nowadays - relaunched, redesigned, reblended, and rebounding from forecasts of its imminent demise - it's still Britain's best-selling German wine, but now languishes at number 17 in the UK wine brand league table. It sells around 300,000 cases a year (down from a mid-1980s peak of nearly two million). Sales slumped further with the Queen Mum's demise - it is believed she got through a case a fortnight.
There's no better way to distinguish between global and craft-brewed beer than sipping a pair of Buds. There's 'American' Budweiser (brewed in the old Watney's factory at Mortlake, on the Thames). And there's the sublime Czech Budweiser Budvar. They're the same strength (5%), but there all similarities end. American Bud lists rice before barley on the label. The Czech beer is all malt and uses classic Saaz hops. The US beer is cold, bland and fizzy, the Czech rich, biscuity and gently fruity. US Bud dates from 1876, Budvar from 1895 but beers called Budweiser have been brewed in the town of Budweis for centuries. Go for taste and heritage.
Before the term 'celebrity chef' was coined, Carrier was a restaurateur (Carrier's and Hintlesham Hall) whose books and TV appearances made him very famous. Indeed, for many thousands his name was synonymous with sophisticated eating. Classic Great Dishes Of The World, published in 1963 and reissued in 1999, has sold more than two million copies it remains his best book. He has always been a populariser, an explorer, and a great communicator of information and enthusiasm. Arguably as influential as E David or D Smith, between whom, in many ways, he is a historical link.
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 dssp freshly chopped tarragon
Grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon
4 chicken breasts, skinned
4-5 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
Blend together the first nine ingredients in a food processor, then allow to firm up slightly in a cool place (not the fridge). Form into four rough sausage shapes, then put in the fridge to solidify.
On the underside of the breast, you will find a small flap (it looks like a miniature chicken breast, and is sometimes called a fillet). Remove with a knife, and place between a folded sheet of greaseproof paper. Beat gently with a rolling pin and flatten it to double its original size. Following the same formula, do the same to the larger part of each breast. Lay all eight pieces on a flat tray.
Have the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Brush the insides of the large breasts, where the fillets were, with egg, then sprinkle with the merest dusting of flour. Rub in with the tip of a finger, then place a sausage of garlic and herb butter on each. Do the same egging and flouring to the little fillets, then lay the bigger breast pieces on top, allowing the edges to flop down on either side. Press together, sealing the butter within, place on a clingfilmed tray and freeze for 30 minutes, to firm up.
Heat the deep fryer to 160C/310F (for those without a thermometer, it's the heat at which a scrap of bread goes golden after a minute or so). Remove the chicken from its tray and gently drag it through the flour, making sure that any crevices are well coated. Dip each piece into the egg, making sure that all surfaces are coated and, perhaps, pushing some into the crevices with the end of a pastry brush. Now coat with breadcrumbs, pressing them in lightly with your fingertips. Lower into the oil and fry for exactly eight minutes. Lift out, allow to drain for a few seconds, then place on kitchen paper. Serve with chips, naturally, some lemon quarters and bunches of watercress.
From The Prawn Cocktail Years, by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham, Macmillan, 1997.
Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 1993
The first wine exported from Chile was in 1903, a few cases of red sold to the US made by Villa Undurraga. Cousino Macul was the first Chilean winery exporting to the UK, but even as recently as 1980 total Chilean wine exports to this country were a piddling 5,000 cases. Then came the Chilean cabernet sauvignons of the mid-1990s, and what had been a mere pebble precipitated an avalanche. Chilean cabernet was not only delicious, fruity and upfront it was also serious and complex, deep, boldly fruity and, most important, it had tannins. Even scientists proclaimed it the healthiest red you could drink. It is now one of the most popular wines on these thirsty shores. Names such as Santa Rita, Cono Sur, Montes, Cantena, Vina Gracia, Santa Carolina, Valdivieso and Errazuriz are on every supermarket shelf. The number-one brand name is Concha y Toro, which sells nearly 750,000 cases a year in the UK alone. Chilean cabernet sauvignon is the most exciting red for the money in the world.
Here's a story of modern gastronomic life for you. Ciabatta - the epitome of Italian gastronomy, platform for crostini and bruschetta of the contemporary dinner table, that easy-to-chew, easy-to-eat, spongy mass inside a dusty, crusty crust - is as authentically rustic Italian as I am. It was invented in 1982 to take on the French baguette at its own game, and hit the big time in 1985, when it was one of a batch of 'continental'-style breads launched by M&S. Almost instantly it became the Mother's Pride of the middle classes, and remains so to this day.
A Book Of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden
Long before we could tell a tabbouleh from a tagine, the food writers' favourite food writer was writing about the food of north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. This seminal work, published in 1968, is still the ultimate reference book for the area - full of the accumulated wisdom, history, anecdotes and fables she prised out of the people she talked to. Although her explanations of the origin of a dish are scholarly in their detail, most of the recipes couldn't be simpler. The chapter on savoury pastries is not to be missed.
Confit de canard
1 duck, complete with head, feet, etc, plucked and drawn
Cut the duck into pieces: thighs, breasts, wings and neck. Keep the feet, head, heart and neck. Clean the gizzard under cold, running water, and pat dry. Skin the neck. Trim off the skin and any excess fat from the duck pieces and reserve. Put all the duck pieces in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix in the coarse salt. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
Chop the reserved fat and skin into small dice. Put three tablespoons of water in a pan, bring to the boil and add the fat and skin. Cook very gently for one and a half hours. Strain the now liquid fat through a fine sieve, and set aside in a cool place.
Remove the duck pieces from the salt, rinse under cold, running water and pat dry with a tea towel. In a large saucepan, melt the sieved duck fat over a very low heat until it reaches 90C/194F. Put in the small pieces (feet, head, heart, neck, wings and gizzard) and cook for about an hour, skimming the surface as necessary. The temperature of the fat should be kept constant under no circumstances let it boil. The meat is ready when you can insert a larding needle without resistance. Using a slotted spoon, lift the meat out of the fat and cover with a lid or plate to prevent it from drying out. Cook the thighs and breasts in the same way, for about 1 hours. When these are ready, put the small pieces of duck back into the fat with the larger pieces, remove the pot from the stove and leave to cool completely.
Using a slotted spoon, put the small pieces into a very clean preserving jar (or any large jar with a good lid) and the breasts and thighs into another. Every piece must be well coated with fat, so do not pack them too tightly. Pour in the fat, being careful not to add the cooking juices, as these are perishable. Leave to cool completely before screwing on the lids, then refrigerate. It will keep for a year.
From La Tante Claire, by Pierre Koffmann and Timothy Shaw, Headline, 1992.
The Constance Spry Cookbook
Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume's 1956 book of the cookery school at Winkfield, near Ascot, was for nice, middle-class women who, after the war, were all of a sudden deprived of cooks and other servants who had previously made life bearable. Actually, Spry was the flower arranger and Hume the cook, the Delia of her day, but so much more genteel. The book is 1,197 pages of sound advice and sexy recipes (from vol-au-vents à l'Indienne and oeufs Valenciana to Edinburgh rock and tomato ice - very contemporary), a monument to 'civilised living' and 'the homelier arts'. If you can't find a recipe for something anywhere else, it will be in Constance Spry. Plus, the finest recipe for a punch ever devised (Royal, on page 1,081).
Britain's permanent opposition minister of food since 1967, when he published The Bad Food Guide. He created a new branch of campaigning journalism, challenging the agro-industrial food lobby. After more than two decades as presenter of Radio 4's Food Programme, Cooper's gravelly voice elicits deep trust. He wears his engagement in food wars on the 'Marxist Lentillist' side as a badge of honour, quoting Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara: 'When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.'
Coulis (sieved purée of fruit or vegetable) shot to stardom in the 1970s, when Michel Guérard launched lighter, brighter cuisine minceur, sacrilegiously ditching traditions such as calorie-rich crème Anglaise served with oeufs à la neige in favour of health-promoting blackcurrant coulis. Raspberry, strawberry, apricot, tomato, pepper. they gave you something to do with that mouli-légumes carted back from France. In the UK these days, coulis is a shadow of its former self, atrophied into decorative drizzles squirted out of squeezy bottles. US enthusiasm for its pioneering potential knows no bounds, however: to wit, mango-wasabi coulis or zucchini coulis with ajwain seed.
There was the movement and the book. Both transformed not just what we cooked and ate (shorter, quicker, lighter), but how we saw food, literally and figuratively. The nominal focus was Michel Guérard, but it also embraced a fabulously gifted generation of French chefs (Chapel, Bocuse, Vergé, the brothers Troisgros, etc). The term was invented by the Barnum'n'Bailey of the French restaurant scene, Gault et Millau, who also skilfully orchestrated the march of publicity. Hideously abused by untalented practitioners, it soon became a term of abuse - but, in a way, we are all now children of cuisine nouvelle.
Elizabeth David performed a sterling cultural service by re-educating and re-inspiring postwar Britain about food. Her influence grew from 1955 onwards, when Penguin started publishing her books in paperback. They are now collector's items. Her talent lay in authoritative, experience-based writing that was highly evocative and sensual, yet also dry and controlled. She never gushed. Her memsahib-like tone, wit, critical irreverence and stubborn refusal to accept the fake and synthetic gave her a campaigning edge, and set new benchmarks for authenticity. Still enjoys uncontested status as Britain's finest food commentator, and her writings remain uncannily relevant.
In 1991, David Eyre had a bright idea. Take over a London pub, and keep it as a pub, but also serve the kind of modern European food that even beer drinkers would rather eat than gristle-and-cartilage pie. And provide decent wine to go with it. Thus was born the gastropub. Its greatest achievement: to wound fatally the unthinking British assumption that fine food must be accompanied by linen tablecloths, a dress code and obsequious waiters who secretly hate you. For this, we are truly grateful.
Extra-virgin olive oil
For most of the 20th century in Britain, olive oil was something you bought in the chemist and then stuffed in your ears with cotton wool. By the 1980s, extra virgin was essential kit for foodies. Come the early 1990s - and fuelled by the legendary health benefits of the Mediterranean diet - consumption went mass market. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, producers tore up ancient olive trees to plant vines now, they can't replant fast enough. Plantation-style production is a reality, and new grower countries such as New Zealand, Argentina and China are coming on-stream, opening up the prospect of a world awash with extra virgin.
At last, in the closing hours of the 20th century, up popped organised resistance to the supermarkets' systematic elimination of the independent food sector. The first farmers' market was established in Bath in 1997, and the concept has spread like wildfire (currently approaching 500 markets) in such diverse locations as sleepy harbour fronts and municipal car parks. As consumer alienation with robotic, Stepford Wife-style supermarket shopping mounts, diminutive farmers' markets prosper, offering everything that big box outlets do not: namely, local food, small-scale artisan products, sociable human contact and reconnection with the countryside and the seasons.
The food processor
Created in 1973 by American inventor Carl G Sontheimer, founder of the Cuisinart corporation, and much imitated ever since. Few machines were better timed to capitalise on the modern craving for 'labour-saving devices'. Manufacturers added extras: graters, slicers, juicers, whisks, pastry hooks. They came up with mini-food processors, food processors with a blender attached, food processors with mini-food processors. Result: powerful hardware occupying a lot of counter space, often without seeing much use. The problem: food processors aren't worth using unless you're cooking for a crowd. Another example of technology we didn't need as much as we thought we did.
Gran Coronas Mas La Plana 1970
A historic wine, made by Spain's largest independent wine company, Miguel Torres. It shook the French wine establishment to its cellars in 1979, when a Wine Olympics was held in Paris, and this blend of cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo and cabernet franc, came first, ahead of Chteau Latour 1970 and La Mission Haut-Brion 1961. In 1990, it repeated the feat in London, when the 1971 vintage beat Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild. The French took these defeats in typical spirit, and put the wine on more Michelin two- and three-star restaurant lists than any other Spanish red.
2 large cloves garlic (crushed)
Pinch of cayenne, to taste (optional)
Soak the chickpeas for a few hours or overnight in cold water. Drain and simmer in fresh water until really soft, which usually takes more than an hour, adding salt towards the end of the cooking time. (A good pinch of bicarbonate of soda speeds up the softening, but then you must throw away the cooking water, because it acquires an unpleasant taste.)
Cool a little, put in the liquidiser with the rest of the ingredients and enough cooking water to achieve a soft cream. Add the flavourings gradually and taste often. It should be distinctly sharp.
Serve on flat plates garnished with parsley and a dribble of olive oil. Accompany with warmed pitta bread to dip in.
From A New Book Of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden, Penguin, 1970.
Jacob's Creek 1986
Deservedly the UK's number one wine brand. It must be the only wine name in the world begun by a Bavarian, grown in Australia, and owned by the French (Pernod-Ricard, of which Orlando-Wyndham, the Barossa conglomerate that makes JC, is a subsidiary). In truth, the creek is a barely animated trickle of murk, and when Johann Gramp planted riesling there in the 1850s he could not have known the flood that that trickle would become. The wine, a blended red and a white, landed here in 1986 and sold just 3,500 cases. It now sells three million cases a year of shiraz/cab, chardonnay and riesling.
The millionaire president of the 223-member Circle of Wine Writers and, in spite of his modest footage, towers over all but two. A single seed - his 1966 Wine, a seminal work - established his reputation, and he also publishes maps, edits an annual wine guide, chairs the Sunday Times Wine Club, and runs a boutique selling high-priced wine gew-gaws to dollar-dozy tourists. Started the revolution in modern wine prose, and continues to write like a god.
Where we started to stop fearing restaurants and began to love them. The key restaurant of the past 20 years. Opened in 1987 with the explicit intention of showing that eating out in style wasn't just for nobs. Julyan Wickham's style-breaking design, using huge windows, turned restaurants into aquariums, inviting the passing public to stop, stare and enter. Rowley Leigh's impeccable, French-based food was priced so that anyone who appreciated great grub could afford to eat it. Both have worn amazingly well, considering.
Large white plates
A by-product of the cuisine nouvelle revolution. Became de rigueur in smart restaurants and smarter dinner parties in 1978, when they first appeared in the photographs accompanying Cuisine Nouvelle and Cuisine Gourmand by Michel Guérard. Artists in food (and typography) woke up to the realisation that white space is great for showing off handi-work. Plates got progressively bigger and whiter until they no longer fitted into the domestic dishwasher. Now, of course, plates are an art form in their own right. Indeed, in really fancy places, the food takes second place to the plate. The logical extension of all this is not to clutter up the plate with food at all.
Has Cymbopogon citratus already had its day? This fragrant grass, indispensable and widely used in Thai cooking, burst on to the scene four or five years ago. We liked Thai. Chefs liked Thai. So, chefs liked lemon grass - in crème brûlée, in jus, in risotto. But its star seems to be waning. A top-notch chef, recently decamped from a trendy London restaurant to one doing French bistro fare, says he looks forward to never having to cook with the stuff again. With prices at £35 per kilo in supermarkets, how much longer until we all agree with him?
Lyon's Corner House
A postwar survivor of a prewar original, when the name Lyon's was a guarantee of quality eating. The Pret A Manger, Starbucks and Maison Blanc of its day, complete with black-uniformed, white-pinnied waitresses known as nippies. Plain food for the masses until the early 1980s, when it fell victim to the vanguard of the big, brash and brassy burger bars. The Corner House on Oxford Street, London, even got an honourable mention in the Good Food Guide of 1957/58 on the grounds that each steak or chop was cooked individually, for an individual and as that individual asked. Can't say that of McDonald's, can you?
In 1961, Ray Kroc paid Dick and Mac McDonald $2.7m for the small chain of burger joints he had set up using their formula and their name. Today, there are more than 20,000 stores worldwide. Big Mac came along in 1968, Happy Meals in 1979. But Kroc cared about more than just money. McDonald's pours millions into charity, because, Kroc said, 'We have an obligation to give back to the communities that give us so much.' He also said, about his industry, 'This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I'll kill 'em, and I'm going to kill 'em before they kill me.'
Nearly 30 years have passed since Hazan published her first book, The Classic Italian Cookbook. Four books have followed. In their pages, she has taught more people how to cook Italian food than any other writer in English. Her writing is based on the cookery school she ran in Venice until the late 1990s (fees: $3,000 a week), and its authority derives in large part from watching scores of pupils making mistakes. If you want to know how to make fresh pasta - or anything Italian, for that matter - Marcella is the place to start. One of the all-time indisputable greats.
Margaret River, Western Australia
Having previously tipped for stardom Costers del Segre in Catalonia, Murfatlar in Romania, Yakima in Washington State and Dundee Hills in Oregon, Weekend is loath to consign to instant obscurity Margaret River. However, we've been rooting for it for a decade now, and it's getting sassier each vintage. This current year, 2002, should provide us with one of its most concentrated vintages ever. The Western Australian weather lends itself superbly to growing cabernet, shiraz, merlot, chardonnay, semillon and sauvignon blanc and, with its maritime climate (delicious warm days, nice cold nights), it is most like Fronsac in Bordeaux in climatic temperament - but without the bullying rain and suffocating regulations.
Discovered by accident in 1947, by a scientist working for the Raytheon corporation, this was supposed to create a revolution in home cooking. It created, instead, a revolution in reheating. Microwave cookery is the great failure of the past decade. In an era when so many have so little time to cook, microwave energy should have been a godsend. But it's been consigned to the back rows by cookery writers, most of whom despise it or merely ignore it. Result? Tens of thousands of boxes that get used solely for coffee or supermarket lasagne. What a waste.
The global opposition to the forces of darkness in the form of the agro-pharmaceutical complex. A natural haven for those who prefer not to live on a diet of pesticides, GM food and drugged farm animals. The Soil Association - founded by pioneering Lady Eve Balfour in 1946 - is the UK's most respected certifying body. Until the 1990s, organics had a loyal green following, but did not resonate with the mass market. Nourished by the BSE disaster and crude attempts by biotech companies to slip unannounced GM ingredients into our food, the UK is Europe's fastest-growing organic market. Three-quarters of all households now buy some organic food.
A dubious practice adopted by confused graduates from catering college who didn't know their lemon grass from their kaffir lime leaf. Popular throughout the 1990s, it involved welding together widely disparate ingredients and cookery traditions, and then giving them an Asian twist. Hence the California maki roll - sushi with crab (usually crab sticks) and avocado - and the Peking duck pizza. Otherwise known as fusion food. Or confusion food. At its best in San Francisco and Sydney, where they know all about rimming - Pacific or any other kind.
The acme of sophistication in the 1980s, Perrier persuaded us to pay through the nose to drink mineral water. Advertising slogans such as 'eau-la-la' traded on the brand's chic French heritage. But its image was dented in 1990 when more than 280 million bottles were recalled worldwide when traces of benzene, a chemical used in the petrol industry, was discovered in the famous 'source Perrier' at Vergèze in southern France. Last year, shock, horror, it was bottled for the first time in plastic as well as its distinctive green glass bottle, spawning the rather less memorable slogan 'Perrier in Plastic is Fantastic'.
A khaki-coloured sludge in jars hung out on UK delicatessen shelves from the 1960s onwards, but it wasn't until the late 1980s that fresh pesto, a speciality of Liguria, locked the UK in its dazzling green, aromatic embrace. There are endless arcane strands to the 'authentic' pesto debate. Parmigiano Reggiano versus pecorino? Pre-toasted pinenuts? Peppery Tuscan versus buttery Ligurian oil? A pesto manifesto summarising popularly agreed essentials goes as follows. Acceptable ingredients: loads of fresh basil, pine-nuts, parmesan/pecorino, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt. Method: mortar and pestle preferred, processor OK. Order: pulverise basil, garlic, nuts, salt add oil then, and only then, mix in cheese. Red pesto is bastardised in every sense of the word.
Classic quiche Lorraine
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, grilled until crisp and chopped fine
2 large eggs, plus 1 extra yolk, beaten
The quantity of pastry is enough for a lightly greased 20cm quiche or flan tin with fluted edges and a removable base (if you like a deeper quiche, use a 19cm tin that is 4cm deep). Make up the pastry, then rest it for 20-30 minutes in a polythene bag in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/gas mark 4, with a baking sheet placed on the centre shelf.
Roll out the pastry and line the tin with it, easing any overlapping pastry back into the sides if you can. Press firmly on the base and sides, then prick with a fork all over. Bake the pastry case for 15 minutes on the centre shelf, then remove from the oven and paint the inside of it all over with some of the beaten egg to be used in the filling ingredients. Pop it back into the oven to set for five more minutes.
Place the cheese and bacon in the pre-cooked pastry case, pour in the cream and egg filling, adding pepper and a little salt (there is some already in the bacon). Bake for a further 30-40 minutes, until the quiche is set in the centre, has turned golden-brown and looks puffy. The best way to add filling is to arrange the filling ingredients over the base of the pre-cooked quiche. Whisk the eggs first, then whisk with the cream (if you do this in a jug, you can pour half the mixture on to the quiche, take it to the oven, then pour in the rest when it's safely on the shelf - it avoids spilling en route).
From Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, BBC Books, 1978.
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2-3 chicken livers (optional)
3 tbsp single cream or milk
Heat half the butter and all the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bacon, and fry over a low heat until the vegetables soften and begin to change colour. Add the pork, beef, sausage meat and chicken livers, and, crumbling with a fork, fry gently until they begin to brown. Moisten with wine, cook until it evaporates, then season to taste. Dilute the tomato paste with a little stock. Stir into the sauce, cover and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, gradually adding the rest of the stock. After one and a half hours, stir in the cream and continue cooking until reduced. Finally, add the remaining butter and stir until melted and thoroughly mixed in. About 250g chopped mushrooms, sautËed in butter and flavoured with garlic and chopped parsley, may be added to the sauce at the last moment, if liked.
From Italian Regional Cooking, by Ada Boni, Thomas Nelson & Son, 1969.
River Cafe Cook Book
Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers - proprietors of the restaurant and authors of the book - are cooks of unquestioned skill and dedication. But that doesn't explain this book's roaring success, which had more to do with sleek design and the adoring attention of the press. Never mind that the cooking relied on access to prime ingredients. Or that some recipes had a curious tendency not to work. Or that many are for standard dishes, better explained in less glamour-encrusted cookbooks. RCCB defined a new era in the worship of food-as-lifestyle-accessory. That alone guarantees its place in history. And the emperor is most certainly wearing new clothes.
In the mid-1980s, you couldn't walk into a New York restaurant without bumping into a rocket salad. It launched here more recently, in the mid-1990s, when it was officially decided that Italian food is better than French. Grows wild all over the Med, and that delicacy can occasionally be found over here, but most of what we buy is cultivated. Quality good, prices reasonable (except, of course, in supermarkets). But if you have to have it, you have to have it. And, apparently, we do.
This obscure Willesden restaurant has had the unlikely distinction of getting into the Michelin and Gault Millau guides. Still, what do the French know about Indian food? Enough to recognise good value when they see it, that's what. The Desai family's modest 32-seater has been pulling in the crowds for such authentic vegetarian dishes as sev puris with vermicelli, potato, chutney and yoghurt, or ravaiya (baby aubergine and plantain stuffed with coconut and garlic) for nigh on 30 years. Main courses still start at an unbelievable £6.50. An institution, and the first of countless thousands (30,000 and rising) of Indian restaurants that have populated high streets up and down the land.
Where Sharrow Bay led, all the other country-house hotels with outstanding restaurants followed. Opened by Francis Coulson in 1948 on the shores of Ullswater, Cumbria, Sharrow Bay was conceived as the civilised antithesis of all the horrors of war. It might equally be seen as the antithesis to the horrors of modern life and dietary regulation. Luxury, comfort and cream were piled on with an equally generous hand. Coulson died in 1998, and his partner Brian Sack in 2001, but the place is so deeply imbued with their civilised spirit that it continues on its tranquil way as if the pair were still pottering around among their customers, tending them like plants.
Ever since Monty Python, sad gits have sung Spam, Spam, Spam whenever you mention the word. But as you can see from the website (www.spam-uk.com), there's still a cult following for this war-time treat and staple of many a student store cupboard. Introduced in 1937, compared with many processed foods it's comparatively (and surprisingly) wholesome, containing 90% meat, but also rather a lot of salt, hence the launch in 1999 of Spam Lite, a gluten-free version with 25% less salt. With it you could make Spam Lite Niçoise: toss fried strips with cooked green beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley and vinaigrette. Wonder why the French never thought of that.
Sticky toffee sponge
175g caster sugar
2 eggs 175g dates, chopped 300ml water 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 175g self-raising flour
For the sauce
300ml double cream 50g demerara sugar 1 dssp black treacle Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs and beat well. Boil the dates in the water until soft, and add the bicarbonate of soda. Mix the flour, dates and vanilla essence into the butter mixture, and pour into a 20cm x 13cm greased baking tin. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until just firm to the touch.
To make the sauce, boil all the ingredients together, pour over the top of the sponge until it is covered (there will be some left over), and place under a hot grill until it begins to bubble. Remove, cut into squares and serve with the remaining sauce. Serves six.
From Great British Chefs, by Kit Chapman, Pyramid Books, 1989.
Delia used them. Wozza (Antony Worrall Thompson) used them. You could scarcely open a cookery book in the early 1990s without coming across a recipe that involved sundried tomatoes. Bread, pasta, even risotto (all uses never dreamed of by the Calabrian peasants who produced them) - we were soon all sundried tomato'ed out. Three things happened: 1) we went off that rather slimy texture 2) fresh toms became better, being grown for flavour (whatever next?) 3) they got superseded by SunBlush, a much superior product, oven-roasted, and a lot fruitier.
The Japanese way with raw fish is one of gastronomy's most sublime crafts, traditionally requiring long training, meticulous attention to detail, and maximum quality and freshness in all the ingredients. So why is it a mass-produced commodity in contemporary Britain? Because we don't know any better. We are happy to accept mass-produced imitations as long as they appear to be cheap. McSushi, in some cases an insipid if acceptable substitute in others. Pret A Manger, the sandwich chain, recently saw its sushi sales rise by 20% in a single month. Can the bacon sandwich survive much longer?
The tea bag
American tea merchant John Sullivan inadvertently invented the tea bag in 1908, when he began distributing samples in tiny, hand-sewn silk sacks. Tetley trialled the idea commercially in 1935. It proved to be the most damaging modern development in the history of tea, because the very process makes even the most superior grades of tea taste worse. That's why tea bags are routinely filled with basic-grade, quick-brewing 'fannings' or 'dust'. Ironically, the 'nation of tea drinkers' has favoured convenience over quality - in the 1960s, only 5% of the tea we drank was bagged now, and to the dismay of tea buffs, it's more like 85%.
Thai green chicken curry
3-4 boneless chicken breasts 2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped 2-3 tsp green curry paste (or powder)
2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
450ml coconut milk 2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lime juice, to taste Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp neatly shredded basil leaves
Basil and coriander leaves, to garnish
Cut the chicken into long, diagonal strips. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, add the onion and curry paste, and cook gently for two to three minutes. Add the chicken, and stir over a low heat for five minutes. Add the green chillies, coconut milk and sugar. Simmer gently, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, shredded basil and seasoning. Serve, topped with basil and coriander, on plain rice.
From Marguerite Patten's Century Of British Cooking, Grub Street, 1999.
Toasted sandwich maker
They've been around for a couple of decades, making an offer you can't refuse: instant gratification for anyone who drools at the thought of gooey, melted cheese, hot ham and liquefying tomatoes enclosed in crisp, butter-drenched toast. They're even a legitimate excuse to buy commercial sliced bread! The vision of that caloric extravagance makes you want to get toasting. Then you think about retrieving the machine from the cupboard. Dusting it. Wiping away the oxidised butter and carbonised cheese left from. when was it? Then you give up, and have cheese on toast instead. So much easier.
Tomato tarts with thyme
500g cooked tomato pulp (1.5kg coarsely chopped tomato cooked down for 30 minutes with sweated shallot, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, bouquet garni and seasoning, until reduced)
300g leaf spinach, stalks removed
Equipment required: one saucepan, five individual oven dishes, 12cm across, or five small flan tins, 12cm across.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Blanch the spinach for two minutes in boiling water, then spread it out carefully on a cloth. Line the dishes or tins with the leaves in layers, leaving enough falling over the edges to cover the top. Fill each with tomato pulp, reserving five teaspoons for decoration, Fold the spinach 'jacket' over the top, so the tomato is no longer visible. Decorate each with a sprig of thyme. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve in their dishes, pouring a teaspoon of tomato on to each one, beneath the sprig of thyme, to give a pretty effect of contrasting red and green.
From Michel GuËrard's Cuisine Minceur, Macmillan, 1977.
The wonder is that, after salmonella, BSE, CJD, E Coli and foot and mouth, fewer than 10% of Brits are vegetarian. But that figure masks the much larger number who avoid meat several times a week, and still more who call themselves 'fishetarians'. If you're not convinced that raising animals for slaughter is not just cruel but helps destroy the environment, creates obesity and heart disease, and keeps the developing world hungry, read Eric Schlosser's horrifyingly brilliant Fast Food Nation (Penguin).
It may not have been quite the first ARM (Ambient Ready Meal), but it was the archetypal TV dinner. Launched in 1961 by the very British firm of Batchelors, Vesta curry was a testament to our growing passion for Indian food and the fact that we preferred TV to conversation. That may not have changed, although, thank God, Vesta curries have. They may have been the height of exoticism in the 1960s, but this suspiciously shiny brown goo tasted more of Worcestershire sauce than anything from the Indian subcontinent. Then again, we didn't know any better.
Watney's Red Barrel
Great news: you cannot buy this beer anywhere. We were sent a bottle last year, brewed in Ontario for the North American market, but now even that lonely outpost has given up the ghost. Watney's Red Barrel was the first keg beer - filtered, pasteurised and carbonated - brewed for a tennis club in East Sheen in Surrey in 1936. It continued until the early 1970s, when it was replaced by a beer called just Red. It was dreadful - sweet, sickly and gassy - and it quickly died a death. It did, however, help create the Campaign for Real Ale, so at least we should be grateful for that.
Marco Pierre White
There may have been greater chefs, better chefs, more talented chefs, more creative chefs, but none epitomises the chef-as-unruly-rock-and-roll-hero of the 1980s and 1990s more than MPW (who never had anything to do with drugs or drink, as the New York Times found out to its cost in court). Famously the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. Famously gave up cooking by his own admission, in favour of becoming a famous restaurant proprietor. Which places of business have, famously, been having a spot of bother recently.
Skip the Starter Home
Old-Think: Always begin with a starter, something small you can easily afford. You can trade up later.
New-Think: Buy a home that works for your family right now -- and will do so for years to come. Maybe you&aposll want to upgrade at some point, but you shouldn&apost absolutely need to. "It&aposs impossible to describe how much better off you will be at every step along the way if you wait to buy a desirable home in a good school district instead of a starter that has no advantage except that it&aposs cheap," says Steinmetz. Starter-home prices rise only when the real estate market is strong, and they can be hard to unload during economic downturns. If you buy such a home when prices are still at or near historic highs and the market weakens, your family could find itself sitting on an asset that&aposs losing value.
Are there situations when a starter house makes sense? Yes: when it&aposs a truly great deal. Maria Ibanez, a telecommunications administrator, and her husband, Alberto, a sales representative, just successfully traded up from their one-bedroom co-op in New York City to a three-bedroom Tudor in Palisades Park, NJ, where they now live with their two children, ages 3 and 1. Their secret? They bought their first home out of foreclosure proceedings. (In cases of foreclosure, a bank or other lending institution takes possession of a home, usually because the owner has failed to keep up with mortgage payments the bank then sells the property, often at a deep discount, to minimize its losses.) A starter may also work if your rent is so high that you&aposre able to find a comparable deal on a small house.
The unstoppable rise of veganism: how a fringe movement went mainstream
L ate on a Thursday afternoon in early March, just off Brick Lane in the heart of London’s nightlife hotspot Shoreditch, 23-year-old Louisa Davidson is taking calls and co-ordinating cables and scaffolds, as shocking pink Vegan Nights banners are hung around the expansive courtyards of the Truman Brewery. There is a chill in the air, quickly warmed by a buzzing atmosphere more like a music festival than an ethical food fair, as BBC Radio 1Xtra and House of Camden DJs play records, cocktails are poured and entrepreneurs sell zines and street wear alongside the vegan sushi, patisserie and “filthy vegan junk food”.
Davidson had been running weekend markets at the venue when she noticed a sharp increase in the number of vegan food businesses and vegan menus on offer. So last September, with her colleagues, she decided to put on a one-off vegan night market, with music, drinks and food. “On the day there were queues around the corner,” she says. “We were not prepared for it at all! There was so much interest that by Christmas we decided to make it a monthly thing. It’s all happened very quickly.” Inspired by its success, and the traders she was working with, Davidson switched from vegetarian to a vegan diet in January.
“We’re riding on that wave of veganism getting into the mainstream,” Davidson says. “People are curious about it and they’re finding out that vegan food is not just a boring salad, it’s experimental, and the food traders are amazing – people can have a drink, listen to music and hang out. First and foremost, we want to offer a positive platform, whether you’ve never had a fried jackfruit before or you’re a longstanding vegan.” Many of the traders are new to it as well, with a couple of them having launched their businesses at Vegan Nights. “It is a community and everyone supports each other’s businesses. It’s great to be a part of it.”
Veganism in numbers
Rise in the number of vegans in Britain from 2006-2016 542,000 people said they were vegans in 2016.
Veganuary 2018 participants, of which 60% were under 35, up from 3,300 on its 2014 launch.
Increase in vegan products launched in the UK between 2012 and 2016.
The year the term vegan was coined by woodwork teacher Donald Watson. Rejected words include ‘dairyban’, ‘vitan’ and ‘benevore’.
Percentage of under-35s who have tried a vegan diet.
Veganism might have recently acquired a hipster cache at buzzy London events such as Vegan Nights and the weekly Hackney Downs market established by influential blogger Sean O’Callaghan, AKA “the Fat Gay Vegan”, but its surging popularity is a national phenomenon, with plant-based food festivals and businesses booming from Bristol to Inverness.
The high street is adapting with incredible speed. Big chains such as Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger have introduced vegan ranges, Wagamama has a new vegan menu, Pizza Hut recently joined Pizza Express and Zizzi in offering vegan pizzas, while last year Guinness went vegan and stopped using fish bladders in its brewing process, after two and a half centuries. Scrolling through Twitter’s popular #veganhour (an hour of online recipes and ideas running 7-8pm every Tuesday, and trending at number seven nationally when I looked), alongside less surprising corporate interventions from Holland & Barrett and Heavenly Organics is a tweet from Toby Carvery, trumpeting its vegan cherry and chocolate torte. Sainsbury’s and Tesco have introduced extended new ranges of vegan products, while the latter recently appointed American chef Derek Sarno to the impressive job title of director of plant-based innovation.
If this is the year of mainstream veganism, as every trend forecaster and market analyst seems to agree, then there is not one single cause, but a perfect plant-based storm of factors. People cite one or more of three key motives for going vegan – animal welfare, environmental concerns and personal health – and it is being accompanied by an endless array of new business startups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, trendy events and polemical documentaries. The traditional food industry is desperately trying to catch up with the flourishing grassroots demand. “What do you mean, weak, limp and weedy? In 2017, the vegan category is robust, energetic, and flush with crowdfunding cash,” ran an article headlined “Vegan Nation” in industry bible the Grocer in November, pointing to new plant-based burger company Vurger, which hit its £150,000 investment target in little more than 24 hours.
The rapid explosion of the annual Veganuary campaign, in which curious omnivores and vegetarians sign up to try out veganism for a month and are then plied with recipes and other advice, shows how fast veganism is growing. (The choice of January is significant, given the resonances of fresh starts, good intentions and post-Christmas diets.) Veganuary was launched in 2014, with 3,300 people signing up by 2016, there were 23,000 participants, then 59,500 in 2017, and a staggering 168,000 this year – and these are just the numbers that signed up officially online. Notably, 84% of this year’s registered participants were female, while 60% were aged under 35. Showbiz magazines and websites are full of lists of fully vegan celebrities – Ellie Goulding, Natalie Portman, Ariana Grande, Woody Harrelson, JME, Ellen DeGeneres, Liam Hemsworth we could go on – all of them making Beyoncé and Jay-Z look a bit wet, having tried a vegan diet for just 22 days.
A weekend outing to Blackpool in 2018 offers much of what it always did: seagulls, slot machines, big-screen sport, family meal deals, “traditional fish and chips”, pirate rides, poncho vendors, palm-readers and pound shops. But there are other, newer diversions, too. On a grey Saturday morning in low season, at St Thomas’ church, north of the city centre, the Blackpool Vegan and Green festival is humming with people. Something of the church’s evangelical spirit is alive here, too.
“We’re in a non-vegan world,” says volunteer Elizabeth King, delivering her “10 steps to going vegan” talk in a back-room. “But things are changing rapidly – and if you’re trying to go vegan, you’re a pioneer.” She talks about shopping challenges and getting around social stigma, meal-planning and vitamin supplements, how to make holidays and dining out easier, how to check labels and online resources – and the group of new vegans and could-be-vegans asks keen questions and shares local tips. “People have an assumption you live off lettuce, don’t they? But that’s changing.”
Watch an introduction to east London's Vegan Nights food festival – video
With almond milk and vegan ranges now available in supermarkets, it’s a testament to soaring public curiosity that people are being drawn to once specialist events in such numbers. “It’s jam-packed isn’t it!” says Michelle Makita, with a laugh, from the Little Blue Hen vegan soap stall. Over the course of the day, hundreds of people stream in visitors from across Blackpool, the north-west, even Spain. There is an African superfoods stand, a Glaswegian jerk pie company, Turkish gözleme flatbreads, cakes, curries, wraps, sushi, vegan candles, vegan pet food, shlocky T-shirts and accessories (“Zombies eat flesh, go vegan”). Darting around in a high-vis jacket, organiser Roddy Hanson squeezes past the prams, teenagers, bearded veterans in earth-tone baja tops, normies and newbies.
Grabbing some air and calm when the lunch rush has finally subsided (at about 4pm), Hanson is a mine of information about vegan history and culture and has seen a tightly bound, activism-driven outsider community become an accepted phenomenon in a matter of a few years. “When I went vegan in the 1980s, it was primarily two groups: hippies and punks. Some people who come to our events think it’s going to be wall-to-wall people with pink hair and piercings, but the whole culture has changed – it’s a very broad cross‑section.”
He has been vegan for 30 years, a veteran of animal rights activism, but this convivial, family-day-out approach to winning converts is more his speed. “I’ve never been the sort of person who wants to stand outside fur shops and get into arguments with people. It’s more positive this way and you can choose to engage with it if you want, rather than be confrontational. I’ve been involved in anti-circus demos where fights have broken out with some of the protesters and the circus staff that kind of thing was a lot bigger in the 80s. Now it’s based around vegan groups and fairs, which didn’t really exist then.”
Last summer, Paul White opened Faringo’s, the first vegan restaurant in Blackpool. Only a year ago, he was an omnivore, running a hotel with an Italian steakhouse attached in which he was also head chef. One weekend, they had a vegan guest staying, which prompted “lots of lengthy conversations” about veganism and he decided to try running a small vegan menu alongside the existing one. “Within two weeks, we had more people eating vegan food than anything else,” he recalls. “What surprised us was people were coming from all over Blackpool. There were hidden vegans in Blackpool who were struggling in silence! That was June last year and at that point we decided to turn the restaurant 100% vegan and it just exploded on Facebook. I went vegan as well, as head chef, and I feel better for it. We have such a wide range of people coming in: we’ll have a table of six people who are protesters from an anti-fracking demonstration [Preston New Road fracking site is just three miles away], sat next to a table of two people who are multimillionaires, sat next to international rugby players.”
There’s been a knock-on effect to their success, he says, with numerous other restaurants in the city beginning to offer vegan options on their menus – and White is preparing to open the first vegan food shop in Blackpool, too. One of the main drivers, he says, is the critical mass of information available online, both motivating people to change in the first place and making it easier than ever to do so. “When people see documentaries like Cowspiracy, one is enough. The fact social media is as big as it is now, it spreads things so much faster. I think that’s why it’s mushrooming right now. And it is mushrooming.”
In May 2016, the Vegan Society commissioned Ipsos Mori to poll 10,000 people on their dietary habits and found that Britain’s vegan population had increased from 150,000 to 542,000 in the space of a decade (alongside a vegetarian population of 1.14 million). Of those, 63% were female and, significantly for veganism’s future growth, almost half were in the 15-34 age category. What is astonishing is that the pace of change in the two years since the survey was carried out has been seemingly exponential – it seems plausible to speculate the number may have doubled again in that time.
Tim Barford, manager of Europe’s largest vegan events company, VegfestUK, has been vegan for three decades and points to the deeper roots of this recent explosion of interest. “There is a big plant-based shift culturally,” he says, “a systemic change in the way that we’re approaching food and the way that we feed ourselves. Remember that successive governments over 15 years have been ploughing money into persuading people to eat more fruit and vegetables, with the five-a-day campaign. Then you’ve got a real cultural change among millennials, which is very much built around justice and the way we look at animals.”
He also points to a new non-violent breed of millennial activist, such as James Aspey, who took a year’s vow of silence to raise awareness of animal rights issues. “Thirty years ago, it was more balaclavas and intimidation, almost verging on terrorist activities. This new breed are not playing up to that stereotype – they recognise the danger of it. There’s a real understanding and compassion among today’s activists. I’m a bit older and that wasn’t there in the radical 70s and 80s, with the punk rock, ‘fuck you’ kind of attitude – it’s now more reflective and therefore more effective.”
That less aggressive approach is winning a lot of new converts, but for veterans such as Barford it’s still an evangelical movement with an irreducible political message. “Our challenge with VegFest is to combine the feelgood factor, the fun and sociable atmosphere, with quite a strong moral and ethical standpoint. We want to attract people in without putting them off, but then once we’ve got them in, we don’t want them to walk away thinking this is just a health fad, just food and shopping and entertainment.”
A sample of the ever-growing range of vegan products. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian
He thinks the rise of Jeremy Corbyn – a vegetarian of almost 50 years, who has recently spoken about his admiration for his vegan friends – has helped fuel “a definite appetite for justice. Justice is no longer a dirty word, people can have a conversation about justice for the 70bn animals killed for food, without being shot down and screamed at as a radical extremist – and I think Corbyn has helped a bit, with the way he’s won over a bit of the middle ground.”
One influential factor that comes up regularly when talking to new vegan converts is a series of polemical online documentaries, or “advocacy films”, many of them on streaming services such as Netflix, documenting the damage animal agriculture does to the environment, or meat-eating does to human health, or exposing gory scenes in slaughterhouses and factory farms. In Blackpool, Michelle Makita tells me the 2005 film Earthlings, with its harrowing, hidden-camera footage of animal suffering, was the epiphany that led her to switch to veganism. “I think I cried for about three days – I was hysterical,” she says. The thriving sub-genre’s titles tell their story in microcosm: Vegucated, Planeat, Forks Over Knives, Live and Let Live, Peaceable Kingdom. A common trope among recent converts is that the revelations about the brutality of the meat, dairy and egg industries were hidden from view, until these documentaries exposed them.
The genre’s influential break-out hit was the 2014 documentary Cowspiracy, which looks at the environmental impact of animal agriculture, its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and excessive water use. It is a film about climate crisis in the first place, which argues that meat and dairy farming is the hidden evil responsible for a dying planet. Made by Californian documentary-makers Keegan Kuhn and Kip Andersen, amiable frontman Andersen tells the story of how Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth changed his life as a young man (“It scared the emojis out of me”) and committed him to an environmentally conscious lifestyle. With Kuhn, he has now no doubt changed the lives of countless others by persuading them that turning off the taps, cycling everywhere and home composting is not enough: that worldwide conversion to veganism is the only possible way to save the planet.
Cowspiracy’s marketing strapline claims it is “the film environmental organisations don’t want you to see”. The alleged conspiracy of the title is that environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network are focusing all their efforts on fossil fuels and renewable energy, while ignoring the real threat from livestock farming. The evasiveness of their spokespeople on camera is often embarrassing, although perhaps the reason these NGOs wouldn’t want people building their politics around the film is its fast-and-loose use of highly questionable statistics. The original version of the film claimed 51% of global greenhouse gases were produced by animal agriculture, based on a single, non-peer-reviewed academic paper – the scientific consensus is closer to 15%. “Don’t use the 51% figure. Please. You’re making us all look bad,” vegan author Danny Chivers wrote in the New Internationalist. “If you want more people to understand that animal agriculture is a significant part of the climate change picture, bear in mind that there are lots of good reasons why many people are focusing on the fossil fuel industry and it’s not an either/or issue.”
For the version that premiered on Netflix in 2015, Andersen and Kuhn changed the figure and Leonardo DiCaprio came onboard as executive producer. Since then, they have made an equally hard-hitting follow-up, What the Health, which looked at the effect of meat and dairy on human diseases. While their films have been controversial (registered dietician and vegan Virginia Messina called What the Health “junk science”), their impact as polemicists is undeniable in a world where different strategies of evangelism are always being debated. Cowspiracy’s original crowdfunding pitch speaks volumes about its appeal: “Together, we aren’t just creating a movie, we are creating a movement.”
Of course, the vegan movement already existed, but Cowspiracy’s success reflects a new emphasis on animal agriculture, in particular cattle farming, in the context of the deepening climate crisis. Critical in this refocusing from animal welfare as the primary motive for veganism was a 2006 report produced by the UN, Livestock’s Long Shadow, which described the livestock sector as one of the most significant contributors to environmental degradation, both globally and locally. A follow-up UN report in 2010 warned that rising meat and dairy consumption, and a global population predicted to be 9.1 billion by 2050, meant a shift towards veganism was vital to save the world from climate catastrophe and food shortages. Overall, agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions within this, the footprint of meat and dairy production is heavily disproportionate.
Oxford academic Dr Marco Springmann has attempted to model what a vegan planet would look like, especially as climate change, food shortages and population growth intensify. He projected that were the world to adopt a vegan diet by 2050, the global economy would benefit to the tune of $1.1tn savings in healthcare costs and environmental savings of .5tn and a cut in greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. It’s quite hard to argue with numbers that speculative – especially when one is not a fellow of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future Of Food – but what is certain is that the makers of Cowspiracy were right in their general argument, if not some of the key specifics.
“Our motivation was that animal agriculture was so under-discussed,” says Kuhn. “We really felt promoting a plant-based lifestyle had to be at the forefront of the environmental movement and environmental veganism had to be a movement in itself, versus animal rights or health.”
The speed of change they have witnessed since then has been exhilarating – even in just four years. “Information can pass so freely and easily now,” Anderson says. “It was only a matter of time before the truth about animal agriculture was revealed. It’s not in your face like racism or sexism – it’s deeply ingrained in our culture, and financially ingrained, but now that it’s revealed, people just don’t want to be a part of that horrific industry. It’s like a weight off their shoulders getting clean of the lies and the destruction.
“People feel empowered, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. That’s a huge shift. Whereas before, veganism may have been viewed like you were giving up something, now it’s been reframed as what you gain: you gain health, you gain a greater sense of living in bounds with your values, you gain all the environmental benefits.”
Kuhn says that consumer pressure from below will create a domino effect. “These corporations are just going to follow the dollar, and follow consumer demand, which hopefully will force them to switch to sustainable, plant-based agriculture.” The next step, he says, is to push governments to abandon tax breaks and subsidies to animal farmers. They are keeping the advocacy-via-documentary ball rolling. Currently in production are Seaspiracy, which focuses on the oceans and “the myth of sustainable fishing”, and Running for Good, a sports documentary following British marathon runner Fiona Oakes, “to break the stereotypes that veganism holds you back from any kind of athletics”.
Rapidly growing consumer awareness and changing eating habits have combined with a dawning realisation about the extent of the sustainability crisis to send shockwaves through the food production industries. With broad agreement that the future of animal agriculture has to change, the big money investors are moving quickly. Richard Branson announced last year that he was investing in a startup called Memphis Meats, which is developing lab-grown meat from animal cells as an alternative to animal agriculture, sometimes called “clean meat”. “In 30 years or so, I believe we will be shocked [that] we killed animals en masse for food,” he wrote. “Tyson Foods, one of the biggest meat businesses in the world, has recently invested, joining the likes of Bill Gates and Cargill, the second-largest beef producer in the world. It’s no surprise that the meat and dairy substitutes industry is predicted to be worth $40bn by 2020.”
The executive vice president at Tyson, Justin Whitmore, made a telling comment in explaining the company’s diversification in the face of a looming crisis of sustainability. “We don’t want to be disrupted,” he said in February. “We want to be part of the disruption.” While clean meat is not vegan, by definition, it is a parallel response to the same problem – and is accompanied by the soaring popularity of alternative vegan proteins such as tempeh, amaranth, seitan and nutritional yeast.
Even within the hard-headed world of big capital, there are serious manoeuvres afoot to push food production away from meat and dairy. In 2016, a group called Fairr (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) co-ordinated a group of 40 large institutional investment funds, including Swedish state pension funds, worth $1.25tn (almost £900bn) publicly to urge major food producers and retailers such as Kraft Heinz, Nestlé, Unilever, Tesco and Walmart to develop alternative, plant-based sources.
“There’s growing investor support,” says Rosie Wardle, who worked on the project for Fairr. “Across the board now, market research firms, food analysts, industry commentators, they’re all talking about alternative proteins and flexitarian diets – they’re the key food trends for this year. The risks around intensive livestock production are becoming harder to ignore and people recognise that is going to impact business as usual.”
Vegan Nights at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane.
Fairr’s latest report, Plant-Based Profits, points to the rise of flexitarian diets among young adults who may not be full-time vegans. Fairr’s head of research, Aarti Ramachandran, sees the industry moving only in one direction. “Companies are investing in a lot of research and development because they know that today’s millennials are tomorrow’s consumers and they’re going to be setting the stage in terms of future growth prospects. That’s a key point that our investors are interested in: this is a market that’s not going to go away. Plant-based diets aren’t a trend or a fad we see this very much being the basis of consumer growth.”
The business world seems to agree. In the last few months, you can scarcely move on Forbes.com for articles with headlines such as “Here’s Why You Should Turn Your Business Vegan In 2018”. With this kind of money swirling around, and a combination of hipster entrepreneurs, hedge funds and major supermarket chains defining veganism in 2018, it’s easy to see why some vegans feel that the movement’s traditional association with anti-capitalism is a position rapidly disappearing in a fog of marketing hype. Popular, youth-orientated vegan cookery startups such as Bosh.TV, which scored 1m followers on Facebook within a year of launching, as well as a Bosh! book deal, define the new spirit of veganism as a lifestyle, rather than the cornerstone of a political worldview. “Just three years ago, we weren’t even vegan ourselves,” wrote cheerful founders Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, recalling late-night kebabs on the way home from the pub. “Back then, the ‘V’ word had a touch of anger associated with it it was loaded with political and ethical connotations.”
The promotion of a flexitarian approach of reducing the use of animal products, without cutting them out altogether, has raised hackles among some activists. In 2014, the Vegan Society rebranded with a “love vegan” campaign to mark its 70th anniversary, which proposed “a few small changes” if full veganism seemed a step too far. This prompted a backlash among some animal rights activists and claims that the organisation was more interested in being a marketing body for vegan businesses than an ethically driven campaign group. “Is veganism no more than a capitalist lifestyle choice?” ran a rhetorical question on the Red Black Green blog. “Veganism was for a long time associated with the counter-culture and seen as difficult,” wrote Vegan Society CEO, Jasmijn de Boo, in 2013. She spoke of softening the movement’s image: “One can become vegan in stages – there are no rules and you are only answerable to your own conscience.”
Veganism’s mainstream rise has certainly benefited from this conscious rebranding: for better or worse, it is much cooler than it used to be. “It’s a lifestyle, a community, a culture, an ever-expanding club where the only price of entry is being mindful and making a positive change,” goes the motto of the Young Vegans pie and mash shop in north London. Social media has spread the word with incredible speed, via Twitter hashtags, thriving “wellness” and cookery YouTube vloggers and Instagram influencers. It’s not just the obvious clean-eating celebrities and channels that have taken up the subject: even Unilad, a site not exactly known as a bastion of compassion and political sensitivity, commissioned a powerful 20-minute documentary, Meat the End, about “the horror and abuse” of animal agriculture.
The Art of Giving Wine When You Aren&apost Sure What They Like
It&aposs that time of year when we all start to turn our thoughts to the quickly approaching holidays. Being in the grip of Covid-19 means that the season will look very different this year, but you can still let the special people in your life know how much they mean to you with the thoughtful gift of wine. Most especially with large holiday events not possible, a special bottle of wine will come in handy for small-circle home entertaining.
But how do you buy wine for someone when you aren&apost exactly sure about their taste preferences? This has been my all-time, number one, most-asked wine question in my two decades of selling wine. So fear not, dear reader, as I now give as a holiday gift to you this detailed guide. It will help you to buy confidently if you are confused about which bottle would be the best bet when you want to show someone you care.
5. BMW’s Brake Drying
Car designers are constantly trying to find new ways to improve a car’s performance and safety. To improve braking performance in wet weather, BMW came up with the Brake Drying system, which is activated by the windshield wiper‘s rain sensor. It moves the brake pads closer to the rotors to keep them dry and improve stopping power in wet weather conditions. You might not even realize your “bimmer” (yes, this is the correct nickname for a BMW automobile) has such a nifty feature included.
Coffee Cake Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
total time: 45 minutes
The classic coffee cake is transformed into a convenient muffin, loaded with a mile-high crumb topping!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
For the crumb topping
- 1/3 cup Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 1/3 cup Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the glaze
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray set aside.
- To make the crumb topping, combine sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Add flour and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Spread out mixture on parchment paper to dry until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
- In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, canola oil and eggs. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
- Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed.
- When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin.
- Allow glaze to set before serving.
Did you Make This Recipe?
Tag @damn_delicious on Instagram and hashtag it #damndelicious.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Imperial Sugar. All opinions expressed are my own.
Just as veganism is becoming more popular, so are vegan options on just about every restaurant&aposs menu. Word to the wise: Even if your item of choice looks vegan, tell your waiter about your dietary restriction to ensure that no animal products are used to make your meal (think hidden butter or chicken stock), Henderson advises.
At $3 or more per pound, meat is one of the most expensive items in the grocery store, so saving big can be easy𠅎ven if you are buying more produce than ever. Save even more by swapping some of your fresh produce for frozen.
New Delhi: The wholesale price index across the country rose to an all-time high of 10.49 per cent in April, the data released by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry showed. A low base of April last year also contributed to the sharp rise in inflation last month.
The wholesale price inflation jumped to double digits in April as pricing pressure built up due to rising oil and commodity prices, reflecting strong cost-push pressures.
The wholesale price index (WPI) grew 7.39 per cent during the month of March, while the WPI for February was revised to 4.83 per cent from 4.17 per cent, the data showed. The WPI in April 2020 was at (-)1.57 per cent.
&ldquoThe annual rate of inflation in April 2021 is high primarily because of rise in prices of crude petroleum, mineral oils viz petrol, diesel etc, and manufactured products as compared the corresponding month of the previous year,&rdquo the ministry statement said.
Rumki Majumdar, Economist, Deloitte India, said: "We expect prices to ease over the next few months because of low demand. However, upside risks are significant because of rising global commodity prices, including crude oil prices, with increased global activities, especially in the US and China. Global inflation will result in higher import prices. At the same time, rising transportation expenses due to intermittent lockdowns and shipping rates will also add to input costs."
"Inflation is expected to sharply increase once the economy returns to the recovery path. Uncertainties have resulted in the postponement of capital spending and investment, which will translate into supply constraints in the near term. Post recovery, pent-up demand is expected to rise sharply and result in demand-push inflation, thereby, limiting RBI&rsquos ability to maneuver monetary policy," she added.
The consumer price inflation or the CPI eased in April to 4.29 per cent driven down by fall in food prices.
While food inflation rose to 4.92%, inflation for fuel and manufacturing items increased to 20.94% and 9.01% respectively.
While vegetable prices pulled the index down, protein-based food items like pulses, egg and meat witnessed hardening of prices.
Retail inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased to 4.29 per cent in April on decline in food prices, data released last week showed.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das had earlier this month said that manufacturing and services PMIs along with rising WPI inflation show a persistence of input price pressure.
Also, the build-up in input price pressures across sectors, driven in part by elevated global commodity prices, remains a concern.
&ldquoThe inflation trajectory over the rest of the year will be shaped by the COVID-19 infections and the impact of localised containment measures on supply chains and logistics,&rdquo Das had said.
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Which Egg Is Safest?
“Those terms (organic, free-range, and cage free) have nothing to do with contamination. That does not assure eggs will be salmonella-free,” says Mike Doyle, PhD, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. However, it may ensure the hen has a better life.
To protect yourself further:
- Check eggs before buying to make sure there are no cracked or leaking eggs, which could transfer any bacteria that are present.
- Immediately refrigerate eggs to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below so if bacteria are present, they won’t multiply.
- Cook eggs thoroughly so the white and yolk are firm, which kills salmonella.
- Wash hands, utensils, and preparation surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water when handling and preparing eggs.
- If you’re collecting eggs from your own backyard flock, wash eggs in hot soapy water before refrigerating.
- Use pasteurized eggs for recipes that call for raw egg in foods like salad dressing, hollandaise sauce, or spaghetti carbonara.
- Young children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system should also eat pasteurized eggs.
- When buying fresh eggs from a local farmer’s market, ask whether they’ve been washed and refrigerated within 36 hours of being collected, which cuts the risk salmonella.
Krista Eberle, director, Food Safety Programs, American Egg Board.
Mike Doyle, PhD, director, University of Georgia Center for Food Safety and Regents Professor of Food Microbiology.