From the Ground up - home cooking without fear.

(or THE POLITICS OF THE KITCHEN CABINET)

by Lynne Chatterton

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FROM THE GROUND UP - HOME COOKING WITHOUT FEAR

Lynne Chatterton is an Australian who now lives in Italy. She and her husband Brian have travelled widely and worked with farmers in the developing world. The book is a thoughtful distillation of her experiences. It is about food in the widest sense - how food is produced, the politics of food, how we shop, cook and eat - with many recipes interspersed in the text, printed in red so the eye can pick them out instantly.
It is unusual to be able to cook from recipes in a book that also tells one of "the backroom deals of pressure groups, special interests and political thuggery" that goes behind the scenes in "Foodland" - something that Lynne Chatterton is well qualified to speak of from first hand experience. having been, among other things, policy adviser in the 1970s to the then South Australian Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests. Governments, she states unequivocally, have for the most part "not stood firmly on the side of real, nutritional food for all" but have tended to give in cravenly to the demands of large supermarket chains for regulations that serves their interests. This book is very firmly on the side of good food for all.

Caroline Harbouri in The Mediterranean Garden July 2011

Perhaps this book should be titled The Politics of the Kitchen Cabinet. It is an account of how politics at every level of food production, regulation and distribution affect what we eat. And it proposes how we, as individuals, can fight back to retain and regain what is rightfully ours - the right to good, fresh food.

Our ability to eat enough and to eat well today seems challenged on all sides. Reports come in of global warming threatening the planet, with deserts advancing and fish stocks dwindling. Meanwhile the pace of social and technological change conspires to make shopping harder and life in the kitchen daunting: we learn of introduced chemicals and genetic modification, we see an inexorable trend towards processed food, we face ambiguous and inadequately labelled choices in the supermarkets and are targeted by celebrity chefs with their tricky, costly suggestions.

Fresh vegetables and fruit, meat and fish – can still be readily obtained if we refuse to accept globalised product. Fresh food is value for money and in cooking fresh food at home we safeguard the health of our family and the environment. Cooking at home is not to be feared. Drawing on her wide experience as a grower of fruit and vegetables, a farmer, a cook and a traveller as well as a policy adviser to government and consultant to farmers in semi-arid regions, author Lynne Chatterton mixes wisdom and knowhow in with her recipes to show how putting together a good family meal can be one of life’s real pleasures. She urges the
East not to follow the destructive path of the West and to safeguard their own not-yet-lost tradition of depending on fresh produce and cooking at home.

This is a Limitied Edition of only 500 copies. 343 pages Soft cover. Indicate if you wish to have a signed copy.

Buying the book.

Italy:

Book is €20 - postage €5 = €25

Eurozone

Book €20 - postage €9 = €29

Britain:

Book £15 - postage £8 = £23

Payment: We can accept payment by U.K. or Italian cheques. Alternatives payment can be made by bank transfer in the UK and Eurozone.

Contact Pulcini Press by email:

pulcinipress@hotmail.com

By post:

Brian Chatterton

Podere valle Pulcini,

Castel di Fiori,

05010 Montegabbione (TR)

ITALY.

Now available on Amazon.

Full review by Caroline Harbouri, The Mediterranean Garden No 65 July 2011

Lynne Chatterton is an Australian who now lives in Italy. She and her husband Brian have travelled widely and worked with farmers in the developing world. The book is a thoughtful distillation of her experiences. It is about food in the widest sense - how food is produced, the politics of food, how we shop, cook and eat - with many recipes interspersed in the text, printed in red so the eye can pick them out instantly.
It is unusual to be able to cook from recipes in a book that also tells one of "the backroom deals of pressure groups, special interests and political thuggery" that goes behind the scenes in "Foodland" - something that Lynne Chatterton is well qualified to speak of from first hand experience. having been, among other things, policy adviser in the 1970s to the then South Australian Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests. Governments, she states unequivocally, have for the most part "not stood firmly on the side of real, nutritional food for all" but have tended to give in cravenly to the demands of large supermarket chains for regulations that serves their interests. This book is very firmly on the side of good food for all.

Lynne Chatterton writes cogently and authoratively. She usefully reminds us, to give just one example, of the distinction between stored water and rainfall in calculations of how much water is required to produce a commodity (Bread made from irrigated wheat may represent a high environmental cost; bread made from wheatgrown on rainfall alone does not. The rain will fall whether the wheat is grown or not ...) Still on the subject of water, incidently, I was delighted to read her remarks on bottled water since I've long believed that bottled water is one of the greatest cons clever marketing has ever practised on us. Moreover, the random analyses of samples of various bottled waters and of tap water from different regions carried out by the Greek authorities every year make murky reading when it come to the microbial content of some bottle waters; tap water in most areas of Greece consistently scores at the top for purity. And who in England can forget the Coca Cola "Eau de Sidcup" scandal of 2004?*

Lynne Chatterton devotes chapters to her experiences in Iraq, which she visited before the catastrophic wars as part of a South Australian initiative to support a number of farming projects there, or in South India; she talks to people, keeps her eyes open, is always alert to the way people grow food on a small scale in allotments as well as to the problems faced by larger-scale farmers. She gives practical advise on how to acqyuire and store ingredients. She makes us think more about the food we eat and the people who produce it. We who live in the Mediterranean countries are lucky to inhabit a culture where eating is a happy social activity for family and friends and where there is still a tradition of good home-cooked food made from fresh ingredients. From the ground up reminds us of just why we should value and hold fast to this inheritance. My only regret about this fascinating book is the fact that although there is a bibliography there is no index.

Caroline Harbouri in The Mediterranean Garden July 2011

* Coca Cola, in a spectaluar display of commercial cynicism, launched a brand of bottled water in the U.K. which was found to be nothing more than tap water from the London suburb of Sidcup.

Below is the table of contents and the preface:

CONTENTS

Page

Preface..................................................................... 7

1. Learning to Cook................................................................ 16

2. Foodland – what goes on behind the scenes............... 31


WATER AND FOOD


3. Water.................................................................................... 53

4. Growing fruit, vegetables and herbs................................... 63

5.Cooking with fruit, vegetables and herbs............................. 77

6. Soup.................................................................................... 89

7. Fruit for sweet things.......................................................... 110


THE FISH RESOURCE


8. Disappearing fish............................................................ 127

9. Cooking fish................................................................... 134


DRYLAND PRODUCE


Farming systems.................................................................. 153


10. Sheep and what they eat................................................ 157

11. Cooking sheep meat....................................................... 173

12. Cooking pork.................................................................. 186

13. Cooking poultry............................................................ 197

14. Growing wheat............................................................... 209

15. Cooking with wheat...................................................... 224

16. Olives............................................................................. 240

17. Cooking with olives....................................................... 246


CULTURAL INFLUENCES


Culture.................................................................................. 263


18. Prejudice and food – Japan............................................ 266

19. Dietary changes in Libya............................................... 276

20.Food and war in Iraq....................................................... 287

21.Inspiration from South India.......................................... 307


22.Ingredients – how to acquire and how to store.............. 323

23. Summing up.................................................................. 339


Recipes................................................................................. 345

Bibliography........................................................................ 351

Preface

Food, how it is grown, how it is traded, and how it is sold and cooked has changed radically since I was a young girl.

The food of my childhood came directly from the ground up to our kitchen and all our food was cooked at home.

Today many families no longer eat home cooked food. This has been replaced by industrial food prepared in factories. Much “fresh” produce is grown thousands of miles away in polytunnels that disconnect it from fresh air and sun. Packaging and transport further diminish the freshness of much of what we eat today.

This disconnect of human beings from real food threatens us with food shortages and food-induced disease.

My entire working life has been connected with farmers, farming and the politics that surround food. I have seen as first hand the social and political challenges that are created when conflicts emerge over the ownership of resources such as fish, land and water and have been privy to the negotiations that result in corporate interests dominating governments and influencing regulations concerning food and farming in general. .

The world of the farmer and the grower has become so marginalised that few people have more than a fuzzy idea of what is involved in growing food. People who do not farm can no longer match food to seasons, and have no idea who, or what, controls their food supplies.

As I write this book I sense a great swell of discontent about the food that we buy and the loss of home cooking.

Private farmers in the developed world have seen their lives and profits decimated by corporate control of food and the food chain. In the developed world the number of small mixed farms is declining year by year and the skills of these farmers and the variety of the food they produce is being lost.

Think tanks and international institutions that determine food production have been dominated by academics trained to have faith in computer models and statistics. As Mark Twain discovered “there are lies, damned lies and statistics” and anyone who has been involved in international conferences about agriculture will recognise Andrew Lang's description of a delegate who “uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than illumination”.

As for the food that is sold and the food that is bought – ten minutes in any supermarket will soon reveal how real food has been transformed into industrial construct – profit before nutrition has become as dominant as capitalism over socialism.

Clouds of gloom surround discussions about food these days even in our overfed, overdeveloped Western world.

We worry about “food security”, climate change and its effect on farming..

Climate change that threatens much food production should be causing us to to re-evaluate the farming systems we have used for the last seventy years or so, but there is little sign of this.

Arable land on which to grow food is diminishing as erosion eats into important marginal farmland and we have not succeeded in pushing back desertification. Australians have had a different experience of farming to most of the rest of the world. Our farming system is one we have developed to cope with one of the driest continents in the world, and today Australia is a land of plenty - particularly when it comes to food. We have much to teach, but are there ears to hear?

The use of nitrogen fertiliser, long thought to be the magic bullet for increased production of grain, is proving fallible in many climates and, as a by-product of the oil industry, is costly both to the farmer and to our environment. Herbicides, pesticides and plant breeding have had unintended consequences on and in the food we eat.

Commonly owned resources such as fish and water are rapidly becoming private property – sold off and allocated by politicians and governments. We are facing the consequences of having overfished and used water wastefully. Australia was one of the first countries in the world to establish fisheries management, and Australia is struggling with the unintended consequences of privatisation and an unrestricted market for water rights. The Australian experience of free market water rights is a warning to countries considering doing the same, but Australian fisheries management has proved effective.

We consumers are becoming more suspicious of the produce that we buy - the use of chemical additives to keep disease off crops, the chemicals sprayed onto fresh food to prolong its shelf life, the diseases from animals that occur spasmodically and threaten our own health, the adulteration of food that can despoil it as it passes along an increasingly complex and protracted food chain - all these make us nervous about the food we buy and eat.

We worry about what is happening to the health of our children who have grown up eating food from supermarkets and take-away shops. Too much junk food - so hard to wean them off it - obesity and allergies proliferating, health warnings on all sides. The pressure increases.

Supermarkets use clever advertising to convince us that the industrially produced food they sell is not a hazard to us, but the evidence does not always support this claim. The effects on our health provide the proof that processed ingredients, pre-cooked, treated with preservatives, adulterated with chemicals, puffed out with water and hydrogenated fats to make them more profitable are, as someone recently called them, environmental crimes.

They have, however, convinced many of us that the product they sell is convenient and cheap. But is it?

Like those of my generation, I grew up in a home where our daily food was cooked by my mother. When I was first married home cooks were just being introduced to industrialised food - the new “convenience” (how false that turned out to be) - but most still clung to the routine of cooking three meals a day and a roast on Sunday.

Women’s liberation was in its first full flush and home duties - woman’s work - were about to be derided in favour of a career. Supermarkets took the strain off the daily domestic grind and helped make the career possible.

Many women who work outside the home today believe that they do not have time to cook the family’s daily food as women did for generations. Many fear that if they do take on cooking the family's daily food they may be once again be chained to the kitchen as were their mothers.

We should not blame women's liberation for what food has become. We were all tempted by the claim of convenience and cheap, healthy food.

When we turned to the supermarket for pre-cooked food, the variety of food we ate became much wider, but at the same time, the cooking of daily food moved out of the domestic kitchen into the factory or the partly industrialised farm kitchen and put it under corporate control where profit, not nutrition ruled. Chemists were and are employed to discover artificial equivalents of natural flavours and ingredients so that basic food could be stretched to provide bulk and synthetic simalcrums of real food. Globalisation in food trade demanded produce with built-in long shelf life and uniformity of size and color for ease of packing and transport –the unnatural has become the norm.

Many families now graze their food from microwave or refrigerator or packet, and they have forgotten the joy of cooking and eating together.

This widespread adoption of prepared food has left several generations of men and women either unable, or not wanting, to cook. They have also lost the memory of the taste of fresh food. The convenience that tempted us all to adopt it is questionable.

Home cooking is real convenience food. It does not have to be complex, or time consuming - it probably takes less time to cook a simple, nourishing meal than it does to drive to the shops, trail around supermarket shelves, make choices among dozens of alternative brands and packets, queue up at the checkout, drive home, unpack and get rid of cling film, packets and plastic bags, then heat and serve the “convenience” food.

So what can we, as individuals, do about this?

We in the West, may well learn from the two thirds of the world that exists outside our Western Anglo-Saxon world. In India, the Middle East, Asia, Italy and Greece home-cooked food is still considered the best food. Each meal may be only a pot of grain and greens over a camp fire or it may be a feast of many dishes, but it is made by hand from fresh ingredients and eaten with relish.

Home cooking is a human activity and gives pleasure not only to those who cook but also to those who eat. It restores nutrition to its rightful place as our reason for eating. Cooking food at home enables us to control the quality of what we eat. We decide how much salt, sugar and fat is added, and we do not need preservatives because the food is eaten rapidly. Food that moves rapidly from soil to plate lessens dramatically the energy requirements that are now built in to supermarket supply chains and excessive packaging and enables us to take full advantage of natural nutrition.

The best home-cooked food is simple. Every time I read a complex recipe I remind myself that peasant women prepared healthy, nutritious, good tasting food for centuries, without expensive equipment, using their hands and eyes to shape and judge - and many still do.

All my cooking life I have been connected to the land and the growing of the food I put on our table. I find it impossible to think, let alone write, about recipes and cooking without having in my mind where the food has come from. Who has grown it, how it has been grown, what has happened to it once it has been harvested, how it has come to my kitchen.

Having been a farmer and spent many years working with the farmers in the developing world I know well the risks and difficulties under which they work to produce food for their own families and for urban populations.

During my years working with poor farmers in the developing world I came to understand that it is not the type of food that they eat that causes malnutrition and famine, it is the lack of sufficient quantities of that food. In ideal conditions, the food (usually grains and greens, nuts and some meat or fish) that the rural poor eat is healthy . They gather and grow their food close to home. The fresh food is harvested daily and what is not eaten fresh is cooked simply.

They suffer hunger when their land, crops, plants and animals are affected by war, climate, badly designed farming projects, corporate takeovers of their land, loss of the biodiversity of their plants, and hi-jacking of their water resource.

Providing food aid and access to traded food is not the answer – both these are vulnerable to price hikes due to futures trading speculation, to the profit driven imperatives of the global corporations who now control much of this trade, and it invariably ends in creating a dependency on industrial food that requires cash, and provides food that is constructed rather than grown. As I write this the World Food Program is calling for donations of ready-cooked meals for the hungry of Haiti.

Living in Italy for twenty years and sharing food and cooking with Indian, Arab and Greek friends has shown me how much joy can be had from growing, harvesting, cooking, eating and being together. Italians and Indians share a fundamental determination to fight to defend the purity of their traditional dishes, to continue to make their food from fresh and natural ingredients and to put a high value on food cooked at home.

I have included in the follow chapters some of the recipes that I have discovered, invented, or acquired along the way to give me the pleasure of cooking at home and my family and friends the pleasure of eating it in my kitchen. I hope they will inspire readers to share these pleasures while at the same time remembering where and how the ingredients have come to their own kitchens.

Rediscovering an appreciation of home-cooked food could well save humanity from malnutrition and disease. A big claim? Think on it.