Why I shop at Locavore

There’s a long wooden bench outside. It’s under the shelter of the awning running from the newsagents to the barbers and people, presumably, could take their chai or herbal tea out there, even in Scotland, in January, but I suspect that some passersby sit there too. Taking a restful moment off, from all the trundling about that’s so much part of modern life. It’s a nice touch. Human, simple, neat, good business sense. That’s Locavore.

Inside and…ah! The herbs and fresh fruit and veg and scented soaps and candles. I breathe it all in, immediately feeling better. I smile at the customer on her mobility scooter, coffee resting on the large wooden table in the cafe area, and head towards the free fruit and veg box.

I’m an inveterate recycler. I just can’t see things go to waste, so this is one of the many aspects of Locavore that I approve of. I start here because I’m thinking of what’s in the vegetable rack and fruit bowl at home. As a vegan who prefers whole to processed food, that’s where I start my meal preparation.

I always buy something too and recently decided to buy all my bread and pastries here. Everything’s organic. That sounds like a luxury until you think about the choice: with or without poison. Why do that to yourself and your housemates—then have to spend more on remedies for the harm those poisons cause?

The vegetables are interesting. Kohl rabbi and fennel as well as the usual cabbage, carrots and spuds. Paper bags or biodegradable plastic. There are huge containers of nuts and seeds and pulses at the back—I really need to investigate that end more—as well as refills for Ecover and other products that are natural and not tested on animals.

Okay it’s not entirely vegan, or even vegetarian, and I wish it was. But it’s shops like these where, looking along the shelves, someone who usually buys salami might see the vegan chorizo and decide to give it a try.

Let’s talk about cost. Yes, you’ll probably find an inferior version available for less in a supermarket but here’s the difference: this isn’t a shop where the emphasis is on sugar and starchy empty calories. This is good food and it’s good for you. So it terms of what you’re getting, pound for pound, this is better value.

Finally, the best thing about Locavore—apart from the unhurried time and space you have to pack your shopping—is the staff. People who know that their work makes a difference look different from other shop staff. Their eyes shine. When you chat about a recipe (3-ingredient vegan pancakes, for example) they’ve probably tried it or they want to and will tell you about it next time you shop. As they’re ringing your purchases up on the till, you’ll hear about the new baby, the new doggie, their visit to the Glasgow allotments where the produce is grown—and they’re interested in your news and views too.

I always come out of Locavore feeling better than when I went in. I’m a carer, going through considerable employment stress right now (and seeking legal remedies for it). My life at the moment is quite challenging. I shop at Locavore because it makes my life easier and reminds me of the consistent aim of philosophers down through the ages: the good life.

Colourful crammed Locavore veg box

Photo from https://locavore.scot/ (I’m not on commission, I just really like the shop!)

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Homemade Tattie Scones

In these times of austerity, when UK elected leaders are using our taxed earnings to fund an Eastern European money-laundering scheme, it’s nifty to be thrifty. Tattie scones, Scotland’s parsimonious answer Spanish tortilla de patatas, are humble, filling fare that I usually buy. This morning, forgetting to stock up on porridge, I decided to give homemade tattie scones a try.

I found this recipe on BBC Food and it seemed simple enough. Boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed, pinch of salt (I think a teaspoon is exaggerating it) and veggie margarine. My tweak is a sprinkle of turmeric on the oil. Here’s how it went.

Chopped peeled potato in an orange bowl on a tan countertop.

I had about half a pound of boiled potatoes in the fridge, so I peeled them (easy when cooked) and chopped them up in a bowl, added a dollop of the margarine and bit of sea salt then I mashed them with a fork.

Vitalite margarine top

I used organic wholemeal flour, Doves Farm, bought in Locavore, and added baking powder.

Organic wholemeal flour packet, with a 50% off sticker
Dr Oetker baking powder tin

Combining all that and remashing carefully gave me this.

Mashed ingredients in bowl

Now at this point I decided to be lazy and rather than turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it till it was 1cm thick, as recommended, I just used a knife to press it down, going round in a circle, on a floured plate. I then quartered the mixture with the blade of a flat plastic spatula, to make it easier to fry.

Then a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of turmeric and it was time to fry the segments on a medium heat.

Oil and turmeric in the frying pan

I now realised the mixture was too thin so I used the flat, plastic spatula to press it down and, in doing so, erased the divisions between the segments.

It was at this point that I realised that rolling the mixture would have been a better idea. However, most of it held together and when I tasted a wee piece that had broken off it was okay. So a couple more flips on the frying pan and my homemade tattie scones were ready to serve up to the expert taster: my Mum!

3 segments of tattie scones with splashes of tomato sauce on an orange plate on a table mat with a woodland motif.

Mum had 2 tattie scones and I had 3, then she had another and I did too, and then split the last between us. As a most reliable taste test is whether they want more, I think this was a success! A little floury and a little crumbly, yes, but a tasty breakfast snack that’s healthy, vegan and organic. I think I may make these again.

God’s Green Earth

The potatoes I dug up for dinner last night aren’t perfect. They range in size from huge to tiny, a couple got a bit green and one or two had beasties inside them, happily munching. But they’re all homegrown, organic and—when washed in rainwater, peeled (their occupied territory consigned to the compost heap along with the occupants) and boiled—they were the fluffiest tatties I’ve ever tasted. Mum loved them.

The wee ones I wrapped in brown paper and dated—to plant next spring. This lot, as is traditional, I’d planted on Good Friday but some sprung up from tiny tubers I’d missed in the soil the year before. So it goes to show that what matters isn’t size: it’s potential.

As we face a winter of artificially inflated cost-of-living (which, as a friend in the Scots Libertarian party points out, is actually cost-of-government) we may feel demoralised by the scale of the gargantuan forces oppressing us. Yes, they are individually and collectively powerful—but we are many and they are few.

Many of us in the Freedom Alliance party have been warning of the current crisis for years. I started posting about it in March 2020, because my previous research into the lies of Big Pharma and its censorship of experts had already opened my eyes.

Gardening is a major strategy of defence in the resistance movement: we don’t need their frankenfoods if we’re growing our own. It’s also incredibly good for your physical and mental health. Out in the fresh air, maybe chatting across the fence to neighbours, getting some natural light (maybe even some sunlight where the chemtrails are less frequent) so our skin manufacturers vitamin D. Just touching soil calms us. We’re literally grounded. Watching the busy bees and beautiful butterflies as we work reminds us that there’s another order, natural, ancient, harmonious, productive and yes truly “sustainable”—rather than this poisonous bureaucracy of surveillance and anxiety.

So grow your own! It’s worth it—and it might just save your life and your sanity!

Black plastic tray on long green grass with about 20 potatoes ranging in size & colour—2 with small holes.

Wrong Turning: Lab-Grown Meat

I tend to say “yes” to requests from handsome men. (It’s a character flaw, I know, and it often leads me into trouble.) So when animal activist Jon Hochschartner asked me for my thoughts on the moral problem of theodicy with reference to wild animal suffering, I published a reply and I liked what he did with it. Two days after Boxing Day isn’t the season for blogging about possible religious objections to lab-grown meat but I’m still no better than I should be, so here I am.

Ethical complexity was central to my doctoral work and whenever I get a gut reaction that I can’t immediately intellectually justify, I’m intrigued. I’ve been vegetarian for decades and vegan for years. I can’t even eat meat substitutes that taste too meaty. I hate the very idea of lab-grown meat. It appals me. Yet Jon argues otherwise and calls for massive state investment in R&D:

…cultivated meat is grown from animal cells, without slaughter. When this new protein is cheaper to produce and superior in taste to slaughtered meat, we will have achieved the conditions under which animal liberation starts to become possible.

CounterPunch 19th Nov. 2021

Put like that, bearing in mind the huge reduction in animal suffering from factory farming and slaughter, it seems like a no-brainer. So why am I instinctively against it? On reflection, I’ve identified seven reasons:

  1. Pragmatic: veganism is booming and there are already acceptable meat substitutes for those that crave them. It seems like the time to invest in changing the culture away from meat rather than towards a more ethical version.
  2. Nutritional: I’ve been lectured at, for decades, by fat people with bad skin and no stamina who frequent burger bars and wouldn’t know B12 from beetroot – and yes there are new vegans who do not eat a balanced diet – but nowadays few nutritionists would attempt to argue that a human diet heavy in animal products is healthier than one based on plants.
  3. Ideological: The push for lab-grown (and insect) meat has a global political context that even to mention this time last year earned an automatic penalty on social media – either jeers of “conspiracy theorist” or some form of shadowbanning. The Great Reset, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, leverages climate anxiety and White guilt in order to greenwash economic disruption – disproportionately impacting the most marginalised – and focusing on exploiting the bedrock of the 4th Industrial Revolution: the conflict minerals of Africa.
  4. Financial: Bill Gates (who finances: the media, government public health advisors, “fact-checkers”, the pharmaceutical industry, the World Health Organisation and both sides of the aisle in American politics, directly or indirectly) is now the biggest private owner of farmland in the USA. I say all this because his PR is so successful that any critique is immediately met, in the USA especially, with “oh you must be a [insert ideological other]”. His push for synthetic meat clearly doesn’t come from any concern for farmers – who went out of business during the lockdown his funded advisors imposed and sold their land to him (cheaply?) – or for animals – who were slaughtered early, often under even more barbaric conditions than usual.
  5. Sociological: with citizen journalism available to anyone with internet access, the mainstream media version of events falls in hegemonic power. As reports of vaccine injuries rise, along with those of the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to cover them up, Gates may well become a toxic brand and any products he pushes unlikely to meet with consumer approval from his conservative opponents. Across the aisle, liberals are more likely to be open to veganism – so why try to sell them something less?
  6. Compassionate: Gates (while publicly expressing angst over eating cheeseburgers) does occasionally match donations for an animal sanctuary but with his money he could have bought all the animals as well as all the farmland and saved them from the gas chamber, drowning, shooting and electrocution – and hardly noticed. Why didn’t he? Because to Gates and his ilk, life on earth is the problem, not the solution.
  7. Religious: lab-grown meat does not solve any moral problems unsolved by veganism. Even for ritual purposes, there are acceptable vegan substitutes.

Done well, a religious process of pondering a moral problem is holistic, taking into account all the patterns of values concerned. While developing technology may be seen as participating in the creative energy of God, what is important is its impact: all its relations. The lines connecting lab-grown meat and human and animal life in all its fruitfulness form a spiderweb with a morally ambiguous opportunistic businessman, passing as a philanthropist, at the centre.

There was a moment, after the Second World War, when the conditions that had led to the wartime unbalanced monoculture production of carbohydrates (potatoes, wheat) that could be shipped and stored were no longer in existence. This followed centuries of disenfranchisement of the rural poor as they migrated to the cities, losing their connection to the land and their culinary, herbal and nutritional knowledge as they boarded in shacks with no kitchen and fed, almost solely, on wheat pies of meat and potatoes. As shell-shocked men returned home and deprived women of the jobs they had been doing capably for years, there could have been a reversal of the mechanisation of agriculture. Employment on labour-intensive small-holdings would have raised morale as well as levels of nutrition and avoided the turn towards factory farming that inevitably followed.

As, like it or not, we are presented with a similar moment in our history – except this time all over the world – we have the opportunity to make the right choice. Greater artificiality, centralisation of food supplies and association with industrial giants whose lack of prudence is infamous – all these things are not what is needed now. As we face the prospect of another industrial revolution, we need to turn from our former errors and not repeat them.

Thanks to Dawn Hudson for releasing her image Red Germ into the Public Domain.

Pumpkin Soup! 🎃

If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know that (surprisingly) pumpkin triffids have been taking over my greenhouse and happily cohabiting with nasturtiums and nicotianas. Two pumpkins developed (I was watching the male and female flowers eagerly as there’s a window of only a few hours for the bees 🐝 to get busy with them) and today I took the biggest one in, for Hallowe’en! 👻 I think I’ll leave the other one for Christmas.

Male yellow pumpkin flower
Closing female pumpkin flower with seed pod bulge
Holding the pumpkin in my hand
Small pumpkin growing on the vine

My two objectives were to make pumpkin soup and a lantern. First step was cutting it in two, about 1/3 of the way from the top.

Pumpkin cut in two on a wooden table

Now comes the scraping. I cut around the seeds and spoon them out first, chopping and squeezing the pulp to extract them. Some to eat (cos they’re great for the digestive tract apparently for humans and dogs too!) and some to keep to sow next year. I spread them out on kitchen paper, push more on top, turn it over and do that a couple of times till they start falling out cos they’re dry! Then I wrap them up in a clean sheet, put a plastic band round the wee packet and date it.

Pumpkin seeds drying on kitchen paper
Package of pumpkin seeds on table

Frequent readers—and anyone who doesn’t confine their news input to Big Pharma funded mainstream media and their antisocial media shills—will know that we’re in the middle of a global technofascist takeover and that food and seed shortages are a major weapon in the disaster capitalist armoury. If you haven’t been paying attention, you probably have just decided that I’m a “conspiracy theorist”. Bless.

Then comes the fun of carving the evil Hallowe’en face! If you’re a young thing born in the UK this century who goes about saying “Trick or Treat!” as if you’re an American, you may not know that tomorrow is All Saints Day, so tonight is the Eve of All Hallows: Hallowe’en. (Yes, that is where JKR got it from.) So the old idea was that evil things pranced about before they all got chased off by all the sanctity tomorrow. The even older idea, at least in Celtic countries, is that on Samhain, the night of this old Quarter Day (that marks the triumph of the Dark until Beltane or May Day) the veil between the worlds is thin.

Carved pumpkin with electric light inside, on table

In some Latin countries the Day of the Dead/ El Día de los Muertos/ O Dia dos Mortos combines all of these ideas. Anyway, now for the soup! Basically I just chopped up all the pulp and blended it with spinach and cherry tomatoes, then added a home-grown chilli pepper, onions and a slice of ginger, a touch of turmeric and a twist of black pepper.

Added together it’s turned a nice light green. Hopefully it tastes better than it looks!