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My first blog competition yielded two entrants and both were stunners.
I asked: “food bloggers, what is your favourite real food? Its tastes are enticing but not from a laboratory and it nourishes as nature intended.”
The prize? A DVD of the Austrian documentary, Our Daily Bread. I had organised its London premiere in October 2006 at the Institut Français on behalf of the Soil Association and the Guild of Food Writers. My brilliant colleague, Craig Sams, kindly introduced it. Our Daily Bread records the drama of industrial food production, without comment and with a keen eye for beauty in the wierdest places.
I am sending this DVD to Helen who wrote a superb winning post at her food blog, Haddock in the Kitchen. She brought all the issues in the film to life but with a hopeful spin.
Choosing bread as her favourite real food, Helen, who lives in rural France, explained how the local boulangeries are in danger of dying out and how “the ubiquitous sliced loaf is enjoying an increasingly high profile on supermarket shelves”.
However the country’s lively food culture won’t take this lying down and the French (who have hung on their flour mills unlike the Brits) are taking home-baking to heart: “There are literally mountains of bread machines for sale in every supermarket – with a price to suit every pocket,” writes Helen.
Helen explains how best to use a bread machine; she uses hers to mix and prove the dough, and her beloved Aga to bake it in.
My second entrant is Kate from A Merrier World whose post takes us on an info-packed journey, starting with the importance of play. This is how children learn: with touch and smell and feeling free to be creative. (My favourite way to learn too!).
Kate describes how home-baking provides those early sensory impressions hopefully laying the firm foundation for adult confidence in the kitchen.
I am sending Kate mix. by James McIntosh, the home economist on a mission to get us all cooking again by giving the quantities and instructions needed for everyday recipes.
Taking up my theme of how processed food is laced with cheap additives, Kate tells the story of the dangerous misuse of melamine to make food seem more protein-filled. She ends by reporting on the return to breastfeeding to avoid such contaminants.
Breastfeeding is a powerful example of a natural, real and healthy food that has been replaced by a money-making alternative.
Women are under great pressure not to breastfeed and those complex reasons are analysed in one of my top-favourite book, The Politics of Breastfeeding – when breasts are bad for business, by Gabrielle Palmer.
But then women can also feel under pressure if they want to breastfeed and it did not work out. So this is no guilt-trip!