Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Eggs

Autumn

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in eating out, Eggs, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Topical | 2 comments

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns,” ~ George Eliot.

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Image from www.earthporn.com

Where are you my beloved Autumn ? T’is but a mere 2 weeks away from winter and yet another t-shirt wearing Sydney day is just finishing up. Frightening stuff – and, scarier still that our politicians in their election campaign are steadfastly avoiding any climate change talk. It’s all “jobs and growth” but what kind of world are they expecting us to work in and grow into ??

My blogging frequency is about as lack luster as this balmy excuse of an Autumn we are having. I am keen to get back into the swing of addressing a topic once a month or so but, for now, it’s going to be all the brilliant, interesting and inspiring things which have been tickling my fancy or firing me up since I last wrote all those moons ago in Spring.

Inspiring people

  • Marc Ching from the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in the US. His missions to save dogs from the meat trade in Asia (most recently in China, Thailand and Cambodia) are epic and heart wrenching to watch but ultimately heroic. He does what so few animal lovers could do or face. When he is not rescuing dogs under the guise of being  a dog meat buyer so he can infiltrate into the grimmest of world’s where dogs are tortured before being killed for their meat, he is rescuing animals from the worst cases of neglect and abuse in the US. Here is his facebook page which follows these incredible rescues.
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    Marc Ching : Photo from Hope and Animal Wellness Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst on this topic, please join Ricky Gervais and sign this petition against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. Public opposition to this barbaric festival grows each year. Please add your voice. It needs to end.

  • Marianne Thieme. I went to see her talk a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series. This utterly impressive woman is the leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. I felt like I was immersed in an episode of Borgen – watching a rare species of politician who is progressive, intelligent, compassionate and actually thinking about the issues that will make this world a better place for the people and animals living on it.

If you’d like to know where do our political parties stand on animal protection here is a handy summary provided by Voiceless. If you would like to see better protection for our most vulnerable members of society, you’ll see that the Animal Justice Party tick all the boxes. I know who will be getting my vote at the up and coming election.

Heavy topics over with…..onto some of my more pleasurable discoveries (which I am noticing are dominated by FOOD ) and a viable explanation for my increasingly gripping pants !

Eating Out Recommendations 

Gigi’s in Newtown continues to tantalise my taste buds with it’s mouthwatering array of pizzas and cocktails and other delights. Seriously, go there.

Gelato Blue in Newtown – have always found it to be the best gelataria in existence but it has now outdone itself by taking a leaf out of Gigi’s book and going completely animal product free.

Golden Lotus in Newtown – delicious and affordable Vietnamese food. Vegan Pho and the like.

Food

New vanilla and blue berry flavoured coconut, dairy free yogurt courtesy of Nudie. I hunted down the Vanilla one at Woollies and rate it big time.

All the new drool-worthy Over the Moo dairy free ice cream flavours, including Matcha Green Tea, Caramel and Ginger Ninja.

Successful Recipes

I have been on a biscuit / brownie making rampage of late with the following little morsels getting rapturous feedback…

As for savoury new discoveries……

This one pot Mexican quinoa dish has been on repeat in our household. Love it.

I’ve just fallen in love with a new cooking blog where every dish looks sensational, nutritious and uncomplicated. The Buddhist Chef – check it out. The Dragon Bowl is getting a run this week in our house.

Recycling etc

Like every second person seems to be doing, I have jumped aboard the house and contents de-cluttering bandwagon – albeit at the most snail like pace imaginable (we’re talking a drawer a week). The Slow Home Podcast and The Minimalists are my go to podcasts to bolster my enthusiasm levels. I am trying my best to rid our unwanted items as responsibly as possible – rather than just turfing it out the front for council collection as I know it’ll get chucked straight into landfill. So, there’s been a couple of handy discoveries I have made….

Terra Cycle. I have created a couple of boxes….one for all my old cosmetic containers, squirty gadgets etc which can’t be recycled via the normal council bins….and the other for all our tooth care regalia – so old toothbrushes, used toothpaste tubes etc. Once full, I just print off my label and mail it off (for free) to the creative Terra Cycle people who make it all into something new and functional. Clever hey ?They have a whole lot of different categories like rubber gloves, pens and coffee pods which run in a similar way. You can earn points too but I didn’t figure out how to do this. I just wanted to be rid of my loot.

H & M. Now this is an impressive move for a chain clothing store and sorted one of my dilemmas. What to do with all those sheets, old t-shirts etc lurking in your cupboards which have a little mark on them or are a bit old and threadbare so unsuitable for Vinnies ?? You take them into your local H & M store where they take them off your hands and do something constructive and worthy with them like making them into new products. PLUS you get a 15% discount card for your troubles should you wish to purchase something (which I did not as am trying to curb my consumerist ways too).

Good new app

If you do eat eggs, Choice have released this great, free app to allow you to avoid all the dodgy, so called “free range” eggs when you are at the supermarket. If you’re going to eat eggs, please pay a few more dollars and support the farmer who stocks the 800-1500 birds per hectare rather than those cashing in on the now legally allowed 10,000 birds per hectare definition, even when the poor birds can’t get outside. And, whilst you’re at it, you can let Aldi know that they are living in the past by supporting the continued sale of caged eggs.

Random nice things

I’ve discovered a new funny comedian who’s podcast I’m loving – the inappropriate, ballsy, sweary, hilarious Jen Kirkman. Her books are great too. Divorced and suddenly single in her 40’s, child free by choice, flying anxieties, weird Prince dreams….it’s all there. And, she’s vegan as I only recently discovered. So sad that I missed the boat and did not see her recently perform in Sydney.

Speaking of Podcasts…a new discovery for me is “Knowing Animals“. An informative learning hub for animal related advocacy issues. JJJ’s Lindsay McDougall was the most recent guest.

Movies – 45 years, Rams, The Daughter, Sherpa and Mia Madre are all fantastic, must sees in my humble opinion.

TV Shows – am obsessed with the UK police show “Happy Valley”. It is so engrossing and gripping.

Books -Nest by Inga Simpson, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Simpson and The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. All great reads.

I sincerely hope that it is not in 2 seasons time until I see you again. I miss tinkering on my little blog but struggle with time management (obviously). I have no idea how many people read it, would not know how to view my stats to save myself but, for my own sake, it’s a way of gathering up everything I learn or discover and plonking it down in one spot. I hope you get something out of it too.

You can find me on facebook as well.

Ciao xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living without eggs

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in Eggs | 2 comments

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them, that’s the essence of inhumanity” – George Bernard Shaw

 

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Photo from Animals Australia

 

Even with the free-est of free range eggs available as discussed in my last post, some people still choose to banish eggs from their diet. Why so ?

As with the dairy issue, the avoidance of eggs on animal welfare grounds does, at first glance, seem a bit far fetched and fanatical . Alas, as with so many of these animal and environmental issues, the more you read and educate yourself, the clearer (and less nutty!) such choices become.

The factors about egg production which have weighed on my moral, still egg eating, brow are these ones :

* Male chicks are killed in their first day of life by being gassed or ground up alive. They are considered to be waste products of the egg industry and 12 million baby chicks lose their lives like this each year in Australia. This happens in hatcheries which go on to provide chicks to backyard chook owners, battery cage “farms” and organic / free range farms. So, unless you hatch your own eggs and keep the baby chick regardless of its gender, this is what we are buying into. Rather arrogant and cruel of us.

* The egg is the end result of the hen’s menstruation cycle –  the eating of which is, therefore, a bit gross.

* With a growing population and shrinking arable farming land, how can our insatiable demand for eggs be humanely  met ? This is usually the battery hen farmers feeble argument to defend their cruel practice but there is some validity in it. In the ideal world, where all egg laying hens were free with ample room to move, where are they all going to go ?? You can help reduce humans’ greedy demand by reducing your own usage.

 * Even in the free range / organic egg world, hens are sent to slaughter when they cease being an economically viable commodity. This equates from 18 months to 3 years (when their egg production wanes) when they would, if it wasn’t for us, live to around 10 years. No matter how idyllic their free range roaming life was, the end result (ie the abbattoir)  is not a good one. And what a way to repay an animal for providing her eggs to us for her short life.

So, what on earth can little ol’ you do ??……….

Reduce / eliminate eggs from your diet. It is actually surprisingly easy to use less eggs.  When baking, I use either No Egg or Chia Seeds as a replacement. You can also use apple sauce, bananas, flax seeds or silken tofu as detailed here. All cheaper and healthy options which do work as binders very well.

You can make everything typically made with eggs……..sans eggs…….from Scrambled TofuChickpea Omelettes (have made these, big thumbs up), mayonnaise zucchini frittersegg nogfrittatas (vouched for as being delicious and eerily frittata like !) to banana bread……you can even make creme brulee. There is a wonderful ingredient known as black salt too (which is actually pink !) which you can buy from any Indian grocer. It gives everything a convincing sulfuric-y egg like flavour (and that eggy farty smell!).

Do not fear the “Vegan” options : Many of these products taste every bit of good as what you may consider the “real thing”. I have yet to try and make my own mayonnaise (languishing on the “to do one day” list) so I buy “Organic Egg Free Mayo“. I challenge you to do a taste test between this one and the normal, egg filled one as you will be struggling to tell the difference.

Buy Kindly and Thoughtfully : Be mindful when you are eating out that the vast majority of eateries will be using caged eggs in their dishes and as ingredients. Do not be coy to ask if there are any egg free options or simply ask for them to not include the egg in a particular dish (eg : Pad Kee Mao – tastes no different without eggs). Or choose to eat somewhere that gives you more egg free options……

I am a big fan of those little, thoughtful companies who do the right thing by the animals. It is much more satisfying to hand over your money to those who support cruelty free initiatives in their delicious treats than those who do not care. If you get a chance, indulge yourself with something scrumptious from one of these little, kind, local businesses :

* Mad Hatter Cup Cakery in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Divine animal product free cup cakes in cute surrounds. My fella recently rated their triple chocolate cupcake as the best he has ever had. (Update – sadly they have recently closed but “like” them on facebook and some delicious egg free baking recipes will come to you).

* Addiction Food. They make sublime brownies, truffles, slices etc and support nice charities like Sea Shepherd. Widely available, mainly in Sydney.

* Gingerbread Folk : Blue Mountains based company who make egg free gingerbread treats.

* Rubyfruit : The only bad thing about this place is that it is far from me, in Leura. I have visited here numerous times and every thing I have eaten here from pies to cupcakes is heavenly.

* Mister Nice Guy’s Bakeshop : In Melbourne (sigh) and the scene of where I learnt just how good (actually, superior), plant based baking could be.

Not food related but relevant all the same…..the Jumping for Joy series by  photographer Tamara Kenneally will bring you greeting cards or posters teeming with images of happy rescued battery hens literally leaping with joy. I have some packs of greeting cards on stand by – they are suitable for all occasions – new baby, birthdays etc and are gorgeous. Plus, they help fund Tamara’s work which involves photographing factory farmed animals to help expose this cruel, hidden world.

Label Stalk : Omigoodness, when you become a seasoned label stalker you will realise just how many products that eggs are actually in. Unless stated otherwise (exceedingly rare)….these eggs will have come from a hideous battery cage facility. Who wants to unravel all their good work by seeking out the best free range eggs or eliminating them, only to find that they are unwittingly consuming caged eggs via their mayonnaise, pastry, wine, hot cross buns, muffins, cake mix and the list goes on…. ? Try and avoid these items, and substitute with kinder options, or make your own versions, it is easier than you think !

Rescue some ex battery hens : If you are keen to keep a few eggs in your diet and want to do it in the kindest way possible, this would have to be the best way of doing it (and you by-pass the buying from the male chick killing hatchery dilemma). You would need to be willing to accept an unreliable and low supply of eggs and to care for the chooks for their lifespan and tend to any health issues they may come with. I am sure that the rewards of giving a few of these poor girls a taste of the good life, in exchange for the odd egg, would be plentiful. It is something I would love to do.  NSW Hen Rescue is the go to place to adopt ex battery hens in NSW. Homes for Hens is based in Brisbane and they have some great information on the page about caring for ex battery hens. My first point of call would be one of the many fantastic animal sanctuaries we have in Australia who will be able to point you in the right direction and/or enable you to adopt from them. These sanctuaries include Little Oak Sanctuary near Canberra, Edgars Mission in Victoria and A Poultry Place and Signal Hill Sanctuary in Yass, NSW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to buy the free-est of free range eggs

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Eggs | 0 comments

“It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – J K Rowling

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These photos depict some very lucky, happy chooks. They sleep in an enclosed yard with a cosy shelter and run rampant during the day on the property. They live (and supplied our morning eggs) at my favourite “escape from Sydney” getaway – Mill Paddock Cottage, in Mountain Lagoon.

If, like me, you are not lucky enough to have sufficient land and/or knowledge to house your own band of merry egg producing chooks, you need to buy eggs from the shop.  Many people (actually 60% according to a recent Choice survey) make the effort to only buy free range eggs which is a wonderful thing and shows that peoples’ views are changing as industries become exposed and we become more educated about what really goes on in the despicable world of factory farming.

However, this perplexing world we live in does not like to make things easy for us to be kind. Labeling is confusing and deceptive and uses words such as “farm fresh”, “vegetarian” and “eco”  to try and conjure up an image which is far from reality. Businesses prey on people’s desire to do the right thing. There are no standardised guidelines about what “free range” actually means.

Most of the free range eggs you see in the major supermarkets (at around the $5 – $6 a dozen price range) fit into the highly questionable box in my opinion. In fact, half of the free range eggs sold in Australia come from only 3 producers (Novo, Pace Farm and Manning Valley) and some squeeze 20,000 – 40,000 birds into a hectare despite the Model Code capping it at 1,500 birds per hectare.  Although Coles and Woolies appear to be do the right thing by banning the sale of their own branded caged eggs, they have set their own, arbitrary stocking density rates at 10,000 birds / hectare (this equates to 1 bird per square meter). At such high numbers, the vision one would expect from the description of free range is not viable.

So, to make the right choice, first check out this chart put out by Animals Australia which simplifies the egg world jargon.

egg-chart

Furthermore, there are reliable accreditation bodies which can point you in the right direction. Humane Choice and Certified Organic have the most rigorous standards – including low stocking densities, no beak or wing clipping and independent audits and are a great place to start in terms of buying genuinely free range eggs. To compare the 6 accreditation bodies so you are further informed, just click here for Sustainable Table’s great guide.

This guide – Animal Welfare Labels is very informative about many of the eggs you would of seen on the supermarket shelves.

This guide from Flavour Crusader is a fantastic one for exploring all the smaller, independent egg producers available out there.

My little family goes through about a dozen eggs in 10 days. I usually buy either Organigrow, Egganic or Organic Eggs from Clarendon Farms  (I find them at Thomas Dux supermarket) as they tick all the right boxes for me and I feel confident that I am actually getting what I pay for (which is around the $9-$10 / dozen mark). As is a running theme in my blog, the kindest options are overwhelmingly the most expensive ones (for good reason) so just eat less of a good thing – or even eat none at all. This is what Part 3 of this egg topic will be about. Why do some people choose not to eat eggs ? How does one cook without this apparently staple ingredient ? What about all the products we buy that contain caged eggs ?

As for wanting free range eggs when you are out and about at your favourite cafe or restaurant, the RSPCA do have their Shop Humane initiative to locate cafes who use “humanely produced” (I use this term loosely and with some reservation) animal products including eggs. I like the Organigrow link which shows which restaurants /cafes which use their genuinely free range eggs. Otherwise, unless you ask, the assumption would have to be that they use caged eggs.

I have gathered together some interesting articles which I found interesting  in case you want to be the best informed free range egg buyer around.  I would love your feedback on this topic – what do you look for when buying eggs ?

10,000 eggs to a hectare is no free range : ACCC

Plan hatched to crack row over egg labelling (SMH)

Free range egg definition change rejected  (SMH)

With Eggs, some chooks are freer than others (SMH)

– Interesting contrast of opinion between the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd and the Free Range Egg and Poultry Ass. of Australia

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Caged Eggs

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Eggs, Factory Farming | 0 comments

“Imagine being trapped for your reproductive system. For your entire life. Then all the thanks you are given for it is death” – Tamara Kenneally (photographer).

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One of the beautiful girls we met at Little Oak Sanctuary

I find it very disturbing that NSW’s Primary Industries Minister Katrina  (“I’m perfectly comfortable with purchasing caged eggs”) Hodgkinson buys caged eggs. Not only would she be on a substantial income but her portfolio involves looking at all things to do with farmed animals.

I wish that she would remember that these birds are living, thinking, feeling creatures and not machines to do with what we wish. Smart, inquisitive birds squeezed on top of each other in ammonia filled sheds….standing on sloping wire 24 hours a day, having no room to stretch their wings or experience sunlight. Their sensitive beaks are clipped shortly after birth, their freedom and joy is non existent. How is this legal in our country ? (aside from the ACT that is, as of a few days ago – woohooo !).  11 to 12 millions hens in Australia currently exist like this before being ripped from their cages at around 18 months of age to be slaughtered when their egg production wanes. All in the name of our insatiable desire for cheap and plentiful eggs. Approximately 70% of eggs consumed in Australia are still produced by the systematically cruel battery cage method. There is clearly enormous room for improvement.

As per all factory farming, it is easy to forget about these hens as they are hidden from the consumers’ eyes in far away sheds. Luckily, for the curious and kind consumer, there are numerous websites to unveil what is deliberately hidden from us. This series of photos by the talented and brave photographer Tamara Kenneally is my favourite. Her photos do not need facts, figures and commentary. They speak for themselves.

As a city slicker, I have not had much experience with hens so was intrigued by meeting some on my recent visit to Little Oak Sanctuary which rescues an array of farmed animals. There was a beautiful bevy of recently rescued battery hens who’s enthusiasm for everything (bugs, our shoe laces, dirt scratching, running maniacally) was endearing. The thought of their previous lives of deprivation and pain was bitter sweet.

Meeting these ex battery hens made me all the more determined to make kind and considered choices for, amongst many things, eggs. Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as buying a carton of free range eggs from the supermarket……we all need to consider the myriad of other quandaries :

Just how free range are your eggs ?

Are there any ethical dilemmas with buying even the kindest of free range eggs ?

What about all the foods we eat that unwittingly contains caged eggs ? By eating such foods are we really only making a token effort with our free range egg buying habits ?

Is egg free baking / cooking the real deal ?

These issues will be explored in part 2 & 3 of my posts about eggs….stay tuned ! In the meantime, please view this short clip from Animal’s Australia. The footage of the hen’s only experience of the outside world on her way to be slaughtered (at the 6 minute mark of the video) never fails to bring tears to my eyes and keeps me inspired to stay informed about the evils of factory farming and all the alternatives available to me.

Would love to hear any comments you have to make about this topic.

Want to know a bit more ?

Australian Egg Farming : The Inside Story

Battery Hens : Voiceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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