I am a journalist and radio producer critical of Monsanto and enamoured with pickles.
I am currently writing a book Rooted: Adventures in Antipodean Food Politics through Beacon Reader, a crowdfunded journalism platform and co-hosting Greening the Apocalypse, a radio show that explores the cracks appearing in the global food, ecological and political systems.
My interest in the politics of food started years ago with a backyard talk by Sandor Ellis about fermentation. I started reading all of the food books I could find. Lots of Michael Pollan. The Ethics Of What We Eat. The history of the pineapple. Macrobiotics. The Zen of Fish and The Secret Life of Lobsters, both incredible books by Trevor Corson. Some Buddhist cooking philosophy. Wendel Berry. The Secret Four Fish by Paul Greenberg. What To Eat by Marion Nestle. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz. Griffith Review 27 Food Chain. Unmentionable Cuisine by Calvin W.Schwabe, The Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamens and JS Chilton, Consumed:Food For A Finite Planet by the amazing Sarah Elton. Right now I’m reading The End of Plenty by Joel. K Bourne Jnr. As well as reading I listen to a lot of podcasts, my favorites being KCRW’s Good Food ,Indiana Public Media’s Earth Eats and The Writer’s Almanac for kicks.
“I never ‘ad an orange til I were 21.” When My Dad told me this I thought he was taking the mick but Mum says it’s true. They grew up in post wartime London where food was scarce. My parents ate horse meat sandwiches and grew horseradish in an allotment. I myself grew up in Western Australia in the land of plenty. HP Sauce. Sunday roasts. Dripping on bread. Bubble and Squeak. Christmas in July. Yorkshire puddings.
My Mum was the first mention I ever heard of congee; a no nonsense dietician who taught me the maxim ‘everything in moderation’ and the phrase ‘good fats’. At one point she took a break from working and upon returning was unimpressed with the direction nutrition was taking. What Michael Pollan calls ‘nutritionism’ was rampant. Somewhere along the line it had been co-opted by food fad-ists who couldn’t cook a pilaf to save their life. These days my parents are retired and spend their days making cheese and marveling at how well the curry leaves are growing.
I used to train as a chef at Tofu Shop International. Malcolm, the father, is trained in Japanese cooking and given to screaming ‘What’s the f**king point!’ ‘Where’s the f**king five spice?’ before disappearing into the alley way to practice Chinese pole forms. He is the tofu maker in a separate area of the kitchen but would occasionally appear beside me at the workbench to demonstrate the macrobiotic way to prepare a tomato before wandering into the office to play Ian Moss on YouTube. Louie, the son, is trained in Italian cooking, skateboarding, sarcasm and home-brewing. He was an excellent teacher who I could always rely on to talk to me about pickles.
My friends Dixie and Adam have informed my relationship with food. Dixie Becker is a chef who once blew my mind by making me porridge with black tahini, figs and agave syrup and recently reblew it cooking a whole snapper wrapped in banana leaves in the coals of a fire while we were camping. Adam Grubb is a permaculturist who taught me to eat lamb from a bin and ushered me into the world of fermentation and beekeeping.
It is my hope in writing Dolphin Lettuce Tomato that I create a place where food politics and black humour collide. It is my hope that somehow this blog results in more pickles and bees and less pesticide and Big Macs. I would also quite like a shiitake farm.