Melissa Baird, writer, food lover and communications strategist ponders one of the natural wonders of the world; the sense of taste and what it means to put love first in all things – starting with food
January has flown past and what a month for weather, for work, for life and for love.
I was visiting a good friend the other day and he was in an upset state about what he believed was the ‘loss of heart’ in worldly matters. What a big concept ‘worldly matters’ is but it got me thinking about the ‘heart’ of the malaise in economic, environmental and social politics.
The current way of deducing value is based on a measurement and profit assessment. What is put in or taken out, must result in a marketable profit at the end. Goods and services are not valued at their core root, rather the projections of what the intrinsic value is, is measured against what the straight cost of manufacture is.
It was a typical Cape Town winter’s morning, dark with some rain and Dr Miaow – the intrepid cat who lives with me – had been on his early morning (pre-dawn) jaunt. I heard him call and knew the sound well; it was the sound of a proud cat that had brought me a ‘gift’.
In the time we have shared a home I have had a mouse (that I caught with a red plastic cup and relocated) an elephant shrew (dead but still warm) an eviscerated snake (on the door step) and one still alive (sorted that one in the vege patch), a gecko (tail ravaged) and a lizard (stunned but intact). Then it was a perfectly dead bird and soon after a baby bird in a nest.
A massacre of creatures and an unresolved awareness that the creature I love is a hunter and a very adept one at that. His latest prize was spread eagled in the corner of the sun room; a beautiful Cape River frog the size of my open hand and injured, his side was pierced and part of his green and gold skin torn. In spite of this he was very much alive.
Despite changing the venue at the last minute, around 300 people made it to the Shell public meeting at Kelvin Grove in Cape Town regarding their fracking prospectus for the greater Karoo. Shell’s representatives and an independent facilitator were on hand to field the many questions asked by concerned land owners, members of the public and environmental groups
Walking along the seashore today I observed flocks of sea birds, some of whom I recognise and a few others I don’t. The wind was blowing and they were facing the direction of the wind, head on, their heads low and feathers being roughed up by the strong gusts coming towards them from the land. Kelp lay thick and steaming on the shore and the wagtails and swifts were dive bombing the myriad insects that swarm above the rotting seaweed.
I’ve been out and about this week meeting interesting people from the world of “Sustainability”. Generally a very pro-active collection of thought leaders and scientists, engineers, consumer activists and the heads of brands who hold the keys to a lot of the immediate doorways to solutions for many of the resource issues that are being grappled with.
Who would have thought a simple domestic chore could turn into the cauldron of contention? I remember once asking a friend (we took turns washing up) whether they would mind rinsing them afterwards as I noticed that although there was plenty of soap going into the washing up process, little of it was being rinsed off. My simple request was met with a barrage of insults and a note that I should be grateful that any washing up was done at all.
I had lunch with the head of the Plastics Federation last week and listened to him discuss innovations in plastics that will revolutionise the health industry. For better and worse we live in a world where plastic rules because pretty much everything we buy and use is imprinted with a plastic relationship somewhere in its life span.
News from the upcoming Climate Change Talks due to be held in Cancun at the end of the year is that there is a lacklustre response from the 179 nations invited and key players- think China and the USA are not really fired up by the hope of reaching any agreements on setting a standard for carbon emissions. The Telegraph quotes Jonathan Pershing, the US chief negotiator, as saying “There is less agreement than one might have hoped at this stage,”.
I think all builders should be charged a noise pollution and botheration tax and the money be shared amongst the residents of the neighbourhood, who have had their peace and calm utterly shattered.
I went to a press briefing about the soon to be released documentary feature film called The End of The Line. There were a number of sceptical journalists present at the breakfast but after the half hour of footage that we were shown the mood had shifted considerably – to one of stark enlightenment and an urgent desire to do something.
News in the world of pet remedies is the creation of a product that helps induce a sense of wellbeing and calm in domestic cats. Stress and strain affect our animals, be it in the form of loud voices, banging doors or the actions of frenzied children holding on to tails and feet. Dogs maintain a level of joy throughout, easily cajoled with some quick loving, but cats can be a bit more tricky.
A whole lot of chemicals and surfectants have been used and in almost as big a quantity as the ‘spill’ it was used to treat. Certain underground environmental activists were already highlighting the dangers of these chemicals when they were first being used and the PR agencies weren’t talking about it, but as can happen to reason being spoken by what the status quo considers ‘extremists’, not often heard. There is no environmental super hero out there.
A freezing north wester wind is blowing and I’m contemplating Spring and the portent of new life. The lovely seedlings I planted over the weekend - including beans, peas, lettuce and basil are looking woeful and burnt and I can only hope they recover and grow into the leafy greens they are meant to be. This has got me thinking about GM crops and the green light that has been given to grow them in South Africa.
I was shown an interesting site a few days ago that draws statistical information from a variety of big agencies worldwide http://www.poodwaddle.com/clocks2.htm . Despite its hilarious name the information that you are able to view – in real time - gives pause for sober thought. It is easy for us to not be connected to the bigger picture because of the hurried way in which our lives are lived.
Goals,goals, goals. Personal goals, party goals and environmental goals and amidst all the fanfare and the predictions of an oracle octopus where to next?
World environment day was celebrated on Saturday 5th June. I was at a WWF presentation on Thursday to bring to the press’s attention WWF’s celebration of the event as a way to recognise the positive changes brands are undertaking toward food security in this country.
It seems ironic that it takes a volcano erupting in the land of ice to focus the world’s attention on what the consequences are of a massive natural event that defies any scientists or economists predictions or control. The 22nd April is Earth day worldwide and what better time to reflect on the awesome power the earth does wield when her fragile eco-system is thrown out of kilter.
This was the first climate change conference I have attended and I had mixed expectations about being there. Would this turn out to be a fiasco of international proportion or would there be some real collaborative action in taking steps towards cleaning up the planet, reducing deforestation and actively seeking renewable energy resources as a solution for powering a world population that is now over 7 billion people?