Save the oceans

How to improve the health of the ocean, The Economist:

Humans have long assumed that the ocean’s size allowed them to put anything they wanted into it and to take anything they wanted out.

By the middle of the century the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by weight.

… but, really, we are completely fucked, aren’t we?

We are now tree-hugging hippies, but I draw the line at socks and sandals (although my children do not)

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Michael Pollan

Over the last six months to a year, we’ve been transitioning to a (mostly) plant-based, real food diet at home. Aside from the smug virtue you can justifiably (?) feel emanating from this post, I think cutting down drastically on consuming animal products* has helped our overall health — Eliza’s eczema, too.

There are a few things we do that I think have had the most positive impact, and it all has to do with gut health**. Basically, if your gut is in a balanced and happy state, it helps immensely with your physical well-being. That means consuming lots of probiotics (good bacteria that live in your gut) and prebiotics (indigestible plant fibre that feeds the bacteria).

  1. Brewing water kefir
    I spent £4 on some grains, and we haven’t had to buy any more. It’s a simple process of dissolving sugar into water (four tablespoons for sugar per tablespoon of kefir in about a litre of water) and then adding the kefir, covering with a terry tea towel and fastening with a rubber band. We’ve had to check it after 24 hours in the summer (we’ve just learnt this this week!), but can push it to 48-60 hours in the winter. We do not ferment a second time as everyone is happy with the results of the first fermentation.
  2. Huge amounts of food preparation, or as my friend Kristen calls it, defensive cooking on the weekend
    The idea behind this is to reduce the amount of cooking and washing up we have to do during the week. If I don’t prep it, I don’t eat it, and our veg will go scummy in the fridge while we get takeaway Indian, pizza, or fish and chips.
    This weekend I’ve roasted broccoli stalks and hasselback potatoes, baked potatoes that have been stuffed with a red lentil and nutritional yeast filling, roasted and blended an experimental onion ‘cream’ (experimental because I’ve never done it before and I’m really bad at following recipes / instructions), roasted cooked french green lentils, steamed and glazed carrots, made portobello mushroom ‘bacon’, and baked broccoli and cheddar fritters (to use up the broccoli stalks). I’ll do a bit more cooking over the week (as I can’t face spending any more time in the kitchen), but I’m basically combining all these bits into various meals. It’s half-term, so I need to consider feeding Anne at lunchtime, too.

The rugrats haven’t exactly wholeheartedly embraced this change in diet, but as we’ve never been a chicken nuggets and chips for dinner type of family (they get the opportunity to eat this ‘conventional’ diet when we go out), it’s not been too tough. Anne has particularly enjoyed switching from chicken to roasted wheat gluten in our rice- and noodle-based dishes. Weekly rewards for trying new foods help.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
– Oscar Wilde

We also eat highly-processed foods like Quorn, ham, chocolate, ice cream, crisps, cheese puffs, crackers, gummy sweets, pastries, cake, KFC / McDonalds — just not too often.

* We are not vegan nor vegetarian, there are nutritional advantages to consuming small amounts of dairy, eggs, meat, and fish that going completely plant-based cannot replicate. Plus, rare (bleeding, only briefly introduced to the grill) steak.

** I found Gut by Giulia Enders fascinating, and funny. It’s not preachy and you learn so much about a part of the body a lot of people don’t really talk about. Except my (late) grandfather. He was obsessed with the workings of his gut!

Accidentally Eastenders

Anne: Xavvi and I were playing today.

Me: Mm-hmm (in the way that one who isn’t really paying that much attention mm-hmms).

Anne: He was the King, and I was his bird.

Me: I’m sorry, what?! … Did he tell you that?

(He’s Polish, so that would be weird.)

Anne: No, I told him. I was his pet bird. A parrot!

Is being a realist these days the same as being out of touch?

Just taking a break from not having the time to post for this:

Not in the history of American politics has a president, or even candidate, differed so sharply from his supporters as Donald Trump. Millions of ordinary Americans, most concentrated in rural areas, increasingly resentful of the “elites” in the media, the government and academia, have anointed a man with a golden elevator in his Penthouse as the leader of their populist movement.

It has become painful to participate in political discourse, because rather than arguing over different interpretations of historical fact and statistical data, the disputes revolve around the denial of truth.

The world is rapidly changing, and with those changes, education, or at least trade school training, becomes essential. Alleging that everyone who adjusts to modernity is “elitist” will only traffic in more personal and political disappointments.

I agree with this so much, especially the bit about political discourse being painful. I kind of understand why we choose to stay in our echo chamber, because it’s so incredibly distressing to speak to someone who wilfully denies the painful realities of modern life as a lie supposed elitists tell.

£2.50 per session

Anne does martial arts twice a week not too far from home. I take Eliza along. I also take a snack and stuff for Eliza to eat / do so she doesn’t: 1) get on the mat and try to join in; and 2) throw a tantrum because 1) isn’t happening.

Today, while Eliza was given a pack of dried fruit and chia seed chews, a few of the other kids (younger siblings and a student who’s taken a liking to Eliza) practically lined up to get a piece. So that didn’t last long. Some stickers and a sheet of paper had to make an appearance, therefore, and the kids all wanted to do some sticking, too.

I should run a creche, bloody hell!

Honorary Singaporean

Anne’s best mate is over after school. They’re having a snack, and I ask what they want to do after they eat it.

“Eat some more snacks,” I’m cheerfully told.

Someone get that girl a Singapore passport and a map of all the hawker centres.