Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things that make you go "UH!"

Save Our Bacon... commentary

Congratulations and Thank You to chef Jamie Oliver for using his famous identity and popular media personality to spread some informative and quality advice to his countrymen and consumers. In efforts to revive/save the British Pork industry, he created a documentary program on why and how it is completely feasible to support struggling British farmers. He battled familiar excuses, such as "its too expensive" to buy local, by showing how the less well-known (and therefore cheaper) cuts of meat (shoulder, belly) are simply not as popular but provide consumers with a delicious part of the animal that if consumed by Brits can help reduce the amount of waist and cheap export of their meat. He also provided the audience with really tasty looking recipes on how to cook this cuts. He made watchers aware that if they couldn't afford to buy the top quality organic/free-range products, then the least they could do was insure they were buying local meat, even if it wasn't labeled "organic".
The last hour of my life was spent in an education way; I can't remember the last time I've thought that about a television program. Still there is much I would have liked Jamie to add. For one, he was entirely directing the audience towards buying British pork. This is great for the british market, but does no good for the world's farmers. And all farmers need a voice to stand up for them right now.

One thing i have really come to realize since living in New Zealand, is that so much of the world's soil is productive. Even if something doesn't grow particularly well, something else just as healthy and valuable can grow in that same plot of land.
A really fascinating part of agriculture is the beauty and mysticism of growing grapes. Apart from the arctic continent, wine is produced on every single major body of land. Even if it seems impossible, too cold, or too hot. People still manage to nourish the soil with enough health to be able to produce grapes. Unfortunately humanity cannot live alone on grapes, but if we put so much effort into growing them in every feasible location, that the wine-industry is still growing healthy, can we not say the same on behalf of argiculature industries in the US and the UK? Which are so much more important for our health and livelihood. Why is growing wine so glamorous and raising corn so under appreciated? This has shocked me since the day I arrived... in grocery stores here 70% of the apples come from the USA, in grocery stores in the USA I'd say 60% of our apples and bartlett pears come from New Zealand... WTF???!!! Our economic system of effeciency and free-markets has to be failing us all to some degree, if its BETTER for farmers in the US to ship there fruit all the way to New Zealand and for consumers in the US to buy New Zealand fruit!!!??? Anyways this is a rant, and I don't want to spend this time complaining.

I really just wanted to acknowledge Jamie Oliver for having the audacity to create the television show, "Save Our Bacon". He went all out and showed viewers the entire lifetime of a farm pig, from artificial insemination to the different cage styles (humane and inhumane) to slaughter. This show only provides support for my personal belief that free-range is better for you and the ones you are eating. Pigs are incredible animals- smart, sweet and sensitive.
More importantly than my personal beliefs is that he used his identity for something good, to challenge and educate consumers. So we can go out and make informed purchasing decisions and to be made more aware of the power the consumer wields over the market. I learned so much and was shocked, educated and pleased with the delivery of the entire program.

Highly recommended and Kudos to Mr. Oliver

Peace, Love and Information...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Waiheke... Rhymes with Tikki

hello everyone, I hope all is well.

I am just waking up, and have been meaning to share some visual imagery with family and friends for quite some time now.
I'd like to give a shout out to John and Huy for bringing me back and hooking up my new fabulous laptop. Helps me keep in touch with each and everyone of you as well as provides hours of graphic joy!!

New Zealand is still a great place and I am still exuberantly pleased about being here. I am at a point in my trip where if I want to stay here longer, i need to make some plans and file documents with immigration, but its so hard for me to really make plans. I think once I leave Waiheke Island (aka Bermuda triangle) then I will re-evaluate what it is I want to/can do next.

I've been working at Stonyridge Vineyard for about two months now. Its a fantastic place, with quite a reputation for being a party hotspot. When I first arrived, I didn't feel that Stonyridge necessarily fit the bill for that association, but after the last few parties I've witnessed I kind of agree. There are a lot of people in Auckland, who like and probably only ever listen to techno music... there is such a large percentage of this genre of people that its not surprising then that a vineyard pops up to provide them with a place to party. Stonyridge Vineyard is that vineyard and in being so is a bit two-faced. We make world renowned, classy Bordeaux style wines, I've met many a wine connoisseur who come all the way to New Zealand just to visit Stonyridge, but after 5pm at night if there is something going on its always a drinking redbull & shots of jagermeister while listening to techno music. As employees we have to work at a lot of these events, which is fine because we are getting paid and all. But as a fellow young adult, looking for a good time, I personally wish there was a little bit more rock and roll out here.

I am not sure I've painted a very good image of what Stonyridge and Waiheke are really like, but it is quite comical how many different events or people one finds that only seem to bump crappy techno music. I've been to several different social outtings where it really didn't seem right, for example last week John, Ben and Alex (john's good friend from Maine and his cool girlfriend) and I went to a "Recession Party". It felt a lot like the folk festivals in Eugene. They had little food booths and a wine/beer tent. Lots of families. Hippy children were rolling down hills and there was a stage for live music, but instead of musicians the stage was set up with turn-tables and strobe lights. Techno music is EVERYWHERE here.

Anyways, not really important, just a random tidbit of life I find amusing about New Zealand...

So I made a little photo slide show to share with you. I hope you enjoy it. Its basically my trip and travels from Auckland to Waiheke Island. It includes photos of friends/coworkers, my original house (the sleepout on Frank St.), photos from hikes around the island, our employee party, and some shots from the Stonyridge yoga club... every Monday and Wednesday morning a group of us do yoga before work on the deck at the vineyard. Its such a stunning location for relaxing and working out. One of my favorite past times on the island, and yes 90% of the time during our yoga excersize there is techno in the background.. I've politely protested but no one seems to agree with my concerns.

Love you all... I must jet. I've recently been the tour guide for Stonyridge, which is great fun. I get to speak in front of groups of people and talk to them about wine and winemaking. Two things I don't know much about, but have been trying to learn. So today I am going on the wine tour with John, as research work, aka WINE TASTING! I am very excited. But i've got to get ready for our afternoon in the vines.

Colleen k. d.