Monday, October 25, 2010

Everybody is on a Diet!

In June I wrote of my intention to become overweight. That goal has been met. I left the obese category behind and now “normal” weight seems more realistic.

I have now lost around 15kg and people have noticed. They refer to me being “on a diet” – meaning I am somehow depriving myself of food to help me lose weight. The idea of “being on a diet” brings to mind denial of real food and being subjected to salads or something bland and tasteless.

In reality I’ve been deprived of nothing. My food choices haven’t really changed. I still eat the same kind of things, but maybe in slightly smaller portions. The reason for my weight loss is my avoidance of those things we commonly eat that aren’t food. All of those snacks that can easily become habits rather than treats.

I no longer buy large bags of potato or corn chips and eat the whole lot in one sitting. I no longer eat a whole large chocolate bar by myself. But I still have an occasional slice of cake at a coffee shop, mostly shared with Gloria instead of eating a whole piece each.

The idea of “going on a diet” to lose weight is an indication of why so many of us ARE overweight or obese. We should not be thinking of a “diet” as a weight loss exercise. We should recognise that a diet is a choice of food. We are ALL on diets. The difference is that sometimes our diets contain things that are not food. Things that provide far more fuel (calories) than our bodies are capable of processing. Unlike our cars, our fuel tanks do not automatically stop the fuel pump when they are full. And unlike our cars, we can load up with inappropriate fuels and it can take a long time before our bodies start to protest with impaired performance.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

No More Cabbages!!!

I’m giving up on cabbages.
I am also abandoning cauliflowers.
Both continually disappoint in my garden.

This year the cabbages seemed to be doing really well. I grew them under netting which was very successful in keeping them free from caterpillars. However, when the cabbage moth couldn’t spoil the crop, the slugs “stepped” in to take their place. And earth worms haven’t helped either. Both have made their home between the leaves. It’s impossible to use the cabbage without removing each leaf separately to pick off the slugs and worms, this really spoils the appetite.

Instead of wasting more time and garden space on leafy veg failures, I’ll stick with things that do well. This year we tried Kale for the first time. It crops prolifically a short time after planting and it provides a very worthwhile alternative to cabbage.

We’ll also stick with broccoli. The netting idea has helped prevent last years problems in which the broccoli heads were infested with caterpillars. The net keeps away the butterflies, preventing them laying their eggs on the veggies, therefore keeping them free from caterpillars. I’m not sure what type of plants we used this year, but the broccoli heads are massive – dinner plate size – and the smaller side shoots which are usually broccolini-like, are more the size of the normal broccoli heads sold in the supermarket.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z

I’ve tried a few times to start this review but haven’t been happy with any of my attempts so far. So I decided to stop trying any “cleverness” and to come to the point. The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z is an excellent book.

It is a joy to read, it is informative, encouraging and entertaining. It can be read one topic per sitting if time is short, or if circumstances and several free hours permit it could easily be read from cover to cover with barely a break.

Emma Cooper is an enthusiastic amateur gardener sharing her experiences and discoveries. Many gardening books have left me discouraged, making the garden seem like an alien environment needing detailed technical knowhow and abundant finances to maintain. This book helps make a successful garden seem more attainable.

There are sections covering many gardening related topics arranged in alphabetical order. A quick count reveals around 150 separate topics are covered. Different kinds of vegetables, garden pests, soil conditions, gardening practices, environmental issues and helpful resources are all touched upon in sufficient, but not overwhelming detail, most of them across two pages.

Cooper seems to have a particular interest in trying the unusual, from exotic fruit and veggies to using a Grow Dome instead of a traditional green house, but this does not distract from more common and widely familiar plants and gardening experiences.

While many readers wouldn’t see the need to grow Quamash (”an edible bulb, a staple food of native Americans”) or Tiger Nuts (an edible tuber related to papyrus), Cooper still makes them interesting topics to show we don’t need to stick to the common and predictable within the garden. Experimentation and discovery can add a new dimension of interest and maybe extend our diet beyond the handful of familiar veggies we tend to stick with.

The Alternative Kitchen Garden is a very personal account of gardening, and as the title indicates it relates mainly to the growing of edibles. I’ve wanted to increase the productiveness of my own garden by incorporating more food producing plants and I appreciate the help and inspiration this book provides.

For a very good idea of what the book’s content I recommend a listen to some of the Alternative Kitchen Garden (AKG) podcasts. The link will be provided below.
The podcast was my introduction to Emma Cooper. Her short broadcasts, and now her book, have been very helpful for my own gardening journey. Somehow she manages to discover and share basic information that the gardening “experts” somehow forget to tell us.
Before I discovered AKG I had been puzzled by the round garlic-lie balls that had grown in my garden. These I found are the product of bulbils, tiny cloves that grow on soft-neck garlic. If left in soil they grow into the single balls of garlic that I had found. When these balls are left a further year (or when replanted) they form into the more familiar segmented heads of garlic cloves.

Link to The Alternative Kitchen Garden Podcast: