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Bruce Tuncks

Does Australia have a food surplus or not?

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8 hours ago, onetrack said:

I reckon most of the chefs/cooks on TV cooking shows are partly to blame. These people are supposed to be professionals, yet they spend all their time with their fingers in the food they're preparing!! It doesn't make me want to eat anything they've prepared.

I would hop trained professional food manufacturing staff wouldn't cut corners on hygiene because professional chelfs make TV show for people who cook at home.. I don't blame the TV chefs at all.. they aren't instructional videos about food manufacture or professional kitchens.. Professional people have to be responsible for their own actions..

 

(Otherwise, I agree with the rest of your post!)

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2 hours ago, pmccarthy said:

I thought Nigella always gave a well-rounded presentation.

I love what she does with her melons.

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You will get more infection from water used in slaughtering chooks than you will get from bare hands in cooking.

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After watching at least a third of the males using public toilets leave without washing their hands - and seeing people pick their nose, then prepare food with bare hands, I tend to disagree with you Yenn.

 

Yes, if the food is cooked to a substantial temperature, the risk of food poisoning is reduced - but I see way too many salad dishes prepared with bare hands.

 

And don't get me started on the cooks who fail to wash salad ingredients properly (Yes, I've had my share of sand, and bugs, in lettuce).

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As well as the issue of questionable personal hygeine in the kitchen, there are other health risks when it comes to eating food that I've not prepared myself.
For instance, a friend who works in the Qld Department of Parasitology, once told me that on average, six people a year die in Queensland from a parasite that lives in a tiny slug that is common in lettuce. She always drowned her salad ingredients in salty water then rinsed it again before serving. Do all restaurants do this? Or do they only do it when the health inspector visits?

 

She also flatly refused to eat oysters, too. Even though she liked them. And that's only the issue of unseen parasites.

Knowing too much science can spoil my appetite.

 

Another anecdote....

A work colleague had difficult annoying neighbours - a large extended Indian family. His biggest complaint was that they all helped run the local Indian restaurants. Food was continually being cooked in bulk in the house. And a delivery van periodically departed, filled with large metal tubs of steaming restaurant food. The point being, that you never know where that gourmet meal really came from, or how it got there.

 

Such a pity because I really enjoy eating out!!!!

Edited by nomadpete
Had to stop myself rambling on
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2 hours ago, nomadpete said:

For instance, a friend who works in the Qld Department of Parasitology, once told me that on average, six people a year die in Queensland from a parasite that lives in a tiny slug that is common in lettuce.

It's one of the many things that can trigger meningitis. The snails and slugs can be infected with Rat Lung Worm disease which causes meningitis.  There was a case of a young 19 year old bloke who swallowed a garden slug for a joke at a party. He lived, but is severely brain damaged and quadriplegic.

 

A colleague recently died of pulmonary meningitis so I looked up meningitis and it's causes. After reading it, it makes you wonder if it's safe to get out of bed.

Edited by willedoo

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There's one thing that gets me fired up - and I still haven't found the answer to it! Anytime I order or buy (packaged) "Butter Chicken" or "Claypot Chicken" - the meat isn't chicken - it's bloody RABBIT!!

 

Now the missus and I actually have arguments over this. She claims it really is chicken - but I've eaten enough chicken and rabbit, to know the difference in the meat texture and the cuts.

 

I don't mind a bit of rabbit - but it's a cheap low-grade meat to me, that we only ate when we were poor, or running out of available shop food. And I intensely hate being deceived, and paying for expensive chicken, and getting fed rabbit.

 

But I cannot for the life of me, figure out where these Indian and Chinese restaurants and cheap cafes and factory-based, packaged meal producers, are getting such large quantities of rabbit?

 

I don't know of any major rabbit meat producers in Australia, so I can only presume it's all coming from China in 200 litre drums, in pre-prepared fashion.

 

What amused me is, I picked up a pre-prepared meal in a local IGA store - "Butter Chicken with Rice" - and the "Chicken" ingredient was listed as "Butter Chicken". I kid you not!

 

Maybe there's a unique species of Chicken fluttering around, that I didn't know about? - a Chicken variety that has been genetically crossed with Butter? 

Edited by onetrack
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Isn't it a strange thing? In the first half of the 20th Century, rabbit was a food of the poor. The only thing one checked was that the paws were still on the carcass. That stopped the unscrupulous from palming off cat as underground mutton. Nowadays, you'd be on a high class restaurant to get rabbit. The same has happened with lobster.

 

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Back in the early 80's we were doing exploration work around the Lake Frome region and came across a refrigerated rabbit van in the middle of nowhere. It had 'Rabbit Export Pty. Ltd.' written on the side of it. Never saw the people though and don't know how they got the rabbits - whether shooting or trapping. That was before calicivirus when the area was infested with rabbits.

 

In 1984, while flying over Quinyambie Station we saw a huge patch where everything was dead, almost as far as the eye could see. Rabbits in that country can live their whole lives without a normal water source. They get all their moisture from the roots of the plants and trees they kill. They seem to make a burrow under a shrub or tree and when they finally kill it, they move onto the next one and so on. Some years later after the virus was introduced, we flew over the same area and it was remarkable how the environment had bounced back. Having worked a lot in that central country, over the years I've noticed two big influences on the environment. First, the massive reduction in the rabbit population due to calicivirus, and second, the huge spread of Buffel Grass in the Northern Territory.

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It's interesting to try and do some research on the farmed rabbit industry in Australia. There basically isn't one any more. The last article I can find about Australian rabbit farming is dated 2014 - and it's relating how the rabbit farming industry in Australia is withering away to nothing, doen to just 3 producers, under the impact of disease and welfare issues and feed costs. Naturally, the PETA mob would be having a major impact, as they do on any type of animal farming.

 

So, on that basis, I have to conclude that the large and plentiful supply of rabbit in the "Claypot Chicken", "Butter Chicken", "Curried Chicken", and the myriad of other dishes served up as faux chicken - is coming from China.

 

https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/farmed-rabbit-on-the-fall-in-australia-as-producer-numbers-drop/news-story/0823d9540dce1951d15314622591d251

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I would love to eat rabbit, but it is not available in Qld. Rightly so the keeping of rabbits is illegal, but I would farm them if it was legal.

I had rabbit in a posh restaurant in Beechworth in Victoria a couple of years ago and it was nothing like rabbit, could have been chicken, but definitely not rabbit. There was little argument when I complained about it and I was refunded the cost of the meal. It must be twenty years since I last had a real rabbit,   head shot with a .22 rifle at 50m. A really lucky shot by me and I refused to try for a second one and handed the rifle back to its owner. He thought I was a great shot and I didn't want to change his mind.

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26 minutes ago, Yenn said:

He thought I was a great shot and I didn't want to change his mind.

Always quit while you are ahead!

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and it was nothing like rabbit, could have been chicken, but definitely not rabbit. There was little argument when I complained about it and I was refunded the cost of the meal. "

MEOW. Served in the UK in the sixties !.

AND 

Rabbit is available in a local butchers, alongside goat Kangaroo & other delicious meats .

spacesailor

 

 

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9 hours ago, onetrack said:

There's one thing that gets me fired up - and I still haven't found the answer to it! Anytime I order or buy (packaged) "Butter Chicken" or "Claypot Chicken" - the meat isn't chicken - it's bloody RABBIT!!

 

Sing out if you want a fantastic recipe for Butter Chicken (with real chicken) - my wife makes it.  I might be biased but I reckon it tastes better than any Indian restaurant I've been to.

 

Bit of a process, you have to marinate the chicken with heaps of things and then throw that marinade away and make a different sauce with other ingredients - but it really is worth the effort!

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Be careful, Marty... After COVID, we may be beating a path to your front door!

 

[edit] I have only had butter chicken once - in Hyderabad, and it was darned good [/edit]

Edited by Jerry_Atrick

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Strewth we're bloody mugs!

 

Here we are, suffering the costs both financial and social of COVID, and what does the bloody government do? It forks out $242 million bucks to charter cargo planes so that the bloody Chinese can have therei West Australian rock lobsters and the Japs can have fresh yellow-fin tuna.

 

https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/international-freight-assistance-mechanism

 

Meanwhile, we mugs are served up god-knows what sort of fish, grown in cesspools, and raw prawns that escaped from the cesspools. 

 

They say that Charity begins at home. Our politicians ought to migrate to the countries where their hearts are. At least heart and wallet will be united there.

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I read that we export 80% of our seafood and that 80% of our domestic consumption of seafood is imported. So I guess that means we export the good stuff and import the dodgy stuff for us mugs to eat. The clever country.

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I disagree with your conclusion, Willie. It cannot be dismissed as being fault of the "clever country" .

 

It is a cultural problem.

 

It is a result of the behaviour of those average 'mugs' that you refer to. We bring it onto ourselves.

 

Australians generally rush to buy the cheapest available product. Our suppliers oblige, selling us the cheap stuff. In absence of a local market for the best stuff, the suppliers find people who recognise the quality and pay the price. Seems these customers don't live in Australia. Here, We collectively have not taught our children how to discriminate enough. So we are reluctant to pay a little extra for quality. Once taught to discriminate against 'average' quality, we could learn to balance our budget by buying a little less of something really nice, rather than a big pile of carp (pun intended).

 

For instance we often buy a couple of choice small steaks for dinner instead of a couple of big, cheap(per kilo) gristly ones.

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I am going to play devils advocate here.. Unfortunately, Australia produces little more than natural resources (of which food with little processing I am lumping into the same category). Exports bring in vital foreign currency and profits higher than domestic spending will provide for. This in turn means the businesses can run fatter, employ more people, invest in further innovation, etc. If we turned off those taps, we would have less employment and less innovation, etc. Now, granted, some of the innovation is imported but some is developed locally. And so, assuming the carp improted is cheaper than the good stuff exported, there is a net benefit to the economy..

 

So, we (well, you.. I may be the recipient of some of the Aussie's nice stuff and I actively do my bit to support the Aussie economy, although still waiting for the really decent Aussie wines to return, though) - may not be getting the best stuff to choose from, but could you afford it if you did, or would you still take the cheaper stuff on offer (after all, if an importer sees an opportunity, they will take it)? I think I know the answers to most of the forum, but think of the bloke on a single income of something like $60K year, supporting wife and two kids with a mortgage, mobile phones, two cars, and probably a dog to support - his missus doing the shopping will probably take the cheaper stuff and - I don't know the prices of Fish and Chips in Aus at the moment, but we pay around £5 for a large cod (Frozen) or £6 for a large cod (fresh).. the size of one feeds myself and my daughter comfortably with a few chips and peas. We get local and Nordic species, but say to get the local it was twice as much as the Nordic, then we would be opting for the Nordic. So Fish and Chips and low-to-middle end restaurants/eateries/other take aways would probably go for the imports.

 

Yes, there is questionable food safety standards... that somehow our Aussie (or respective state) government are alleged to turn a blind eye to.. That is not the fault of the importers, is it? That is the fault of the government, which let's face it, amongst the world is probably the most vocal about it's role of protecting the population from their own selves.. seems not so, when there are business interests involved. But, also, the nature of the global socio-economic model went from a close balance where ultimately we developed a strong economy to support the people;  to the people sacricifing everything to support the economy. I can't put my finger on it, but global (aka US led) capitalisation, where the latter socio-economic model has been prevalent for a very long time, and where there is an increasing concentration of global wealth in relatively few (mainly but no only US) corporations and tieing our pensions to that seem to be the trigger point of the transfer of the socio-economic model of being slaves to the economy - and long-term population health is a diminishing consideration.

 

I read a few weeks ago (and may have posted) an artice in the SMH or The Age about how a big winner from COVID was the domestic fine cheese market because the increase in cargo costs meant imported European Cheese was a lot more expensive rather than the same price (to the consumer).  The article did mention that cheesemaking was subsised in the EU (which is why Aussie supermarket cheese pales into insiginifcance compared to that gained in the UK or Western Europe).. But this to me, is dumping, and Australia should complain to the WTO and/or put up tarrifs.. Note, all EU agriculture is subsidised (I know a farmer that receives over £300K/year - at least until the end of this year). If Aussies were made to pay the correct amount of improted food (and even from the low-wage countries where people have no need to have lower wages as their economies are strong and the wealth is even more concentrated than western economies), Australians may create a better market for the better locally produced food. But the cost of living would go up and people would complain and/or have to go without at all (for some things).

 

It's a difficult balance for the Aussie government; in the current climate, maybe it is best to keep the export business and markets going, but adopt a longer term strategy for the better of the economy and population...

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One of the problems we have here is the Chinese have purchased most of our local fish/lobster processing facilities, so the profits go straight back to China, along with the catch.

 

The only benefit locals can get, is some fisherman get fairly well paid, and a few people who work in the processing plants get jobs. But overall, the entire setup is short-sighted and driven by the big money.

 

And if the Govt is now subsidising airfreight for our local seafood, then they are subsidising the Chinese companies who own the processing plants, and the Chinese diners. Not exactly the clever country, are we?

 

Meantimes, the Chinese have stopped buying our barley, are stopping their cotton mills from buying Australian cotton - and now they have effectively stopped buying Australian coal.

 

I think then, it's high time we stopped buying Chinese manufactured rubbish, that only increases the size of our landfills every year.

 

And the Chinese are also refusing to take our recyclables! But a large proportion of that, comes from China in the first place!

 

It's time we had a good hard look at where we source items from, where we manufacture, what we supply, and to whom - and start evening up the scoreboard a bit. 

 

The only benefit at present, is China needs as much of our West Australian Iron Ore as it can get. But I reckon the Chinese will soon develop their own Iron Ore mines in Africa, where they hold ownership of substantial deposits.

Edited by onetrack
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The Chinese (or, in more generic terms, foreign) ownership of our fishing/lobster processing facilities is a fact that was unknown to me, although, after selling the lease to Port Dawrin to a foreign interest, nothing surprises me. What not only the government, but the people of Australia have to realise is that it is not OK that any foreign interests have control over mission critical industries - utilities, food processing, etc.

 

Unfortunately, Australian government and to an extent, Australian culture (like many other Western European cultures) are shorter-sighted and more risk averse; We aren't prepared to suffer short term pain for long term pain (unless the pain is thrust upon us); as long as we can excessively fill our guts and our homes with unneccesary material wants NOW, we are happy... This is of course a generalisation, but I just think about the many opportunities we have thrown away because of that mentality; rewneables technology, software developmeent (I was involved in the industry in the late 80s onwards and after coming to Europe, I realised how we were advanced and didn't know it; the Europeans (SAP, Software AG and others) and Americans took advantage - we were happy to get paid a salary..., and many others (there is a paid for paper in 2017: Australia, A Land of Missed Opportunities? that I would like to get hold of). That is not to be pessimistic - Australia has had great innovations - the problem is we end up selling out.. that is again a cultrual thing.. e.g. the GA Airvan - seems to have done reasonably well and the founders should rightly look for payback. But as it was not in itself big enough to float, where are the forward thinking Aussie companies and fund managers? Mahindra decided it could utilise it, and it seems to have done OK.

 

Also, given where we are, we could still be smart about it. Although this sounds counterintuitive as such grants/subsisdies are about saving jobs, could such support be restricted to majority domestically owned companies or where there will be a minimum of x (say, 100) jobs supported, with the amount available proprtional to both? At least that would direct most/higher proprtion of the benefit locally.

 

As an aside, according to  https://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/business-solutions/news/top-100-australian-manufacturers-revealed-1363531184. the following are the top 10 manufacturers; I have added the country of ownership eother based on domicile or shareholding data easily obtained. Most are refined resources products (oil, steel, etc)...

# Manufacturer Ownership
1 Caltex Australia
2 Fonterra Co-Op Group New Zealand
3 BP Australia British
4 Perth Mint Australian
5 Viva Energy Group Australian
6 ExxonMobil Australia USA
7 Amcor British
8 BlueScope Steel Australia
9 CSL Australia
10 Visy Australia
11 Sims Metal Management Australia
12 Alcoa of Australia USA (Majority), Australian (Minority)
13 JBS Australia Brasil
14 Orica Australia
15 Boral Australia
16 Coca-Cola Amatil USA (largest minority), UK (next largest minority), various foreign and local instiutional investors.
17 Orora Australia
18 Aristocrat Leisure Australia
19 Lion Japan
20 Incitec Pivot Australia
 

 

 

Also, we rank last in the OECD for manufacturing self-sufficiency - for a country our size, arguably more important that outright manufacturing size: https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/australia-ranks-last-on-oecd-manufacturing-self-sufficiency-measure-20200727-p55fuj

 

I agree, we have to pivot both our supply chain and customer base.. China will not want over reliance on any country for anything for too long.. I also think we have to change our habits; maybe consume less, but higher quality so, as a whole, pay the same or a little more... And the government should be leading by the front foot in using the resources available to it and including appropriate institutions/companies to foster necessary changes - Australia will be much better off as a result.

 

BTW - the barley ban is a retaliation step - other countries have done the same to Australia and other countries - e.g. the USA slapped massive tarrifs on Scotch Whiskey and I think Scottish wool/cashmere products because the UK favoured Jamaican banannas over the cheaper US ones, citing US farmers wouldn't go broke but Jamaicans would... I think it sorted itself out (and it was either GW or Obama, for the record). We have relied too much on a single customer for most of out business for too long... Need to look further afield.

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When I lived in Melb, flake was the common fish in Fish and Chip shops. Flake is shark, usually gummy, but others are used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flake_(fish). I can't recall what was in NSW or QLD F&C shops, but I never recall basa being on the menu boards. And this article is a worry: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/a-field-guide-to-australia-s-best-fish-and-chips-20190118-p50s6r.html. Mind you, while the article says F&Cs have to lift their game, for some reason they don't cast aspertions about the quality of basa. Needless to say, it is a fish I will stter clear of next time in Aus. Good to hear Hoki is next (in the scheme of things), but why we can't do our own stuff is beyond me.

 

Mind you, on the occasion I would go for something better than flake - such as grenadier or dory, it didn't seem much better and I did wonder whether I was simply paying more for flake. Be that as it may, and the fact that cod here is better than flake in Aus F&Cs, I miss Aus F&Cs, cooked prior to served instead of from heat warmers, burgers are (or were) miles better (hamburger with the lot and pineapple... yum), lots of variety... A quick check seems to indicate it has got better... 

 

Now, no telling.. but I am trying to engineer a return of the Atricks back to Aus... We were almost there about 3 - 4 years ago, but SWMBO put the brakes on at the last minute... Things have changed and it is an uphill battle, but I am encountering less resistance than I thought.. so stay tuned on that one.. .However, one of the allures for me (except for Aussie rules, better flying weather, and the wine - too old to worry about women these days), is.. fishing.. My pastimes in Aus before I moved here were flying, fishing (saltwater - at the time no licence fees), and 4x4ing - er... and the fairer sex.. On coming out here, I was pleasantly surprised with the fairer sex.. but flying weather wasn't what I was used to and a couple of tracks over a mound hardly added up to 4x4-ing.. And for some reason, dunking a line off the south coast in the hope for a mackrel wasn't going to do it for me. Especially on cold grey winter days (actually, usually the best time to go). So, I have checked with my brother, and for now, 23 years, he still has my four fishing rods, tackle and the whole kit.

 

So, if you want good seafood (or fish), get a rod or two, give Rexie Hunt a call for advice, and.... go fishing.. OK, you may live a fair way from the coast, in which case:

  • Look for a suitable freshwater fishing spot and go for it.
  • Get a porta-fridge/freezer, rods, et al, and head to the coast for a couple of days; grab you bag limits and head home - drop them into the freezer
  • You live too far away to get decent fish without mortgaging the station, so you only eat meat, anyway... don't worry about it...

The fish you get will be much better, you know where it has come from, you will appreciate it more as you caught it, killed it, gutted it and prepared it... No mekong river gunk in it, either...

 

You guys have some of the best fishing in the world on your doorstep.. Gives you a perfect, lower cost excuse to avoid SWMBO as well  😉.

 

BTW... I am in talks at the moment with another company in Sydney.. if it comes off, I will need advice on a modestly priced area nearer prime fishing coastline (don't care about beaches) within commutable distance of Sydney CBD.. by road or rail - sadly not enough in it for air...

 

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