It is a shocking fact that an estimated one billion people living on this planet are suffering from long-term malnourishment. But that statistic becomes truly shameful when set against the fact that here in the developed world we have an over-abundance of food and one billion people who are overweight or obese.
In a fair and logical world, the excess food in the developed world would be redistributed to alleviate poverty in poorer countries. But this not happening. Why not?
Well, the global food giants which now exert so much control over so much of our food supply have absolutely no interest in addressing this unbalance. Their primary goal is to maximise profits, and they can do that best by encouraging the wealthy developed nations to keep consuming, and preferably to over-consume.
Even though this grotesque over consumption has massive knock-on consequences for our health and for the cost of the health services needed to tackle diseases associated with excessive consumption, our governments seem very reluctant to rein in these food giants. Why not?
Perhaps the answer lies in the dark art of “lobbying”, which in many cases appears to amount to little more than bribery and corruption. The food giants spend many millions each year in political activities – promoting and protecting their products in the corridors of power and “sponsoring” individual politicians, an activity particularly prevalent in the USA. Having politicians on the payroll is an extremely effective way for a company to ensure its political interests are being protected, even where this may run counter to the true public interest.
Political lobbying by some of these global giants here in the UK, as reported in my last post, has led to the farcical situation where junk food manufacturers and genetically modified organism (GMO) apologists like McDonalds, Unilever and PepsiCo are now “helping” the UK coalition government to write its food policy.
You can safely bet that tackling inequalities in global food distribution, or coming up with effective measures to halt over consumption of junk food products will not figure very highly should any ensuing “policy” ever meet the light of day.
Time to put on the stripey apron.
This recipe uses the last of another winter-hardy vegetable harvested this morning from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, the mighty parsnip.
As with carrots, the flavour and natural sweetness and moistness of parsnips lends itself very well to cake baking, as this recipe demonstrates.
parsnip and orange cake with mascarpone cream cheese
100 g parsnips, peeled and woody stems removed, finely grated
100 g organic self-raising flour
2 free range organic eggs
120 g light muscovado sugar
50 g shelled walnuts, chopped
50 g desiccated coconut
50 g raisins
90 ml groundnut oil
grated zest of 1 orange
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
for the mascarpone frosting
250 g mascarpone cheese
200 g cream cheese
75 g icing sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla essence
finely grated zest of one orange
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375 °F , gas mark 5).
2. In a food processor, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Add the oil and combine until emulsified, followed by the flour, walnuts, desiccated coconut, grated parsnip, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix to combine thoroughly.
3. Spoon the mixture into a greased cake tin, using a spatula to level off the surface. Place in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown in colour and a skewer comes out clean when it is used to pierce the centre of the cake.
4. Leave the cake to cool in its tin for a few minutes before carefully turning it onto a wire rack.
5. While the cake is cooling, make the mascarpone and cream cheese mixture which will be used for the icing and filling. Whisk together the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Put this mixture in the fridge to chill. When the cake has cooled to room temperature, carefully slice it laterally across the centre to make two disks. Use half of the mascarpone cream cheese frosting to sandwich the two halves together. Spread the remainder on top of the cake. Finally scatter the orange zest across the top.