Monday, July 17, 2006

Trouts in The Big Pond

I was brought up to trust because in Anglo Saxon jurisdictions of Colonial Hong Kong , England and Australia, the violators pay a considerable price in penalties. Due to this upbringing, I have encountered a great deal of frustration in this country where both government and citizens adopt a more relaxed attitude toward trustworthiness.
My earlier post Trust or Trout? which attracted much attention and debate in the local community seems to have made my organic grocer, El Rincon Organico, a reluctant law abiding tax payer for now. However, judging from the following story which appeared in Sydney Morning Herald on July 15, the rest of the world is also plagued by the same problem of merchants with lesser moral.

Eco-Yarn organic tampons are sold in health food shops in Australia, North America, Britain, and on the internet. They come in packaging that states they are made of "100% organic cotton certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture". But nowhere do they say where they come from.
Three years ago Sydney resident Suzie Gold grew suspicious about whether these tampons were really organic and raised her suspicions. She managed to get a copy of a transaction certificate from the Texas Department of Agriculture which the man running Eco-Yarn, Mark Coulton had used to demonstrate their organic status. When Gold checked with Texas, she found the certificate had been falsified...this story is fully covered in the article When you can't trust organic labels.

In What they don't want you to know, June 9, the same newspaper stated that "The Herald (SMH) believes that despite their numerous shortcomings, Freedom of Information (FOI) laws are an essential tool for the media and the public to scrutinise the operation of all levels of government."
Their Senior journalist Matthew Moore has been appointed to encourage greater use of Freedom of Information laws and to help reporters appeal against government refusals to release information. He hopes to show the sort of information that can be obtained by using the laws and to highlight consistent attempts by governments to deny access to information that should be in the public arena. Hence the launch of FOI Blog on the SMH website as the forum to address these issues. Something we so desperately need and most probably would never get in Argentina.

Freedon of information may not be on the horizon in Argentina but for this week at least, I no longer have to ponder what to do with my organic groceries. Diana, my very able masseuse, upon hearing my preference for organic produce, lugged all the way from her home outside of Buenos Aires City, a pumpkin half metre tall and a dozen of amazingly tasty and sizeable oranges. When I wanted to pay her for these fresh off the field fruits and vegetable, she energetically declined. She laughed and said they are all gifts from her garden which she has no time to attend to. I am one very lucky girl indeed!

To showcase these absolutely organic oranges, I am going to make a simple orange and almond cake inspired by Nigella Lawson's clementine cake in her first book, How To Eat.

1-2 oranges (about 375g total weight)
250g ground almonds
6 eggs
225g sugar
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free, if necessary)
dash of Cointreau

Put the oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each orange in half and remove the pips. Dump the oranges - skins, pith, fruit and all - and give a quick blitz. Then tip in all the remaining ingredients and pulse to a pulp.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Butter and line a 21cm Springform tin. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover with foil or greaseproof after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin.
This cake imporves in flavour and texture, it tastes better a day after it's made, but I can assure you there won't be any complain about eating it any time.

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