Food labelling

I’m not sure how far I can trust “Food manufacturers, supermarkets and health experts” [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18034074] to come up with something better than we have now.

They don’t have a great track record.

See here and here.

The system where each food’s nutritional content is listed as a proportion of 100g is fine – it works for me, leave it alone!

European regulations insist on such a system ‘or’ one that provides details per portion. Proportions of 100g tell me the percentage (%) of each nutrient contained and that’s enough for me. 12g of fat per 100g is 12% fat content and I know whether to avoid that product or not. However, 12g of fat per portion tells me nothing!

Portion size is subjective and as far as manufacturers are concerned totally arbitrary. Please do not settle on portion size, pack size, proportion of contents or food shape because they simply do not work.

Let us please have more clarity, don’t allow manufacturers and supermarkets to cloud the issue.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18034074

School Cafeteria Lunch Programs in the United States

Guest Post

Regular readers will be aware that I have occasionally presented ‘Guest Posts’ on behalf of colleagues.  I’d like to introduce yet another Trans-Atlantic contribution.

This time by Lauren Bailey [see by-line below].  We would both welcome your comments to this special Guest Post, especially as schools meals (and meals on wheels for the elderly) are such big subjects over here in the UK too.

School Cafeteria Lunch Programs in the United States

With childhood obesity and childhood type II diabetes steadily on the rise in U.S. in the past decade, there’s no denying that our society’s diet needs to be altered. In the past, the term “obesity” was only associated with adults because only adults could become clinically obese. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, however, childhood obesity affects nearly 25 million children today and is termed one of the most threatening epidemics in U.S. history. The truth is, in most cases, childhood obesity is the result of a flawed lifestyle. Genetics do come into play to some degree, but the only way a child can be clinically obese is if they ingest more calories than they expend. For many years now, the nutritional value of lunches in school cafeterias throughout the country has been under great debate.

School cafeterias have served greasy pizza slices, sugary soft drinks, fattening desserts, and tons of fried side dishes for years and years. In the past, schools’ cafeterias and vending machines were stocked with processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. With our kid’s health classes constantly preaching a healthy diet to help fuel their minds, it’s a strange contradiction to serve extraordinarily unhealthy food choices to our young learners. In many ways, kids were trapped into an unhealthy diet by the delicious, but dangerous food choices their educators and mentors provided them. With Michelle Obama and celebrity chefs speaking out about childhood obesity and diet, movement is afoot to bring change to school lunch programs across the country.


Michelle Obama has made it her mission as First Lady to improve the health of America’s youth. In 2010, she lobbied to Congress for the Child Nutrition Bill that expanded the school lunch program and set new standards to improve the quality of school meals. These government guidelines have helped schools prepare lunches that include fewer fried foods, smaller servings, and no cupcakes. These small steps in school districts across the country have helped make school lunches healthier and more suitable for our youth.


While these changes in school guidelines nationwide have been a drastic improvement, there are several obstacles still in place. One of the most struggling aspects of improving the diets of our children (and our nation as a whole) is money. For some reason, healthier food costs more. This is a huge concern for public schools trying to improve their school lunch menus. Schools receive $2.68 for each free meal that they serve through the National School Lunch Program. This small wage is used to purchase the food, pay the labor, and maintain the facility. Needless to say, $3 just isn’t enough to easily purchase non-processed organic food. Schools are being forced to raise their prices for their lunches, causing some students and their parents to really struggle.


This all just feels very backwards. Why would it cost more to provide our children with healthier meals? Why should schools and parents be burdened with high costs just to keep their students (our future leaders) well fed and ready to learn? Our own health and especially our youth’s health should be of top priority. While things are looking up for school lunches in the United States cafeteria rooms, there is still much to be addressed. But, with the growing awareness of the health risks a poor diet poses and the growing concern about the obesity epidemic among America’s youth, things can only improve.


By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com

Misleading Food Labels (again 2)

How do they get away with it? Here is another example of a misleading food label, this time by Heinz (although bought in Tesco). Original Salad Cream

I like mayonnaise, but not the mass produced gloop we find in supermarkets and especially not the low-fat (or worse, super low fat ‘light’) versions to be seen on the shelves. However, like most of us I do have to be careful about the amount of fat I eat as it really isn’t good for my health. So, as I don’t dislike salad cream, I often choose to use my childhood favourite instead of Mayo. Some people get quite snobby about salad cream but I’m prepared to accept the ridicule. I prefer it to mass-produced Mayo!

Fat is an essential ingredient in our diet, but not one we can afford to overdo as Mayonnaise contains over 80% fat! If you think that the ingredients are mustard powder, salt and pepper, vinegar, egg yolks (fatty) and Oil – you can see how this comes about. I also worry about what else manufacturers put into products like this, especially those that can be made at home. How on earth do they make ‘low-fat’ Mayonnaise? surely that’s a contradiction in terms.

So before I continue my rant, let’s investigate the fat content of low fat (sic) Mayonnaises. All the products on this page range between 3.6g and 5.6g of fat per 15g portion. On the same page, we see one product that has 1g of fat per 15g portion. However this one does bear the following summary:

With it’s eerie, blancmange-like appearance and complete lack of flavour our panel were shocked to discover this had come from the big name player: Hellmann’s. Some were left wondering “What’s the point?”

So, proper mayonnaise contains over 80% fat and the pretend, chemically enhanced, (Low fatmayonnaise products contain starches, cellulose gel, or other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise) stuff ranges between 25% and 30% – yet (here it comes) Heinz choose to advertise their product as 66% LESS FAT, which in fact turns out to be exactly the same fat content (see alongside) as low fat Mayonnaise.

Wouldn’t it be fairer and less misleading if they said ‘has the same fat content as low-fat Mayonnaise’ – or – ‘more flavour with no extra fat’ – or – anything that doesn’t require the punter to have a degree in Maths.

The site I’ve linked to above makes the same mistake (legally) of stating a portion size with resulting nutritional content, so to find out what the percentage is you have to do some working out.

I much prefer the ‘per 100g’ version of nutritional awareness (see alongside), because anything you then read is a percentage: e.g. 26% fat in Salad Cream and most low-fat Mayos. That way, I can make my own choice of portion size. The manufacturers’ portion size is always arbitrary. How many of us can recognise the size of a 15g portion? It’s actually about a Tablespoon full – but it that heaped? or level? How would you know?

See also:

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/misleading-food-labels-again/

http://dsugden.posterous.com/supermarkets-misrepresent-food

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/food-quality/

Food quality

Basmati Rice - not the brand discussed.

I’m sat inside the house right now because it’s so hot outside (this is not a complaint). My feet are surrounded by a carpet of dandelion seeds which have blown in from outside as the all of the doors and windows are open. From time to time the seed-heads are like a fog – where do they all come from?  This weekend we’re having the sort of weather we often dream of and because of this we’re encouraged to eat outside. Barbecues are the order of the day.

But, to be honest – it seems a real hassle to take all the summer chairs and tables out of the hut they live in, just to get the gas barbecue out for just the two of us. We’re both going to Vienna later this week, so we can’t just leave them outside. I therefore thought we could have a tandoori chicken meal last night – which in the end, was a disaster!

I’d marinaded the chicken and decided to cook it on the pizza stone Gail bought us earlier in the year. She’d thought we were deprived because we didn’t have such a thing and to be fair, I now realise we were deprived, because we’ve since had some wonderfully crisp pizzas from it. However – take a tip from me, don’t try using it as a tandoor. Nuff said.

I’d decided we could have some of the basmati rice we’d bought on special offer at Tescos. I bought a huge bag when they had it on offer a few weeks ago but I should have known better – it was tasteless. I mean, basmati should be delicately flavoured and as such should be cooked carefully too. It’s not that I don’t know how to cook rice. It was just the very worst quality, packaged to look like the real thing. a  picture of the sun setting over Scapegoat Hill

I should know better because I decided a long time ago that there are no real bargains at Tesco, or to be fair, any of the large supermarkets. To be a bargain something should be of the same quality you would normally expect and either be cheaper or in larger volume. This was both of the latter but certainly not the former. We’ve been caught out a couple of times with wine too. For many years my favourite red wine was Rosemount Shiraz – usually about £8.99. I’ve been tempted by the special offers (@£5-6) a few times but it has never tasted as good. A wine friend of mine (inasmuch as he’s someone who has made his living selling the stuff) does keep telling me that supermarkets do not get the best wines to put on their shelves. I’ve certainly not bought any ‘bargains’ recently.

There’s hope too in the newly elected ConDem(ed?) government’s ‘Coalition Programme for Government‘ They say “We will introduce honesty in food labelling” (pg 13) – which is another thing I hate about food companies. Why try to hide what’s in the packet? See also: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/misleading-food-labels-again/ and my previous Posterous post

Weaver’s Shed

Starter menu

I first started visiting the Weaver’s Shed with my first wife Sue, probably back in 1978, when we moved to Golcar from Birkby. It was the ideal place to celebrate a birthday, wedding anniversary etc. and as my birthday and our anniversary both fell in December, avoiding Christmas meals was (still is) difficult. The Weaver’s Shed was an Oasis of calm, sophisticated relaxation with nary a turkey in sight. And just a short walk from home.

Risotto Fondue

It’s not the sort of place you can visit on a whim; you have to save up your pennies to go – we’ve lost several limbs between us, following our various visits. Yet for me, it’s better value overall, paying £50 per head here; than £4.95 at Burger King (Pizza Hut, McDonalds – anywhere etc.). The flavours, textures, colours, freshness’ etc. are to be savoured and are individually created for each customer.

And the meal is not hurried.

We’ve been known to stay overnight too. At £100 for bed and breakfast it’s a real treat. There are (were) very comfortable beds (we had a four poster last time), THE most luxurious towels, soaps, sheets, quilts, pillows etc. complementary sherry and bottles of red and white wine. It seems a bit strong staying overnight at a place just 10 minutes walk from our home but some couples would pay more than that to see a football match. Our money provided blissful away-from-home comfort for eighteen hours and a superb breakfast.

Main course menu

We got there for 7.00pm and had a drink while be read that day’s menu. They don’t do draft beers and only stock bottles from Skipton Brewery. I had a Black Gold and Sharon had a glass of house white while we decided what to eat. Sharon chose the Risotto (picture above/left, starter menu top) and I chose the Fish soup (picture at bottom of post). Both were delightful. Each of the Risotto’s ingredient flavours were evident and the  soup was splendidly light and tasty.We had both chosen to have a glass of Vouvrey with our meal –  I can’t remember the shipper’s name or vintage but as always, it was right tasty. We’d have had a bottle but I had to drive to Burnley the following day.

As you sit, and before the meal is served, you are always presented with an amuse bouche and this visit’s was an espresso cup of garlic and sweet potato soup. The bread offered is always home baked and one specialty of the house (I think it’s one of the longer serving waitresses’ recipes) is ‘treacle bread’ – luvverly. Then, in between main course and dessert you are given an alternative to sorbet which may or may not have a name (??). This is a sherry glass filled with a strawberry compote jelly and topped with yogurt. Actually that doesn’t sound too nice but trust me – it is nice and is refreshing in surprising ways (the jelly is filled with space poppers – that was a surprise, the first time we had it).

Halibut Sandefjord

Our main courses consisted of Venison (picture at bottom of post) for Sharon and Halibut for me. Sharon’s Venison was described as ‘Rossini’ with creamed potato and honey mustard roast roots. Obviously I didn’t eat this but was given plenty of tastes. Delightful. The flavours were all there; deep and pleasurable: Rossini garnish implies that a croute and pate are involved and if you look closely you’ll see that this dish had two thin triangles of toasted (may have been fried) bread with pate between the slices. Very neat. My Halibut was described as being with ‘potted shrimp mash, leeks, Sanderfjord butter and Keta caviar’. Now I’m not a great fan of over-flowery menu terminology but this described the dish exactly. Halibut is my favourite white fish, so steamed like this – full of flavour and served with perfectly cooked leeks, a rich butter and cream sauce and mash was like heaven. If I had a niggle (this seems so rude), it was that the mash wasn’t as hot as it could be and needed a tad more seasoning. This was the first time I’ve ever used a cruet at the Weaver’s Shed. Salt is such a subjective taste.We were then presented with the ‘refresher’ and offered dessert menu. In the end, we declined pudding because a: Sharon doesn’t like any of the choices and b: I like them all – and we knew that there would be petit fours to follow. The petit fours come an a weird wooden contraption I’ve never seen before. The nearest thing I could suggest would be a Spaetzle cutting board. See picture below. Petit Four consists of tiny ice cream cones (pineapple and coconut); rocky road and a cinnamon cream drink. I managed to fit a whisky (Edradour)in with this as well, before walking home.

So it’s farewell to an old friend. We’ve not been close (I could never afford to go too regularly) but it is already missed. I look forward to renewing my relationship with new owners – they get at least one chance.

Fish Soup - David's starter

Venison Rossini

Petit Four

Wetherby

It’s surprising what you learn when working with people from other countries; especially about your own country’s society and language.

Sharon and I have just finished two days work (for TLC) with people, mainly teachers, from four European countries. They are all (as usual) brilliant English speakers and (again as usual) inquisitive. The first night we ate at The Swan and Talbot in Wetherby and as a result several colleagues wanted to know what a Talbot was. It had never occurred to me that a talbot was anything other than someone’s name; despite spending many of my childhood holidays in Blackpool tramping around Talbot Square and Talbot Road. It turns out to be a type of dog. They also wanted to know what a ‘hard shoulder’ was. They’d guessed the answer but wondered why it was so called. The answers to that one are not easy to find and verify I’ll tell you!

Clip shows a communication exercise

Eating in Wetherby was a pleasure compared to eating in the hotel, which seems to be run by young inexperienced staff. I have no problem with young and no problem with inexperienced but both need someone to turn to for advice and guidance. There didn’t seem to be anyone who cared at our hotel. Lunchtime buffet fodder was gauche and unimaginative. I’ve no idea what they charge organisers for lunch, but they should charge 50p per head extra and add some thought and imagination to what they do. The evening prior to our event three of us went there to greet late arrivals from The Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Austria. Edith, the German had arrived and eaten and those coming from Spain and Austria were delayed until after midnight but the Czechs got to the hotel in time to be told the restaurant had closed – 9.30pm. The hotel just didn’t care.

Anyway, we had a great two days with the group before moving on to Reeth for a couple of days R and R.

We both enjoy Reeth, which is in Swaledale North Yorkshire, because it gives us several things: peace and quiet, great walks, fabulous scenery, real pubs (with real beer, fair to middling food, no music and no frills) and No internet and NO phone or 3G reception. As I say – R and R. The cottage was tiny but we managed – just. The view from outside was stunning; we couldn’t quite see the river but had fabulous views over Harkerside Moor, which in the prevailing weather (beautiful) was delightful.

It wasn’t until we arrived home that we realised there had been a volcano eruption in Iceland. So all the time we were driving back through the northern Yorkshire Dales (via Tan Hill, Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and Skipton) and soaking up the sun, our erstwhile European colleagues were still trying to get home. At the time of writing, I am aware that Edith set off yesterday for Dover to be picked up by Christophe who drove from Baveria to meet her and the Czechs had returned (were returning?) by bus. The Spanish and the Austrians were staying on at the hotel. No update today.

Eduardo

A Busy Birthday weekend

Well, it was my birthday on Monday. Celebrations started on Friday last when Sharon took me to Leeds for the night. We’d decided to go on Friday because many of the Last Minute hotels in Leeds were booked up on Saturday. Even our recently favourited Ibis.

We stayed at the Hilton which was surprisingly dour and second rate. Sharon worried constantly about the 1″ plus gap beneath the fire door but I had more positive views about the likelihood of fire anyway (Positive in the sense that there wouldn’t be one). We had no towels and two phone calls plus a face to face request at reception failed to make these appear. In the end I had to visit the housekeepers myself (as they ‘sorted’ a room down the corridor). Then having been out and bought a bottle of wine, we noticed that there were no glasses! Sharon sorted that one with the same housekeepers. And, to finish, the room was noisy – all night. Cheap but hardly cheerful.

We had no luck with our planned meal either, at Strada, Red Chilli or La Tasca as they all professed to have hour long waiting lists – but this turned out to be a good thing as we ended up at Anthony’s, one of the finest restaurants in the north of England. I suspect that this was down to timing: At 9.15pm they had probably ‘sat’ all their bookings and could see just enough room for two more. I believe that an hour earlier our cold call would have received a ‘no’. The food was delightful. Each morsel had flavour, taste and texture and the ‘service’ was unobtrusive – which is, in itself a delight and far from the normal “is everything ok?” you get as you sit there with a mouth full of food, listening to your co-diner tell you something really interesting. All restaurants should take a leaf out of Anthony’s book and teach their waiters to hover – wait – watch – be invited to talk.

On Saturday, we had a nice relaxed breakfast at Bagel Nash. Their coffee turned out to be the best I’ve tasted in England this year and coupled with an ‘everything’ bagel (with butter and jam) was a great surprise. We went to Gill and Tony’s on Saturday night, a last minute invitation which, once again, turned out to be gem. We’re always relaxed in their company and it was a nice addition to a stretching birthday weekend. Emma and Charlie brought the girls around on Saturday afternoon – which is always  nice. Ben and Shiv came around on Sunday. It’s so great to see my kids from time to time – but like the old song by Harry Chapin suggests http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH46SmVv8SU time is always tight.

Then I began one of the busiest weeks of recent months. On my actual birthday, Monday, I travelled to London to meet my colleagues and friends before our delivery of the Advanced e-Guide/PDA programme Day 2 on Tuesday. I went early so that  could attend the MoLeNET event being held at the Apple Store on Regent Street. I learned lots of things here – one of which I will pursue at some time in the future – the iPhone accessibility features. I think I need to reflect on the week a little more.

Anyway – many many thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings and best wishes. I like to think that my electronic replies of gratitude reached you – but as I can never be sure: Thanks you again. 🙂

Daylight

Many thanks to the replies re: Schiphol – see below for details. Maybe it’s not as big as I thought!

So, I arrived – the plane was 30 minutes late but no matter, picking up luggage and finding a taxi was a breeze. I’d used a taxi company owned by Air Baltic, paid for a voucher online and this made it so much easier. Thank heavens for bijou airports. The airport is not too far from the city and it was an easy, but wet, journey to the hotel. I was met in the hall by colleagues and told that ‘we’ were going for dinner in 10 minutes – so whoosh, I dropped my bags in my room and returned to the lobby. What they meant to have said was “we’re hoping to go for dinner in 10 minutes” – others kept arriving so it was at least 45 minutes later before we went out.

But it was a great dinner, although served in a very busy but anachronistic setting.

It was cowboy time!

The restaurant was set up like a Wild West bar, complete with swing doors and leather tassel clad waitresses. It was a Latvian version of the Aberdeen Steak House but with a cowboy theme. My heart dropped. But – luckily it needn’t as the food was great. I had Baltic Herring Pieces (I think that the menu actually said ‘bits’). And why wouldn’t I? This fish is closely associated with Baltic/Scandinavian cuisine and I needed to try it. I was surprised by the nouvelle cuisine style service but pleased with the combination of flavours, textures and tastes. First of all the fish was not highly spiced or pickled – it was delicately sweet and only slightly sour and served with boiled potatoes and mildly pickled onion. Very nice – but made nicer by the available breads.  Apparently, black bread is a stable around here and there was plenty of that around. But the best one was a type of hard rye bread – not like pumpernickel but softer and whiter. It was stuffed with seeds, firm, slightly sweet and very very tasty. I followed this with an ‘El Buli’ steak (steaks are not my usual preference) which was perfectly cooked and also very tasty.

So that was day 1.

I’m posting this half way through day 2. I’ve been involved in a meeting all day and ‘hopefully’ I’ll get a chance to go out for a walk around Riga later this afternoon – before dark.

Schipol Comments were:

James Clay Says:
October 17, 2009 at 22:42 edit

Schipol Airport is 2,750 hectares.

King Fahd International Airport in Saudia Arabia is 78,000 hectares.

Heathrow is 1,214 hectares.

Bristol is 176 hectares.

AND

Lilian Says:
October 17, 2009 at 23:59 edit

Schipol is Europe’s 4th largest airport. And you know how you’re feeling like a fish out of water because you can’t do certain things online? I feel like that when I come back to England from Singapore and the taps don’t run automatically and the toilets don’t flush automatically etc. And as for train doors that you have to open from the outside…what’s that all about?

#hhl09

I’m just returning from the Handheld Learning Conference. There are several things I wanted to write about the conference but I can’t for the life in me remember everything I’d previously thought of. I’ve kept several notes here and there, mainly on Penzu, which is a wonderful personal reflective blogging tool.

N.B. – if you just want food chat and not be bothered by this work/conference yawn, please go straight to the end(ish)

I think it’s been a brilliant conference. Well, ‘brilliant’ might be over-egging it a bit, but for me it has been the most useful ‘conference’ I’ve attended for several years. First of all, I have to once again thank those friends who’ve helped to make it as good as it has been. I always enjoy the company of James Clay, Lilian Soon, Ron Mitchell, Nick Jeans and (just Monday) Elaine (for a short time on Tuesday) Di Dawson. This week we were joined in our discussions, deliberations and deliveries by Stuart Smith, ex- http://www.hairdressing.ac.uk/ and http://www.htmob.mobi/ who became a welcome addition to the team.

Long before the conference, we’d set up a fringe service http://hheckl.ning.com/ with the intention of injecting some off-the-wall activities and fun. So, despite initial and ongoing travel problems Lilian, James, Stuart and I delivered a two hour audience participation event based on the Top Gear ‘cool wall’ idea. After a dry start, with only a few people in the audience, this took off and ended up being a great session. We had great feedback from people throughout the event and many felt discomfited by the totally device orientated input. This was intended – we’d hoped for (and got) some interest in discussing the uses available to learners and learning environments. Ideally, we would then have been able to have a second session where there was more room (and better environment) for discussion. I managed to film half an hour of this workshop via my Nokia N95 8gig via QIK: http://qik.com/video/3105379. The first two minutes are soundless but then the video give you an idea of what went on and how it worked.

A second HHECKL event took place throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, when conference goers were asked to think about their ideal learning gadget and what it would look like. They were then asked (all totally informally and at coffee/lunch times only) to draw these on A5 sheets of paper and we stuck them on a pillar in the middle of the room. http://twitpic.com/klei4

On Tuesday, I spent the day on the LSN stand, which was there to promote and celebrate MoLeNET. I really think that this was the day that I enjoyed the most! I missed all of the day’s sessions, and some of these were real belters by the sound of it, but I also had the opportunity to speak with so many people, from all over the world, that are interested in (or would like to be interested in) mobile learning.

Wednesday was spent listening to speakers and tweeting some of my feelings. Donald Clark compared (MC’d – whatever you like) the Inclusion Strand, which was well attended. I enjoyed listening to him; he was irreverent enough to be engaging without upsetting too many people. He discussed the 300 pages of ‘Digital Britain’ and was fairly scathing – so that will be an exciting read on my way to Lativa later this month (I have to get a feel for that and 21st Century Skills for the Advanced PDA/e-Guides programme – more in good time).

Neil McClean of Becta was up first. Talked about ‘stuff’ that was a bit too strategic for me – I noted: ‘Being inclusive is celebrating diversity. Why do we celebrate economic status? Really the statement doesn’t mean what it says – it means exclusion by economic status’ and then ‘Learners have lives and live through them’ – all of which really confused me. I wasn’t altogether clear what his message was – it was very worthy – but quite disjointed. Perhaps it’s me.

David Cavallo was next. He’s the Chief learning architect for (at?) MIT OLPC. He spoke about his work in Africa, particularly Rwanda. The only thing I ‘got’ was that the learners were using every opportunity presented to them (even though and especially as only 6% of the entire country has electricity) to learn. Despite this paucity of electricity – most learners were worldly aware (example was that the knew of MTV). They were using the green ‘cheap’ laptops I can’t remember the name of – are they wind-up?

Elizabeth Hayes cam next: Arizona state university. I’m easily switched off by strident(ish) gender issues and saw her opening statements as the opposite of misogyny (which I had to look up – misandry is the opposite!). She warmed to her theme of games, specifically SIMS eventually, but she’d lost me – I was tweeting, searching, working. Whoosh – missed the point entirely.

Sal Cooke. Sal started by talking about what was and what is and how the two compare. She praised MoLeNet projects to the skies and illustrated how the initiatives have proven that mobile and handheld devices are amongst the most inclusive tools available to learners. She said that RFID would be available on all phones by next year and that specialist colleges don’t always recognise that they have doing innovative stuff.  Also see http://www.robobraille.org

Next: Sir Tim Brighouse. I didn’t get him – I zoned out. Completely lost me (which is what words-on-screen tend to do)

Helen Milner was next, from UK online centres. Her slides can be found at http://www.slideshare.net/helenmilner. I thought that her presentation was engaging, had a message and was well researched but I was getting tired and missed most of the figures. I will return to her slides later and check them out – I’m not sure where they came from, so hopefully she will quote the sources too because they are interesting.

FOOD

Conferences can be tiring and this one has been no exception. I visited the MoLeNET session in the afternoon and then went across the road to visit the coffee cart. Conference coffee is notoriously ‘pants’ so it was a relief to meet the guy in the little truck opposite The Brewery. £1.50 for a custom Americano isn’t bad at all really. By custom I mean that it was easy to say ‘can you leave me an inch’ and he knew what I meant. That inch means that the espresso at the heart of a good Americano is not too watered down and I can add just as much milk as I need/fancy. Telling that to Ratazza, Costa, Starbucks is simply NOT that easy.

Lunch on Monday was a take-away eaten in a pub. Which was great as there were about 10 of us, all buying from different mobile vendors up the street opposite our venue and all sat together in a pub that said ‘BYO – food, we supply the beer’. Great! Dinner on Monday was an equally inclusive event (all ostensibly HHECKL events) in the Albi Italian Restaurant next door to the lunchtime pub. James Clay, Lilian Soon, Steve Wheeler, Ron Mitchell, Nick Jeans, Simon Ball (TechDis), Emma Millard (TechDis), Stuart Smith and a lady from HEA who I was never really introduced to, all sat and ate en familie. Great.

Both conference lunches were a delight. This venue provides a selection of just larger than Tapas size portions in bowls for you to eat as you stand and talk. All dishes were very tasty and fresh. Well done The Brewery at Barbican.

Lils demanded that the HHECKL crowd eat noodles in Soho on Tuesday night, so that what we did. This time there were just seven of us and the core of five were joined by Rebecca Douch and Geoff Foot from LSN. Mainly great food – but a couple of bloopers too. C & R on Rupert something or other.

So that’s it. I’ve written this between Kings Cross and Doncaster and will now try to get it online – but …. We’ll see

Misleading food labels (again)

The Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert has said this week that Tesco’s (and Morrison’s) have agreed to bring to an end the confusion caused by misleading food labels.

Hurray!! (but said with caution).

Herbert said, in a recent statement that the supermarkets will from now on (well, who really knows when) inform customers of exactly where the product (meat) originates. Instead of ‘produced in the UK’ on labels, we can now expect to see ‘meat originates in X, Y or Z’.  At the moment, European rules say that meat (except beef, which has different and more stringent rules) does not have to display the country of origin. It can advertise itself as British if indeed Britain is the last place that ‘substantial change’ occurred. This is a scary enough statement in itself but is easy enough to explain when you realise that meat reared in (say) Turkey is sent to (say) Belgium, where it is frozen – before being shipped to Britain where it is defrosted, cooked (when I say cooked I perhaps mean mass-produced as part of a chemically denatured and additively enhanced process of protein alteration by heat) and packed before again being chilled or frozen for shipment to any of the huge supermarkets around the country (or the world). At this point, the Turkish bred and Belgian frozen meat (lets say it’s chicken) can be termed ‘British’ as that is where the last substantial change occurred.  MMMmmm British Sunday Roast – loverly!!

So well-done Tesco and Morrison’s – let’s see the others follow suit.

But wait a minute chaps … (see previous post) it isn’t just the labelling of meat that concerns us – it’s misleading labelling full stop. The recent Tory statement is just another example of smoke and mirrors (by the party and by the supermarkets) – we still need a better and less confusing system of food labelling. Will our elected representatives help? Perhaps if we make enough noise!

Here’s an example of what happens when we become complacent.