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Vietnamese civet coffee

Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter but its coffee has a low international reputation and much of it ends up in instant coffee brews. In fact, there is a substantial coffee culture in Vietnam with (non-alcohol serving) coffee shops operating everywhere (I made the unspeakably bad error of judgment of asking for a beer […]

Sugary lies

In the current issue of NewScientist it is reported that in 2013 the US Sugar Association applied pressure on the US Congress to drop US funding of the WHO because its new food guidelines included strict suggested limits on the role of sugar in the diet. More information is in this Guardian report. Sugar is […]

Weight, diet & exercise

Some of my colleagues now run triathlons and, like them, I wonder why. I am certain that my body wouldn’t take this type of punishment and also unsure whether, from the viewpoint of fitness, such extreme forms of exercise are a good idea for relatively sedentary souls such as myself. My uncertainty increases when I […]

Great Mellie, Fremantle

A group of us visiting Fremantle WA for the AARES Conference on agricultural and resource economics were searching for a good restaurant for the last night of the Conference. There were many to choose from and where we had a limited knowledge basis for choice. The solution was to rely on the preferences of Edward […]

Era of cheap food wiped out by surging meat-eating population numbers

I was struck with this claim by the US commodities trader Cargill. World population is forecast to grow from 7 to 9 billion or by something less than 1 third. But total food production needs to grow by 70% because wealthy consumers in developing countries eat more meat. Is it true? Food prices are estimated […]

Atkins was right – the problem is sugar not saturated fats

For many years I have supported the ideas of the late Robert Atkins that it is processed carbohydrates not saturated fats that cause heart disease. This study in Scientific American by Melinda Wenner Moyer surveys recent evidence which supports this same claim. In short, cut out the cookies and cakes not saturated fats.


Source Dining, Albury

I have been in Albury-Wodonga the last few days teaching, golfing and eating. Yes eating! For the 20 years or so I have been visiting A-W I have never found it difficult to discover a good restaurant and, with Rutherglen just down the road, there are plenty of good wines to stir the appetite in […]

Coffee in Melbourne

I agree with critics (e.g. Robert Doyle) who argue that Melbourne’s famed coffee culture has one weak spot – the coffee isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. It often lacks bouquet and complexity – the backbone to a lot of the coffees seems to be an unattractive bitterness amid a dishwatery anonymity. […]

Chrysanthemum tea

One of the habits I picked up during my recent month in China was drinking chrysanthemum tea. This tea is supposed to have various medicinal properties – to cure influenza, to provide anti-oxidants and to help deal with eye pain and discomfit – but the only reason I drink it is for the flavour. Chrysanthemum […]

Calorie restricted monkeys

I have long had interests in ways of prolonging life. One of the weirdest seemed to me to be calorie restriction (CR) – basically you starve yourself by eating up to 30 per cent fewer calories than you usually do. The standard joke of course is that even if you don’t prolong your life you […]

Lunch at Chateau Harry

1 dozen fresh oysters with lemon and a side salad of tomato, lettuce, sliced kiwi fruit and orange.2 dozen lightly-grilled, skewered prawns spiced sparingly with mixed herbs.More than 1 glass of Yalumba Viognier 2007.

The sun outside, beating down, defeats any vague thoughts of mowing the unkempt lawn.  Golf if it cools a bit.

The upside […]

Amartya Sen on food shortages

Amartya Sen argues that droughts such as that being experienced in Australia, high economic growth in some developing countries as well as the diversion of grains into biofuelds servicing the needs of the wealthy has created a surge in the demand for foods that has driven up food prices and endangered the world’s poor.

Its […]

Bitter melon

While I lived in Thailand one of my favourite Thai soups had as its solid ingredient bitter melon often stuffed with a meat such as pork. Bitter melon is now readily available in most Australian fruit markets – particularly those with Asian customers. I have read that it has been suggested as a cure for […]

Tuna sushi, tinned tuna & fish oils

I like sushi and am a particular fan of bluefin tuna.

An admittedly non-random sample in New York suggests that 25% of this stuff is contaminated with dangerous levels of the extremely toxic liquid metal, mercury. Apparently the red tuna sushi I enjoy most should not be consumed more than once every 3 weeks.


Fuller-figured women are just fatter

Why are women developing larger breasts? Hormones that stem, in part, from taking the pill play some role but the major fact is just that women carry more fat generally and a significant fraction of the breast is fat.

Brassiere manufacturers are responding to the increase with larger average cup sizes.

Hat tip […]

Italian seafood

I am living about 100 metres from the coastline here in northern Italy and, yep, recalling my trade classes on comparative advantage based on factor endowments I have focused my culinary endeavors here on the local seafood.

Lobster, calimari, scampi, prawns, shellfish and some of the local fishes (including fresh tuna steaks) have been subject […]


It is an old theme on this blog but, in my view, the major cause of the obesity-diabetes epidemic in modern societies (developing and developed) is related to excessive sugar consumption. A sugar soft-drink or sugar-laden fruit juice drink per day increases the chance of a woman contracting diabetes by 80%.

Sweets, soft-drinks and fruit […]

Sugar dummies provide advice to sugar daddies & sugar mummies

A Deakin study has found that kids who drink fruit juices are twice as likely as kids overall to get fat. Has that got something to do with the fact that fruit juices contain nearly as much sugar as soft drinks? Is is just that loving parents, teachers and government bureaucrats ‘encourage’ kids to drink […]

Trans fats

Over at the Becker-Posner blog, Richard Posner posts on the New York City ban on trans fats (TFs). This is a possible policy for Australia (the prohibition has been introduced in some Scandinavian countries) and is of interest.Posner generally supports the ban while Gary Becker, in a separate post, opposes it. This divergence in views […]

Keep thin eat fat

I am a fan of Dr Robert Atkins. He showed people how to lose weight and emphasised that the problem with modern diets is that we consume too much carbohydrate. He had argued for decades (until he died after slipping onto the pavement on an icy New York St) that low fat diets miss the […]