Archive | Food RSS feed for this section

How to drink water

13 Sep


Old habits die hard, and I’m afraid I may be about to upset one of yours.

Most of you will have water-drinking built firmly into in your daily routines, which is all well and good, if you are doing the right way. (As absurd as it may sound, there is a Right Way).

In my experience, there are five standard methods by which to drink water. These are:

  • Buying a bottle of spring water and re-filling it with tap water daily for the next week or so
  • Buying a new bottle of spring water every day
  • Drinking tap water
  • Drinking filtered tap water using a glass

Those of you who are nodding along the latter – give yourself a medal. This is The Right Way. For those nodding to the first three you may want to change your water-drinking habits. Let me explain…

Bottled water
As we all know, bottled water isn’t great. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s completely unnecessary. Firstly, it’s expensive. Secondly, its environmental impact is far bigger than that of tap water due to distribution (you can buy water from as far away as Fiji in the UK) and the manufacturing of bottles.

recycle codes 3 and 7Not only is packaged spring water heavy-footed on nature, but it also brings with it potential nasty side-effects for those that drink it. BPA or Bisphenol A is a substance found in most plastic food and drink containers marked with recycle codes 3 and 7 – and even in the lining of drink cans. It has been a known estrogenic (i.e. having properties of / similar to an estrogen, the female sex hormone) since the 1930s, but this rather large problem appears to have escaped the conscience of the packaging-makers.

This is a bit heavy, but bear with me.

In 2010, Canada banned BPA as a toxic substance and there is a definite feeling of uneasiness about the chemical bubbling up elsewhere. Bisphenol A has been linked to heart disease, erectile dysfunction, miscarriage, immune system deficiency, obesity, ovarian dysfunction, problems with infant brain development and prostate and breast cancers. Crikey.

The effect causing most of a stir is the link between the substance and female reproductive health. A recent study found that BPA in the blood can increase levels of testosterone in women, increasing their risk of polycystic ovaries, a syndrome that can sometimes cause diabetes, infertility and heart disease.

Tap water

The ‘trusty’ stuff from the tap may start off relatively pure, but remember it has to go through various treatments using chemicals in order to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. In many areas of the UK, this means we all get a nice hit of Fluoride, which has been linked to nasties like cancer and depression. Our tap water must also travel through countless pipes (that may have been put in place by the Victorians) and can pick up toxic heavy metals like copper and lead, and pesticides along the way.

The Right Way to drink water

So, filtering your tap water, which knocks out most of the nasties (via ion exchange, reverse osmosis, distillation and carbon filtration) is the best all-round method. If you’re not already making use of that workplace social hub, the water machine, then here are some ideas to help you revamp your current drinking habits.

Brita make good filters that can be built into your kitchen sink and jugs with recyclable filters, which also help to reduce limescale build up incidentally – a tidy bonus for our kettles.

water bobble

For on-the-hoof drinking, I’m a big fan of the BPA-free Water Bobble (left) with its built-in filter.

And for a wide selection of reusable bottles, all also BPA-free, visit Reusable Bottle.

If you are caught thirsty on the hop, try finding a bottle of One Water where at least 100% of profits go to help fund clean water projects in developing countries.

Parents can buy BPA free bottles for their nippers at Green Baby.

Ok, so they’re not about water, but while we’re talking BPA-free stuff, you can buy weaning containers from Babypotz on Amazon and grown-up sized BPA-free Snapware storage containers can also be found on Amazon.

Stuff to do in June


As always, we’ve had our ears flapping busily, and have heard news of some smart goings on in the next couple of weeks. We thought we’d share some of them with you:

LOST ART3-30 June: The Lost Collection at KK Outlet

See around 60 accidental works of art on show for the first time ever. The art spans from graphic doodles to full-on Impressionistic landscapes – all of which have been lost or dropped on trains, the tube, in buses and black cabs. If ever there was a reason to use a sketchbook, this is it…



Visit the first ever Taste Festival for Muswell Hillians and enjoy all sorts of fun stuff from music and poetry to food and drinks and more. Our old favourites, Planet Organic will be putting on tastings, demos, an artisan bread market (Fri & Sat only) and, to top it of, giving shoppers £3 off, when you spend over £15. Simply email to get your special voucher.

Open Farms Sunday12 June: Open Farm Sunday

Spend a day in your wellies – that’s not at a festival! At this annual event visitors can meet our good British farmers to learn how they grow our food and care for the countryside. Many will offer trailer rides, self-guided or hosted walks and, of course, you can have a real root around some lovely farm shops.


Two Degrees 201112-18 June: Two Degrees 2011

Rally together and make your voice heard in this festival combining climate change action and art. Try your hand at bingo bike-riding, sit back and enjoy some stories, or simply have a rant.

Sundays throughout June: Creative Summer Sundays at Here Today Here Tomorrow

Join the Dalston-based sustainable fashion foursome for a choice of workshops from making your own zipped purse from vintage materials to learning how to dye and batik fabrics and more. Prices are between £30-40 and the team promise that tea, cake and refreshments will be provided. Crafty fingers at the ready…

WARNING: The new Burger King advert has seriously melted my sense of humour.

4 Apr

burger king burgerI really risk sounding like an old hippy here but I am massively wound up by the latest Burger King ad. I wonder if that was their aim; to wind up greenies? Either way, it is NOT funny that the ice caps are melting and what a horrendous stroke of irony that they are selling a BEEF burger, when cattle farming is one of the most contributing factors to climate change. See what you think, and please comment – I’m concerned that I’ve missed the point or over-reacted because surely BK can’t have that little respect for the future of our planet?

The right white stuff

1 Apr

If you were a child of the 70s or 80s, like myself, you’ll probably have similar memories of milk breaks. That Very Important time spent perched on your tiny, brightly-coloured plastic chair, nursing a mini milk bottle and sucking up watery cow-juice with all your might in order to earn a star. And, if you were well behaved, you got to clear away the empties (how did they ever fool us into thinking that was a privilege?) But the best thing that could happen in a milk break – the truly most brilliant reward for having to down the phlegm-making cow-juice like a rugby boy downs beer (but without the same enjoyment) was being given, simply, an unshaken bottle. Here, like a magnolia-coloured crown, the cream would sit. Oh, the joy of seeing that little piece of goodness resting precariously on top of the milk! The next move was to squash your straw, slip it down the inside edge of the bottle so as not to disturb your curdled prize, suck the bastard dry and savour the final, thick, sweet goodness left at the bottom and stuck to your straw. Remember?

These days, opinions on milk have changed somewhat. It is still seen as an important element in a person’s diet. It’s gone from being a national obsession to a bit of a controversial topic. Lactose intolerance is now widely acknowledged as a cause of thickened phlegm and mucus (nice), dry skin conditions like eczema – particularly in young children – and stomach complaints. The culling of male calves born into dairy farms is a serious issue, and the proposed US-style, in-humane super-dairies are a very real possibility.

Although milk is undoubtedly a good source of calcium and other nutrients, we consume so much of it, which is crazy when you think that the human digestive system is not massively efficient at breaking down lactose. The enzyme is also often hidden in processed foods as well, like soups and crisps and this is why some people react to it.

Luckily, there are plenty of other readily available options like goats milk (which naturally possesses lower levels of lactose – and is much tastier I find) and soya, rice and hemp milk too. I suppose, with all this contradictory information, the thing to do is to buy organic cow-juice where necessary, as it will most likely come from farms that are against the culling of male calves – and it’s proven to have higher nutritional value. Also, why not create your own mix-and-match milk menu? Rice milk is really good with cereal, hemp milk tastes decent in a cuppa, just as soya does in a coffee. But, all that said, there’s nothing – just nothing – like a bloody good spoon of cream. And whatever any health food bod says, that is one thing that CANNOT be replaced…