A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Fraserburgh, a fishing town on the northeast coast of Scotland. You can tell it was once a prosperous and thriving community by the size and grandeur of its public buildings. These days it’s a bit tattered at the edges, but as I said in my previous post, there are some good people there. Nearly everyone I had an extended conversation with was very keen to know what I thought of Brexit. Almost as keen as I was to avoid the topic! I didn’t know enough about it to make a sensible statement, and I could tell it was a loaded question. It got me into a bit of an internet vortex trying to find information about how many people were involved in fishing in these towns and what affect the EU had had on them.
Fishing Industry Studies
The opening statement of a 2004 report by the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry into the Future of the Scottish Fishing Industry, does not beat around the bush
The Scottish fishing industry has been managed under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union for the last thirty years. The policy has failed to achieve adequate conservation of certain key fish stocks so that an important part of the industry and the livelihoods of many in Scotland’s fishing communities are now under threat.
Changes to the European fishing industry have had a more significant effect on Scotland than elsewhere in the UK because Scotland has always depended more heavily on fishing. While less than 9% of the UK’s population lives in Scotland, around 60% of the fisheries catch is landed there. Many of the fishing communities are in small, relatively remote villages. Fraserburgh and Peterhead, by contrast, are large port towns which account for the majority of fishing employment in the district. Fraserburgh is an important port for shellfish.
Total allowable catch?
The introduction of quotas imposed when the UK joined the EU, drastically reduced the total allowable catch. I was told by fisher folk in Fraserburgh that a lot of caught fish are dumped at sea. It would seem the amount of fish caught has not been reduced just the amount of fish brought to shore. The quotas have reduced the profitability drastically by taking away some economies of scale. Employment in the industry fell by 40% in the ten years from 1994 – 2004.
Twenty years ago, nearly 60% of the population of Fraserburgh was in some way linked to employment in the fish industry. These days it is much less. A report published in 2016 states that there were 780 fishermen (interesting it used that term… are there no women?) on a fleet of 207 active vessels. This is eclipsed by 208 vessels in Stornaway, Harris.
According to this same report, things are looking up for Fraserburgh and other fishing towns. The once dire situation for cod and haddock is improving. No longer at the brink of virtual extinction through overfishing, stocks are increasing.
Will Brexit make a difference for the people of Fraserburgh? Or will it be too late? Will the family businesses last or will the owner-skippers be bought out by huge corporations who can ride the up and downs more easily? Will the small vessels be replaced by supertanker size rigs? Will the charm of a salty Scottish fishing village be lost forever?
Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to be a comprehensive analysis of the Scottish Fishing Industry, just my personal interpretation after reading a few reports.
I used the following sources when putting this post together.
I am still not sure what made me look up at that particular moment. I guess something must have caught my eye. With more than 40 years driving experience under your seat belt, you remain alert even when you are admiring the broad, rugged landscapes of Harris Island.
But look up, I did. Just in time to see the large white SUV, which was the second car behind me, pull out onto the other side of the road to overtake. At the same moment, the car directly behind me also pulled out and accelerated rapidly.
“No! Mate! No!” I shouted at the silver car “Don’t!”
The small silver car slammed into the side of the larger, white car, and became airborne sailing over the top of the white car, rolling over and over again. It dropped into a gully next to the road. I didn’t see it hit the ground, but when I did see where it had come to rest, I could tell from the dug-up field, that it had skated on its roof across the rock-studded grass. The white car spun on its wheels and ended up facing the right way in the correct lane, front tyre punctured, passenger side caved in, airbags fully deployed
It all happened in a fraction of a second, but as people say, it seemed as if it was in slow motion. Every nanosecond etched on my mind.
I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and grabbed my phone from the charger. I opened the boot of the car and fished out my first kit. The one I had brought in case I sprained my ankle while hiking.
As I jabbed 999 on the phone’s keyboard, I thought to myself “I don’t have enough Bandaids for this accident. Those people are dead for sure.”
“Ambulance, Fire or Police?” the calm female voice said at the other end of the line.
“Ambulance and Police,” I said, already fumbling with my phone to put it on loudspeaker, so I could use the Emergency App to give my location.
“Which one first?”
“Ambulance, I would say. I have just witnessed a serious road crash. My location is XYZ”, and I gave my coordinates, reading from the screen.
I ran down the hill, the tiny first aid kit tucked under my arm.
I got to the white car first.
“Are you hurt? Any injuries?”
“No,” they both said, “We are OK, just a bit shaky.”
“Stay in the car,” I said, “I have called an ambulance.”
I turned to see a young man and woman crawling out of the silver car and watched incredulously, as they scrambled up the embankment.
“Come! Sit!” I said, sizing up their injuries. Scratched hands from the broken glass. A large graze on his temple. Cuts to her shins and shredded tights. Both had dilated pupils and were rambling on about what had happened.
“I just didn’t see him!” the young man said.
They were in shock.
I passed my assessment on to the calm lady who was still on the other end of the phone.
“I’ll send two ambulances,” she said. “it will be a while.”
I pulled out a gauze pad from my kit and told the girl to hold it on the largest cut on her shin. The blood flowing freely from the cut, making it look more gruesome than it was.
“Press hard with this,” I said, “what’s your name?”
“Where are you hurt, Joanna? Is it ok if I touch you to see if you have any injuries?
“My back and neck are really sore.”
“I imagine they are! Can you just stay really still for me?” I draped my one, silver blanket over her shaking body and asked her to breathe with me. “Nice deep breaths Joanna… Slow down, slow down… you’ll be Ok. The ambulance is on its way.”
By this stage, some other people had begun to pull up.
“Do you need help?”
“Yes, I do! Do you have a blanket?
The Dutchman nods.
“Get it, and wrap this fellow up. He needs to stay warm.”
“What’s your name, mate?” I asked the dazed man.
“You’ve got a bit of a bump on your head there John! Can I have a look at it?”
I took another piece of gauze from the meagre first aid kit and pressed it against his bleeding head.
“Can I help? another voice said from the crowd. “I am a navy medic.”
“Take over here, mate, you can do a better job than me!”
“No, you seem to have it under control.” He walked away and melted back into the crowd.
“HANG ON!!” I thought, “Is there no one here better equipped than me to deal with this? Here I am on the other side of the world in a foreign country being a very bossy Australian telling Scottish people what to do?? Is there no-one?”
It would seem I was it.
The Uncle of the White Car Man (who I now knew was Alex) turned up at my side. They had called him straight after the crash.
“You need help,” he said. Not a question but a statement.
Thank god, another person willing to lead. “Can you stop the traffic up there. We don’t want to get run over ourselves.”
There was no verge, and we were sitting right on the road.
The traffic was calm and patient. A few people got out to look at what was happening and then returned to their cars. There were offers of food and water for the injured.
“No,” I said “You don’t know if they are going to need surgery. Let’s wait for the ambo’s”.
The quizzical looks reminded me that abbreviating a word and adding an O was a uniquely Australian practice.
We waited. I checked on the two in the SUV again. They were still shaky but definitely uninjured.
My phone rang.
“Harris Police here, can you tell me what has happened?”
“Road crash at (co-ordinates). No major injuries. The traffic is building up.”
All matter of fact, as if I do this every day.
“We’ll be there as soon as we can, but we are already dealing with another matter at the other end of the island.”
It seemed like an episode of Shetland. The majestic scenery was laid out before me. The rocky outcrops, the soaring birds, the inquisitive bystanders. The grey, scudding clouds.
More time elapsed. perhaps 30 minutes, and then the welcome wail of a siren. One ambulance had arrived.
“Ok,” the green-clad fellow said, “What’s going on here?”
“Traffic accident, four people involved the two in the white car are a bit shaky but otherwise appear to be OK. These two, John and Joanna, crawled out of that car (the ambo lets out a long low whistle) and up the hill. They have some superficial injuries (pointing to their legs and hands) but are both complaining of headache, backache and a sore neck. They have been conscious and lucid the whole time. Their breathing has steadied, and they seem to be able to move freely, but I have asked them to stay still. Joanna is the most distressed, but I am concerned about his contusion on John’s forehead.”
“Ah hah…” he said slowly as he put on his gloves.
Shit! No gloves! I forgot to put mine on!!
“How long ago?”
“About 40 minutes?
“Hmm ok. Can you just hold John’s head still while I have a look.”
I cradled John’s head in the way I had been shown in the advanced first aid course I had done.
The paramedic looked at me and said: “Hmmm you know what to do… are you a first responder?”
First responder? I smiled and as a million thoughts went through my head as to how an Australian holidaying in Scotland had taken charge of a traffic accident, was well, not a first responder per se, but certainly a well trained NSW SES volunteer. How do you describe what the NSW SES is? Tick tock tick tock …it all flicked through my mind, and I decided on
“Well, no, not exactly. I am a volunteer in the emergency services in Australia. I have had some advanced training in this sort of thing.”
That would do for the time being. Another ambulance crew turned up. The paramedics decided to treat John and Joanna as having potential spinal injuries, which meant very cautious handling. I helped them strap the two onto spinal boards, and lift them onto the ambulance.
As they departed, I looked at the long, long queues of traffic stretching back on both sides of the road. The white car was still in the middle of the lane, immobile, blocking the traffic. The once patient drivers beginning to get impatient as the ambulance vanished over the hill. To me, it seemed like another accident waiting to happen, as people began to pull out willy-nilly, trying to get past.
In rapid-fire, I said to the Uncle “Contra-flow traffic, ten cars each way. You let ten cars past and then stop them, and then I‘ll let ten go from my end. Do that until we finish. Hold up your hand like this (the stop signal) and raise your other hand to me when you are ready to change over,” I demonstrated a beckoning signal.
I went up the road and waved the first car on. It didn’t move. An older woman in the driver’s seat was slumped over the wheel.
“Oh my god,” I thought, “don’t tell me she’s had a heart attack while we’ve been waiting? And the ambulance has just left!”
I walked gingerly up to her car and tapped on the window. She woke up, startled. I let out the breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding.
“Move on please ma’am.”
For the next 15 minutes, we directed the traffic. I cursed the fact that I was dressed all in black and had no hi-vis, no glowing traffic wand. Not like in the training I had done.
The police rang again. They’d be there soon.
After 2 hours, they did finally arrive. The queues of traffic had gone, the ambulance had taken John and Joanna away. Alex (the driver of the white car) had calmed down, and his Aunty was now just plain angry that the police had taken so long to get there. The Uncle and I were congratulating each other on what a fantastic job we had done with the traffic. It seemed so peaceful.
The police officer began to get my details.
“Hang on a minute,” she said. “I just have to check on my colleague”. He was striding down the road, fishing something out of his pocket.
“It was his first day yesterday.” Eye roll “I just have to make sure he does not breathalyse them without me as a witness.”
She came back to me 20 minutes later and started to retake my statement.
It was cold. The wind had picked up, and I was busting to go to the toilet. While caught up in the middle of the emergency, I had stayed calm and in control. The only thing I could think of now was not wetting my pants in front of this police officer.
I told her I needed to go.
“Go down the road to the Youth Centre. It’s just around the bend here. Tell them the Police sent you. They’ll let you use their loo. Wait for us there.”
“Right yeah sure,” I thought. But sure enough I said the police had sent me, they let me use their loo and now more comfortable, I sat on the car bonnet and waited. Another 15 minutes later, the Police pulled up at the Youth Centre, and I gave them my statement.
It was now three and a half hours since I had looked in that rear-view mirror and I was finally on my way again. Cold, hungry and thirsty. However, my overwhelming emotion was pride! I had done good! I had stayed calm. I had been useful! I had used the training I had been given through the NSW State Emergency Service to render first aid and direct traffic. I might be a bossy Aussie, but who bloody cares! On this day, at that moment, I was the right person at the right time, and I helped people. Really, really helped them.
Punch the air, Old Chook! Today you were truly invincible and very visible!
The NSW SES is a volunteer organisation which has jurisdiction over storm and flood events in New South Wales, Australia. In some rural units, they also look after road crashes. I have been an SES member for nearly 5 years. I have been trained in many aspects of emergency management. You can read about the SES here. It’s a government-funded body and one of the things I really love about Australia. We look after each other!
My blog is two years old today! Well, not ‘today’ today because I wrote this in May and the second birthday happens in July but I’m publishing it on the second anniversary of my first post! Now that’s not confusing, is it?
I am celebrating because unless something tragic has happened in the last few days, I have posted consistently every week for two years. Sometimes more than one post a week but at least every week! I am proud of myself for doing that.
In the time leading up to this post, I will have been chronicling my trip around Scotland. This particular piece I wrote in the comfort of my home on May 16th, 2019. A little “here’s one I prepared earlier” post.
I still have a way to go till I hit my goal of 1000 followers, but my “followship” (is that a word?) has been steadily increasing. Sadly extrapolating from my current growth rate, it will be about 2027 before I hit that mark. I need some exponential growth!
My most viewed post to date is No day shall erase you from the memory of time which was featured by WordPress as an Editors’ Pick. This post looked back at my visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York and still gets a few views every week.
A few of my own favourite posts are
RAOK – (Random Acts of Kindness) about a magical few minutes on a train when everyone was kind to each other.
Pandora’s Box about the briefcase full of letters between my ex and I.
It’s not been hard work but sometimes a bit stressful when I have has no posts up my sleeve, and it’s Thursday night. Every photo and video has been my own (unless I say otherwise and it’s only a few). I have not reblogged anyone else’s work. Not once. Not ever.
My original goal for starting the blog was to find a place for a side hustle in writing and creativity. That hasn’t panned out yet. It still costs me more to run than I have made. My obvious talents (sic) are still underappreciated.
But nonetheless, I’ll keep going. I still enjoy writing. My friends IRL seem to enjoy my candid posts. This Old Chook still feels like she has things to say.
When I get home from Scotland, I will be updating my theme to give my blog a fresh new look. I hope you’ll stick around!
Last week I wrote about the nutritional value (or not) of coffee, this week the focus is on economic factors. This is a simplified analysis and not meant to be an economic treatise. There are no doubt, lots of angles I have not considered.
Microeconomics – your budget.
As a point of reference, I am going to use my regular order of a skim milk regular sized cappuccino as the “standard” purchase. You can pay anywhere from $A3:50 – $A6:00 depending on size and location so I will use a cost of $4 per cup.
If you buy one cappuccino every day, you are going to spend $4 x 365 = $1460 per capita per annum.
So maybe you only buy coffee on the days you work. Using a 5 day work week and four weeks annual leave that’s $4 x 240 = $960.
Let’s say your working life is around 40 years; you’ll end up spending between $40,000 – $60,000 on coffee! If you’re living as a couple, that could be $80-120,000 over your lifetimes.
SHIT that’s scary money!
That’s three years of mortgage payments! Is it worth it?
Do-it-yourself coffee – instant.
Ok, so you’ve decided you can’t do without coffee. Can you save money by making your own?
A 200 g jar of instant coffee will set you back around $13 from Woollies and will make around 100 cups of coffee. Plus there’s milk and sugar or sweetener if you use it. I am not going to try and factor those in here.
If we stick to the one cup per day, every day of the year you will spend $47 per annum.
Over your work life and not allowing for inflation; $1900.
BOOM! An instant saving of $38K per person. But you aren’t going to switch to Moccona because we have all become coffee snobs who want “proper” coffee from the trendy cafe! And in reality, you’ll probably drink both the made at home/work and the cup(s) from the cafe.
Maybe you can buy a coffee machine and save money that way?
Do-it-yourself – coffee machine.
This calculation presents a few problems. It’s a bit of a “how-long-is-a-piece-of-string” argument. Just typing “coffee makers” into Google; gives you machines ranging from $3000 to $59. If you spend $3000 on a coffee machine, it will take you 2 years to make your money back, and I bet you won’t!
Because even if you have a fancy coffee maker, you’ll still buy coffee from the cute little cafe near work! You know you will!
Using a pod machine will save you money too, BUT you’ll have to deal with the environmental cost of all those plastic or metal pods. AND you’ll still buy coffee from the cute little cafe near work! You know you will!
Of course, you could grind your own coffee too and use a plunger or lots of other methods which would be cheaper than cafe coffee so you could potentially spend much less than that estimate of $60,000 over a working lifetime.
I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money or tell you if you can afford that or not. You’ll have to decide that for yourself, but you may have not given it much thought. I think the main point is that coffee is a luxury. While some of you will argue that it is essential, it’s not. Not like food or shelter. The money you spend on it is discretionary.
Macroeconomics – the global economy
The Production Side of Coffee
Coffee is derived from two main species Coffea arabica and C. Robusta. It has only been in widespread usage as a beverage for around 500 years. It is thought to have originated in Ethiopia where it was domesticated before being distributed widely. The now huge South American crop originated from the seeds of a single plant taken from the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens.
The ten biggest coffee growing nations are Brazi, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, Peru, Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Guatemala and Uganda. The countries that consume the most coffee are (in order) United States, Germany, Japan, Italy and France.
I think you can see how things are going to pan out here. There is an imbalance between the economic power of the people who grow coffee and the people who drink coffee.
Poor people grow it, rich(er) people drink it.
The price of coffee is controlled by the commodity markets in New York and London, a long way from the growers. It is the second most traded commodity after crude oil. I have no idea how these commodity markets work, but I’m sure that the people on the floor yelling and shouting at each other aren’t thinking about whether a grower can feed his family on what he will be paid.
According to the documentary Black Gold (2014), Ethiopian farmers are paid around 65c per kilo. It costs them 90c to produce one kilo of coffee. (huh???) There are up to six steps in the chain from grower to consumer with each step adding to the price. The coffee part of your daily cup is only worth around 3 cents. While this data is now five years old, the principle remains the same. The growers are not given a fair price for their labour and have to endure significant hardship so you can be perky.
I recommend you download the Black Gold documentary. You can watch the trailer here or buy/rent the full version.
Watch it, then try and drink your coffee with a clear conscience!
The consumption side of coffee
I live in the small city of Wollongong which has a population of just under 300,000. A Google search of cafes in Wollongong throws up 8 pages of results. The people at Wollongong Council told me there are X cafes. (I’m waiting on the council to get back to me with that number but it’s lots! ) That’s a lot of cafes and a lot of jobs. Multiply that by towns in Australia, and then the world. There must be a bazillion million million dollars sloshing around in coffee.
People who work in or own cafes aren’t exactly rolling in cash either. In Australia, there are more small traders selling coffee compared to big chains like Starbucks or Tim Hortons. Many cafe workers are students earning the minimum wage. Then there are the roasters, the distributors, the drivers who deliver the coffee, the importers, the cup manufacturers, the barista trainers, the espresso machine makers, etc. etc. etc.!
According to IBIS World, the cafe and coffee shop industry in Australia alone is worth $10Bn with a growth rate of 2.2%. 139,091 people are employed by 20375 businesses. (I don’t think this includes all the ancillary services listed above.) Contrary to what I was thinking, this represents only a tiny proportion of the total value of Australian business which was estimated to be around $1.7 trillion in 2016.
So, perhaps the Australian economy wouldn’t fall over if we all stopped buying coffee, but it would be sleepier and grumpier!
Can you be a more ethical coffee consumer?
Yes – to an extent.
Buy your coffee from a small business rather than big chains or multinationals. That way your money goes to pay for a family’s expenses and not making faceless corporations bigger.
In modern Australian culture and elsewhere, coffee has reached near god-like status. It’s big business and for some, a life force.
According to many t-shirts, it is imbued with amazing properties.
It keeps some people alive: “I can’t function without my morning coffee.”
It can restore lost speech: “No Coffee – No Talkie.”
It can even prevent murder: Coffee helps me maintain my “never killed anyone streak.”
The science of coffee.
To be precise, it’s the caffeine (and other methylxanthines: see the diagram below) present in coffee that does the trick. Caffeine is classed as a heterocyclic nitrogen compound. Its structure is very similar to two of the important building blocks of DNA, adenine and guanine.
It is water soluble, a critical property because if it weren’t soluble, you wouldn’t be able to drink it in the first place! Caffeine has a melting point of 237°C, another important factor because it doesn’t evaporate away under normal processing conditions. It is an alkaline, white powder when in pure form. Chemically, it’s nothing like cocaine or other stimulants except that it also contains a bunch of carbon atoms joined in a complicated ring shape with a few nitrogens and oxygens and double bonds thrown in.
Caffeine and its biological precursors have been reported in over 160 species of plant. It is found in coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa, cola nuts, guarana, and plants of the Ilex species such as maté.
Because caffeine is water soluble, the way a coffee beverage is prepared has a significant effect on the amount of caffeine in a cup. It’s all about maximising the solubility. Increasing the temperature of the water, increasing the surface area and making the beans more porous will increase the caffeine content in your daily cup. Hence we roast the coffee beans to make them porous (and tasty) then we grind them to massively increase the surface area before we soak them in hot water. Voila!
The caffeine dose can vary from around 50mg up to 150 mg per 250 mL cup.
The pharmacological effects of caffeine
In plants, caffeine is thought to act as an insect deterrent due to its extreme bitterness. Humans found out about its about stimulating effects a long time ago and have harvested and then cultivated caffeine-rich plants for millennia.
Caffeine does indeed have many well researched pharmacological effects, but most cherished is its ability to perk you up. In 1983 I wrote:
“Caffeine is a stimulant and considered the most widely used of self-administered drugs in the form of coffee, tea and cola beverages. Most people have been exposed to the stimulating effect of these substances and the majority of the population consumes pharmacological doses [~100mg] of the drug at regular intervals throughout the day.”
The list of effects is long.
Dilation of the blood vessels
Increased urine output
Increased gastric secretions
Relaxation of smooth muscle tissue
Reduced the blood supply to the brain
Stimulation of the central nervous system
Increased motor activity and response to sensory stimuli (aka makes you more alert!)
Elevation of plasma free fatty acids and glucose. Some research shows that it can assist in weight loss by increasing fat metabolism while exercising.
Caffeine is absorbed rapidly and appears in the blood within 5 minutes of consumption. In most people, it takes about 3.5 hours to clear the blood and be excreted in urine, but in some individuals (like me!) who lack sufficient metabolic enzymes, it can remain active for much longer. Because it is cleared so quickly from the blood, it does not accumulate in the body.
Too much caffeine can lead to headache, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms and irritation of the gut. In addition, we all know about the effect caffeine can have on sleep. Chronic overconsumption of caffeine results in symptoms that are indistinguishable from anxiety neurosis. It would take about 10 g of pure caffeine to kill you.
Nutritional value of coffee
A cup of black coffee has no nutritional value. It has no fat, no carbohydrates, no protein, no vitamins and only minuscule traces of magnesium. We have to agree the only reason we drink it is because of the caffeine. BUT who drinks coffee black? Not many people! It’s all the stuff we add to coffee that boosts its nutritional status. The data in the table below is taken from Gloria Jean’s website and is fairly typical of the data available.
The energy value of a whole milk cappuccino is going to cost you between 484 kJ (116 kcal) – 725 kJ (173 kcal) depending on size. For skim milk, you are looking at about half that. Soy milk is a little higher than skim milk for energy. The milk is going to provide you with protein, fat, calcium and some lactose. If you add sugar, you can add another 64 kJ (16 kcal) per teaspoon. A large cappuccino could, therefore, represent a fair proportion of your daily energy intake and must be considered if you are avoiding weight gain. If you go for something fancy, like a full cream caramel latte, you’re talking around 1000 kJ (220 kcal) or the same amount of energy in 3 eggs!
So, is coffee good for you?
My thesis is too old to give me good advice in regards to the overall health effects of caffeine and coffee. So a search of the interwebs turns up some interesting information.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in a review on the Safety of Caffeine concluded that moderate caffeine consumption, of around 400mg caffeine per day (the equivalent of up to 5 cups of coffee), can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to limit their caffeine intake to 200mg per day.
It even goes so far as to say that caffeine consumption is associated with a reduced rate of mortality. Is this from the coffee itself or from the social aspect of coffee? That’s a whole other kettle of fish. Once again however we are talking about caffeine not the coffee beverage of choice. Sure, caffeine might have no ill effects, but if you pile in the sugar and cream, that’s a different story entirely!
In my own case, if I have more than one cappuccino a day, I end up with a belly full of gas. I know from anecdotal experience I am not the only one who suffers this consequence. As stated above, caffeine stimulates the production of gastric juices which speeds up digestion, milk contains lactose which challenges many adults at the best of times and with the relaxation of smooth muscle, which incidentally is the type of muscle in your intestines… well … well, you know how it’s going to end!
I guess you need to consider whether your personal circumstances can cope with the increased energy consumption of milk based coffee beverages. If it can’t, you might want to consider black coffee or even a splash of milk in a cup of International Roast!
I sat down with the intention of writing a short piece about coffee and the effect it has on our waistlines and wallets. As I started doing some research and looking at various websites on how many calories there are in various coffee beverages, how much coffee is drunk daily in Australia etc.; it got me thinking.
Where does this coffee come from? How much do we as a nation, spend? What about worldwide? Are there long term health benefits or does it cause health issues? Is it sustainable? All those disposable coffee cups have got to end up somewhere. Can all those corner cafes be supported? Where would you go to meet friends/on a first date if you don’t want to drink coffee and it wasn’t beer o’clock yet? What about tea? Would we solve all/any the issues if we switched to drinking only tea? Is coffee even worth drinking? Now come on, be honest, do you even LIKE the taste of coffee?
My swirling mind became caught in a spiral of ideas worse than being trapped in a Pinterest Vortex! I decided it was way bigger than one post could handle and it needed to be a series of blog posts. This post serves as an introduction and sets the scene. I will follow it up with another 5 posts over the next few months. (It might even grow from that number!)
Part 1 will be about the Waistline Effect: here I will explore the pharmacological, health and dietary effects of caffeine.
Part 2 looks at the economic effects of coffee on a micro (your household budget) and macro (the global economy) scale.
Part 3 investigates the environmental impact: are we burying our cities under a mountain of disposable cups. Are Keep Cups going to save the day? Are we causing rural poverty in those countries that supply our daily fix?
Part 4: What are the cultural differences in coffee drinking. Is Australian the only place you can buy a decent skim cap? I need your help here. Have you ever been able to buy a decent coffee in another country?
Part 5: Tea v Coffee. Does it make a difference? Plus anything else I haven’t been able to fit into the other posts.
I feel like a bit of a coffee expert, not because I drink lots, but because way back in the day when I was completing my undergraduate degree in Food Technology, I wrote my Honours Thesis on “Caffeine and its Derivatives in Australian Foods and Beverages”.
With nothing more than my trusty portable typewriter and correction tape, I banged out one hundred and thirty pages of meta-analysis and lab results about methylxanthines, the chemical group which includes caffeine and other similar compounds. While some of it is outdated, it remains a good starting point.
On a personal note, I’m a tea drinker. I limit the amount of coffee I buy from a cafe to around 1 – 2 cups a week if that. This decision is based on three factors.
Kilojoule intake. I drink skim milk cappucinos. That’s around 120 kcal or nearly 500 kJ which is approximately 8% of my target daily intake.
Lactose intake – I think I must be a little lactose intolerant because milk-based coffee drinks make my belly grumble unpredictably with embarrassing consequences!
I am stingy. $4 a cup every day that’s nearly $1500 a year!
I hope you’ll enjoy these posts and let me know your favourite cafe in the comments below!
As I was looking for articles about older women doing amazing things, I came across this story in the Telegraph. Not exactly what I was searching for, but thought-provoking none-the-less.
The report concentrates on the shift in attitudes of women who, 20 years ago, may have been described as middle-aged. It highlights how older women are generally taking on a more positive approach to aging and being more confident to express a style other than “grandma”.
This section particularly resonated with me and sent me on the search for more information.
Everywhere we look, highly visible older women are rewriting all the rules. From JK Rowling to Nicole Kidman; Michelle Obama to Anna Wintour, they are at the peak of their power and creativity.
They are engaged, influential and often increasingly political.
There’s even a new term to describe people with this no-age mindset: ‘perennials’
It was coined by US internet entrepreneur Gina Pell, 49, who explains, ‘Perennials are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, and are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded risk takers.’
Hell yeah! I want to be a perennial!
You can hear more about Gina Pell’s idea of perennials in this Youtube video. Not everything she says had the same point of resonance, but I like where she is coming from.
I think the Telegraph has misquoted her because Nina refutes the concept of being ever-blooming. My interpretation is that age should not be equivalent to relevancy.
I recently attended a talk by futurist Michael McQueen. A fabulously entertaining speaker who has written several books about education, specifically the future of education and the changes that would make learning more relevant to our changing, future world.
Chapter 3 talks about The Demise of Driving with the introduction of the driverless car. He started off with the statement that he doesn’t think his three-year-old son will have a driver’s licence. There will be no need – the bots will drive.
Car manufacturers already include artificial intelligence into cars. In a regular (but top) model you can have automatic windscreen wipers that sense rain, things that beep at you if you get too close to another car or cross lanes. Cars can already park themselves. It won’t be long till driverless vehicles are the norm rather than the exception. Google and Uber already have driverless cars and have been testing them on our roads. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
According to Michael
“autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030”.
He thinks that owning a car will be like having a horse these days. A hobby, but not a primary means of transport.
The disruption caused by driverless cars includes apparent things like loss of jobs in the transport industry to less obvious results like the demise of car insurance and parking lots. We won’t need parking lots because you can tell your driverless car to go home or plug into a recharge station while you are at work. It could even earn you some money by acting as a Uber while you are doing your day job. Michael further challenges the idea of if we will even need to own cars at all. Cars will become mini-versions of public transport that you can hire/rent on demand.
I was really intrigued by this train of ideas and thought I’d discuss them with my Year 7 class. (Year 7 in Australia is the first year of high school, and students are usually 12 – 13 years old.)
As predicted, they came up with the idea that there would be a loss of jobs and the moral dilemmas of whether a driverless car can make the correct decision if faced with a situation of avoiding a human or a telegraph pole. After some prompting, they agreed that there would probably be fewer cars on the road and therefore less congestion and pollution because we could share cars. They accepted this would be a good thing.
I sent them off to work in groups and come up with a pros and cons list. The final challenge being to write a statement to support their opinion of whether driverless cars were a good thing or a bad thing for society.
There was a fantastic buzz and hum in the room while they tossed around ideas in their groups and excitedly looked at the pictures of prototypes I had on a projected slide loop. I was patting myself on the back for having such an engaging lesson that was generating some genuine connections and discussion. This is what the classroom should be like every day!
Then a rogue idea struck the class.
Driverless cars would be a bad thing the class agreed? Why?
What happened if the person before me was a smoker? Or ate tuna in the shared car? Or was smelly and stunk out the car!
And the even bigger problem?
Where would you keep your stuff? You wouldn’t be able to use your car as an extension of your wardrobe? You wouldn’t be able to carry around the dry cleaning for three months in the boot!
Now, these my friends, are the real problems driverless cars will have to overcome before our iGeneration accepts them!
The world is sad today. Sad for the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Such a travesty. I am not a religious person, so I am not sad for the “church” itself, but for the rich history, it holds.
I am sad for the loss of workmanship which is unlikely to ever be replicated.
I am sad for the destruction of the vast historical treasures held in the halls and vaults.
Sad for the loss of beauty and sad for the people of France for their loss of an important cultural archive.
When you think of France, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame are the first things that jump into your mind.
I visited Notre Dame in 2011 before I labelled myself a photographer. I wish I had done a better job back then capturing its beauty and majesty.
Farewell, beautiful lady. Will you rise like a phoenix? Will Paris rebuild you? Will those thousands and thousands of pieces of leadlight be carefully reconstructed into the glorious rosettes?
I hope so.
My thoughts are with you Paris.
(From more recent news reports it looks like the Cathedral has not been completely destroyed, but much of the structure is damaged.)