Thursday, December 31, 2015

The year that was

2015 was a bit of a mixed bag, as most years are. I was horribly sick, Bike Boy was horribly sick, the youngest kid broke two bones in quick succession, there was upheaval on the work front. But we muddled through, as we always do - and here we are, on the eve of yet another new year.

Many of the highlights of the past year were (as usual) travel-related. There was no seven-week jaunt around Europe this time though. Instead, it was the year of short trips, squeezed in wherever we could fit them.

There was Easter in Central Victoria...

Those gorgeous misty mountains. *sigh*

A lovely, lazy ten days in Phuket in May...

Amazing sunsets, every day.

A girls-only retreat - a June weekend in Daylesford...

Spa treatments, open fire, wine. The perfect winter retreat.

A brief jaunt to Airlie Beach in September...

The highlight of our visit: Whitehaven Beach & snorkelling off Hook Island.

And a fleeting visit to Jordan in November...

Bucket list: Petra. TICK!

Not too bad, considering the May trip was the only one we planned, to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.

So onto 2016. No resolutions and no concrete plans, but there will definitely be more travel. Where to? I don't know yet, but I'm keeping all my options open.

Happy New Year to you all!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The real cost of food wankery

I love trying new foods, I really do. And there are very few things I dislike. Offal, dried meat (beef jerky - what is that even about?), durian... that's about the extent of my no-go list. But I'm seriously annoyed by foods promoted by the burgeoning "wellness" industry as super-foods.

Quinoa, acai berries, kale...or whatever rare organic Himalayan herb is trendy this week. SUPER FOODS, Y'ALL! Whilst I don't mind any of those things, they're no more super than a whole lot of other fruits and veggies. And the bad thing about them is: they're very expensive.

Wellness blogs and newspaper lifestyle pages are shouting the message that if you're not feeding these foods to your family, you're not looking after them properly. You obviously don't care enough. YOU ARE A BAD PARENT/PARTNER/PERSON. Right. Would you like a side of guilt with your white potatoes, supermarket tomatoes and iceberg lettuce?

For a family on a low to moderate income, this stuff is just unaffordable. Personally, I could buy only organic superfoods, but I prefer to spend my hard-earned dollars on living my life, not fretting about whether these (non-organic) apples will give me cancer.

The last straw for me is that these bullshit wanky foods are pushing good old ordinary, AFFORDABLE foods off the shelf. I don't always have time to make coleslaw from scratch, so a bag of shredded cabbage and carrot from the supermarket, dumped into a bowl with a dollop of bought dressing is fine by me. Yesterday, I flew down to our local Coles to grab some. I was confronted by this monstrosity, with a hefty price tag ($15 per kg, as opposed to $8 for the plain old cabbage variety):

WTF, Coles?!!
I scoured the shelves for normal coleslaw, but there was none. There was beetroot coleslaw, which I don't mind, but can't eat because: FODMAPs. And there was something called "coleslaw supreme", which had celery (again FODMAPs) and corn and what-not in it. I bought the supreme in the end, because I refused to buy bloody kale coleslaw just on principle.

I've struck the same problem before at the Coles deli - they now only stock ready-made tabbouleh made from fricken QUINOA. Again, I don't mind quinoa, but I refuse to pay the inflated price.

If products made from kale, quinoa, etc were adding to the choices available to consumers, I'd say "Fine. Let those who have money to burn buy that shit". But the issue is that they are REPLACING affordable alternatives. Boo, supermarkets!

Looks like it's back to making my own coleslaw from now on.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Psst! Wanna buy a unicorn?

As the New Year approaches, my news feeds are filling up with desperate attempts to part people from their money by promising them the body of their dreams (and the life to match).

It used to be enough to promise weight loss, but these days it seems your sales spiel is not complete without some new-age garbage buzz-words. One of my pet hates is "wellness". Every time I see it, I just know whatever follows is going to be total bullshit. Like this:

Airley Freshface*, wellness blogger, overcame a totally made-up disease she never had by overhauling her diet. She eliminated all carbs, protein and fat, and now eats only a diet of pure, organic unicorn tears, gathered by virgins in the Himalayas at midnight under a full moon and strained through a monk's undies, before being bottled in crystal, blessed by a blind oracle and carefully shipped here. 

You too can clear your chakras and have six-pack abs, just like Airley, but only if you buy her nutrition program at the low, low price of $39.99 a month. She'll even throw in a 5ml vial of unicorn tears for free. 

Don't worry, she's totally qualified. She has a Bachelor of Health Science, specialising in Nutritional Medicine**, from a not-university that you've never heard of.

My advice to you: If the word "wellness" features in the sales pitch, run like hell. Hold onto your money, eat what you like (perhaps in slightly smaller amounts) and do something active. Brain surgery it ain't.

*Name changed to protect the guilty. And also because I don't want to be sued for defamation.

**This is apparently a real thing. Although, not...because if it was real, actual universities would be teaching it, right?