B1 B2 Exam Preparation Lesson 9: Cooking and Food
Nigel: It doesn’t matter how good a cook or chef you are, it’s all about the quality of the products and the ingredients you’re using. Look at these fantastic beef and lamb cuts. Look at the product consistency and the fat cover, and the lovely colour of the meat.
All of these cuts have been produced to the specifications and standards of the EBLEX Quality Standard Mark Scheme. The scheme was launched in 2004, and champions product quality and enhanced eating quality. Quality assured from farm to plate. Just look at the beautiful colour of the meat, it’s lovely and pink isn’t it.
The Quality Standard Mark Scheme allows producers to differentiate their product at point of sale, whilst also encouraging the purchasing preference for premium beef and lamb. It’s a fantastic food story which starts on the farm, and like all great stories, it has a good beginning, and a great ending. My customers expect the beef and lamb on my menus to come from local farms, who really care about the livestock they’re producing.
James is one of my Quality Standard Mark assured suppliers, who has his own farms here in the northwest, producing quality beef and lamb. James, what makes your beef and lamb so special?
James: Well, it’s quite a few things really. We’ve got the terrain, the farm, the experience, the love we put into breeding our animals. We’ve also got the feed, the finishing. So, for example, breed’s very important. Because we breed, you’ll get confirmation. The finishing’s important because the fat, as we know, fat provides you with flavour and eating quality. We’ve got good pastures. We’ve got good grass, which we need for finishing the animals. And winter feed when they come inside. You’ve got to get the balance right.
Nigel: Look at this livestock. All good weight and size. All ready for market between 24 and 30 months. All farms producing beef and lamb for The Quality Standard Mark Scheme are independently inspected to monitor good practise. Animal husbandry, feed, and veterinary care, which collectively provide vital reassurances to the consumer. The scheme standards don’t stop at the farm however.
Strict product and processing standards, like animal age, maturation, and carcass specification gives you consistent beef and lamb, guaranteeing eating quality. What we are looking for, all the time, is the quality of the product, so you’ve got the assurance that you know what you’re buying is going to deliver. Consumers want to know where their beef and lamb comes from, and where it has been farmed. They want to trust the beef and lamb they’re buying. They want consistency and they want enhanced eating quality. The scheme delivers on all these issues. Consumers can trust the mark.
Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb. It’s a fantastic food story.
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|to get the balance right|
|on the farm|
Reconnecting with Food. Essential for our health.
Alessandro R Demaio
Australian Medical Doctor; Fellow in Global Health & NCDs at Harvard University
To put it plainly, have we lost our connection with food?
Understanding where food comes from, how it’s produced and where it has been between farm and plate is becoming a rare quality. Almost a novelty. Despite a near-obsession with food-related TV shows – seasonality and slow-food are becoming foreign or niche concepts as supply becomes constant and expected, and fast-food becomes ubiquitous.
Now it’s sad that we don’t know a peanut grows underground, or that a tomato is a summer fruit – but it’s actually much more concerning than a lack of trivia knowledge.
This broad-sweeping inability to use and understand food impacts our hip pockets, but also our hips!
You see, in kitchens across Southern Europe, from Madrid to Milan, something interesting is happening. Something unexpected, and really quite delicious. An uprising of a different variety – the culinary variety – as people are turning to the dough as a means of saving, well, dough!
Spurred by the financial crisis, a wave of home cooking is sweeping across France, Italy and Spain. Nations which have seen their fair-share of junk food and resultant obesity, are now swapping the burgers for home cooked baguettes – in record quantities. In fact, a third of all Italians are now making pizza at home and one in five making their own bread – the highest levels since World War II.
In a time of economic strife, we are seeing a return to home cooking, basic recipes and seasonal produce in many countries, to save money.
But what happens when these recipes are lost? When people no longer know how to make bread? Would this movement back to home cooking be possible in Australia, the UK or the USA?
Understanding your food is also essential to a healthy life. Knowing what food is, where it comes from, and what’s in it allows us to make informed decisions about what we put in our mouths. This basic dietary literacy is essential in being able to work out what is healthy and what is not – and in the midst of an obesity epidemic it has never been more important. But with this disconnect to food comes an inability to digest this information and make the best decisions for our health.
So what can be done?
First and foremost, we cannot blame parents, nor should be blame teachers.
In fact, let’s just not blame anyone.
Instead, I say bring back compulsory, funded, comprehensive food and cooking education to primary schools… All primary schools. Because let there be no misunderstanding, the phasing out of early-education on food and food supply to save money, only to spend more on chronic disease resulting from a fundamental misunderstanding of food – is a completely false economy.
Programs like Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden initiative should be celebrated and replicated in all schools across the board. Let’s wake up and realise that the work of Jamie Oliver and the team at Food Revolution is as much about health, sustainability and economic security – as it is about being able to cook.
An eggplant should be as obvious to a 7 year old as an iPhone. Knowing how to make a loaf of bread should be part of the national curriculum, and an understanding of seasonality and our food supply should be taught from a young age.
Children need to be educated what food is early, to respect it and how to use it wisely.
We might be losing our connection with food, our understanding of the food-supply and our abilities to prepare healthy, fresh meals – but it is not too late.
Food, and cooking, must be seen as educational, economic and health priorities for our societies. Some food for thought and action, on Food Revolution Day.
Anything less, I fear, is a recipe for disaster.
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|load of bread|
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|to put it plainly|
|first and foremost|
ESSAY: Write an essay about the pros and cons of the fast food culture.
LETTER: Write a letter to a school suggesting changes to the school dinners for the health benefits of the children.
Meat Lasagna Recipe for engineers (Source: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recip e/36/Meat-Lasagna)
This visual aid shows how to cook a meat lasagna for 6. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
REPORT: Write a report on the rise of digital dinners and communication.
REVIEW: You have just read an article about how cooking as a family can have multiple rewards, mainly, instilling children with an exciting attitude towards food preparation and cooking. Write a review.
PROPOSAL: Write a proposal to a supermarket regarding change in market strategies for promoting healthier foodstuffs.