Friday, 15 October 2010


“Vegetables are the food of the earth; fruit seems more the food of the heavens.” - Sepal Felicivant

The weather all along the southeastern coast of Australia has been terrible. Flooding rains, storms, hail, high winds and in the south, cold… In Tasmania it has been snowing! This is of course right in the middle of our Spring – for all you northern hemisphere readers, our October is equivalent to your April. Such is the situation with climate change, no doubt we shall see many more extreme weather events in the decades ahead. Nevertheless, I think that resourceful Homo sapiens will do something to alleviate the troubles that future generations will have to cope with. Call me an optimist!

The weather wasn’t very conducive to flying and on my way back from Sydney this evening it was a very bumpy ride indeed! When landing in Melbourne there was lashing rain and high winds and the plane jolted on the tarmac and there were hundreds of creaks and snaps, croaks and whirrs, screeches and cracks as the plane landed. My fellow passenger next to me had grown very pale and she took deep breaths and had her eyes closed, while she clutched at the seat, her knuckles white. When finally the plane taxied in, she opened her eyes and murmured “Thank, God!” As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t the worse landing I had experienced and once again, if one flies one must be prepared for the worse…

The workshop in Sydney today was fantastic! It was quite a small group of high-ranking academics from many universities and a few colleges, and we all had a round-table discussion on academic standards, and generic threshold learning outcomes of educational programs in Health, Medicine and Veterinary Science degrees. The discussion was stimulating, engaging and frank. It was quite a useful three hours or so and I came away with quite a good understanding of our new tertiary education quality agency that will be set up over the next couple of years.

We were very well fed during the seminar, but I gorged myself on the extensive selection of fresh fruits that were available, rather than the sandwiches and sweets. We had luscious strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pineapple, melon, watermelon, pawpaw, passionfruit, bananas, apples, tangerines, oranges, peaches, nectarines and cherries for our delectation. The good thing about Australia is that because it is so big, it spans several latitudes and “seasonal” fruit is greatly varied at any time of the year. One can choose from the perennial tropical favourites of the far north, to the delights of the subtropics with their early fruiting varieties of spring and summer fruits and then go to the temperate south with its range of late winter offerings and spring delicacies.

We are very lucky in Australia as the produce is always fresh, of good quality and relatively cheap. Fruit and vegetables are in plentiful supply and when going to the market or the greengrocer, one can go overboard and shop, shop, shop! I don’t think there are any fruits or vegetables that I particularly dislike, even though there are many that I love. I could quite easily give up meat or fish, but I could not give up fruit or vegetables. Which of course is wonderful as fruit and vegetables are full of the goodness of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, fibre, essential microelements, sugars, antioxidants, anti-ageing compounds, active anti-cancer complexes and of course they are all delicious!

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