Monday, March 31, 2008

Flexitarian?

I have done something shockingly out of character. Some of you might want to sit down: I ate kangaroo.

Now I've had a bite or two at a BBQ just to try it; the other night however, we bought it, cooked it and ate it. Okay, Brian cooked it. I realized I have never before cooked meat. I ate it until I was about eighteen, but it was always cooked by someone else. Then I moved away from home and was a strict vegetarian for many years. Until we moved to Hawaii. The allure of mahi mahi was just too strong and I began to eat fish. That began to pose a problem when I needed to call myself something. Brian has termed himself a "flexitarian," meaning he eats meat once or twice a week on average, and only if we go out, it's available and sounds particularly tasty.

I occasionally hear a funny thing said by friends and colleagues here, and that is "I'm a vegetarian, but I eat kangaroo." Sounds pretty silly, eh? Well, for the environmentally conscious sort (of which I am usually surrounded given the nature of my work) kangaroo offers dietary protein that is low in fat, but also environmentally friendly if you will. It cannot be farmed (all kangaroos are wild harvested), therefore they don't harm the soil or cause pollution like factory farmed animals, they aren't pumped full or hormones and they do not generate methane emissions. Even Greenpeace is urging kangaroo consumption to fight global warming.

So, whats gotten into me, you might be asking? Well, at a BBQ last Monday night, I had a few bites of a kangaroo sausage. I have been working my arse off lately on yet another big event (it was terrific - blog post coming soon) and I have been absolutely exhausted by the time I leave work at 5pm most days. On Tuesday, after eating kangaroo the night before, I had noticeably more energy all day and into the evening.

So, as a short term test, I am considering a once a week addition of kangaroo to my diet. I'd been thinking about doing this for a while, just to see what more iron, protein, etc. would do for me. And as for what to call myself? This is a tricky one as being a vegetarian has always been about more than just diet; it conveys a whole suite of moral and ethical philosophies along with it. I haven't yet sorted through the issues I have about eating my furry, hopping friends. For the moment, I'll consider it a hiatus from my usual diet. Plus, I figure it's best to not be too hung up on labels anyway.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gang Gang Cockatoos

'Tis the season for my favorite birds to be munching away on berries and making themselves more visible than usual. Gang Gangs aren't the most colorful birds around, they're not the loudest, and they're not the most abundant. I just find their bright red fringy-feathered heads, squeaky calls and googly eyes to be incredibly endearing. I haven't been able to get close-up photos of them - until now, thanks to ripe berry season.





Okay, I couldn't choose just one! And just so that you can hear their squeaky calls and see their googly eyes - a quick video:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bicycle Blender Fame

Celebrate Sustainability Day drew a bit of media attention because we put out a media release about the bicycle blender. One radio station came along and did an interview while the interviewer pedaled herself a smoothie. It was clearly a big hit.

Some photos from the event also made it into the ANU e-newsletter. Take a look at the photos at this link, and be sure you look at all of the photos on the page.

You looked at the photos? How funny is it that on that page, two photos from Celebrate Sustainability Day get the top of the page, while the Prime Minister and Jackie Chan get the bottom of the page!?! So, that's a funny story too...I received an email saying that the Prime Minister was going to be on campus with Jackie Chan to launch the new Jackie Chan Science Centre, and I deleted the message because I thought it was spam! Then I see this page and find out that it was real, but was bottom of the page news compared to the bicycle blender. Ha!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Celebrate Sustainability Day...

...was a huge success!

After weeks of planning I'm pleased to report that we pulled off a rather fantastic event! And we reached literally hundreds of students, telling them about the work of ANUgreen and the various environmental groups on campus, how they can get involved and how they can make a difference.

The inspiration for the event came from a desire to do something fun and ensure that environmental messages aren't all doom and gloom. The slogan for the day: DELIGHT, NOT FRIGHT!


The day started at 8am with a Ride to Uni pancake breakfast and went strong until 3pm with music, food, displays and activities. The weather forecast was for rain and we were all a bit nervous as there was no feasible back up plan. The event was too big to consider moving indoors and we would never have been able to draw the same crowd. As it was, the day was beautifully cool and overcast (though I still emerged with a sunburn!). There was an awesome band (Andi and George) with a great vibe and people just couldn't sit still!

An overview of the scene in Union Court, the center of the campus...


Beth and Su from ANUgreen showing off the variety of things that can be recycled on campus...


Painting the Sustainability Tree Mural...


The bicycle blender at work! It was finished the morning of the event....whew!


What a great experience! We gave away heaps of prizes based on how many stamps people had on their programs. They were given stamps by visiting the various displays and this ensured that all of the stalls got lots of visitors. It worked brilliantly! And people were so enthusiastic and interested; students we'd never seen before kept coming up to us asking if we needed any volunteers! How great is that?

The rain held out until about 6pm. We'd planned to have dinner and a film outdoors starting at 7pm but we had to scratch that plan. I spent Tuesday making two giant pots of soup (pumpkin and minestrone) with ALL of the ingredients coming from the student-run campus organic garden. In fact, the compost the veggies were grown in was made in part from food waste from the residence halls. We served the food in bowls made from sugarcane (with cornstarch spoons) all of which could then be composted again to grow more veggies. A beautiful example of a closed loop system! A little surprisingly, about forty people came out in the rain to huddle around a BBQ, under an umbrella, to eat soup while laughing and socialising. It was a great sight. Then we moved into a nice warm theatre to watch a film, which was followed by a nice discussion. Exhausted and pleased, I peddled myself home and slept until 11am the next day.

We might just have to do it again next year! Here's to getting my life back in the meantime!