Davao Diary: Mostly About Cheese

Another Day’s Entry for my Davao Diary (but I forget which day this was):

My two boys went snorkeling today with a bunch of people from the school. We were invited as well, but the invitation included some real concern about how the Cherub would get on and off the boat, and that concern was not misplaced- my husband showed me video later, and I don’t think she would have enjoyed it. I am not sure *I* would have done well with it.

So Cherub and I stayed home, washed dishes, swept the little floor with the littler broom (which has me bending over to use it), did laundry, made beds, looked up recipes for some new vegetables as well as some ones I already knew, but by another name (singkamas are jicamas, and a generous friend from church very kindly gave me two, as well as some mangos, yum), practice the Bisaya words to the doxology (I’ll share in another post), and I fought with the internet, which has not been very friendly to us lately. Except for the internet feud, I didn’t mind. I enjoy quiet, downtime to read, research, rest, rejuvenate.

I have two favourite dresses here, and I had splattered oil all over the front of one of them when making the discovery that jackfruit seeds explode in hot oil. It appears the oil splatters did come out of my dress. I did not have Dawn dishwashing soap, so I just used the dishwashing soap I had, let it soak in, and washed as usual. I am relieved. I don’t have that many dresses here, and I won’t ever find anything here that fits me, so I need to make the clothes I have last (and I also need to exercise more. Can walking to the laundry room and back please count?)

The guys were supposed to bring a lunch, and I wasn’t sure what to pack, since we don’t have an ice chest and I had not noticed traditional-for-us lunchbag foods in the supermarkets. I might make sushi and deviled eggs another time. I will also be asking around to find out what are typical picnic, lunchbag type foods for Filipinos. We went grocery shopping again yesterday morning, something I have done more in this 2.2 weeks than I normally do in a month back in the U.S.

But I found some sliced ham lunch meat in the freezer section, hooray (I did not see any sliced turkey or beef lunchmeat)! Later my husband and son told me it tastes weird, so I bought them two packages, and the second one is untouched several days later.
I also bought them a treat of a package of sliced cheese. We were told dairy is expensive here, and this is true. But it turns out, it’s imported from New Zealand, which means it’s from grassfed cows! Cheese from the milk of grassfed cows is expensive in America, too! This cheese was actually less than I would pay for grassfed dairy cow products in the US. Of course, I can seldom afford them in the US, but cows fed on pasture produce much more nutritious and healthy, nourishing foods, both meat and dairy products, than stalled cows fed on manmade, corn based feeds. So, while cheese will still be a rare treat here, I am happy that when we buy it, it will be from pastured animals, and for less than I would pay for that treat at home.

The breads here are delicious, although mostly white flour is what I see. They also had lettuce, tomatoes, and even mustard, so the boys were well set (note: they didn’t bother with the vegetables. Sigh.)

Cherub and I ate tuna chorizo- hers was fried and sliced, mine was in a sandwich with the vegetables the boys had ignored, shrimp chips, and mangos for breakfast, and noodle soup for lunch for me and rice with tomatoes and fish for her.

Speaking of meals, for supper, btw, believe it or not, we had Burger King. There’s a new Burger King here, and since our son used to work there in the states, he wanted to visit it, and he brought back dinner for us.

But what about the snorkeling trip, you ask? It was a good one. But that will have to be another post.

For this post, I thought I’d leave you with some interesting information about farming in New Zealand, and why it is that New Zealand dairy products are grassfed and ours are only grassfed for expensive specialty markets. mostly, it’s because New zealand farmers are not subsidized by the government, so there’s no benefit to using surplus grains like corn. (incidentally, because of Cherub’s allergies, I am still reading labels assiduously here in the Philippines, and I am delighted to see I almost never finding corn based ingredients except in actual corn products, like corn chips)

There’s a brief history of New Zealand farm practices here, and historically and politically how they went from government subsidies to free market practices here.

The Cato Institute:
“Despite initial protests, farm subsidies were repealed in 1984. Almost 30 different production subsidies and export incentives were ended. Did that cause a mass exodus from agriculture and an end to family farms? Not at all. It did create a tough transition period for some farmers, but large numbers of them did not walk off their land as had been predicted. Just one percent of the country’s farmers could not adjust and were forced out.

The vast majority of New Zealand farmers proved to be skilled entrepreneurs — they restructured their operations, explored new markets, and returned to profitability. Today, New Zealand’s farming sector is more dynamic than ever, and the nation’s farmers are proud to be prospering without government hand-outs.

Prior to the 1984 reforms, subsidies stifled farm productivity by distorting market signals and blocking innovation. Many farmers were farming for the sake of the subsidies. For example, nearly 40 percent of the average New Zealand sheep and beef farmer’s gross income came from government aid.

When the subsidies were removed, it turned out to be a catalyst for productivity gains. New Zealand farmers cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed new products. Farmers became more focused on pursuing activities that made good business sense.” (btw, in case you freak out over the Cato Institute, the HUFFPO has a similar article)

It’s something we should do in the U.S. Government agriculture subsidies have actually harmed our health there, not to mention skewed the market both financially and nutritionally. (see eggs don’t cause heart attacks, sugar does)

More on the snorkeling trip the next time the blog allows me to post.

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