Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Some thoughts about bees, alternative eating, and words.

As I spread almond butter on my breakfast toast I read an article about bees. In California beekeepers, apiculteurs, loan their hives to almond growers. They put their hives in a trailer and take them off to the almond orchards, if such a term exists, set the hives up during the blossom season and then take them home again when pollination is deemed to be complete. I never knew you could move hives around in this fashion. And now I have an image in my head of a trailer with several beehives on board and a trail of stray bees following behind, like a plume of smoke! The reality may be nothing like this but I rather like the image.

Anyway, it would seem that this system of renting out your pollinators, mutually satisfactory up to a point as the almond growers get their crop of nuts while the bees make very fine almond blossom honey, is not working well recently. The bees are coming home with deadly diseases, are being attacked by mites and are dying in large numbers. The probable cause is chemical insecticides. Even if the almond growers agree not to use them, grape growers in the vicinity continue to do so. And the bees won’t always keep to the boundaries of the almond orchard.

There is a solution of sorts, being tried by some almond growers and apiculteurs together. Wild flowers are being planted in between the almond trees instead of completely clearing the ground between the trees, providing a natural mulch for the trees as well. At the same time, flowering hedges are being planted around the almond orchards, instead of plain fences, making a natural barrier that the bees appreciate. And there is plant diversity as well. Rewilding here we come! Old remedies proving to be the best again.

But now I feel guilty because it’s people like me spreading almond butter on my toast, and masses of vegans insisting on an alternative to cows’ milk, such as almond milk, that is causing an increase in demand for almonds and, therefore, an increasing use of bee-hire to pollinate the blossom. Oh boy!

Talking of veganism, there is this:-

“Burger King has launched its first plant-based burger in the UK, but it is not suitable for vegans because of the way it is cooked. The soy-based version of the chain’s Whopper beefburger will be available in UK restaurants from Monday, but is cooked on the same grill as meat, meaning that many non-meat eaters will refuse to eat it. Instead, the fast-food chain is aiming the new burger, which it has named the Rebel Whopper, at “flexitarians” – people who eat meat but are reducing their intake of animal products. Toni Vernelli, international head of communications and marketing at Veganuary, a campaign to encourage people to go meat, dairy and egg-free for the month of January, complimented the burger.”

And yesterday I walked past a Greggs, the bakers, where they had big posters about their really successful vegan sausage roll. In fact, it has been so successful Greggs are paying all their employees a bonus in gratitude for the their part in the success of the sausage roll! Gone are the days when vegetarians and vegans ate plates of lentils. Now they can pretend to eat ordinary food and feel smug about it. Although personally I have never understood the need to have pretend meat products if you are a determinedly ethical vegetarian or vegan.

However, according to George Monbiot “Eating is now a moral minefield, as almost everything we put in our mouths – from beef to avocados, cheese to chocolate, almonds to tortilla chips, salmon to peanut butter – has an insupportable environmental cost.” In the not too distant future, he tells us, we need to be eating lab-made food instead of naturally grown food. Hmm! So much for natural remedies. Maybe we have gone beyond that point.

Ah well, here is a new acronym: FOMO - FEAR OF MISSING OUT!! This is a very modern phobia.

And here are some words that the BBC says have fallen out of use, but which I think we should try to re-introduce:-

 Vizzying-hole A Scots word for a peephole in a door, derived from the Old French word visée meaning ‘look’. “Sheila, have a quick shufty through the vizzying-hole and see if the maid’s coming while I stuff these towels in the suitcase.”

 Gongoozler A person who likes to mindlessly stare (at anything). If only we all had more time to stare idly and do nothing. The word survives in and around the canal boat community, to this day. “Yeah, I’ll try and make it to your wedding, but I’ve got a lot of gongoozling planned for that weekend.”

Snollygoster A 19th century American term for an unprincipled, dishonest person, especially a politician. “That snollygoster came up to kiss my baby, but nicked my phone when I wasn’t looking.”

Mumpsimus An obstinate person who holds on rigidly to a certain set of beliefs even though they are wrong or disproved. The term may have been coined by Erasmus. “That silly mumpsimus still thinks Sporty was the best Spice Girl when everybody knows it was Posh.”

 Wamblecropt To have digestive issues that are so severe, you can’t physically move. “I should never have had that sixteen piece chicken finger combo pack and Viennetta all to myself, now I’m wamblecropt.”

You can see where Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl got some of their strange vocabulary ideas from.

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