As most people know the European Union — the EU — is in the middle of an immense economic crisis, with a lot of its members in recession and others such as Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Cyprus needing bailouts from the EU and World banks to keep them afloat. You would think that our esteemed MEPs — Members of the European Parliament — would be working determinedly to find ways of improving the economic situation and easing the rampant unemployment and ensuing poverty caused by stringent cuts.
One of the unexpected advantages of my move to Portugal is the change in my everyday diet and the results on my health and my weight. Portugal is a low density population country, which means that its people can in most areas be fed by local foods and crops. Very few food miles – YEAH!
There are very few processed foods and very few frozen foods available where I am and almost everyone makes their food from scratch using fresh ingredients. The nearest thing we have to a takeaway is a shop that sells freshly grilled chicken and a home cooked pizza shop where fresh pizzas are cooked on the premises.
When I was younger, I once asked my father why in the supermarket certain jars of peanut butter cost so much more than others. He pointed out to me that the cheaper jars of peanut butter used filler ingredients — peanuts are more expensive than sugar and corn syrup, and so the more filler there is in a jar of peanut butter, the less it costs the manufacturer per jar. Similarly, when you are dealing with vegetable oils, the way it should work is that you pay more for pure olive oil than you do for a blend of olive oil and other oils because pure olive oil is more expensive. Moreover, extra virgin olive oil (referring to the oil that comes from the first cold pressing of the olives) is even more expensive because of the quality of the oil that comes from doing this first cold pressing versus the subsequent oil that comes from further pressings and extraction methods.