Blog: Arctic campaign makes cooks roux online Q&A

With the inadvertent help of a celebrity cook, Greenpeace is on an Arctic roll right now. That is, when it comes to their anti-fossil fuel campaign which has a spatula […]

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By Vicky Ellis

With the inadvertent help of a celebrity cook, Greenpeace is on an Arctic roll right now.

That is, when it comes to their anti-fossil fuel campaign which has a spatula aimed at firms hoping to drill in the Arctic Circle.

The green group can claim a social media coup after hijacking Delia Smith’s Christmas cooking Q&A on the Facebook page of Waitrose – which happens to have been planning to extend its working relationship with oil firm Shell. The Anglo-Dutch firm is one of several jockeying for drilling rights in polar bear town… Cue Greenpeace.

The live online question session where members of the public were welcomed to ask for tips and more about cooking the turkey quickly became a PR nightmare. Dozens of web users on Facebook bombarded the Facebook page with puns aplenty on Waitrose’s Shell connection.

While some asked legitimate questions about flaky pastry or veggie options for Christmas din-dins, other users posted comments like this: “Hi Delia, being well brought up I always throughly [sic] wash my hands before cooking, with really tough soap if they’re already oily. I’m just wondering, does Waitrose have strong enough soap to get the shell off?”

When Waitrose staff running the Q&A deleted some similar posts, the users fought back: “Why did you delete my post? All I did was ask what grade oil is best to fry fish in! Mind you, while we’re at it, can you tell me if using Shell oil will improve the taste at all?”

The pressure (cooker) was clearly too much and subsequently Waitrose decided not to put its products in more Shell garages.

A spokesperson from the supermarket with a green-striped logo (which somehow seems significant) said later: “We no longer sell petrol having handed over our thirteen filling stations to Shell. We also sell Waitrose products in two other kiosks on Shell forecourts – we do not plan to increase this number next year.”

Game, set, match for the campaign group. Although maybe not for the amateur cooks looking for tips from the Queen of Christmas.

Whether it was linked to Greenpeace or not, another cook nearly got the same Baked Alaska treatment in an online Q&A too. In a Christmas session on the Guardian’s website Nigella Lawson was asked by one cheeky commenter: “Hi Nigella, Please can you serve up a lesson in climate science to your Dad for Christmas.”

Thankfully for the sultry, spoon-sucking Nigella, the Guardian’s thought-police were on hand to save her parental blushes and the comment was gone in hours. Wonder who’ll be next to roux the day they ventured online to give cookery advice?

Perhaps Heston Blumenthal will be uncovered as a mastermind behind the tar sands oil extraction in Canada – which recently caused a storm when a flush of ducks settling on a tar sands waste pond drowned. In which case it would be watch out, Heston. The Fat Duck’s website would be an easy target for the Arctic’s online defence team.