Archive for the ‘NeverSeconds’ Category

Child 31 – The Story of Mary’s Meals

November 18, 2013
Martha Payne and Jamie Oliver

Martha Payne and Jamie Oliver

I had never heard of Mary’s Meals, until Martha Payne wrote of Mary’s Meals on her excellent blog NeverSeconds, and through her blog, raised money for a school kitchen in Malawi.

Why a school kitchen is important, is that the children get fed one decent meal a day, and it encourages them to go to school.

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Vandana Shiva: “Seed, Food, Guts”

September 30, 2013

We’ve created an agriculture system of untasty and unhealthy food, and we consider it smart. — Vandana Shiva

In her presentation at MAD3, author, seed activist, and eco feminist Vandana Shiva described how decades ago she got the gut feeling that she needed to leave the world of physics (she has a PhD in quantum theory) to fight against industrialized and commodified food systems. Although she had published work on seed freedom early in her career, she felt that wouldn’t be enough. “If you’re serious and honest,” she says, “you can’t just analyze something.”

At the symposium, Shiva provided a dizzying array of data to describe how monocultures result in food that is both unhealthy and not nearly as tasty as it could be. “They claim that they are feeding the world,” said Shiva of those who push the Green Revolution, “but it is actually small farmers who account for 72 per cent of the world’s food.” She condemned companies like Monsanto for having the gall to patent seeds (“Patents are for inventions, not for life”), and described how pesticides and genetically modified foods harm both the land and the people that consume the crops.

She also alluded to the nefarious efforts some of these corporations have made to maintain the status quo, like pushing out scientists whose data doesn’t support their agenda, and charging royalties for seeds that can push farmers to the brink. To support the latter point, Shiva referenced the staggering suicide rates among farmers in India.

Perhaps because she was addressing an audience made up primarily of chefs, Shiva emphasized how being guided by deliciousness can actually help the problem. According to her, instead of deluding ourselves with the promise of things like Golden Rice, we should support indigenous agriculture so we have a world of diverse, unpolluted, and tastier foods to draw from.

Shiva called on chefs to note on their menus that they don’t serve genetically modified crops. Referring to her 40 years in the seed freedom, she said that chefs were actually among the first people to speak out against GMOs and patented seeds. “There has to be food freedom,” she said. “How can it be manipulated, how can it be poisoned?”

Thanks to Martha and David Payne and NeverSeconds.

Extracurricular Empowerment

September 11, 2013
school dinner

school dinner

Why bother, it won’t make a difference, they will take no notice?

How often do we hear that response as an excuse for doing nothing?

And yet, it is only through people taking a stand that has ever made a difference.

Martha Payne was only nine when she started her blog NeverSeconds on school diners. She wanted to write, her father Dave suggested she write a blog and why not write about her school dinners, as that is what she knew about.

When she posted her first blog post of what had been served at school, people were shocked at the disgusting meals that were being served at her school. Could you survive all day on this, Martha asked.

The first pic is from last week and the second from today. The pizza in the first pic was alright but I’d have enjoyed more than 1 croquet. I’m a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette. Do any of you think you could?

Her writing was thoughtful and insightful, she developed her own rating system, questioned how the food was produced and sourced, even took her own pictures.

Some doubters questioned that this could be the work of a nine-year-old Scottish schoolgirl.

The food was made to look even worse when she showed what was available worldwide, as her blog acquired an international readership.

The education authorities who should have showcased, how good was the education in Scotland, were not best pleased, how dare this girl question what we do?

She was bullied, her parents were bad-mouthed. But Martha stood firm. She questioned, they teach me how to think, then question when I do.

To date, those worthless jobsworths in the local council who bullied Martha are still in their jobs, neither she nor her family have received an apology.

Now ten years old, Martha is still active. She recently attended a food conference in Denmark, attended by seasoned campaigners like Vandana Shiva.

Malala is another who has been prepared to stand up and be counted. She demanded the rights of girls to an education. She paid the ultimate price, the Taliban put a bullet in her head and left her for dead. A miracle she survived. Last week she opened a library in Birmingham.

Failing bookshop chains

April 4, 2013
Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

It is easy to see why bookshop chains are failing.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen the Aleph farce and NeverSeconds farce, two potential best sellers not on display.

Last Thursday saw the official UK publication of the eagerly awaited Manuscript Found in Accra, in the US Tuesday of this week.

The publisher having failed to set an embargo (better than actually forgetting as they did with Aleph), Waterstone’s and a few indie bookshops stole a march and had it on sale, and on display. But why not on display in the window?

Today, I had junk e-mail from Waterstone’s, usually I delete unread, but today I had a glance. Books I must read for April. No mention of Manuscript Found in Accra. Same for junk e-mail about ten days ago. I daresay publishers pay for a mention, not based on merit.

Thursday of last week WHSmith had it on display at half price, if you looked hard enough, but not on display in the window, and if asked, the staff not a clue what asking for. One store had three copies, another two copies.

I even took the trouble to speak to the manager in one of the stores and point out he had an international best seller.

Tuesday, I visited WHSmith. One copy of Manuscript Found in Accra, that was after speaking to the store manager.

Today, same store, not a single copy!

I asked a member of staff. She wandered aimlessly around the store with me in tow. No we don’t have, I will get some one to look it up. No, it is out of stock.

I am then told they have deliveries on Thursdays. Today is Thursday. And? We have not opened it up yet. And when was the delivery? This morning. It is late afternoon. And you have not yet looked at the delivery? We were too busy. I look around the store and see it is empty, staff standing around like zombies. Does your computer system not tell you what was delivered? No.

No one had a clue what I was asking for.

I walk out of the store in disgust.

We have seen many High Street chains go bust. I am surprised Waterstone’s and WHSmith are not among them. Of the two, WHSmith is the worst. The staff seem to be Asda or Tesco rejects and know nothing about books, the shops are shabby as though in a pound shop.

Last week Manuscript Found in Accra was number 28 in their charts, this week, one week later, nowhere to be seen, I wonder why?

The publishers are to blame. Writers need to take a stand. Fine you may offer my book to a chain at a big discount, but you must offer the same discount to the indie bookshops. But having said that, many of the indie bookshops (if you can find any) are crap too. I rarely go in bookshops, they are depressing. Usually piled high with celebrity crap. A very rare exception is P&G Wells, an indie bookshop in the back streets of Winchester, a joy to visit, as bookshops used to be.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 in Barnes and Noble on day of publication. Maybe unlike WHSmith, they made it readily available.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 on Amazon. Which only goes to show the demand and where it could be in WHSmith if they got their act together and actually sold books!

Why bookshops are failing

April 3, 2013
Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Within a space of five years we lost a quarter of all our indie bookshops. The chains are faring little better.

It is easy to see why they are failing, and it is not the internet or Amazon which are simply scapegoats for bad practices, bad businesses acumen, and failure to know anything about books.

Independent bookshops are being put out of business because we do not operate in a level playing field. The chains Waterstone’s and WHSmith are offered massive discounts which are not available to the little guys, which enable the chains to offer books at anything up to 75% off.

But even with these massive discounts the chains are failing.

A couple of years ago we saw the Aleph fiasco. Walk into Waterstone’s they did not have it on display, the staff did not have clue what it was. A book by a leading author, an international best seller, and the staff did not have a clue, the shops did not have on display.

The same happened last year with NeverSeconds, by Martha and David Payne. There can be few books that has as much publicity, it was a potential Christmas best seller, it was launched in Waterstone’s in Glasgow, and yet lucky to find a copy in Waterstone’s, the staff did not have a clue, it was not on display.

Last Thursday, the eagerly awaited Manuscript Found in Accra was published. Another international best seller from an internationally acclaimed author.

Thanks to the publisher failing to set an embargo (at least better than Aleph where they actually forgot the book was published), Waterstone’s and a few indie bookshops stole a march on Amazon and not only put it on sale, but put it on display. But why not on display in the window? No mention in e-mails from Waterstone’s, that has been published, is in their bookshops.

Last week WHSmith had Manuscript Found in Accra on display in store (if you looked hard enough) at half price. But why not on display in the window and why so few copies? In one store three copies, in another store two copies. The day before publication they did not have a clue when I asked.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 in Barnes and Noble on day of publication. Maybe unlike WHSmith, they made it readily available.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 on Amazon. Which only goes to show the demand and where it could be in WHSmith if they got their act together and actually sold books!

Martha, Meals and Malawi (updated)

January 12, 2013

Over Christmas an updated version of Martha, Meals and Malawi was broadcast. They tacked on the end what had happened since the trip to Malawi, for example award from Liberty. It is a pity though the BBC did not extend the running time of the programme, as it meant something had to be edited out of the original programme.

Since the original broadcast of Martha, Meals and Malawi, has seen the publication of NeverSeconds, telling the behind the scenes story of NeverSeconds. Shame on Waterstone’s for not having NeverSeconds on display.

BBC Radio Scotland broadcast a half hour documentary.

Most end of year reviews featured Martha and her blog.

The year ended with NeverSeconds clocking up over nine million hits.

To date, Argyll and Bute Council that thought it ok to bully a nine-year-old schoolgirl, to smear a decent family, has yet to apologise.

Not a single copy of NeverSeconds in Waterstone’s

January 8, 2013
Waterstones Lincoln High Street

Waterstones Lincoln High Street

Two Waterstone’s in Lincoln, one in the market area in the old Corn Exchange, the other in the High Street.

Waterstone’s in the High Street no NeverSeconds on the shelves.

I asked, girl no idea NeverSeconds. Checked on the system, the one and only NeverSeconds they had in stock had been sold some days ago. She may have said 27 December, but I cannot be sure.

As she was quite helpfully, I explained NeverSeconds, that what was only on display was in the main celebrity garbage, Waterstone’s was a disgrace as a bookshop, and soon the chain would go under.

She did not disagree, said she was ashamed at having to walk past the rubbish on display, more suited to shelves of a supermarket, it was dictated centrally. I guessed she was former Ottaker’s (the rival book chain Waterstone’s bought and destroyed) where they decided what to order.

NeverSeconds grabbed her interest, and she said she would check it out.

She also checked other Waterstone’s. It was the same picture in most shops with a few rare exceptions, a single copy of NeverSeconds.

This has been my experience too, not on display, not a clue.

There has to be something very seriously wrong with what masquerades as a chain of bookshops (in reality a chain that sells books) and fails to have on display a potential best seller.

At the end of last year, the food blog NeverSeconds passed nine million hits, it featured with Martha Payne on most end of year reviews, but Waterstone’s does not have a single copy in stock, let alone NeverSeconds on display!

Over Christmas, BBC broadcast an updated edition of Martha, Meals and Malawi.

During the year, Martha picked up numerous awards, including Campaigner of the Year on Freedom of Expression from Liberty.

Together with her father David, Martha co-authored NeverSeconds, which tells the story of her blog, standing firm against the bully-boys at her local council, the trip to Malawi. For each copy of NeverSeconds sold, 25 meals for Mary’s Meals.

Thanks to the generosity of Cargo Publishing it is possible to download NeverSeconds for 99p.

NeverSeconds is for 12 days available for download from Amazon at 99p. Double good news, it will still pay for 25 dinners in Africa.

NeverSeconds exceeds nine million hits

December 31, 2012
Martha's younger sister playing with the kids

Martha’s younger sister Polly playing with the kids

Martha relaxing after handing out backpacks

Martha relaxing after handing out backpacks

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

Martha is such an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a difference. She’s a true hero. — Jamie Oliver

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. — Paulo Coelho

An amazing year for Martha Payne, who who eight months ago as a nine-year old Scottish schoolgirl set up a food blog to rate her school dinners. Little did she know what the year would bring.

Although she set up her blog NeverSeconds at the end of April, her first real post was early May. That first entry saw over 35,000 visits to her blog.

A blog that was well written, thoughtful. Something for everyone to be proud of. Not though Argyll and Bute Council. Instead of highlighting her as an example of the high standard of education in Scotland, they lied, they smeared the family and bully-boys at the council tried to shut her blog down.

They picked on the wrong person. Martha stood firm. She was honoured by Liberty for standing up for free speech.

Argyll and Bute Council have still to apologise for bullying a nine-year-old schoolgirl, for lying, for smearing a decent family.

Not content with writing about her school dinners she shared her blog with others. She invited schoolchildren from around the world to write guest blogs. When they did, they only served to emphasise how disgusting were the school dinners in Scotland. She inspired others to write blogs, to campaign for better conditions in their schools. She used her bog to raise money via Mary’s Meals for schoolchildren in Malawi.

Martha was invited to Malawi to inaugurate a school kitchen for which she had raised the money. She and her family travelled to Malawi.

With her father David, Martha has co-authored a book NeverSeconds which documents her eventful year. For each copy sold, 25 meals for Malawi.

Shame on Waterstone’s, a disgrace as a bookshop chain, better described as a chain that sells books, for failing to have NeverSeconds on display, whose staff have not a clue.

Martha is not the only person to be treated in a disgraceful manner by Waterstone’s. Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho got the same treatment last year when he released Aleph.

Martha has featured in most of the year end reviews for 2012.

As the year draws to a close, Cargo Publishing are to be praised for their generosity in making NeverSeconds available for download at 99p. In reality this is a donation of 25 meals to Malawi with a free copy of NeverSeconds.

As the minutes drain away from the final hours of 2012, what better way to thank Martha than to see her blog pass nine million visits.

Martha is the good news story of 2012. Please tell all your friends.

Well done Martha. We are all very proud of you. Every award you received during the year was well and truly deserved.

Never let it be said one person cannot achieve a lot. This is what Martha achieved in 2012. What are you going to achieve in 2013?

NeverSeconds: Argyll and Bute Council yet to apologise

December 31, 2012
Sally Loudon, the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council not in talkative mood in Oban Times

Sally Loudon, the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council not in talkative mood in Oban Times

Argyll and Bute Council tried to bully a nine-year-old schoolgirl. Luckily she was made of sterner stuff and stood her ground.

Sally Loudon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, should resign for coordinating abuse of Martha and her family.

Questions Sally Loudon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, has yet to answer:

Not only a bunch of liars, cowards too.

A Freedom of Information served on Argyll and Bute Council would be quite revealing.

There needs to be an in-depth independent investigation of Argyll and Bute Council, heads should roll.

It must be their idea of a sick joke, on the front of their website: Realising our potential together.

Martha and her family had high media profile, powerful backers, Martha was prepared to stand firm against the bully-boys and liars at Argyll and Bute Council. Pause and reflect how others less able to defend themselves are treated by this dishonest and rotten council.

NeverSeconds, co-authored by Martha and David Payne, provides a detailed account of how they were treated by Argyll and Bute Council. Thanks to the generosity of Cargo Publishing, it is currently available for download from Amazon at 99p. Each copy downloaded, 25 meals for schoolchildren in Africa, via Mary’s Meals.

You may wish to tell Argyll and Bute Council what you think of their appalling behavaviour, why they think it is ok to behave in this manner, pose a few questions …

You may also wish to contact Roddy McCuish, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, and ask him was it OK the behaviour of his council officials, blatantly lying, bullying a nine-year-old schoolgirl, smearing a decent family …

Download NeverSeconds for 99p

December 30, 2012

Technically, Cargo lose money on each sold today. We don’t care, not when 25 kids get a meal with each one. — Cargo Publishing

Thanks to the generosity of Cargo Publishing it is possible to download NeverSeconds for 99p.

NeverSeconds is for 12 days available for download from Amazon at 99p. Double good news, it will still pay for 25 dinners in Africa.

NeverSeconds co-authored by Martha and David Payne, is the story behind the food blog NeverSeconds.

For each copy of NeverSeconds sold, a donation of 25 meals to Mary’s Meals to feed 25 schoolchildren in Africa.

Pay Your Taxes by Asher Gowan is available for free download from Amazon until 1 January 2013.

Get downloading, pass to your friends, let’s get NeverSeconds and Pay Your Taxes into the Top Two places on Amazon.

Amazon e-book download is a propriety format. Download and install Calibre to manage e-books, which can also be used to convert format to ePub format which is an Open Source non-propriety format used by e-readers such as Kobo.