Posts Tagged ‘Malawi’

Rushmoor Fairtrade meeting

June 18, 2015
Fairtrade meeting Rushmoor

Fairtrade meeting Rushmoor

A film on Fairtrade, a brief presentation by schoolchildren on their work on Fairtrade, and a quiz.

The film showed tea pickers in Malawi, the difference Fairtrade made to their lives, a fairer price for their tea, and a premium to be paid for community projects.

The film begged more questions than it gave answers. Why was the focus not on food sovereignty? They should be growing food, cash crops for extras. Cash crops simply brings villagers into the cash economy, where they are the guaranteed losers, as it is global commodity market not workers that determine price. One of the workers said, she could barely afford maize (which is their staple diet). Why therefore were they not growing maize?

Fairtrade is now somewhat dated. Yes, it was useful for raising awareness, and yes it can be a useful big stick with which to beat the likes of Starbucks and Costa, but beyond that no.

Many coffee roasters I speak to will not touch Fairtrade. They find it adds to their overheads, is very bureaucratic, and the organisation is a nightmare to deal with.

Quality coffee roasters are interested in quality. It is what their reputation rests upon. They prefer to deal with the growers direct, determine the conditions, set higher standards than the minimum set by Fairtrade.

The schoolchildren have only been working on Fairtrade for four months, and already are looking at sourcing a Fairtrade top as part of their school uniform.

I had chat with them. I said a must organic cotton, as cotton a very dirty, water and chemical intensive crop, the cotton unbleached.

Where are the tops produced? Suggested check out Labour Behind the Label. Also industry regulator Fair Wear Foundation who are on the ground checking out the factories.

I mentioned Russell Brand and how he had had his fingers burnt, he sourced what he thought was ethical t-shirts and sweatshirts from Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, only to be the subject of an expose in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

The look of the top not good. There are better designs. Check out Stanley & Stella for their design of tops. They will find far better approval by the schoolchildren as far more stylish and looks good.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops.

The schoolchildren and the film reminded me of schoolgirl Martha Payne who raised the money for a school kitchen in Malawi.

The quiz went on for ever, far too long.

Money raised for Nepal earthquake victims. It will go to DEC, but I would question this. Red Cross had a bad reputation in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and an even worse reputation in Haiti following an earthquake. All of which does not bode well for Nepal.

It would be far far better the money goes direct to a local group working in Nepal.

When Abari arrived in Dhawa, they found the school they had built was one of the few buildings that has survived.

Abari is a socially and environmentally committed research, design and construction firm that examines, encourages, and celebrates the vernacular architectural tradition of Nepal. As Nepal posses sophisticated traditional knowledge of natural materials like adobes, bamboos, stones and reed, Abari as a research and design firm tries to promulgate these materials into contemporary design practices.

Abari has put all its projects on hold whilst it focuses on disaster relief, but they also show where the future lies.

There is a risk the money going through Abari, but it is a risk worth taking. Money on salaries, will go to local people, which is money going into the local economy at grass roots where it is most needed.

I sat through the meeting thinking, what was the point, why was I wasting my time.

Great, if you are a fan of pub quzzes (I am not).

What did the meeting achieve apart from raising a little bit of money for Nepal (which may or may not be wisely spent)? Not a lot.

I was surprised the meeting was packed, as there was no publicity. Nothing on Rushmoor website, nothing on Triangle facebook page.

There are trade issues, and there is serious campaigning and lobbying needed.

TTIP is an affront to democracy, power transferred to global corporations, the ability in secret trade courts to quash environmental and labour laws if impinges on profit.

UK Aid is financing a carve up of Africa by Big Business.

85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.

Films to show.

Black Gold, a look at the coffee trade through the eyes of an Ethiopian farmer.

The True Cost looks at the fashion industry.

Read No Logo and This Changes Everything both by Naomi KleinRevolution by Russell Brand and The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho.

Any future Fairtrade meetings need to be far better publicized, bring people in off the street, make the meetings interesting, discuss real issues. Every decision we make should be an ethical one, if we buy something, do we really need it, or are we as Pope Francis would say, adding to a pile of filth?

The Fairtrade meeting, tinkering at the edges, a distraction, people buying a few Fairtrade biscuits, going way with the false impression they have done their bit.

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?

Martha Payne at Observer Food Monthly Awards 2012

October 21, 2012
Martha and her father all kitted out

Martha and her father all kitted out

Martha receiving award

Martha receiving award

Martha chatting with guests

Martha chatting with guests

Martha with John Whaite winner of Great British Bake Off

Martha with John Whaite winner of Great British Bake Off

award in pride of place above kitchen door

award in pride of place above kitchen door

I talked to so many people about Malawi and Mary’s Meals that I went to bed really late and fell asleep on a minister’s sofa in the Foreign Office on Friday. It was worth it though. I am home now and the plate is above my kitchen door. It is next to a mouse and a home made fish. I like it there. — Martha Payne

Martha Payne is a nine-year-old food blogger who writes the hugely successful NeverSeconds food blog.

Through her blog, which pathetic jobsworth at her local council tried to shut down, she has raised money for a kitchen in Malawi, Friends of NeverSeconds, which gives school children one free meal a day (an incentive to regularly attend school).

It has been a hectic three weeks for Martha.

With her family (mother and father, brother and sister) she travelled to Malawi where she inaugurated Friends of NeverSeconds and got a very warm welcome from the school children.

On her return, she was on the One Show with Jamie Oliver, was guest-of-honour at his London restaurant Union Jacks, paid a visit to the Foreign Office (where so tired she fell asleep on the Minister’s couch).

And to add to it all, she was invited to the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2012 where she was awarded the Best Food Blog. It would be difficult to think of a more deserving recipient. Well done Martha.

£120,000 for Mary’s Meals is a great achievement, but the view of Martha is

No it’s not great. There’s a lot more money out there in the whole world. I think we have to get some more.

Yes, £120,000 for one person to have raised by their blog is an amazing achievement, and something of which Martha should be proud. But she also recognises that there is a lot of money in the world, concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, whilst the rest of the world starves. In terms of hunger, it is a drop in the oceans, and we will not solve hunger through charity.

Food speculation: Food speculation is driving up food prices. WDM do a lot in this area.

Food waste: We waste a third of food produced, bad distribution, disease, poor storage, fickle standards by supermarket chains, waste in our homes.

Biofuels: If we use land to grow crops for biofuels the land is not being used to grow food.

Since the summer, Martha has invited guest bloggers to write on her blog. The latest is from India. She has also inspired others, often older than herself, to follow in her footsteps.

Next month, she and her father David Payne will publish a book telling the story of NeverSeconds. Monies raised will go to Mary’s Meals and provide more money for school dinners for poor school children who otherwise may not go to school.

Martha, Meals and Malawi

October 19, 2012
NeverSeconds Martha Payne carrying water in Malawi

NeverSeconds Martha Payne carrying water in Malawi

 finishing the sign

finishing the sign

Martha Payne is a nine-year-old food blogger who makes more intelligent comments on food than most adults, her food blog is one of the best food blogs around. Endorsed by chef Jamie Oliver.

Maybe that is why useless jobsworths at her local tried to close down her blog.

She used her blog to raise money for a food kitchen in Malawi called Friends of NeverSeconds.

She was invited to Malawi to inaugurate the kitchen.

On her return to England, she was a guest on the One Show with Jamie Oliver, later that evening she was guest of honour at his restaurant in London, Union Jacks.

BBC is a public Service broadcaster, paid for out of taxation. Sometimes they appear to forget the meaning of the words ‘public service’.

A documentary of her trip, Martha, Meals and Malawi, was broadcast by the BBC, but only on BBC Scotland. It and the One Show were available on-line, but only for seven days and only accessible from the UK.

Martha and Jamie on the One Show

October 17, 2012
Martha and Jamie on the  One Show

Martha and Jamie on the One Show

NeverSeconds Martha Payne carrying water in Malawi

NeverSeconds Martha Payne carrying water in Malawi

Just asked Martha what she enjoyed most at One Show. “When Jamie Oliver produced a photo of me and asked for my autograph!” she grinned. – David Payne, father of Martha

The One Show is a tacky TV programme on BBC One, presenters with plastic smile, patronising and condescending the the audience, makes my skin crawl. Not a programme I would normally choose to watch, but very very occasionally it is worth watching.

One such evening a couple of nights ago was when Jamie Oliver and Martha Payne were guests on the One Show.

Few people can have done more than chef Jamie Oliver to raise awareness of the rubbish schools are feeding kids. All his hard work has systematically been undone by the ConDem government. Dogs have higher standards than kids have for school dinners.

But as Jamie says, the ConDem government will not be around for much longer, whereas he will still be around.

Kids only get one chance. There is a disconnect in the brains of parents who take their children to eat at McDonald’s. We have an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Lessons are not being learnt. In the USA, an explosion in childhood obesity followed a relaxation of the standards for school meals, a relaxation of physical exercise, and to make matters even worse, many schools are granting fast food outlets concessions to operate on school premises.

The London 2012 Olympics was sponsored by Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s. What message did that send out to children, an Olympics that was supposed to leave a sporting legacy (though no one has yet to see any evidence of this sporting legacy).

Children need good nutrition when at school (for kids from poor and/or dysfunctional families, it may be the only decent meal they get). Kids need to learn about food, how it is grown, how it is prepared, these are basic life skills.

If anyone has done even more than Jamie Oliver to raise food awareness, it is nine-year-old Martha Payne and her food blog NeverSeconds, a blog pathetic jobsworh at her local council tried to shut down.

Since the summer, NeverSeconds has had guest blogs from schoolchildren from around the world.

Martha has recently returned from Malawi, where she opened a school kitchen called Friends of NeverSeconds. It was Martha, through her blog, who raised the funds for Friends of NeverSeconds.

Martha has been nominated for the Derek Cooper food award. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient and was pleased to have been one of those who nominated her.

Martha does not just write her blog, she also works on the family smallholding, and she knows how to cook.

BBC once again shoots itself in the foot. This programme is only available on-line until 22 October 2012. Hopefully some kind soul will upload to youtube.

On the One Show says Martha in Malawi on BBC Scotland on iPlayer, but fails to provide a link. Why only Scotland?

Luckily Martha provided a link on her blog.

The Malawi trip is also only going to be on-line until 22 October 2012. What is wrong with the BBC?

Following their appearance on the One Show, they went to eat at Union Jacks, a restaurant owned by Jamie Oliver.

Food Blogger Martha Payne nominated for Great Scot Award and a trip planed to Malawi

August 2, 2012
NeverSeconds Great Scot Award nomination

NeverSeconds Great Scot Award nomination

It’s been a great week. At last I can tell you that I have been nominated for the Great Scot Award this year!  — Martha Payne

Martha Payne aka Veg who writes the excellent food blog NeverSeconds has been nominated for a Great Scott Award.

It’s been a great week. At last I can tell you that I have been nominated for the Great Scot Award this year! A really nice lady came with her cameras and took lots of photos. I had my Mary’s Meal t-shirt on and my Mary’s Meals mug with me. I don’t know who nominated me but I think it’s really for everyone that has supported Mary’s Meals. I am visiting the Friends of NeverSeconds kitchen in Malawi when the ceremony takes place so if we win I can share the award with all the children. Fingers crossed.

It would be hard to think of anyone more deserving for the work she has done on raising food awareness around the world. She has also, with the help of her friends and supporters worldwide, seen off bully boys from her local council who tried to shut down her blog.

In September she will be going to Malawi to inaugurate the kitchen for which she with the help of her friends and supporters has raised over £110,000. The kitchen will be called Friends of NeverSeconds.

Not bad for a nine-year-old lass!

Cooking is a basic life skill that everyone should be taught. That together with from where does our food come.

It is often treated as a joke, that children do not know where food comes from, but sadly it is all too true.

Contrast Martha with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s as main sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics. With an epidemic of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, which these sponsors are helping to fuel, what message does it send out?

I have nominated Martha and NeverSeconds for the Food and Farming Awards, will you?

I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for the Derek Cooper Award than Martha and NeverSeconds as a writer who has raised awareness of food, especially with children, and raised more than £100,000 for a food kitchen in Malawi for schoolchildren, to be called Friends of NeverSeconds.

Martha Payne talks about NeverSeconds and Mary’s Kitchen

July 1, 2012
The girl who beat the bureaucrats

The girl who beat the bureaucrats

winner of prestigious Jamie Oliver food award

winner of prestigious Jamie Oliver food award

cooking porridge in Malawi

cooking porridge in Malawi

Martha Payne £100k raised for a kitchen in Malawi

Martha Payne £100k raised for a kitchen in Malawi

I am pleased to be able to report NeverSeconds has been awarded a prestigious food award from Jamie Oliver.

Congratulations Martha, it was well deserved.

Martha Payne is a nine-year-old primary school girl who writes NeverSeconds, a highly respected food blog about her school dinners. It is well-written, articulate, thoughtful and intelligent.

NeverSeconds is a delight to read.

A couple of weeks ago, worthless jobsworth at her local council acting like a bunch of playground bullies tried to close her blog down. Such was the public outcry they were forced to back down.

Martha has stimulated worldwide interest in food. At a time of increasing childhood obesity, when children are suffering type 2 diabetes (a disease usually associated with late middle age), when the food industry is peddling junk food aimed at children, then Martha is a breath of fresh air.

She has successfully improved the meals at her own school: better choice, bigger portions, more nutritious and appetising.

Martha does not just write about her school dinners. She invites comments from around the world. She has also raised over £100,000 for a kitchen for school children in Malawi. This will be called Friends of NeverSeconds.

To celebrate raising £100k, Martha held a Porridge Party, porridge being one of the staple foods in Malawi.

This lunchtime on the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 it was said writers of food blogs were now more influential than food writers. Though they did not mention NeverSeconds.

At the end of the programme they invited nominations for Food and Farming Awards. I have nominated Martha and NeverSeconds, will you?

I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for the Derek Cooper Award than Martha and NeverSeconds as a writer who has raised awareness of food, especially with children, and raised more than £100,000 for a food kitchen in Malawi for schoolchildren, to be called Friends of NeverSeconds.

Martha has become part of a much wider debate and network both locally and nationally. This can be seen in her support for Mary’s Kitchen in Malawi and the invite to guest bloggers whilst she is in holiday.

I have to say I am very impressed by her runner beans in the polytunnel. Mine popped out the ground then got eaten by slugs and snails.

Martha is now on her school holidays, starting with a camping trip. She has invited guest blogs whilst on her trips, but I am sure we will be hearing from her too.

No 1 Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Sunday 1 July 2012).