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Blog Action Day: Food waste

16 Oct

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event which brings together bloggers all over the world to blog about the same global issue on the same day. This year it coincides with World Food Day, which aims to highlight poverty and hunger together with a call for less food waste and action to curb speculation on food commodities.

I have been thinking about the very issue of food waste for a while especially since working on the feature documentary PLANEAT with documentary king Christopher Hird . When I came across Tristram Stuart’s critically acclaimed Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal I could barley step foot in a supermarket or comprehend the impact of food production and consumption on the planet.

In 2009 Tristram with the dedicated work of volunteers and a range of organisations put together an incredible event, Feeding the 5,000 in London’s Trafalgar Square to show the real scale of the problems with our current food system and our domestic habits. Five thousands meals were prepared from food that would otherwise have been wasted because it was approaching its use-by-date, or which had been rejected on aesthetic grounds by supermarkets. I was at the event to take some pictures for the PLANEAT blog and my main memory except the queues of people in the snow was the shock of people saying, “What’s wrong with the food?” and then realising it would all normally be in a landfill. Have a read of some scary food waste facts on the website.

This year another Feeding the 5,000 will be held in a few weeks on the Friday 18th November, see you there.

Food waste is just one issue of many which can be changed through campaigning and taken into our own hands by choosing to grow our own food and source our food ethically in a society where we do have that luxury. For more on the impacts of food speculation have a look here and for some details of where to shop ethically in London have a read of Jellied Eel.


Bunting for all

6 Mar

It’s half way through Fairtrade Fortnight 2011, 28th Feb-13th March. The most frantic time in the calendar for The Foundation to promote the core messages at the forefront of this consumer movement which started over forty years ago, although only commercially launched in 1988 by Solidaridad.

The Fairtrade Foundation in the UK as we now know it (once 6 staff now over a 100) was officially established in 1992 by a mix of NGOs, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft and the World Development Movement. The first Fairtrade Fortnight was celebrated in 1995.

I have been very much involved in the last two, volunteering and working with The Fairtrade Foundation, Divine Chocolate, Cafe Direct and Ubuntu Cola, who are largely led by women. I am now more of an outsider, although still very much an advocate of fair and ethical trading within my personal life. A crucial aspect of the Fairtrade movement is the dedicated campaigners who are some of the most inspiring and determined individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. Without them this movement would be nothing.

This year the key focus is on cotton, the most common natural fibre in the world, which is primarlarly grown in West Africa. Celebs such as Emma Watson are pushing the ethical trading message with the launch of Fairtrade cotton ranges by People Tree and Topshop.

The core mechanic of this year’s fortnight is a Facebook based campaign ‘Show Off Your Label’ to increase the  visibility  of the label though sharing content, mainly through uploading fun images and encouraging your ‘friends’ to vote on them to increase awareness through online buzz . This is largely incentivized by a variety of prizes from Fairtrade licensees.

A key way to join in this year’s activities is to be part of the more offline activity to set a new word record by ‘Showing Off’ the Fairtrade label by creating the longest ever hand decorated Fairtrade cotton bunting.

This is happening all over the UK in homes, schools, universities, churches, offices and community groups.

The great thing about this movement is that you can become a part of the change just through the way you shop, whether it’s in your local supermarket or an independent shop. We’re all part of the solution. Happy bunting.

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