Archives for posts with tag: Fairtrade

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 01.33.24.jpgIf you are interested in the culture, politics, ecology and economy of food in Palestine, may I recommend FoodJusticePalestine, a quite remarkable website curating diverse articles and voices from around the web on many aspects of eating and growing there.

Had I been following this site earlier, I might have been aware, for example, of the neoliberal trade context that makes Nutella a normal part of life in occupied territories, despite an initial dismay, elucidated for me by Aisha Mansour in this article. I’ve also come to question my own assumed unequivocal support of fairtrade products from Palestine, a movement that is well intentioned (and so much about solidarity) but needs to be examined in terms of issues of food sovereignty at the broadest levels.

“International fair-trade companies have also decreased Palestinian self-sufficiency. These companies offer local farmers a slightly higher price for their products than the price in the local market, but the real price of this practice is that high-quality local (baladi) produce is removed from the local market and sold to the global market at much higher prices. This has increased inequalities in Palestinian society, creating a minority of wealthy businesspeople, and leaving an entire population with low quality, imported food.”

There’s much more on this Tumblr site – articles about foodways, Permaculture, trade deals, land rights and more.  In fact it brings together so many aspects of how and why food is interesting to me.  So I wanted to share it on my blog.  Have a look and fall into a rabbit hole of fascination…  You don’t need to join Tumblr to view, but joining means you can follow people and ‘scapbook’ your own posts.


We Are Not Numbers is a project of Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights and seeks to give young writers in Gaza a platform to broadcast their voices.  I contacted them to offer my blog to share food-related posts, knowing food sustainability and sovereignty to be so multifaceted and challenging in Gaza and Palestine in general, from the brilliant book The Gaza Kitchen, discussed here.  WANN’s director, Pam Bailey, responded, yes please, and would I like as well to be a mentor to two young women, both 19, both university students, coaching and encouraging them on their writing?  Though I don’t think of myself as a writer, I do think of myself as a friendly, helpful person, and so I agreed– and “chatting” with them on line, corresponding, reading their work, commenting, learning about their lives, has become a real joy in my life.  I am truly impressed by their intelligence, depth, humour, and capacity to read, write and communicate in English as a language of study.

Hey, if you can, please contribute to this fund to support a modicum of payment for the marvellous journalism and reflections of all the young writers working with WANN. 🙂

This here is a piece by Hasna Abu Ewaida, describing her favourite dish, her mother’s hand-and love-crafted Maftoul, which she wakes at 5am to make!  It’s a thrilling, detailed description of the crafting of a meal in the context of culture and family. I would love to eat it, though I confess I’ve already bought myself a pack of Zaytoun Maftoul which if you live in the UK you can find in fair-trade and small food shops


This is Gaza Too: Behind the Rubble and Mayhem, Food that Feeds the Soul by Hasna Abu Awed

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Enjoy and share this great little film showing a vision, in eight principles, of Sustainable Food. The film looks at what people are doing in Manchester in the UK, but it’s all relevant in many parts of the world.  The principles hopefully feel familiar– hooray!– and put together, make an inspiring manifesto, with lots of interconnections between the categories:

Local and Seasonal

Organic for Low-Carbon, Oil Independence and Soil Health

Cut Waste and Packaging

Less Meat and Dairy

Stop Eating At-Risk Fish for Marine Habitats

Fair Trade

Health and Well-Being for All

Food Democracy for Local Economies and all Stakeholders


And check out the Kindling Trust.


“Gaza death toll rises above 200, Israel suffers first casualty.”  That’s the first news that comes up on my screen. Pretty awful times in Palestine and Israel too right now, the airstrikes and deaths and destruction, and the terrible racist rhetoric, and lots of violence against anti-occupation Jewish activists as well.  And the sirens and anxiety in Israel itself.

Peaceful people watching this situation are anguished — ones who can imagine different scenarios of justice and resolution and a politics that recognises multiple points of view.  Might does not make Right.  But Might can demand an echoing vengeance of trauma through generations, through the souls of people who lose loved ones, family, friends, properties, trees, gardens, homes– and turn that despair into revenge and rage, or not.

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We have a family joke that cracks us up every year. We eat the children’s chocolates and replace brussel sprouts in the golden wrappers. One year my ingenious husband decided to wrap the chocolates reverse-ways, in the leaves of the sprouts which he’d carefully unfurled.  We gave those to the kids.  This is the merriment we create– HO HO HO.

Last year the prank stopped feeling quite as amusing when I began to contemplate child slavery in the cocoa trade, and realised Ferrero Rocher lacks Fair Trade or anti-slavery certification. Quite effectively petitioned by internet activitists, via Change.Org, the company Ferrero SpA has committed itself to  ensure the end of child slavery in its supply chains by 2020. (Read about it here )

2020?  2020?  Surely change can happen more quickly then this, even within the mega-complicated worlds of international agribusiness.  7 years from now, 8 years from the date of the petition– that’s so many childhoods stolen by trafficking and poverty and 16 hour days and beatings and all the horrors– and yes I know children in other parts of the world have to work and I’m not romanticising “childhood” but I do insist that equitable “development” seeks education and social justice as foundations for the hopes of the future.  And when we are talking about the pleasures and magic I seek to give my own children, as their own childhoods, it somehow matters all the more.  7 years: do we let this company off the hook for now, because it states a good intention?  That’s a question– I’m open to hearing interesting opinions.

Here’s a website that discusses lots of the issues around chocolate

So what should we do?  The mega business also produces Nutella about which today I saw a great and shocking graphic

There is so much politics in that map, between countries, labour markets, eco-systems, futures, commodities trading….  Looking at that map I mentally enquired about their relationship to palm oil, such a troubling ingredient in the unfolding story of processed foods, rain forests, climate change, agribusiness…  Apparantly Ferrero is a strong supporter of “sustainable palm oil”; whether this is a total corporate greenwash kind of notion I need to find out. (Readers, please advise!)  In fact, I realise there’s so much I need to learn about palm oil.

I know that all over the internet there are recipes for DIY Nutella, hazelnut spreads, chocolate spreads, raw cocoa spreads, all kinds of deliciousness that one could investigate while keeping a more ethical control over ingredients.  I could even forage cobnuts as the hazel , or acorns to substitute, for goodness sake, and and do a local-foraged-seasonal version!   I am currently contemplating whether I should try to make my own Ferrero Rocher bonbons to wrap in Brussel Sprout leaves. The exercise becomes rather elaborate, and maybe some of the humour gets lost.  I know we environmentalists (along with feminists) are accused of being humourless, and I see this happening in this very blog post!  Oh Friends, help me, it’s all so complicated….

a PS several days later– I’ve discovered a new blog, which I love, and he’s got a homemade Nutella recipe, and this is the one I will try first if I ever decide to give it a go:

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