Sunday, October 21, 2018

In God's strength

I have been so busy recently.  My existence is usually a fairly quiet one, but this year there's been so much that's outward-facing.  I've spent a lot of time on my fish project and have become more active on Facebook, both in supporting friends and in advocating for issues important to me.  In recent weeks my life has been consumed by work on Just Kai.

As the busyness has increased I've felt an increasingly urgent tug to return to spiritual practises that had become neglected.

So this week I've resumed doing lectio divina each morning, focusing on one of the day's lectionary readings as before.  It's been so helpful!  I've realised I've been trying to do God's work in my own strength, and getting so stressed by it.  Such foolishness!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Introducing Just Kai

As you'll know from this blog, a major project for me this year has been researching different sectors of the retail fish industry, looking for brands that have taken significant steps to remove slavery from their supply chains.  In the process I've come across some pretty hideous stories of literal rape and murder, both of which seem scarily common.  I've learned that fish is the food purchased in rich countries that is at highest risk of having been produced by slave labour.  I've also come across some amazing companies who are really going the extra mile: working very hard to eliminate slavery from their supply chains, despite this being an issue with very little public awareness to date.  I have been especially impressed by the work of Sealord in this regard.

To pass on what I've learned, I've produced printable buying guides for both slave free fish for people (covering the sectors I've looked at so far) and slave free fish for pets (fish is found in a remarkably high proportion of pet food but can be invisible as it often isn't mentioned in the product name).  These are part of a very exciting project that has consumed a lot of our time in recent weeks: Just Kai.

Tearfund is hosting The Justice Conference in Auckland in two weeks time.  As 'Just Kai' Martin, along with our friends Anna and Sarah, will have a table there.  They will be advising people on how to buy fish, cocoa and sugar (the three foodstuffs most likely to have slave labour in their supply chains) without supporting slavery.   You can download a pdf summary of that advice here or check out the Just Kai website for more detail.  For cocoa and sugar they will be telling people to look for various trusted certifications; for fish the situation is more complicated as there are no human welfare certifications used on fish in New Zealand - for that, people will have to rely on my research.

So is your kai just? Or is it just kai?  Check out the website to see!

And if you expect to be in Auckland with no particular plans in two weeks time, why don't you consider signing up for the Justice Conference?  There's a wide range of speakers addressing a great many social justice issues, collectively bringing the challenge for us to join God in His work of making all things new!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Why I support Nestle

Around the world today countless people are being abused in the supply chains of large multinationals: either directly through their working conditions, or indirectly through the destruction of their environment.  If we want this to stop, it is crucial that we either support Nestle, or boycott multinationals altogether.  A selective Nestle-only boycott can do nothing but harm people who are current victims of the misbehaviour of large multinationals companies.

Why would I say such a thing?  After all in the 1970s Nestle actively foisted infant formula onto mums who had no access to clean water to make it up, convincing them it was modern and hence better than breastfeeding.  Tens of thousands of babies per year died from diaorrhea as a result.  There was a widespread boycott of Nestle products as a result.

But have you noticed what happened subsequently?  I've only discovered this relatively recently and have been really surprised by what I've learned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cricket meatballs

A while back Martin and I bought a bag of cricket flour: farmed crickets that have been freeze-dried and ground to powder.  We were keen to try cooking with crickets as they have lower carbon emissions than most other meat.*  However, we rapidly ran into problems.  There are zillions of recipes for using cricket powder to boost the protein content of snack foods, but very very few for using it to make actual meals.
* I wasn't able to find data on their emissions as such; however crickets have negligible direct emissions and eat the same food as chickens (which also have negligible direct emissions).  Crickets have a feed conversion rate of 1.7 (for chickens it's around 3.3) and crickets are 16% protein (source).  Crunching those numbers with our existing carbon emissions number for chicken (3.9kg CO2e /kg), and noting that my cricket powder is 60% protein, I estimate carbon emissions of 7.5kg CO2e/kg cricket powder.  Which sounds worse than the chicken until you remember that chicken is 25-30% protein (with most of the rest being water) while the cricket powder is double that.  So the emissions per gram of protein are about the same as chicken, but much better than any red meat.
We did find one that we liked (shitaake mushroom and cricket meatballs), which we did with both an Italian-style and a sweet and sour sauce. That inspired us to try our own meatball recipe.  We've done it a few times now and really like it :-)

Happy Birthday to me :-)

It was my birthday on Saturday.  We were staying at my parents' place and I had a few friends over for afternoon tea.

Sarah and Anna

Temi in her fabulous dress

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Things I'm enjoying looking at :-)

We have a wee raised area on the corner of the wheelchair ramp where I keep pots.  I'm particularly enjoying some of them right now.

A 'coral' manuka that I'm keeping in a pot until it's big enough for the flower garden.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Buying fish for human rights: pet food

This is the third post of a series on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover salmon and tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel.

Last year I blogged about how Martin and I try to shop in ways that support human rights.  We do that by:
  1. Preferentially buying things produced in low income countries;
  2. Buying things produced under the best labour conditions available;
  3. Trying not to buy things produced by child or forced labour.
The reasons behind these principles are explained in more detail here.

When buying fish-containing pet food, following these principles can be particularly challenging.

Firstly, you may not even realise the pet food you are buying contains fish.  Some cat and dog foods mention fish in the product name, but fish is an ingredient in many cat and dog foods that don't.  Regardless of the product name, the vast majority of fish food contains seafood of some kind, as does all turtle food and some food for other reptiles.  The only category that seems never to do so is small animal food.  If the product name mentions fish or other seafood, you can be confident it's there; if it doesn't, you can't be confident it's not unless you read the ingredients list.

Secondly, unlike human food, pet food often contains highly processed fish products like fish meal and fish oil.  Without careful checking by the company you cannot be confident such products are free of human rights abuses: there are many steps between the sea and the final product and most of these steps are known to use child and/or forced labour some of the time.  In addition, when named fish are used in pet food the most common choices are deep sea species such as tuna, mackerel and ocean whitefish: these are at very high risk for human rights abuses as boats are often out at sea for months or even years at a time and those on board can't escape if things go bad.

Working around all that may sound terribly complicated, but I have good news!  Several companies are working very hard to root human rights abuses out of their supply chains.  If you restrict your purchases to brands in the following chart you can be reasonably confident you're not supporting child or slave labour; and if you preferentially buy those brands circled in red you'll help provide good employment to people in low income countries.
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)
Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.