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.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1o-LjrNFWOrPwH7dkQIMZ_fYDMvtnkBhs
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)
Read-on to learn why I came to these conclusions.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A lovely weekend :-)

Martin and I took the weekend 'off' this weekend to just hang out with each other with no 'have tos'.  It was lovely, although I'm pretty knackered this morning!

We had lots of yummy food to nibble on through the weekend.  Martin bought French cheeses, salami, macarons, canelés and tarts from Pyrénées, the French deli in Mt. Albert, and I made a Zopf.  I'm still so happy that we bought a beater with a dough hook some years ago - it's lovely to be able to make bread without my weakness getting in the way :-)

Zopf - a Swiss bread traditionally eaten for Sunday breakfast.  The name is the German word for a plait.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Love Mercy

A friend asked me to record a short video on what 'love mercy' means in my own life for her to use in a sermon on Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

The sermon has unfortunately needed to be postponed, but I thought I'd share what I came up with here:


Friday, August 17, 2018

An Amish puzzle ball

I've had fun making an Amish 'puzzle ball' for some neighbours who've recently had a baby.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Investments that support human rights

I've written a lot over the years about shopping for human rights.  How we buy creates the world in which our global neighbours live, so being mindful in this area is an important means to love our neighbours.

Perhaps a bigger factor in many of our global neighbours' lives though, is the companies in their neighbourhood.  Those companies have a big say in the conditions under which our neighbours work, how polluted their local environment is etc.  The larger of those companies are generally owned by people in high-income countries, many of whom don't know the first thing about what they get up to.  Most of us in high-income countries invest in aggregated funds (which in turn invest in actual companies) meaning that we generally don't even know the names of the companies we part-own.  Through these indirect investments many of us are unwittingly benefiting from some pretty dreadful practices.

Fortunately you can avoid this trap by seeking out investment funds that exclude or include companies based on ethical criteria.  A while back I blogged about Kiwisaver schemes that do this.  Martin and I now have other money to invest and have been investigating what options there are outside the Kiwisaver framework.  In priority order, we've been looking for:
  1. funds that only invest in companies which protect the human rights of people throughout their supply chain.  At a minimum we are looking for funds that don't invest in companies that use forced or child labour or buy from those who do; ideally we'd like them to invest in companies that pay a living wage and providing a safe working environment;
  2. funds that preferentially invest in companies that are making a positive difference in the world (social enterprises, companies that practise in sustainable ways etc.);
  3. funds that invested in companies in lower-income countries where investment capital is hard to find.
Do such funds exist?  Yes!  We couldn't find any funds that met all three criteria, but there are a number doing the first two :-)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Making an ice cream recipe vegan

There are a few vegans in my life and I enjoy making ice cream so I've been on a quest to learn how to make vegan ice cream.

Most recipes on the internet seem to be one of the following:
  • based on banana;
  • based on coconut milk;
  • based on cashew nuts.
The first two have the draw-back that your 'creaminess' comes from an ingredient with a strong flavour of its own.  That's often fine, but sometimes you want chocolate ice cream that's just chocolate, not chocolate-and-banana or chocolate-and-coconut.  And cashew ice cream relies on straining thinned-down cashew butter through cloth, which is pretty hard work!  I wondered if I could do better...

Cream and milk are just mixes of fat, water and protein with a smidge of emulsifier to hold them together; egg yolk is fat and water with lots of emulsifier and the kindof proteins that thicken nicely on heating.  Could I make vegan substitutes by simply mixing vegan fats, water, protein and emulsifiers in similar proportions?  Turns out I could and the results were great!

vegan rose geranium ice cream, vegan chocolate ice cream and vegan vanilla gelato :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A lovely weekend

Last weekend was our regular six-weekly 'quiet weekend' where we try to clear the calendar of obligations and relax and do nothing in particular :-)  It was lovely.  Martin ended up spending a lot of the time baking - as well as pikelets for Saturday morning tea, he made bitter chocolate cookies for afternoon tea: