Thursday 26 July 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:

Monday 23 July 2018

Slave-free sugar

This post has been moved to the Just Kai website.  Further updates will be posted there.

To see how we avoid supporting those who enslave others when we purchase other goods, see my main post on shopping for human rights.

Last updated 11/5/19

Sugar is one of the five highest-value categories of goods likely to have been produced by forced labour (the others are cocoa, computers and electronics, clothing and fish and seafood).  The US Department of Labour reports that forced labour is used in the sugar industries of Brazil, Burma, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Pakistan; and that child labour is used in the sugar industries of Turkey, Panama, Burma, Paraguay, Cambodia, Phillipines, Colombia, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Uganda, El Salvador, Vietnam, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Belize, Mexico, Boliva.

That's not something I want to support, but until recently I've been unsure how to avoid it.  However, I've recently learned that Countdown own-brand sugar is Bonsucro certified.  This is an independently audited certification that ensures the sugar farms and mills are free of child and slave labour.  That's what we'll be buying from now on!

The Countdown sugar range includes white sugar (in 1.5kg, 3kg and 5kg bags) as well as brown sugar, raw sugar, icing sugar and caster sugar.  Slave-free muscovado and golden granulated sugar is also available from Trade Aid; demerera sugar that is likely to be slave free (but uses a small certification I'm not really sure of the reliability of) is available from Ceres Organics.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

The Mission of God's People

The Langham Partnership is currently promoting an online course taught by their international director, Chris Wright.  It looks really interesting.  It's called "The Mission of God's People" and considers the work 'regular' Christians (who aren't missionaries) are called by God to do.  Some similar issues are looked at in Why You're Here by John G. Stackhouse Jr. (recently reviewed by Martin on this blog).

(I couldn't get the promotional video to embed, but clicking on the image will take you to a page where you can play it!)

If that sounds interesting to you, read more about it (or sign up) here.  It's a self-paced course with 15 modules that you can do whenever suits you.  It costs US$120 (or US$100 if you sign up by 3/8/18) and that gives you access to the material for a year.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Bear Cam

In recent days I have been very much enjoying watching bear cam - a live stream of Brooks Falls in Alaska where brown bears are eating their fill of leaping salmon.  It's stunning!
Eight bears fishing the main falls yesterday.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Buying fish for human rights: tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel

This post has been moved to the Just Kai website.  Further updates will be posted there.

This is the second post of a series on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover salmon and pet food with fish in.

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.

Unlike salmon, the fish I'm considering here are mostly deepwater fish caught offshore or on the high seas, although some sardines are caught on-shore.  Deepwater fisheries provide ideal conditions for forced labour as the fishing boats are often at sea for very long periods of time and workers can't get away.  Slavery, harsh beatings, rape and even murder are disturbingly common on such boats.  In addition, much of this fish is canned in countries where labour laws are poorly policed: child and forced labour occur frequently in fish processing factories.  You can't even be confident that tinned fish caught in New Zealand waters is caught and processed without such abuses: there are no fish canneries in New Zealand so all our fish is canned overseas, and there have been a number of cases of slavery on deep sea fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters.

If you want to buy tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel without supporting such things, I have good news!  After extensive research I have identified companies selling tinned tuna and sardines in New Zealand that are taking these issues seriously and from whom you can buy in confidence :-)

Here's how you can buy tinned tuna sardines and mackerel whilst supporting the human rights of those who produce it:
  1. To buy tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel that provides employment to people in low income countries, you should buy tuna and mackerel rather than sardines (which are generally caught and canned in higher income countries);
  2. To buy such fish produced under the best labour conditions available, you  should buy from Sealord;
  3. To avoid supporting child or slave labour, you should buy brands from as high as possible on the following table:
Download as a pdf to take with you when you shop.
Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.