Sunday, 24 May 2015

Love Food, Hate Waste

I cannot bear to waste food.FACT.  Back when we lived more abundantly in America we were not as careful as we are now about food waste.  Food was bought and sometimes eaten and sometimes not. We threw away about half of it uneaten as it went off before we used it. You know what I am talking about--that limp lettuce or furry cucumber lurking in the back of the fridge. Who am I kidding? We didn't really eat vegetables back then.

Sad but true. Before going vegetarian and later vegan we ate lots of processed food and very little fresh. But the fresh food we did buy often did go off due to lack of interest. These days, we eat so much fresh fruit and veg (I eat vegetables that I never knew even existed! I adore foods that I once sneered at!) and because we are on a tight budget since moving to Cymru, I am super careful with my planning to make sure nothing goes off--that we get our money's worth and anything left (peelings and scraps) get composted. Later this week I plan on doing a retrospective of what we ate this week to show how food gets used up and how for a small amount of money each week we can eat really well.

But even if these days we are more aware of food waste, it is still being wasted. The website Love Food Hate Waste says an estimated 400 tonnes of household food and drink waste is produced every year in Wales, the majority of which is sent to a landfill. That's over 600 million pounds worth of good food and drink being wasted by Welsh customers every year. 

That's just for Wales and we are a tiny country. Just imagine what the food wastage is in a country as big as the United States.

It is not just household food waste that is worrisome. It is the food waste that happens when shops have perfectly good food that has reached it's sell by date but is still perfectly edible that they legally have to throw away. Some shops even pour bleach over the food in bins to discourage people from dumpster diving.   This is such a shame because there are people here and all over the country who are starving--who cannot makes ends meet under the Tory government austerity cuts. Parents who have children to feed and have to decide between food for their kids or heating their home in winter. According to the Trussell Trust over 900,000 adults and children have received help from a food bank in the last year. This is triple the number of people  who have needed the assistance of a  food bank from the previous year. And let's be honest--it is probably not going to get better with another five years of Tory government.

But what can we do? Well, for a start we can follow France's lead. The French National Assembly has passed legislation that states that French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed. 

That's a bloody brilliant idea. I plan on writing my MP about this idea to see if we can get it discussed in Parliament.

But you know what would really eliminate hunger?  Honestly? Going vegan.  You could feed the entire world on one-third of the farmland we currently use because most of the land is used for animal grazing or for growing food for livestock. But that's a story for another day.

May our goal for the future be that no one  in the world has to go to bed hungry when there is food that can be eaten.

Hat's off to France and may the rest of the world follow your example.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

And now back to your regularly scheduled post election coverage

I had written about our voting experience and my passionate beliefs about using your right to vote, but I hadn't followed it up with election results. it was just too painful and disappointing to talk about. I wanted to write about happy things like our Mysterious Benefactor. But it is time to face the music.

 Yeah, we are pretty gobsmacked at the election results--with all the vocal people who were so anti-Tory it was a real slap in the face to see Cameron re-elected.  It feels a bit like when George W Bush got a second term in office. We didn't see that coming either. We were living here when that happened and were so careful to order our overseas ballots so we could vote against him. It didn't help.

But my greatest worry at the moment is that our shining example of the Peter Principle Michael Gove (worst  Education Secretary *EVER*--he was removed and became Chief Whip for a bit) has just been moved to the position of Justice Secretary. Holy crap, the damage he could do. He screwed up our school system so badly. He is charged with scrapping the Human Right's Act and replacing it with British Bill of Rights. God help us all. Plus back in the 1990s when he was a journalist he was very in favour of bringing back hanging--and as (in) justice secretary he might try to do just that.

My other big worry is about the Trident Nuclear Weapons.  2016 is when the renewal of Trident comes up in Parliament.  The Tories are in favour of it. I am not. Weapons of mass destruction that we vow to never use which costs us billions of pounds a year seem a ridiculous expense when Britain is suffering under austerity measures and cuts made by Cameron in his last term. We need money for the NHS. We need money for schools. we need money to help people who are living below the poverty line. Since the Tories have been in power, food bank usage has risen over 200% in this country. Some of this has been from "creative" ways to raise money like the bedroom tax (where your housing benefit can be reduced if you have a spare bedroom. Child off away at college but comes home for breaks? Doesn't matter. Person disabled and all their equipment like wheelchair, breathing machines etc stored in extra bedroom? Doesn't matter). This has caused people already living at the poverty line to move into despair. There has been more than one instance where someone felt so hopeless that they could not pay their bills with their housing benefit cut that they committed suicide.

I have just signed a petition to let the government know we still feel strongly about Trident. The more people who get behind this issue, the more likely it is that decision makers will pay attention. Every name added to the petition takes it one step closer to succeeding.

You can go here if you want to sign it yourself:

Spread the word on Twitter and Facebook please.

Lastly, I am very concerned with the Conservative Party wanting to legalise fox hunting again. But this is a class issue. According to activist and legendary Queen guitarist Brian May, David Cameron "stands for privilege, for the continuation and acceleration in the difference between the extremely rich and the extremely poor."

May goes on to say, "it's beyond belief anyone can find pleasure in torturing animals to death. This government, they are basically fox hunters. Moreover, they are proud of it. People who are prepared to ride roughshod over animals are prepared to ride roughshod over people. They shouldn't be running the country."


But they are. So what can we do?

Protest. Show your displeasure. Sign petitions. Write your MP. Give a damn.

Will you do it with me?

edited to add: you might want to check out this excellent post about the election from Jack Monroe.


Monday, 11 May 2015

Mysterious Benefactor

Well, it seems we have a mysterious benefactor. It is a bit like in Charles Dickens' book Great Expectations.  If you have read it then you know that Pip receives money from a mysterious benefactor to allow him to go to London to learn to be a gentleman.  If you haven't read it then it is a bit like this Tom Gauld cartoon:
A few weeks ago my mother was approached at church by this mysterious benefactor (hereafter referred to as MB) who is someone who reads my blog and wanted to send us a little mad money as a treat. 

When I enquired as to who the MB might be, all my Mum would say was that the person wished to remain anonymous but was "an old friend" of ours. 

What does this mean? An old friend could be a longtime friend or an elderly friend--we have certainly had both in our lives. Some of my best friends have been in their 80s. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

MB kindly gave my Mum a cheque for $100 which my Mum kindly had transferred to our bank account which gave us 65 pounds which a perfect amount to help fund a trip we hope to take next month to Skomer Island where the puffins live! You can read about Skomer Island here:

So thank you MB whoever you are for your generous gift to make our lives better. 

Thanks for helping us to be able to have a bit of fun. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Fight for your right to (vote for a political) party

Cardiff on Bank Holiday Monday

Well, we did it. We voted this morning in the *pouring* rain. Rain in Wales? Seriously?


It was a particularly heavy rain for Wales which seems to often be in permanent drizzle mode.  We got soaked, but it was worth it.

Clearly, lots of people don't think it is. I think in the last general election only 60% of eligible voters turned out. That is 40% of people who could have had their say and didn't. (Just showing off my maths skills and the fact that I know my number bonds to 100) and those were perhaps some of the ones who later were very vocal about their dislike for the current government. I think people only earn the right to bitch about the situation if they have tried to do something about it.

I also feel very strongly that if you *can* vote, then you damn well *should*.  Particularly if you are a woman or a person of colour because our ancestors fought hard to give us this privilege. My mother remembers very clearly the time when African Americans were trying to get to the right to vote in Louisiana. The struggles and humiliations they had to endure to earn a right that was actually theirs. And as for women, the Suffrage movement was a hard victory. Many Suffragettes were jailed and force fed using a tube jammed down their throats and a funnel if they dared go on a hunger strike. They worked hard and endured humiliation and were repeatedly treated as not being clever enough to understand the voting system--only a man could do that. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. Well I for one am glad they did worry because I could not have voted today without their sacrifice. Women in the United States earned the right to vote in 1920, but British women had a harder struggle. Women over the age of 30 who were landowners earned the right to vote in 1918 but all women aged 21 or older regardless of social class did not earn the right  to vote until 1928. We owe them a great thanks.

I have a fond memory of walking with my parents down Twin Bridges Road (you had to walk in the ditch!) to get to Pop Holland Scout Hut so they could vote. I recall we had a special tote bag with the word VOTE in stars and stripes where we carried a picnic lunch. It was a huge adventure and i had just been reading about Susan B Anthony and was all fired up about my future right to vote. I can remember giving an impassioned speech about why voting is so important and my father saying he wished I would come and spark some life into his college students out at LSUA because they were all so disinterested  in politics. I wish he would have actually done it because I would have brought a soap box (well, an apple crate) and just given it my all.

So if you are one of my UK peeps--Go. Vote. Today. If you are one of my US peeps--when your time comes, you know what to do.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

It's not easy being green

Tomorrow is the big day.

Election day.

The General Election.

Sure, we have voted before since becoming British citizens. We have gone in with the little pencil like you get in miniature golf and the bit o' paper into the study carrel and put an X by the name of the candidate which made it seem like voting for prom queen.

But this is different. This election will determine who the Prime Minister will be.

This is important.

Our country has been run primarily by the Tories (Conservatives) for the last few years and frankly I am tired of the rich ole boys network that seems to reward the rich and punish the working poor. I am sick of a party who support hunting, battery cages for pheasants and wants to extend the badger cull  despite scientific evidence that proves that is not badgers that spread Bovine TB to cows but factory farming that spreads TB.

The problem is I struggle to find a party I can believe in. So far, out of the mainstream parties Labour was looking pretty good. I like Ed Miliband.  He is not slick or cool but I think that works in his favour. Our current PM David Cameron is an oily snake. It is refeshing to see someone like Miliband who is slightly awkward like the rest of us. I don't trust anyone who has an answer for everything and says it in a condescending tone of voice. 

So why am I not voting Labour?

I was all set to do it. To back a party that has an actual chance of winning. I liked that Labour opposes fox hunting, the badger cull and battery cages for pheasants as well as opposes a ban on wild animals in circuses. 

Then Miliband made his crucial mistake.

When discussing which parties he would NOT join in with to form a coalition in case none of the parties got a majority (which is what happened last time) he said under no circumstances would he join with the SNP (Scottish National Party)  because of their views on the Trident Missiles. The SNP wants to see them disbanded. They think spending billions of pounds each year on weapons of mass destruction that we will never use is a fool's game when schools and hospitals and everything else that has suffered cutbacks is crying out for funding.

This where he lost me.

I spent months knitting a metre square panel and joined it up with others at the Wool Against Weapons protest where people all over the world sent panels that were joined together to make a seven mile long pink scarf between two armaments factories. This matters to me and so I have to go with my gut.

It has to be Green.

 They say no to:
Corporate tax evasion
Benefits sanctions
Trident missiles
Nuclear power
GMO foods

They say yes to:
Local authority accountabilty
Affordable housing
Renewable energy
Investmetns in school and hospitals
Animal welfare
Renationalisation of railways

Am I throwing my vote away? Probably. But in the last general election only 60% of eligible voters even bothered to vote so if all those people who didn't vote voted Green they might have a chance.

But I can't in good conscience vote for Labour if they support trident missiles.

Polls are saying Labour is in the lead to win and I hope it is true because they are the best of the major parties even if I disagree with some of their values--if i can't have green I would prefer labour over Tory and don't get me started on UKIP.

But wouldn't the world be better if it was a little Greener?