Thursday, 1 March 2012

Welsh Blooms

Somehow we've reached March already, although I'm sure it was New Year's Day only about a week ago. Today is St David's Day, and some would say it marks the start of spring, although I'm tempted to wait until the equinox in a few weeks time.

St David lived in the 6th century and was a Welsh Bishop. He travelled lots, visiting Jerusalem and Rome as well as setting up churches in France, England, Ireland and Wales. One of his most famous habits was his vegetarianism.

In modern culture we have more meat in our diets than ever before in history and the impact on our environment is showing with deforestation for beef ranches, grain being fed to animals rather than people and huge amounts of water and energy going into producing low cost meat. It's great to buy organic or local foods but if we keep eating meat every day we cannot live sustainably. So why not go veggie for St David's day and cook a meal with leeks in (St David's symbol) ? Or make a longer commitment by signing up to Meat Free Mondays, the campaign to go veggie at least one day a week. There are so many delicious vegetables and recipes out there that we should be celebrating, get creative and see what you can do when you free yourself from the meat-and-two-veg mindset.

St David's day is often celebrated by wearing badges of leeks or daffodils, the two welsh national symbols. The UK is the biggest grower of cut flower daffodils in the world and if you see them in shops they'll probably have been grown in our fields but there is a huge industry of imported flowers too.

Kenya's flower industry is growing 20% every year and thirty percent of all flowers grown in the country are exported to the UK. Around 55,000 people are directly employed by this industry while 2 million rely on it for their income. With more than half of Kenya's population living in poverty the flower industry has an important role in improving these statistics.

Since 2004 Fairtrade Kenyan flowers have been on in the UK and this certification provides decent wages, working conditions, the right to a trade union, no child labour and a safe and healthy working environment. As with all Fairtrade products prices include a premium of 10% which is used to support local communities, retraining projects and investments projects in local areas. The range of Fairtrade flowers on sale in the UK now has 75 licensed products including roses, lillies, carnations, lisianthus, ruscus and sunflowers. Over 83 million stems were sold back in 2007 which brings enormous help and support to those farmers and communities.

And finally my Fairtrade buy of the day is another Cadbury's product (bit of a chocolatey week!), it's the Fairtrade Drinking Chocolate. Mmmmm.

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