Tag Archives: public affairs

It’s British Food Fortnight!

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It’s no secret that we WI members like our food. So why not celebrate the best of British food and support our local farmers and growers by marking British Food Fortnight (19 September through 4 October)?

Held in the autumn at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink. It was established in the wake of the Foot and Mouth crisis, in response to the fact that, though there are numerous food initiatives, projects and events taking place across Britain, there was no overall flagship event to bring them to the public’s attention.

Here are some of the things you can do to help celebrate British food:

1. When you are shopping make a special effort to seek out British food. Pause when you select your food from the supermarket aisle. Look at the label. Does it tell you where the food has come from? Does it provide a description of who produced it? And if it is imported, is there a British equivalent in-season? When looking to purchase products, keep an eye out for marks such as the Red Tractor logo (right).

2. Shop at local butchers, greengrocers, farm shops and markets that source locally and will be able to tell you a little about the person who produced the food you are purchasing.

3. Seek out food in season – look for, for example, the English plum, marrow and squashes, which are in-season during British Food Fortnight.

4. Cook a British meal for friends and family. Nothing beats the old favourites like cottage pie or apple crumble, and then sharing them with your loved ones. Consider inviting friends round for a British Food Fortnight Feast or make a special effort to get the family sitting around the table.

5. Pick your own. What is better or healthier than being able to enjoy fresh fruit selected and picked by yourself? Rummage in the hedgerows for blackberries or visit a fruit and vegetable farm and then get pickling, jamming and freezing. Trevaskis Farm currently has gorgeous runner beans, cooking apples and plums.

 

6. Go to a food festival. This weekend from Friday through Sunday is the Great Cornish Food Festival, on Lemon Quay in Truro. Around 60 producers and 40 chefs and food experts are taking part, with an exhibitor line-up that includes everyone from household Cornish names like Rodda’s and Sharp’s Brewery, to artisan producers such as Fowey Valley Cider and Buttermilk Confectionery. Chef Nathan Outlaw will be hosting the grand finale on Sunday afternoon, following a tantalising programme of masterclasses and demonstrations across two different stages, in company with a host of Cornwall’s top chefs and food experts.

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WI Members Speak Up about Climate Change

Click here to read a nice blog post from NFWI about last month’s climate change lobbying day in Westminster. WI members from all over the country joined with about 9,000 other concerned citizens to share their concerns with their MPs.

The post includes a great quote from Pippa Stilwell of Zennor WI (and a lovely picture of her as well!).

Pippa Stilwell of Zennor WI talks to MP Derek Thomas about the threats posed by global warming.

 

Sainsbury’s Local Charity of the Year

You may or may not be aware that each year, Sainsbury’s selects a Local Charity of the Year to support through volunteering and fundraising activities.

If you’d like to vote from among the three shortlisted charities this year, you can either do it online or in the Penzance store. If you want to vote next time you’re in Sainsbury’s, the voting boxes are on a stand as you enter the store to the left of the community noticeboards. The online voting is very simple – just pop in your postcode and away you go!

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This year’s shortlisted charities are Cornwall Hospice Care, Cornwall Air Ambulance and Penzance Food Bank, all excellent causes. CFWI Advisor Liz Anderson is Chair of Cornwall Hospice Care and has asked that we put in a plug for her! Cornwall Air Ambulance has been our guest at one of our monthly meetings and we have all heard about the wonderful work they do. And, of course, we all bring donated items to support the Penzance Food Bank at our January meeting each year.

Voting will close at the end of this month and the chosen charity will be announced in July.

Speak Up for the Love of …

For the love of bees, strawberries, cheese, bluebells and hedgehogs. For the local park and England’s beautiful seasons. For the food on our plates and the tea in our mugs. For the love of all the things that matter most, we’re taking climate change seriously.

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Tomorrow has been designated a day of action and celebration by the Climate Coalition as we Speak Up For The Love Of all we hold dear. People from all across the country will be coming together in our thousands to ask MPs to commit to strong action on climate change to protect all the things we love. It’s our first opportunity after the General Election to tell our newly elected representatives what matters to us in this crucial year for climate action.

The Women’s Institute is a founding member of the Climate Coalition, and WIs from all over the UK have been getting involved.

Many have been making bunting displaying all the things we love which will be affected by climate change:

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… and others will be going to London tomorrow to lobby their MPs.

You can read about one WI member’s reasons for participating here.

Don’t worry if you won’t be there. There’s lots we can all do at home to help fight climate change:

  • Improve the energy efficiency of your home: remove draughts with draft excluders, insulate the loft, hang heavy curtains over doors and windows to keep heat in, and only heat the house when you need to.
  • Reduce food miles: buy local at local farmers markets, use local veg box schemes, and grow the things you like that are a bit pricey; eat seasonally if buying in the supermarket.
  • Reduce water usage/waste and the harmful chemicals you put in it: use eco-friendly detergents for washing clothes, dishes and home, and re-use your washing up water for the garden. Use rainwater to water the garden – this reduces mains consumption and is better for the plants as rainwater is chlorine-free. Having quick showers reduces water and heat needed – win/win.
  • Promote sustainable transport: use public transport for longer journeys if you can and if you’re travelling alone; walk rather than drive to the shop/into town to meet friends; cycle if possible; share lifts if you can.
  • Reduce waste/trash: compost what I can’t eat and try not to waste food; re-usebottles/jars for home-made things and recycle anything else. Try to avoid buying anything wrapped in polystyrene or other non-recyclable packaging.

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In the Pink at the Race for Life!

Last week, the prom in Penzance was a sea of pink as over 800 women turned out for this year’s Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK.

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Among those 800 were Hazel, Helen, Jane (along with daughter Darcy and dog Ruby), Julie, Liz H and Mary. Together, we raised nearly £1,000 – that’s an estimate; we don’t have exact figures – but we certainly did our part!

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Well done to all who participated as well as those of you who helped us through sponsorships and donations.

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Speak Up to fight climate change!

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What is it about?
This mass lobby will provide people across the UK with an opportunity to speak up for the love of all they hold dear that could be lost to climate change, and to demonstrate to the new Government that strong UK leadership on climate change is important to the British public.

Why the NFWI is supporting this?
The WI has long been at the forefront of environmental action. From promoting debate on food security to cutting down on wasteful packaging, WI members have consistently turned talk into action and in doing so demonstrated positive ways of helping both their communities and the wider environment.

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2015: Why is it important?
In December 2015 Paris will be hosting the 21st United Nations Framework Commission on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP). The Conference will bring world leaders together to discuss how they can work together to tackle climate change, and it provides an opportunity to reach a fair and legally-binding global deal on cutting carbon emissions. People all over the world will be calling on their governments to support the conference and reach an ambitious deal that will limit global warming to 2˚c.

What can you do to help stop climate change?
1. Make meat a treat – Go meat free for just a few days a week – be kind to your ticker and to your wallet, but also be good to the planet.
Why? Roughly 18 per cent of greenhouse gases are caused by livestock farming. Producing just one beef steak emits more CO2 than you would by driving for an hour and leaving all the lights on at home.

2. Drive with smooth style – Cut down your speed on the road, use less air con, take any unnecessary items out of the boot and make sure your tyres are fully inflated. This will improve the efficiency of your vehicle and get more miles out of the tank. Not to mention the safety benefits.
Why? Road transport in the UK produces around a quarter of our national CO2 emissions. Driving at 80mph uses 25 per cent more fuel than driving at 70mph.

3. Don’t over-boil the kettle – Only fill up the kettle with the water you need. Save water, save electricity.
Why? Over 30 million litres of water are boiled in the UK every day only to go cold again.

4. Turn off appliances at night – Turn off computers, lights, televisions and any other appliances at night.
Why? It may be one of the oldest energy saving methods but it’s also the simplest. If all the UK’s 17 million office workers turned off their computers at night, the carbon savings would be equivalent to removing 245,000 cars from the road.

5. Adjust your computer power – Fine tune your computer settings to make sure it turns off when you’re not using it and that its brightness settings aren’t unnecessarily high.
Why? 65 per cent of energy used by computers is spent on running idle, not on actual computing.

6. Walk more – Instead of spending money on bus fares, train tickets and fuel, try walking whenever possible instead. It really is that simple.
Why? It improves your health, saves you money, gives you time to think, chat and dream, reduces stress, makes you more alert, more productive, and increases independence. It also emits no pollution and is totally carbon free.

7. Eat seasonably and locally – Slim down your carbon footprint and stop eating things like tomatoes in winter. Did you know that over half the food imported to the UK could have actually been sourced within these isles.
Why? Local means less road miles travelled and therefore cuts down on carbon emissions. Seasonal means the food may have needed fewer intensive methods to grow it.

8. Take short, sharp showers – Cut down on the length of your shower in the morning. Each minute you shave off your time in the bathroom will save around 10 litres of water.
Why? On average we spend eight or nine minutes a day in the shower, making up about 12% of our water usage and costing up to £918 a year. Cutting down will reduce your water bill and save electricity.

9. Receive less junk mail – Register with the Mail Preference Service and have your name and address removed from all the direct mail databases. You still get the post you want, without the junk.
Why? Around 2.7 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the UK every year, using up paper, using electricity to be printed and using fuel to be transported. Also, who wants yet another menu from the local pizza joint to add to the dozen you already have stuffed in that drawer in the kitchen?

Back British Dairy!

cowsDairy farmers saw the price of their milk fall dramatically throughout 2014, and the start of 2015 shows no upturn in their fortunes, with three of Britain’s four main dairy processors recently cutting the price they pay to farmers.

The price cuts have been blamed on a supermarket price war with several of the main supermarkets now charging just 89p for 4 pints of milk. On top of this price war, dairy farmers have been affected by growing farm costs, and a ban on imports to Russia which has led to a glut of dairy produce.

Continuous price cuts are making dairy farming an unsustainable business for many farmers and are likely to have an irreversible effect on the British dairy industry. Back in 2012, when milk prices were at crisis levels, the number of registered dairy farmers was 10,851. That number has in recent weeks dipped below 10,000 for the first time ever, and further price cuts are likely to see many more farmers go out of business.

Threats to the industry are not just a problem for the farming community but for every member of the public that uses dairy produce.

Get involved – How you can support British dairy farmers

Consumers have real power to bring about change, and buying British dairy is a great way to support dairy farmers. Consumer action in 2012 helped prompt many retailers to take action. Here are some tips to help you back British dairy:

  • Look out for the Red Tractor logo, a sign that the product is high quality, and meets strict environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards while being produced in the UK.
  • Keep in mind that supermarkets are only one part of the retail sector. High street coffee shops and food outlets are all dairy customers; why not ask about their policies and how they ensure the produce they stock returns a fair price to farmers before you buy.
  • Remember, milk is just part of the dairy market. Half of the milk produced by British farmers goes on sale as liquid milk, meaning that the other half goes into butter, cheese, yoghurts, desserts etc. So make sure all your dairy products are British.

96% of us consume fresh milk but few of us recognise its real value. By backing British farmers we can ensure that the British dairy industry remains strong and that we can access high quality, high welfare, locally produced dairy for years to come.