Tag Archives: Production

Reducing Waste – Net Bags

10 Jan


Rhonda over at Down to Earth recently blogged about reducing throw away waste and it motivated me to continue trying to reduce the stuff that we regularly dispose of.

I was especially inspired by the net bags she has made for holding vegetables, fruit and nuts in shops instead of using the clear plastic, or paper bags.

We generally get recyclable paper bags when we go shopping, but reusable ones are even better!

Read the rest of this entry


Is it ethical to own a dog?

10 Jun

I have always wanted a dog ever since I was a little girl. However my parents are not pet people so I had to make do with walking and playing with our next door neighbour’s dog as I grew up. Josh and I have always fantasised about our small holding, and having lots of dogs and children has always been a part of our ‘perfect future’.


However, I was talking to my friend the other day who was preparing a seminar on Vegetarianism and she made a comment that made my heart sink…”I’ve been thinking, it doesn’t really seem very ethical to have dog anymore, not now that food prices are rising. How can we spend thousands of pounds on a dog when there are millions of people starving all over the world?” I had never thought of it that way, but I knew that it wasn’t something I could dismiss.


Apparently there are 6.5 million dogs spread across 20% of UK households making them, after cats, Britain’s favourite pet.  Owning a dog will cost you around £1000 a year (and that’s not including those people who spend hundreds on sparkly collars and little cute jumpers for their darling Fluffy – I personally consider this barking). Now, according to my maths, this means that we as a nation are spending around £6b 500m a year on our dogs alone? (surely I have done my sums wrong here?!) Add to that the cost of cleaning up after dog fouling, which according to Keep Britain Tidy statistics costs the UK a further £22m a year. That is a lot of money. I couldn’t find any statistics on how much it would cost to eradicate world poverty but I would guess that this money would make a big dent in it. I know that there are lots of issues with solving world poverty including market crashes and the like – which I won’t try and understand – but it’s the principle. Should we be putting our pets before other people in the world who are living in awful poverty? I just read one shocking article in which someone declared that in a burning building they would rescue their dog instead of a total stranger, just because they didn’t know them, and therefore didn’t care about them so much.

And it’s not just about money is it? Our pets are taking up valuable energy and resources through the food they eat. Realistically the food we give our dogs is probably more nutritious than many in the third world will ever consume.


But I really want a dog! Many people rely on them as well for their work, of if they have a disability, and they are well known for their therapeutic qualities. I was thinking that maybe it would be okay to have a rescue dog, because they are alive anyway and have not been bred especially for you. Maybe this would be a more acceptable option than buying straight from a breeder…


…It’s a tough one and I haven’t really made up my mind. What do you think? Is it ethical to have a pet?

Breaded Quandaries

10 Jun

How much is a loaf of bread these days? £1.20, £1.30? It’s been so long since we’ve bought one I don’t know anymore, I just hear people complaining about the hike in its prices. It set me wondering if it’s actually cheaper for us to make our own, or if we would be better buying it from the bakery down the road. Ok, well I’m going to attempt to do the maths (which I must warn you may contain a glaring mistake, it really isn’t my strong point!)


Yeast (I can’t remember the price but I would guess around 5p per loaf)

Flour = 60p per loaf

Butter = 13p per loaf

Sugar and Salt = Around 5p or less per loaf

Milk Powder (although I don’t use this because we ran out and I’m too lazy to go searching for it around town) = around 10p per loaf


So this suggests that it is cheaper to make our own…I don’t really have a clue about how much electricity would cost to run the breadmaker, but I guess it’s costing us about £1.10 for a large loaf of bread?


The thing I love about making our own bread is that we know what’s in it. I’ve read horror stories about supermarket loaves which are just filled with fat and salt to make them stay risen because they haven’t been given the full amount of rising time due to production pressures. Even if we were paying the same price –or more- I think that knowledge makes it worth it. I guess that goes for all the extra prices we pay to get organic or local food.


…although I must admit that we had Subway last week, which I know if all very uneco-friendly and probably full of gunk, but I had never had one before and they are SO YUMMY!

A Place in My Country

14 Mar

My latest read has been ‘A Place in My Country’ by Ian Walthew. It is a non-fiction memoir about the author’s sudden departure from working in the city to buying a small Cotswold Cottage and finding himself there. 

It’s a fairly narrow snapshot, just one person’s view on country life and the attitudes and issues he picked up from those around him. Although it’s non-fiction it reads like a novel and is great for a curl up with a cup of tea!

It picks up many of the rural themes you would expect from a small village (expensive housing, breaking up of estates and large scale farming etc.) and it was interesting to hear views expressed by local people who would not normally get a voice in these matters.  

It made me a bit sad too as it just highlighted how much the countryside is changing. How local people are getting pushed out of villages due to massive house price rises and how local rural knowledge is being lost.  

We did a lot about this in my course at university, but it’s very easy to be idealistic in management plans…whether they work in reality is different kettle of fish. One argument that we were throwing around is that the countryside should be allowed to evolve (meaning that smaller farmers generally became obsolete), but it’s hard to imagine that this will ever be so because people love to see the idyllic ‘British Countryside’.

This is a difficult issue though isn’t it?  You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want to see small farmers tending the land in traditional ways and creating the ‘nice’ countryside, while continuing to buy cheap food from supermarkets which have been imported or produced on huge, monoculture farms. What’s the point in pouring so much money via subsidies into small traditional farming – just for the aesthetic value, and small amount that it helps wildlife – when large-scale farming is pretty much the only way you can make a decent profit anymore?  
Is small scale traditional farming obsolete? I hope not, but I do think that subsidies are a bizarre way to go about saving it!




Book Worm

8 Nov

I can’t believe that I haven’t done this before!
Yesterday, while I was wondering around town having a lovely day off (and being hit round the head with an organic leek) I meandered into the town library and decided to join.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of titles and authors they had – back in Devon most of the good authors’ books are always out, and so I came out with a pile of trashy chick lit titles to keep me entertained for the next 3 weeks.
It made me very happy and excited because (as I don’t pay taxes) it is one of the few things in this society that is provided to me absolutely free! So, thanks everyone that pays for my local library – it has given me much joy. 

I also bought this book today (Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence) which I am excited about reading, although have actually had to do some work at work this afternoon, so disappointingly haven’t started yet.
It’s all about what really goes into our food and how supermarkets exploit the food/people they deal with.
I think it will answer some of the main questions I have about food production…how and why is it so cheap? Who is paying for it down the line?I have read the reviews and it looks pretty gory. Josh doesn’t want me to read it because he knows I’m going to demand we start buying more expensive things, and he believes ignorance is bliss! But I think in this case, it probably isn’t, or at least won’t be in the long term. 
Anyway, come back soon because I will definitely post all the interesting facts about food that I learn!

Sugar highs and lows

15 Oct


My name is Rachel, and I am a chocoholic.
I have been a chocoholic for many years now and I have realised that it is a negative addiction and must be controlled… 

…no, but I really do have cravings if I haven’t had chocolate in a while, so to curb them (and having turned over my new ethical leaf) I bought some Green and Black’s chocolate. I feel that is important to add here that scientists have proven that coca powder and dark chocolate is actually good for your heart so I felt it was important to have a correct diet!!  

Anyway, while I was munching away on the chocolaty goodness at work I started to wonder why some chocolate is more ethical than others and did some research.Obviously some is fair trade which is better than others but when I logged on to this website I was really surprised. 

It turns out that my ‘ethically sound’ chocolate isn’t that ethical after all as it can’t be guaranteed that humans haven’t been trafficked to make it. It’s horrible when you stop to think about it, especially the amount of chocolate that most of us eat without even thinking (chocolate biscuits, hot chocolate drinks, cocoa in cakes/biscuits).
Check out that website as it gives a list of all the chocolate that can guarantee that people haven’t been trafficked to make it. It has really challenged me.

Fine, I can buy Divine chocolate bars now, instead of cheap Somerfield ones, but am I going to be so willing to swap all my chocolate products? 
For example Traidcraft cocoa costs £12.90, whereas the Cadburys I get at the moment for cooking is about £10 cheaper. Traidcraft drinking chocolate costs £13.20!
Either I will have to save money else where or cut out many of the chocolaty products that I consume every week. I think perhaps I will just have to break my habit.

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