Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Apparently I’m not just Evil, I’m childish too

This picture tells two stories: of the often fatal consequences of bottle-feeding, and more profoundly, about the ages-old bias in favor of boys. The child with the bottle is a girl. She died the day after this photo was taken. Her twin brother was breast-fed. The woman's mother-in-law said the young mother should breast-feed only the boy, as she would not have milk for two. But almost certainly she could have fed both children herself, because the process of suckling induces milk production. "Use my picture if it will help," the mother told UNICEF. "I don't want other, people to make the same mistake"

This picture tells two stories: of the often fatal consequences of bottle-feeding, and more profoundly, about the ages-old bias in favor of boys. The child with the bottle is a girl. She died the day after this photo was taken. Her twin brother was breast-fed. The woman's mother-in-law said the young mother should breast-feed only the boy, as she would not have milk for two. But almost certainly she could have fed both children herself, because the process of suckling induces milk production. "Use my picture if it will help," the mother told UNICEF. "I don't want other, people to make the same mistake" Photo ACC/SCN, courtesy of Children's Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan

Thanks to Hoyden About Town for the heads up on this story.

Mummy Bloggers spit the dummy over Nestle’s spoilt milk

To start, I thought I’d dig out this photo for the Sydney Morning Herald, they don’t seem to have been able to find it.  I’m hoping I’ve interpreted it correctly that I can use it.  On to the rest of the article.

“Mummy bloggers spit the dummy”

“Hell hath no fury like a mummy blogger scorned”

Well there’s a nice characterisation to begin with – we’re babies who throw tantrums and over-react (that’s general, I don’t like the Mummy blogger tag and many of the people involved aren’t).  And all in the first two lines.  So do we deserve it?

There was some pretty nasty stuff going around on Twitter from both sides.  But have a look at the actual blogs and listen to the non-bloggers involved in the boycott.  Does this sound like a tantrum?  Or this?  Or even this?   And the fury was there well before Nestle refused to answer questions.  Not doing well so far, Sydney Morning Herald.  Let’s have a look at the rest.

They got something right, Nestle is one of the world’s most boycotted companies, but it’s not just a dirty water issue.  Please don’t get hung up on formula and forget the child slaves or water rights.  And their timeline is basically backwards, implying that there were already large social media protests and Nestle needed a chance to ‘give their side.’ Sorry guys, not quite how it happened.

Nestle set the event up, probably to test the waters using social media for marketing.  Incredibly cheap marketing don’t forget – what is the cost of giving 20 people a weekend away and giving their family some steak compared with a television campaign?  According to at least one of the attendees, they’d never heard of any questions about Nestle’s ethics and it wasn’t what the conference was about.  But the skewed timeline in this report makes it look as if poor little Nestle was just defending themselves against those nasty activists.

No bloggers were interviewed (or at least there are no responses in the article) but Nestle Australia was.

“This just goes to show that the blogosphere is a tough place to try to have a rational argument!,” she wrote in an emailed statement.

“The event at Nestle USA was held to introduce our company to a number of bloggers. It was very successful, which of course absolutely infuriated the small, biased, vocal group whose anti-Nestle opinions are so entrenched that no matter what we do, they will twist it to present us in the worst possible light.”

Well as a blogger and a Mummy*, whom the Sydney Morning Herald didn’t consult in this story, I have a few comments on that statement.

  1. Nestle hasn’t engaged anyone in the blogosphere on the boycott and their marketing practices, but this list of questions would be an excellent place to start. It looks pretty rational to me.
  2. The large, informed, vocal group was telling you they were infuriated way before the event happened.  It’s because of those dying babies and child slaves.
  3. One of the reasons we’re infuriated is you don’t do anything.  You talk, you make statements, you spin.  But you don’t debate.  You don’t answer questions.  You don’t change your unethical marketing practices.  You don’t buy fair trade cocoa.

So here are a few suggestions for Nestle, and if you do them we’ll look at what light is appropriate:

  • Answer those questions from PhD in Parenting.  As soon as you do, I’ll help get your answers out there.
  • Answer some of the other questions you avoided on Twitter.
  • Agree to the 4-point plan for ending the boycott – it’s only four points!  You can do it!
  • Decide that maybe lives are more important than profits.  You’re one of the world’s largest food producers, so you do have the economic muscle to effect change.

And SMH?  I came away from the original Twitter storm thinking the bloggers invited were a bit naive.  But after all, they’re amateurs who just didn’t think that things like child slavery still exist and didn’t think to check out the company talking to them.  And who wouldn’t be flattered – a multinational company thinks I’m important enough to invite?  I’m not a journalist, I’m a mother and a blogger, with absolutely no training in writing or journalism.  But I can manage to do at least a little bit of reading on this issue and discuss it without meaningless, insulting cliches.  I think there is a lesson for both types of media here – bloggers need to realise that with readers comes responsibility.  And journalists need to remember that they are under scrutiny.

*Actually, there are only two people on this earth who get to call me Mummy.  Neither of them has anything to do with Nestle or the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mummy bloggers spit the dummy over Nestle’s spoilt milk

ASHER MOSES

October 7, 2009 – 3:05PM

Comments 4

A baby drinks milk from a bottle in Sri Lanka.A baby drinks milk from a bottle in Sri Lanka. Photo: AP

Hell hath no fury like a mummy blogger scorned

I Am Evil

I am a thief.

I keep child slaves.

I kill babies.

Those of you on Twitter have probably heard about the #Nestlefamily debacle.  It’s made it’s way onto Facebook as well, and of course the blogosphere.  If you’re wondering, very briefly, Nestle offered several Mommy Bloggers a junket, in return they would write and Tweet about Nestle and their products.  Many activists found out about this.  It started polite but degenerated into name calling, racism and extreme nastiness.  There’s a good round-up of it here with some eye-opening comments.

Extremely briefly, for those who don’t know, Nestle has been the subject of a boycott for about 30 years.  They aggressively market infant formula to mothers in third world countries and marginalised groups (read race) in developed nations, telling outright lies and giving free samples.  Then when mothers have lost their own milk they stop giving it out.  That’s how I kill babies.

But wait, there’s more.  You see Nestle is a huge corporation that does more than baby formula.  They also sell things like bottled water, which has to come from somewhere.  In the US, rural communities have been pressured and manipulated and their water rights have been stolen.  That’s why I am a thief.  And chocolate?  Most of the world’s cacao comes from Ivory Coast where many of the farms use child slave labour, children who have been kidnapped or sold by their families.  That’s where I keep my child slaves.

The blogs I have linked to and Baby Milk Action have covered it in detail from a number of perspectives, and I didn’t want to write about it unless I had something different to offer.  But a comment on one of the blogs started me thinking about evil.  My own personal definition of evil goes something like “knowingly hurting other people unnecessarily.” I think we can all agree that Nestle qualifies.

And unfortunately, so do I.

I know what Nestle does and I help them do it, either by buying their products or saying nothing.  And there’s no way I can argue that chocolate is necessary.  How can I do this?

I think it comes down to the personal.  When I read a comment that “the only child slave labour in this house is my kid opening a Crunch bar,” I feel revulsion, and I’m sure many of you do too.  When I see a picture of a Pakistani mother with twins, one healthy, one half the size and dying, I am horrified, and I’m sure you are too.  When I read about these things I resolve to boycott Nestle and all the other products it profits from.  But when someone gives me a lipgloss from The Body Shop (not tested on animals! shame about the babies) am I rude to them?  When my cat only eats Friskies biscuits, I still like having dry food available rather than only meats.  When I get my little girl a treat it’s convenient to have the Peters tub of vanilla icecream rather than the stick she can wave everywhere while it melts.  And so in the everyday details my horror and revulsion and resolve are lost.

Children in Africa, Hispanic mothers in the US, I feel for them in the moment but they are too far away from me personally to permanently impact on my heart.  So I need to make this personal.

I need to internalise it and make it about me, my children, my community.  Maybe then I will be stricter about finding out all the brands to avoid.  Maybe then I will be polite but firm with people who give me gifts.  Maybe then I will start to tell others about this (that’s one of the things I found most shocking – that so many people don’t seem to know) rather than keeping the peace at playgroup.  Being a good person is important to me, maybe the brutal realisation that I am evil is a way I can personalise it and force myself to do something about it.

How is it personal for you?

Because I don’t want to remain evil.  Do you?

Revision! A lovely lady passed on an Australian list to me:  http://morepraxis.org.au/justact-nestle-boycott-list/

Lunch!

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks because I’ve recently returned to work, and it turns out that being at work takes up a lot more of my time than I remember. Some mornings, it really does take ages to get a toddler out of bed and dressed.

Anyway, being that I’m back at work, I’m back in the swing of packing lunches. I have a bit of a thing about lunches – I love packing tasty, healthy foods. Even more than that, though, I like packing pretty lunches.

baby bento - sushi and tomato

The Japanese have a tradition of packing nifty lunchboxes, called bento. The word ‘bento’ simply means ‘boxed lunch’ or something like that, but that’s a deceptively simple explanation. The most simple bento is a box of rice with an umeboshi, but bento may also be incredibly elaborate. Apparently some mothers at certain kindergartens in Japan compete with each other to make the most intricate bento for their children, with the result that they spend hours fiddling about with food.

I don’t do that. I like speed bento. Although I like spending a few minutes on pretty flourishes sometimes, I really don’t want to spend more time preparing a lunch than I do eating it.

There are plenty of resources around on how to pack a bento for adults. Where I find bento techniques incredibly useful though is in packing toddler lunches.

Bento has taught me three things. The first is how to choose and pack foods so that they’ll be safe to eat. The second is how to make the best use of available space – the more compact a lunch, the better, in my view. The third is how to make lunch look delicious.

toddler bento - lots of yummy things!

Everyone eats first with their eyes, and then with their mouth. This is particularly true of toddlers, who are notoriously fussy. Even children like mine, who will eat anything at all, have fussy days – favourite foods suddenly become anathema and are eyed suspiciously. Bento encourages the use of colour, particularly foods which are colourful in their natural state – different coloured vegetables, and the fresher the better. Bento often also incorporates cute touches like miniature food picks or vegetables cut into interesting shapes. Little picks are not just pretty – for a toddler, they can be a way of making some foods easier to eat. Little divider cups don’t just keep food separate – toddlers love investigating containers and sampling the treasures contained therein.

You don’t need a lot to get started with bento. You can spend a lot of money on a purpose-designed bento box, or you can simply use any old plastic container. Because I have a bit of a thing about lunches, I do have quite a collection of bento boxes, but I also have quite a collection of other plastics. The toddler bento pictured in this entry all use containers bought from a supermarket or department store: the first two are Willow containers, about $8 or $9 for a pack of three; and the third are made by Décor and cost less than that, again for a pack of three. I collect plastic spoons from our local gelateria and icecream parlours. Although you can buy vegetable cutters to make flowers or animals, you can also easily and quickly cut fruit into traditional designs.

fruit and sammiches

Reckon you can do it? I reckon you can! Pretty soon you’ll be looking for excuses to pack lunches for your kids – or for yourself.