Tag Archives: Food for Thought

The day Donald Trump was elected…

…I came upon an article about an American presidential candidate who stepped down from his presidential campaign in 1936 to support a programme of social security. This included a minimum wage, the abolition of capital punishment and advocating a decrease in working hours for women and children. His name was John Gilbert Winant, who served three terms as Governor of New Hampshire.  These two quotes are from an article by James O. Freedman in the Harvard Magazine.

‘In February 1941, Roosevelt appointed him ambassador to Great Britain. During the Battle of Britain, Winant walked the streets of London, ablaze from the aerial bombardments, offering assistance to the injured amid the rubble of their homes and stores. His shy sincerity and quiet fearlessness endeared him to the British people and helped buoy that beleaguered nation.’

‘To read his speeches is to sense the same greatness of soul, magnanimity of purpose, and simplicity of language that appear in Lincoln’s addresses. In June 1942, he told striking coal miners in Durham, England, ‘This is the people’s democracy. We must keep it wide and vigorous, alive to need, of whatever kind, and ready to meet it, whether it be danger from without or well-being from within, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail that…daring to live dangerously we are learning to live generously….’ His speech was a resounding success: by joining the life-or-death struggle to preserve democracy with the concrete social purpose of improving the economic circumstances of working people, Winant had deepened the war’s meaning for the common man. The miners went back to their crucial work.’

His own 1946 quote was: ‘Doing the day’s work day by day, doing a little, adding a little, broadening our bases wanting not only for ourselves but for others also, a fairer chance for all people everywhere.  Forever moving forward, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts and that where there is no vision the people perish. That hope and faith count and that without charity, there can be nothing good. That having dared to live dangerously, and in believing in the inherent goodness of man, we can stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.

I was so impressed by his humanitarian principles which transcended party lines and his own ego.  If only there were more leaders around today of this calibre!!





This is a link to an inspiring story of a healing journey that contains the essence of what we are beginning to rediscover for ourselves.Terry Wahls encapsulates 100% commonsense combining historical evidence and the most up to date thinking and research on restoring health to our brains and bodies with readily available fresh foods.

When considering what our emotional needs are, I sometimes think back to how life was for humans thousands of years ago, to consider what we most need to get back to: the care, love and protection of a family, a healthy environment, community, balance, space, fresh air, exercise, play, creativity and of course fresh food. This ‘Teds Talk’ by Terry Wahls rings true in every word.  The link to it is: http://terrywahls.com/category/video/



I have just been watching two short, most entertaining and thoughtful talks on sustainable agriculture from Dan Barber on http://www.Ted.com. Both talks show what is possible if people follow the passion in their lives for working with the Earth’s incredible resources and the results they achieve are extraordinary and a lesson to us how to survive, way into the future without harm to livestock and creating something healthy and sustainable. The link to the first one is:


Red Snapper

According to the above website, http://www.Ted.com:  “Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie’s honeymoon he’s enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain…Dan Barber is a chef and a scholar — relentlessly pursuing the stories and reasons behind the foods we grow and eat

The second short talk. “A foie gras parable” tells the story of a small farm in Spain that has found a humane way to produce foie gras. Raising his geese in a natural environment, farmer Eduardo Sousa embodies the kind of food production Barber believes in.

Park 2

The link to this is: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html?source=email#.Uo5E6MIvdyA.email

The website, http://www.Ted.com shows a variety of short videos on many different subjects and what they say about Dan Barber is:

Why you should listen to him:

Dan Barber is the chef at New York’s Blue Hill restaurant, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, where he practices a kind of close-to-the-land cooking married to agriculture and stewardship of the earth. As described on Chez Pim: “Stone Barns is only 45 minutes from Manhattan, but it might as well be a whole different universe. A model of self-sufficiency and environmental responsibility, Stone Barns is a working farm, ranch, and a three-Michelin-star-worthy restaurant.” It’s a vision of a new kind of food chain.

Barber’s philosophy of food focuses on pleasure and thoughtful conservation — on knowing where the food on your plate comes from and the unseen forces that drive what we eat. He’s written on US agricultural policies, asking for a new vision that does not throw the food chain out of balance by subsidizing certain crops at the expense of more appropriate ones.

In 2009, Barber received the James Beard award for America’s Outstanding Chef, and was named one of the world’s most influential people in Time’s annual “Time 100” list.

The third talk is a moving account of Brazilian farmer’s son whose life’s work has been to produce sugar cane in the most ethical, organic and natural way, linking the cane fields to his beloved rain forests in which he played as a child. It was broadcast on 10th November, 2013  on BBCRadio 4, Food Programme and is called:

 The Sugarman of Brazil

It is an extraordinary story of a man who is showing us the way to produce our food. It  is to be found on the BBC Podcast and the link to it is:


Tropical Rain Forest

Even though sugar is primarily empty calories, some sugar is essential and if we are going to eat it, let’s make it the most organic, natural sugar from sustainable agriculture.

I’d love to hear stories of other people producing food in a way that enriches the Earth?


This is a poem I wrote after seeing Pratibha Parmar’s film “Warrior Marks and reading Alice Walker’s Book, Possessing the Secret of Joy about Female Genital Mutilation.

PURIFICATION (Published in “Did I Tell You? 131 poems for Children in Need, Wordaid, 2010.)

 The girls spat at me, frothing like hyenas,

shouting, “kintirleey”. They rubbed mud

 into my face telling me I was dirty

but I was wearing a crisp white shirt.

At home I cried and my grandmother sent cold

looks to Mama.


 Mama went back to our old village to stay

while my auntie had her baby. Our new house

lost its dance and song. My grandmother

smiled like a crocodile. I felt sad. I felt naked

to the eyes of her sisters and cousins whispering

on the courtyard steps.


My first term of school ended. I woke to voices

chanting. My grandmother fetched me

telling me this was a special day,

telling me that the other girls would like me now,

telling me that the dirty thing that grew between my legs 

was going to be taken away.


In her room there was a table with a clean white cloth.

There were lots of aunties and a man with a mole on his chin

and a gold front tooth. They told me to lay on the table.

My grandmother leaned across my chest and held me down.

Her breath was sweet as she moved across my face to whisper,

“the kintir will be removed now”.


Two of them take off my panties and hold my legs out far apart.

I can’t breathe enough to let out the scream sitting in my throat.

The man takes a pair of scissors from his bag and pulls my skin

down there. I feel sick. My body explodes into my head. I’m dying.

I wake and shake, see blood and shake, pee a burning fire and die again.

 They sew me up like a football. 

They tie my legs together.


My grandmother grows soft during the days

she tends to my wounds. She hums and washes me

telling me to be very still. She smiles and strokes my forehead

telling me, “You are pure now.”


The Cruel Cut Channel 4 documentary was shown last night and I was appalled to hear that despite the thousands of young girls who are mutilated and abused in this way, this practice goes on in the UK without any one case having being brought to justice. Please sign the petition below to make sure this practice is stopped here:

 I enclose the summary to be found on the Channel 4 website with details of a petition we can sign to help stop this practice.

Leyla Hussein is an anti-FGM activist, psychotherapist, a member of the FGM Special Initiative and co-founder of Daughters of Eve, a charity dedicated to ending gender-based violence including female genital mutilation. She writes:

‘FGM is one of the worst physical and psychological scars a girl can be left with. I was cut when I was 7 years old. I didn’t know what Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was until the day it happened to me.

I remember speaking to Katie Piper at the Cosmopolitan award show in 2010. She came up to me and told me that she had been touched by my story and she understood what I had been through but realised that whilst her scar is outwardly visible, for survivors of FGM their scars are hidden from view.

There are many of us silent survivors of FGM in the UK; it could be the girl sat next to you on the bus, someone you work with, a girl in your child’s class at school. I want to give them a voice and encourage the government to take action. You can help stop FGM by signing the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/52740. If we get 100,000 signatures our petition will be considered for discussion in the House of Commons.

FGM is child abuse and needs to be stopped. One misconception is that it is similar to male circumcision. It’s much more painful and can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening complications and there is no medical reason to do it. Another misconception is that it is something only practiced by Muslims however FGM has nothing to do with religion and isn’t mentioned in any of the Holy Books or condoned by any religion.

We seem to have been picking and choosing which children matter and that needs to stop. This is happening to British girls and the numbers are staggering – more than 24,000 are at risk and over 66,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM. It is time we took a stand.

Despite increased activities around FGM recently, we’re still failing to effectively stop this form of child abuse. We have multi-agency guidelines here that are not statutory and very little is practically being done at local level. Funding is minimal and noone is monitoring the situation or holding anyone to account, so let’s push the Home Office to take responsibility for drawing up and enforcing a National Strategy and Action Plan to eliminate FGM in the UK.

You could save a girl – and every signature counts. Sign the petition athttp://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/52740

You can join the conversation on Twitter using #StopFGM

Leyla Hussein
  • Leyla Hussein


Some films of war show victims that are so helpless and hopeless that all I can think to do is to write a poem to honour the victims and bear witness to the reality of what they went through:


A Channel 4 News Documentary shown in November 2013 filmed the Killing Fields in Sri Lanka in 2009 where 40,000 Tamils, including many women and children, were massacred.

I see your pictures.

Your children look like

my children.

Your love looks like

my love.

I see you shooed

into an ever decreasing

space and being told it is safe.

You gouge bunkers

with your rawboned hands,

place your children in first

and scramble in behind them.

Shrapnel smashes into their bones, into your bones.

The earth is stampeded with savagery,

a flood of red evaporates

into a malodour as any shape of life

is beaten from beautifully wrapped gifts

and is blown away in the wind.

I see your pictures.