An Offer to Serve Up Some Food to you on Sunday 16 November ….

What celebrity nutritionists often seem to forget is the social justice aspect of food. For example, ex-professor Holford made no mention of Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 in messages he sent to his supporters at the start of this year. It is almost as if they are unaware of the toil that goes in to producing food. Possibly they do not care.

In Britain less than 5% of the population works on the land. Despite the best lobbying efforts of the farming community food production is probably not something most of us consider very often. However, in some parts of the world livelihoods depend on agriculture. One example of this is Palestine. The olive tree dominates the landscape of the West Bank. Agriculture, particularly olives, supports half the population. Olive oil has become very popular in northern Europe. The British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is very fond of it. In one our major supermarkets you can see his smiling face on bottles of olive oil in the same way that you can see Patrick Holford’s face on plastic bottles containing vitamin pills. The ex-professor also endorses Nairns oat cakes. (Despite that I am still buying them!) Clearly Mr Oliver and Mr Holford have no problem reaching consumers.

Olive farmers in the West Bank struggle to reach international markets. See this article for more information about their problems. Five years ago some young British volunteers went to help and observe the olive harvest. They were asked whether there might be a market for Palestinian olive oil in the United Kingdom. Initially, 200 bottles were brought back. The oil called Zaytoun – from the Arabic for olive – proved to be very popular and in 2007 more than £1million worth of produce was sold up and down Britain. You may be asking how you have missed the bottles in your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco. The simple answer is that most of it has been distributed by either volunteers or Fairtrade organisations such as Traidcraft and Equal Exchange. I bought a few cases for Basingstoke Summer Fete. It proved to be very popular and before long we were having a pallet delivered every two or three months and buying more than £4000 worth of stock a year. Click here to find your nearest stockist. Hopefully, the oil will be appearing in the Co-op in time for Fairtrade Fortnight 2009.

Next week I shall be leaving Basingstoke behind for the bright lights of London. Cultural organisation Hafla is putting on a bit of a party in Kent House, the home of Westminster Synagogue. According to their website:

Hafla is a London-based organisation creating cultural events, celebrating a vision of peace and prosperity in the Middle East. We bring together Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs and Jews and all people who are committed to creating peace in this part of the world.

The event takes place on Sunday 16 November 2008 and is called Cooking from the Heart and is

A celebration of food and culture from across the Middle East.

I’ll be there promoting Sindyanna of Galilee an organisation of Jewish and Palestinian women from northern Israel that markets the agricultural produce of the local Palestinian community. At the same time I’ll be preparing an optimally nutritious dish. Hope to see you there. If not next time you pick up some food think about how it was produced ….

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8 Responses to “An Offer to Serve Up Some Food to you on Sunday 16 November ….”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    That was very interesting, Lee, thanks for telling us about it. The day sounds delightful – however, some of us will be trudging round the hills of Sheffield that weekend, wishing that we were indoors, with ready access to delicious food.

    I saw a Dragons’ Den earlier this year in which a chap was attempting to persuade the Dragons to invest in his fresh oil business idea. All of the Dragons were initially sceptical and none invested in him but all agreed that fresh oil is a revelation.

  2. LeeT Says:

    We are going to the Hafla Event to give people a taster so-to-speak of Sindyanna of Galilee. Hopefully, two women from Sindyanna will be coming to the UK in the first week of April 2009 and visiting London, Oxford, Leicester, Manchester and Edinburgh.

    There is certainly an appetite for high quality olive oil.

  3. dvnutrix Says:

    I hope that this was a successful event, Lee.

  4. LeeT Says:

    Yes, it was a very enjoyable evening. Here is the recipe I took along:-

    500g of red and yellow tomatoes, a clove of garlic and 100g pitted black olives marinated for 20 minutes in 150ml of olive and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Seasoned with za’atar herbs.
    Side dish: 250g cous cous flavoured with juice of one lemon, almonds, apricots, sun-dried tomatoes and sultanas

  5. dvnutrix Says:

    And that sounds scrumptious. Was it well-attended? I shall look out for any tastings next year.

  6. dvnutrix Says:

    Another thought – I shall soon have a visitor who is extremely partial to rice and olive leaves. If anybody knows a good source of reasonably-priced olive leaves (that are reliably less than a year-old), would they please let me know? I would, in fact, happily buy several pounds of them as they make an intriguing addition to a number of sauces and pickles (this would, of course, depend on the price).

  7. LeeT Says:

    Doing a short google search showed me that it is fairly easy to get hold of olive leaves as long as you want them in tablet or powder from. How bizarre.

  8. dvnutrix Says:

    Indeed – but I definitely need them to be whole and generally still reminiscent of a leaf – no tablets, powders or tinctures. It really shouldn’t be this difficult.

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