Mark and Maggie performed an amazing cookery demonstration during the Holmfirth Food & Drink Festival, presenting a delicious recipe to accompany the Malawaian Kilombero rice, the focus of our 90kg Rice Challenge. For those who missed it here is the transcript and the recipe from the demo.
“As we suffer from the effects of the recession and see our hard-earned cash less and less, just spare a thought for the rural farmers in Malawi. Reduced yields due to climate change and low prices mean families often go hungry. Secondary schooling has to be paid for, so children over 11 from lower income families, often don’t go to school and without a basic education they are condemned to a life of grinding poverty.
Why not try this delicious recipe -not only will it fill your belly but you will feel great knowing that you have helped give a young person a chance in life as well as supporting some great projects around the world, including one right here in West Yorkshire! Every ingredient is traceable and has its own story to which, if you are a gardener, you can add your chapter. This transforms a meal into an occasion to be shared with friends and family; I think this alone is worth the time and money involved. For vegetarians, two large aubergines can substitute for the chicken.
In Malawi chicken is a luxury. If you visit a rural family they will usually go out into the yard and kill and cook a chicken in your honour. Nothing is wasted, head, feet, and entrails are all used but the guest gets the choicest cut, usually regarded as its bottom! These chickens run free all day feeding on grubs and seeds etc and they taste completely different to the antibiotic and water filled, three-week old, caged cripples that represent the ‘value’ offerings from some supermarkets in the UK. The nearest thing I have found comes from the prize-winning Swillington organic farm near Leeds. Reared humanely, killed and dressed on the farm within a few days these are like Aberdeen Angus sirloin compared with budget supermarket mince!
First debone this worthy bird (about 1.3kg) and cut it into bite size pieces. Next wash 600 gm of Malawian Kilombero rice, smell its unique perfume and note how quickly the water runs clear, unlike cheap rice it does not consist of 10% dust! A farmer in Malawi needs to sell 90 kg of rice to send a child to school for a year so this meal is a start; 2.4 days schooling I make it! Put the rice into a large pan with a tight-fitting lid and, add water until it covers the rice to about ½ inch deep. Add a few drops of oil and a little salt and put it on a high heat to boil vigorously and then turn the heat right down to very low, and leave it at least 20 mins for brown rice, or around 10 minutes for white.
Now for the oil. Zaytoun Fairtrade Organic Palestinian olive oil available from the Fair Traders Co-operative isn’t cheap. The organically cultivated olives, from trees up to one thousand years old, tended lovingly by marginalised farmers yield a delicious green peppery oil. It is solely extracted by mechanical means and helps the farmers and their families survive in the face of conflict. Heat 1.5 tablespoons of the oil on medium-high in a heavy frying pan with a tight-fitting lid and brown the chicken quickly, then remove from the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add 1 chopped onion, 2 large cloves of crushed garlic, and 1 large diced potato. My onion came from Mark Dickinson of the Holme Valley Gardening Network who cultivated it on the new allotments created by them last year behind the Wooldale Co-op. This community project also provides introductory ‘therapeutic gardening’ courses for people dealing with a range of difficulties. The organic garlic was grown in the walled garden at Swillington which is a community supported agriculture scheme. People become members and pay up front through weekly, monthly or annual payments. This gives the growers a guaranteed income and the customers a fair price and the knowledge of exactly where their food comes from. And now for my own ‘showing off’ and state that the potato used for the cookery demonstration was grown by myself in my Wooldale veggie patch despite the regular onslaughts by birds, insects, and the weather!
After 2-3 minutes its time for the spices-1 teaspoon each of chilli powder(less if you do not like it hot), black pepper corns , ground cumin , ground coriander and sea salt. All these are organic, carbon offset, and come from the wonderful Steenbergs near Ripon. The Fair Traders Co-operative stock the black pepper corns and can order the other lines in for customers if they wish. They are cultivated in India and Sri Lanka avoiding the use of child labour (common in conventional spice cultivation) and the harmful chemicals that can poison the pickers and harm wildlife. The Portuguese sea salt is organic certified and free from anti-caking chemicals. It is raked by hand from coastal sea pans minimising energy use and retaining important trace elements.
Back to the recipe, return the chicken to the pan and add 200 ml of water. Put the lid on the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally , for 10-15 minutes.
Next add 150 gm of Liberation Fairtrade peanut butter from The Fair Traders Co-operative . This contains less sugar and salt than most products and sustainably sourced palm oil so you won’t be contributing to deforestation in Indonesia. 42% of Liberation is owned collectively by the farmers who grow their nuts. The groundnuts come from the Mchinji region in Malawi . The farmers are guaranteed a fair price and the Fairtrade premium is allowing them to invest in social projects. One such project is a shelter for families at the local hospital. We can complain about the NHS but in Malawi families have to feed their loved ones in hospital usually sleeping on the road outside, often in the pouring rain.
I get really excited about peanuts. Peanuts and peanut butter are natural whole foods with a high fat content (about 50%) but no cholesterol. Peanuts are rich in essential fatty acids, high in protein (25%) which is as much as canned corn beef. They contain 10% carbohydrates and provide around 290 kcal per 50g. Peanuts have twice the amount of dietary fibre per 100g as brown bread. About 70% of the fatty acids in peanuts are unsaturated, with about 22% as monounsaturated fats. What this all means is that there is a huge amount of benefit from eating peanuts , though too many would not be good for a calorie controlled diet. Peanuts are rich in the minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and iodine . They also contain iron and zinc. Peanuts are as high in niacin which is vitamin B3 and are also rich in coenzyme Q10, a potent antioxidant.
It gets better; a recent study showed that peanuts had the high amount of total polyphenolic compounds known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. And just for good measure, peanuts do not form decay-causing acids in the mouth when eaten, unlike sweet snacks.
To the Feel Good Chicken recipe, we also add a 400gm can of organic chickpeas from Suma , the UK’s largest workers co-operative in Elland. This company has done a huge amount to pioneer affordable organic, vegetarian, and fairtrade food since starting in Leeds in 1975. They and their staff also support St Georges Crypt who help the homeless in Leeds, Children in need, Amnesty International , and other charities.
Now replace the lid, add a little more water if required and simmer for another 10 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.
The Fair Traders Co-operative is supporting a campaign to send more children to school in Malawi. Our Rice Challenge is under way throughout September, and will be formally launched at Holmfirth’s Food and Drink Festival later in the month, with the goal of ‘eating people out of poverty’. We hope to sell at least 90kg of fair trade rice during September, and another 90kg on the weekend of Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival.
Have you ever thought that the brand of rice you buy could have an impact on whether children in Africa attend school or not? Well, by buying fairly traded rice instead of your usual brand, you really can make this difference. So here at The Fair Traders Co-operative we are launching a Rice Challenge to help increase sales of fair trade rice so that more Malawian farmers can afford an education for their children.
About 8 million people, or almost 70 per cent of Malawians, live below the poverty line. More than 90 per cent of them live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Only one in three children in Malawi attends high school, and yet there is clear evidence that education is one of the most effective ways to escape poverty. If a farmer in Malawi can sell 90kg of rice at a fair price, he or she makes sufficient income to send one child to school.
The Fair Traders Co-operative Rice Challenge makes it easy for you to support the livelihoods of Malawian farmers whilst enjoying high quality rice, and we will try to provide feedback for those buying The Fair Traders Co-operative’s Kilombero fair trade rice about the children and families helped by their purchases.
“This is a very exciting challenge,” says Anna Watson of The Fair Traders Co-operative. “For us it’s a way to get the message out there that shoppers really can make a huge difference to people’s lives just through the everyday purchases they make and the stores they choose to shop in. Here at The Fair Traders Co-operative we assess every product we sell for its impact on people and the planet, and customers can see the results of that assessment at a glance before they buy. We really want this Rice Challenge to inspire people by showing them the positive impact that choosing fair trade can have.”
The campaign launch at Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival will involve a presentation on Saturday 24th September by John Riches, of Just Trading Scotland, the fair trade company which imports the Kilombero rice on which the Rice Challenge is focused. John has first hand knowledge of the rice farmers and the difficulties they face. As a founder of a well established fair trade company and experienced campaigner, John will share share his story and bring that of the Malawian farmers to life.
There will also be a cookery demonstration and tasting session during the Food and Drink Festival by a Malawian cook in Holmfirth Market Hall at 2pm on Saturday 24th September, using the Kilombero rice. And if you come along to the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group stall during the festival, you will be faced with a ‘rice mountain’, representing the 90kg of fairly traded rice a Malawian farmer needs to sell in order to send one child to school.
Anyone buying our fair trade rice during the Rice Challenge will be invited to pledge to buy fair trade rice from The Fair Traders Co-operative so that rice farmers in Malawi can have a secure future. They will then be able to chart the shop’s progress towards sending more children to school in Malawi on the ‘rice-ometer’ to be displayed inside the shop and on its website.
So do join in with the challenge and BUY SOME RICE! … Let’s see just how many children we can help to an education and a way out of poverty. Click here to link to the Kilombero fair trade rice in our online store.
When the opportunity arose for The Fair Traders Cooperative to be part of a charity event for Freedom From Torture we could not have been happier to be involved with such a good cause. When we discovered that they wanted us to contribute items for goody bags for 90 VIP guests , we saw a brilliant opportunity to reach this influential and caring group of people with our message , whilst supporting a worthwhile event. It was agreed that we would provide Digley Ale, a locally produced beer stocked by The Fair Traders Co-operative, each bottle accompanied by a label explaining more about the beer and the ethos of our enterprise.
On the 8th of August the event was held at the BT Tower in London to celebrate John McCarthy’s 20 years of freedom from Lebanon. Held on the anniversary of his release from captivity, the main event was a talk from John himself on his experiences and on how Freedom From Torture are helping victims such as himself to regain their lives after their life changing ordeals. With a full celebrity guest list as well as 500 tickets for the public sold, the event was set to be a big one, with people from all over the country coming to show their support for the charity.
As well as being a great occasion for us to promote our fabulous products, aims and values to a wider audience, including a selection of celebrity names and influential business leaders, for those attending the event was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the sights from one of the tallest buildings in London. Standing at 189 metres tall, the BT Tower in Central London is usually closed off to the public but was opened up to especially for ticket holders to this special event that included tea and cupcakes with a view like none other!
In addition to providing Digley Ale for the VIP goody bags Freedom from Torture also distributed our leaflets (complete with a free Clipper Tea bag!) to the 500 paying guests and The Fair Traders Cooperative is to be featured in upcoming issues of The Survivor and several other publications which will be circulated to around 45,000 people! We could not have asked for a more fantastic publicity opportunity and would like to thank Freedom From Torture for involving us.
For more information on Freedom for Torture and the BT Tower event itself, please go to www.freedom fromtorture.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter and (as always!) all our products including Digley Ale can be found on our online shop.