Filling the Pantry – building dignified responses to our hunger crisis

Filling the Pantry – building dignified responses to our hunger crisis

On Wednesday 16 October, Wen is taking part in Filling the Pantry, organized by the London Housing Financial Inclusion group. Coinciding with London Challenge Poverty week, the roundtable will bring local authorities, housing associations and food charities together to explore partnerships to tackle hunger in London. 

The UK’s enforcement gap: are business activities being left unchecked?

The UK’s enforcement gap: are business activities being left unchecked?

Local authorities and national regulators are the keepers of our standards, tasked with the important job of ensuring that businesses and other operators are doing what they say they’re doing. However, research from Unchecked.uk, a new campaign from The Ecology Trust, which includes Wen as a ‘supporting organisation’, indicate that UK enforcers are in a pretty bad way.  The erosion of UK enforcement capacity is putting ordinary people and the environment at risk. In a letter to The Times this morning (20/8/19), Unchecked.uk were joined by 20 organisations, including Wen, in flagging concerns around this dangerous approach.

Review: ‘FOOD: Bigger than the Plate’ exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum

Supernatural (detail), Uli Westphal, 2019, commissioned by the V&A

Supernatural (detail), Uli Westphal, 2019, commissioned by the V&A

I have to say that the V&A is quite possibly my favourite museum in London, so to hear they were exhibiting the politics and pleasure of eating had me there in a flash! I was curious to understand what connection food might have with the arts. As the Live Well Project Coordinator, I work closely with food and its journey from seed to plate. Food as fuel, food as pleasure, but food as art?

From the moment I stepped in, it seemed clear that food is – naturally – art.

Fruits from the Garden and the Field (Purple and Yellow). © Fallen Fruit, 2019.

Fruits from the Garden and the Field (Purple and Yellow). © Fallen Fruit, 2019.

The exhibition, sponsored by Baxterstorey, maps out the production of our nourishment. Starting with the organic waste we produce daily, and transitioning to the innovative way we must look at food as a resource; from the production to the table. 

Above all, this exhibition shows that many industries are now prioritising recycling regimes and food and organic waste reduction (Hurrah!). For me, this showcased a positive amalgamation of production, design and technology with environmental issues.

What’s encouraging is to see the ways in which world-wide projects are pushing the generation of sustainable materials; as well as the beautiful designs that have been created from food waste, the art created is fuelled by an initiative to reduce plastic use.

Another thing that I really liked was the connection between food and technology. I’m a gardener, I produce local food in a very direct way, but sometimes I forget the amazing processes that are occurring to produce something organically. The idea that food production can be transformed with technology, whilst prioritising sustainability, is exciting.

The exhibition wouldn’t be honest if it was all the good bits. Pieces also draw attention to our farming and trading systems and how they threaten the quality of produce. There’s also a glimpse in to the fractured social and environmental system at the foundation of mainstream food production. There are clear ways to improve these ill-performing, unsustainable practices in order to produce quality food – seeing it in a gallery makes it all seem so obvious.

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Last but not least, food is such a good intercultural and social link.  Preparation and serving food is key while approaching the “big table” at the end of the exhibition. The table is covered with meaningful and unique pieces of dinnerware from every part of the world, every piece is telling a story about our society. This resonated with me: In our food workshops in Tower Hamlets, we see people from multiple cultural backgrounds coming together in food preparation. Clichés aside, it really does bring people together.

During my visit I was also able to taste some herbal drink produced by Company Drinks with local resources from the East London area (Barking and Dagenham) and to “compose” a fingernail snack instantaneously produced by Loci Food Lab. Based on my very own food values, I was asked to select on an iPad three characteristics of “Good food”, from this combination they created my snack. And it was quite tasty!

My three markers of good food: Zero Waste, Vegan and Nutritious. What would yours be?

You can visit “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate” until Sunday 20th October, tickets are £17. Concessions available.

Urban Mushroom Farm © GroCycle

Urban Mushroom Farm © GroCycle

This review was written by Clyo, Coordinator of WEN’s Live Well project. Clyo holds workshops on growing, gardening and cooking in Tower Hamlets which are free to attend. They are very popular and the current programme is fully booked. For information about future sessions or to find out more about Live Well, contact clyo@wen.org.uk. 

Clyo, Live Well Co-Ordinator

Clyo, Live Well Co-Ordinator

Food, glorious food!

Food, glorious food!

How effective are menstrual campaigns in reaching BAME women?

How effective are menstrual campaigns in reaching BAME women?

Mainstream activism into women’s menstrual experiences place ‘women’ as a standalone category and does not take into consideration minority women’s intersecting identities or their socioeconomic status. Research shows the BAME community are the most vulnerable and excluded segment of society. This means they are at higher risk of period poverty, menstrual stigmatization, and underrepresentation in discussions regards to menstrual health issues.

Live Well Recipes for Sharing

Live Well Recipes for Sharing

Spring is finally here and the Live Well team have been busy planting and cooking up a storm. Here we share some of our latest recipes and a few snap shots from beautiful Limborough Garden.

Soil Sisters Away Day by Alexia Shakos

Soil Sisters Away Day by Alexia Shakos

Soil Sisters Away Day: A time and place to share experiences, to reflect on our successes and our struggles, and to reconnect with nature by Alexia Shakos

Phasing out Plastic Pollution by Megan Hassett

Phasing out Plastic Pollution by Megan Hassett

Plastic is, quite literally, everywhere. We are already aware of the twelve million tons of plastic pollution that surge in to the oceans every year, but that isn’t the whole story. Traces have been found from deepest sea trench to highest mountain, in the water that comes from our taps, and circulating in the air that we breathe.

Is Plastic Making us Ill? - by Chloe Johnston, WEN Volunteer

Is Plastic Making us Ill? - by Chloe Johnston, WEN Volunteer

It doesn’t seem that long ago that David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series brought our attention to how single use plastic is damaging our environment.  But with the release of a new report on ‘Plastics & Health: Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet’, a lesser known crisis has emerged; that plastic has severe impacts on human health too.

What's in your carpet?

What's in your carpet?

There is an increasing awareness among consumers that the products we have in our homes are in some cases impacting negatively on our health. It’s been estimated that 90% of UK homes have carpet, more than any other country – but how much do we know about the carpets we buy?

Let's compost...in the bathroom!  by Alice Larsson, WEN

Let's compost...in the bathroom! by Alice Larsson, WEN

If you are someone comfortable with using 100% cotton tampons and know you shouldn’t be disposing of them down the toilet, there is likely to be a struggle to not just throw them in the bin already sitting in your bathroom.

Live Well’s Easy Pizza Recipe

Live Well’s Easy Pizza Recipe

Last Week, WEN’s amazing Live Well Project Coordinator, Clyo Parecchini got cooking at Limborough Hub to promote next year’s Live Well course. The Live Well team decided to make pizza because who doesn’t love pizza!

Top 4 apps for being SustainAPPle with a smartphone

Top 4 apps for being SustainAPPle with a smartphone

Being SustainAPPle with a smartphone 

Smartphone users are everywhere and it’s time we harnessed that screen time to make it count for the environment. There are more ways than you think that can help you make a difference in the palm of your hand, check out these four (free) pioneering apps

By Alice Larsson, Volunteer