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Thoughts from author: jess sansom

how sustainable is your diet?

We like healthy food (pretty handy when the products you make are all about fruit and veg). We also like sustainable food (so we make sure that the way we make our products has the least possible impact on people and the planet). So when the WWF came up with their Livewell 2020 diet, we thought it was a fab idea.

Worldsandwich

The idea behind Livewell is to develop a way of eating that would not only be healthy and nutritious but that would also reduce the environmental impacts associated with producing food. The 5 Livewell principles are:

  • eat more plants
  • waste less food
  • eat less meat
  • eat less processed food
  • where available, buy food that meets a credible certified standard

As part of the Livewell work the WWF teamed up with nutrition experts from Aberdeen University to design a diet that would be great for the body and the planet. You can download a weekly shopping list and a 7 day menu to try it out - and following the diet means that not only do you get your recommended nutritional intact for the week, but that you also reduce the carbon footprint associated with what you eat by 25%.

This we had to try. Roll up 7 innocent employee Livewell guinea pigs (just a phrase, we do not support animal testing in any way).

Guinea-pig

Our guinea pigs agreed to try out the Livewell Diet for 7 days and share their experiences of eating a sustainable diet. Some of them thought they were pretty healthy sustainable eaters already, some thought it could be a challenge.

Watch this space to see how they went.

hot and bothered

...that's how some of our indian mangoes have been feeling of late. When it comes to climate change, the majority of conversations still use words like 'when' - when it happens, when the temperature rises, when the seas rise etc. Of course the reality is that our climate is already changing, and more so in some regions than others at this point in time. The Western Gatts of India is one of those regions, and that is where some of our delicious alphonso mangoes come from.

Conventional farm - Mango Harvest (4)

When our indian farmers started talking to us about the problems, we decided it was important to make sure we did our bit to help cool the mangoes down, and keep the farmers in the mango business. Fast forward through many many conversations, and we had a set of recommendations from a local agricultural institute, a consultant and 18 farmers working with our supplier, ready to trial some new techniques in the world of mango growing.

We have just received the first report from the project, and despite only being able to implement 2 of the 5 techniques this season we have seen some great results. Farmers participating in the trial were able to use less agrochemicals on the trees and still managed to have a lower incidence of pest and disease attack than a standard farm (saving them lots of money as well as protecting the environment). Plus, the trial farms also found that they had a higher yield of mangoes per tree.

Conventional farm - Mango Harvest (9)

Next season we will be implementing all 5 of the recommendations, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we get even better results. Needless to say the farmers participating in the project are pretty happy that they can still produce great mango in a changing climate (and save some cash at the same time), and we are thrilled that we still get great tasting mango and have managed to help out in tackling this challenge.

A big thanks to our suppliers, and everyone involved in the project so far. I'm off to grab a mango passionfruit smoothie to celebrate.

this sunday is world environment day

5 June is world environment day

sometimes it is hard to keep track of the various days for one thing or another, but when it comes to environment related days - this really is the granddaddy of days. World Environment Day (easier to call it WED, but don't get confused with wednesday, as it is on sunday) is the celebration of the first day of the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. This conference was a landmark event as it was the first intergovernmental forum to discuss the problems of the global environment, and the result was the first document in international environmental law to recognise the right to a healthy environment.

WED
Every year WED has a different theme and host country. This year the theme is Forests: Nature at Your Service demonstrating the link between quality of life and the health of forests and forest ecosystems, and the host country is India.

At innocent this week we will be reminding ourselves of some easy ways we can help protect forests, like not printing something unless you have to, buying paper and timber products from FSC certified forests, or giving a helping hand to the organisations out there who work hard every day to protect the worlds' forests - like the Rainforest Alliance's adopt a forest programme.

Of course, there is also Jeremy's suggestion of...

Use Less - Innocent 027
naturally that would be recycled or FSC certified toilet paper Jeremy.

some forest facts for you:

  • forests cover 31% of total land area
  • the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people depend on forests
  • forests provide a home to more than 300 million people worldwide
  • forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity

Want to know more - check out the WED website. Hope you have a great WED.

What's red and juicy?

Si - that would be a delicious spanish strawberry. Nothing quite like the sunshine of southern Spain for creating great tasting strawberries (not to mention eating tapas, drinking sangria, flamenco dancing...)

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However, the copious hours of sunshine are not matched by the availability of water - and in this region there are many different activities and things that require a lot of water - such as agriculture, domestic use and important wetland ecosystems such as the Donana National Park.

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We have teamed up with our supplier, Cordoba and Cranfield universities, Unilever and WWF to work with our strawberry farmers to measure exactly how much water is being used to grow our strawberries and find ways to improve water efficiency. Our goal is to establish how everybody and everything who uses the water can get what they need with no one missing out.

As we are now just over half way through the season, Jess, Rozanne and John went down to Spain to visit our farmers and the project team and find out how things are going. We are already seeing that there are some big differences in the amount of water used by each farm - not just because of how each farmer runs their farm but also because of the different soils, strawberry varieties, irrigation equipment and the growing method. The final report with the complete water footprint for each farm is due in July and then we can work out whether it is possible to improve the water efficiencies of all our farms.

We also took the project team into the Donana National Park to learn more about this important wetlands. Over 6 million migratory birds stop off at this wetlands during their migration between Africa and Northern Europe, and we were lucky enough to see quite a few of them.

For now though it is back to the sunshine of London, Pimms rather than sangria. We'll keep you posted on how this project is going - and some advice from John - don't eat 2 boxes of strawberries in one go no matter how good they taste...

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a man and his goat

A couple of weeks ago Rozanne and I were in India for work, and we took the opportunity to visit one of the innocent foundation projects with our partner ADD. ADD supports organisations of disabled people to improve their livelihoods. In India, they are working primarily on improving agricultural skills and incomes.

The money provided from the innocent foundation is used to provide loans to disabled people and their families. The local Disabled People Organisation (DPO) consisting of members of the community determines who would benefit most from the loans, and supports the beneficiaries in their endeavours. The money is used for a wide variety of uses, such as buying animals, seeds or farming equipment.

We visited a number of DPO groups and beneficiaries of the loans during our visit.

ADD visit (14)

Please allow us to introduce one of the beneficiaries, Mr Siddagangaiah (on the left).

ADD visit (11)

He suffers from cerebral palsy and as such cannot do manual work. He used his loan to buy this rather fetching looking goat (on the left of Mr Siddagangaiah).

The idea is that the goat will have kids (that's what you call a baby goat) which can be sold for meat if they are boys.. (sorry guys) or for breeding if they are lucky enough to be a girl.

ADD visit (4)

Mr Siddagangaiah already has 2 kids, and he hopes to slowly build a small herd. The money raised from the goats contributes to his family income, and importantly provides him with increased social standing in his community.

Other beneficiaries are using their loans to buy silk worms, grow flowers, and grow vegetables such as potatoes and beans.

Mr Ranganatha from ADD India was lucky enough to be given some fresh beans to take home for dinner.

ADD visit (17)

It was fantastic to meet some of the people who are benefitting from these small loans, and to hear about the difference it makes in their lives. We thank them and ADD for making us so welcome and sharing their time with us.

We wish them well for lots of goat babies, and a bumper bean crop.