Author: Lois Nicholls

ugly fruit and veg

Ugly Fruit and Veg – bring it on

BRITAIN–Jamie’s done it again – taken the road less traveled when it comes to food and exposed that lo and behold, consumers in Britain and surely elsewhere, have no problem buying what he terms ugly fruit and veg. Tons of fruit and vegetables deemed not perfect enough for consumers is dumped each year or turned into animal fodder. At one Norfolk farm he visited, up to 10 tons of imperfect vegetables were dumped a week. As Jamie pointed out in his Food Revolution series, this is perfectly edible fruit and vegetables, with exactly the same nutritional value as its prettier peers, it’s just a bit more gnarly and quirky than its commercially acceptable counterparts. Testing his theory about ugly fruit and veg To test his theory that consumers were not averse to buying deformed vegetables, he placed cameras at a particular supermarket and viewed customer reaction to the not so perfect vegetables which were marked 30% off. To his delight, consumers bought with gusto – they understood that not all vegetables grown are perfect and …

A House of History

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—The humble simplicity of a quaint little wooden cottage in the leafy Brisbane suburb of Kelvin Grove belies its illustrious roots with the source of its building material from one of the world’s densest woods, Darwin stringy bark milled in Napranum, Cape York and salvaged from vast mining tracts in the area. The home’s owner, environmental scientist, Mark Annandale helped run the saw mill in Napranum, Cape York. Western Cape York traditional owners had previously set up a venture, Nanam Tawap Ltd with Queensland Government which included operating the sawmill, a masonry block plant and sand quarry. Under conditions of their lease, mining companies can mine the area with the proviso that existent timber can be cut before mining begins. Approximately 1000 hectares of forest is cleared by Rio Tinto Alcan prior to mining operations each year. Without milling, invaluable wood is burnt and lost for good as this is the cheaper, quicker option. Mark’s idea to build a home from wood salvaged from Cape York has been four years in the making. “I …

Hope amidst the heartache of Ebola

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—While the Ebola crisis sweeping through West Africa is easy to ignore, a Brisbane woman has refused to turn a blind eye. She has started a charity for an orphanage in Sierra Leone that will bring hope to innocent orphans who have become the tragic fallout of the deadly virus. Jane Shakespeare is a feminine, blonde, slim, yoga-loving graphic designer, wife of IT consultant Jeremy and doting mum to 13-year-old Harry. The family lives in a comfortable, tree-lined suburb of Brisbane with their lovable pooch, Holmes and enjoy all the comforts hard work in their adopted country of Australia has brought. The family moved from England in 2007 for Jeremy to take up a new job with his company and the family fell in love with the sun-drenched beaches of Australia and the friendly, laid back lifestyle of Brisbane. The contrast between life in West Africa’s Sierra Leone and this lush little pocket of Brisbane is extreme. Yet Jane maintains a soul tie with this war-torn and more recently, Ebola-ravaged country. Inexplicably, it was …

Leaning Towards Christmas

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—The tree is up and our feral feline has already been seduced by its baubles and bling and attempted to climb its fake Canterbury pine branches and make off with the flashing star. He made the same ascent last year with, pardon the pun, catastrophic results. He snapped the top clean off resulting in an eternal leaning due to two taped stakes connecting the tree top to its piny nether regions. Admittedly, this leaning does give the tree a certain authentic ‘I was harvested on a particularly blustery winter morning’ appearance. Instead, it was made in China with the only real similarity being that, this one, like its genuine counterpart, has a definite shelf life. This Christmas, I fear, will be its last. The rest of the Christmas decorations have also taken on a rather forlorn air, mostly because the chief festivity officer, namely my daughter, has taken off to Europe. She’s enjoying a bracing start to a European winter while we begin the slow melt into summer. While we may not have all …

Letter in Post for Putin

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA―While the G20 leaders were ensconced in Brisbane’s Convention Centre yesterday, flexing political muscles and espousing views on solving the world’s problems, they may have been better off visiting the City Tabernacle Baptist Church for a rather more honest and sobering take on where the world is at. Surely they would have been enlightened and relieved that former Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Hon John Anderson AO, had the gall to tell it like it is in his message,’Resurrecting Order Out of Chaos‘. (Audio – http://goo.gl/FeCjD5) They would have also been inspired and uplifted by a host of angels―the church choir. And rather than having to mingle with puffed up politicians, they may have rubbed shoulders with some rather interesting characters. Behind me, for example, looking a little flushed and flustered was a delightful young guy with a disarming smile and, it turns out, chutzpah to match. He had just risked arrest by brazenly approaching a ‘cop’ at the Hilton in the hope of hand-delivering a letter to Putin as he left for the Convention …

Fairy Tale Formal

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—When the uninformed see the composed, elegant, beautiful images of other people’s daughters posing at their ‘formal’, they have no idea that behind every smiling, buffed beauty in exquisite dress, heals and hairdo is a harassed mum who hasn’t had time to shave her legs. I thought I would never succumb. No-one was going to force me to bow to peer pressure, book for MAC make-up (“can’t you just do your own?”), acquire a Coach clutch and source killer heels. We weren’t going to sit for hours at the hairdressers trying to replicate a delicate ‘do’ featured by Kate Moss in Vogue. I wasn’t going to be the mum trawling tirelessly through boutiques in search of THE MOST UNIQUE FORMAL DRESS ON THE PLANET. Book a spray tan? Too artificial, darling. No, not I. How wrong I was. Have done all of the above bar Coach clutch. I’ve been unwittingly sucked into the great Year 12 formal vortex and there’s no fleeing now. How on earth did I think I’d escape? But have I learned a …

Preemptive Love

Healing Hearts in the Midst of Horror

IRAQ―Preemptive Love Coalition provides lifesaving heart surgeries for Iraqi children in pursuit of peace between communities at odds. By training locals, they are committed to giving Iraqi doctors the tools and expertise they need to serve their own children. This is about dignity over dependence, hope over handouts. For years now, Iraqis have been trained to believe help comes from outside the country, but Preemptive Love is committed to making Iraqis the ultimate heroes as they become the solution their children so desperately need. Journonews caught up with Preemptive Love Coalition’s Communication Director, Matthew Willingham, currently  in Iraq. How did you personally become involved in Preemptive Love Coalition? I followed their work while in college and admired their ethos and approach to caring for people. I also admired their desire to work where few others were willing to go, so my wife and I visited in 2010 and moved to Iraq shortly thereafter. What are the biggest challenges facing Preemptive Love Coalition right now? Working in Iraq is a pretty big challenge in-and-of-itself, even when extremist …

Christmas Countdown

THE LEAD UP TO CHRISTMAS never fails to leave me a little sweaty-palmed and panic stricken as I wonder aimlessly around packed shopping centres, a jarring rendition of Jingle Bells ringing in my ears. School and work commitments escalate during this heady count down and before I know it, it’s Christmas Eve with precious little time to prepare. I’ve always envied those who start planning in January. The elite (and slightly smug) few who manage to grab bargains all through the year so they don’t join a last minute seething mass of humanity all sporting similar expressions of: “It can’t be Christmas already, surely?” Of course, eventually, I always get into the swing of things. Lights are strung, the Christmas tree dressed (this year joined with duct tape on account of our fat cat snapping the trunk while climbing its lofty heights),  and in a flurry of creativity I even made a rustic grass wreath to adorn my outdoor table. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have panicked at all. I was inadvertently swept along by the …

Let us grow old without the guilt

IN MY MOTHER’S ERA, middle-aged women were content to be middle-aged women. They wouldn’t dream of trying to fit into their teenaged daughter’s jeans or befriending her friends on Facebook, if there was such a thing back then. I remember whispered concern about a particular woman who would walk miles to maintain a stick like figure, but mostly, women had a healthy approach to life. Manic walker aside, I don’t remember anyone looking like a whippet unless born that way, and there was no power walking with weights or hiring a personal trainer to work on ‘abs’. Cross-fit? That would be exercising with a bad attitude. There were no gym junkies because there were no gyms and a weekly game of tennis was the sociable ‘exercise’ of choice. My mother had a friend called Lorna but she wasn’t a gym clothing icon, her surname was Smith, not Jane, and she made stuffed toys for the family’s farm stall instead of stylish sportswear for lithe bodies. The more adventurous souls took up yoga when the fad …