Thursday, 28 April 2011

Liquid Gold

Liquid gold, the nickname for Winnie the Pooh's favourite spread. Cravings appeased by a sticky dollop of golden caramel hue. Bees and honey, the buzz words very much in the news. Bees in sharp decline, the production of honey may follow suit. Bees important for other reasons too – pollinating crops a major device. One of Mother Nature's helpers, hence the current debate. What should we do to boost their diminished state? Is it still permissible to eat bee products, pleading ignorance to their fate?

I struggle internally with this give-and-take. Honey, bee pollen and royal jelly, natural products bestowed on us by nature, we've indulged in their many uses to take, take, take. Commodities used as trade – an exchange of goods. This is how we operate, so I have to question, is the current decline of bees a trade-off? A human made affair like so many of our ailments? Has the world we lived in changed? Yes to both as far as I'm concerned. Only just waking up to the extent of our sleep-induced state. Science supports a claim that a parasite attacks the honey bee, their numbers decimated. I don't disagree, but ponder aloud our role - is it too late to now correct? Modern farming, the solution proposed. How farms interact with nature, all creatures great and small, the considered tactical move. Farms to make a difference in a positive way. A big hooray. I think farms should have a say – to give something back. Support the land, preserve wildlife and with this their livelihood. With green spaces dissolving more and more, this is a crucial time. We're all part of the ecosystem, our attitudes need to change.

Consuming honey a real concern, but the unwillingness to add it to my sin-bin list persists. Veganism a way off, not yet understanding this denial. Why is honey given the buzz-off? I value honey medicinally, not for its consumptive use. This habit as old as history itself for sore throats, wounds, hay fever, or a pick-me-up, therapeutically applied. Honey, a natural super food. Named after a flower, is this where my dilemma lies? An affinity with the bees, akin to holding a Buttercup under your chin to see if you like butter. Perhaps it's A.A. Milne's fault? Receiving a personalised Pooh book aged three. Me, a character in the story – a friend of Christopher Robin, Pooh and the bees.

Still I feel compelled to ask, is vegetarianism the puzzle in this piece? A link in this chain of liquid gold. The discrepancy in my train of thought... Am I morally obliged to give honey back to the bees?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

How Do You Eat Yours?

When I was growing up, this question was always asked by my peers. Sometimes it led to tears, for in eating a Cadbury's Cr̬me Egg, there were quirks. My novel approach best so I thought. Treating it like a boiled egg Рtop bitten off, inner fondant goo scooped out with a spoon, its solid chocolate shell saved till last. Every sticky bit a massive sugar hit. Next on my list, Kinder Surprise. The combination of milk and white chocolate really worked. A delicate and creamy texture, one was simply never another. The incentive, the toy contained inside. The DIY kit, no father's delight. What child, (or adult!), has the patience to create the ridiculous tiny toy? They got it wrong Рthe chocolate was the prize.

You get the idea, I was a child chocoholic- an 80s chocolate fiend. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory's Augustus Gloop does not compare. I'm ashamed to admit, chocolate was almost in everything and everywhere. Chocolate Buttons, Animal bars, Maltesers (chocolate nibbled off first), Spirals, Flakes, Aeros (frothy bubbles on the tongue), and Dairy Milk Tray Orange Cremes. Polishing off half a Sara Lee Gateau, a well-known feat. The source of gentle ribbing. I remember the taste and smell so well, like it was only yesterday, not 15+ years ago. My indulgence too much for I gave it all up, on course with going veggie.

Why all this talk about chocolate? Because the Easter Parade is here – it's been in the shops for a while. Easter bunnies, fluffy chicks and eggs of all sizes, hollow or filled with candy. I know it's not what Easter's about, but this is commercial enterprise. In a kid's mind, Easter equals chocolate and treasure hunts. Vegetarianism, a new healthy start, changed all that for me. Gelatine, a typical ingredient in candy. A boiled gruel of animal ligaments, skins, tendons and bones. I wasn't impressed it contained this and alternatives then were few. I weaned myself off, discovering healthier snacks in the process. Now a matter of choice, a preference to go without. My sweet tooth AWOL. Not missing the taste, a chocolaty smell enough of a fix, and feeling saintly for it.

Now when I ask: “How do you eat yours?”, I'm referring to proper hen's eggs, not those wrapped in gold paper. I have a reply, but it throws up a whole new dilemma. Boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, with ketchup, soldiers or eggy bread. I enjoy an egg on the odd occasion, reminding me of Summer Holidays by the sea. A breakfast wasn't breakfast without an egg, so Nan said. Buying what she thought was free-range from her local farm shop, until one day she chanced behind and saw not all those laying roamed free. Misled by these antics, she voted with her feet and didn't buy there again. Eggs are a whole other debate. Is free range any better? A contribution still made to the meat trade. I don't have the answer. Eating eggs less, but unable to, I confess entirely separate the yolk from the white.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A Lush Life

What does a lush life mean? To some it implies living the dream. A life that's rich with success and fulfillment. Others sum it up best by giving back to our global community. A lush life could be all of the above, but I only have one reply. LUSH spelled out to me, immediately springs to mind Lush cosmetic stores. This, my veggie vice, which I'm sure many others would agree. Their ethos, a blueprint of what life should be.

Yes, I'm a little obsessed, but I have very good reason. Buying from Lush gives you a warm glow inside – helping animals, people and planet. You won't meet a nicer bunch of peeps working there and your skin will thank you too. Everything natural and hand made, packed with fresh, organic fruit and veg. The temptation to eat their products sometimes has to be overcome. Their yummy Oatifix face mask, a favourite. I never thought this breakfast staple - a blend of bananas, vanilla and oats, could be so soothing for my skin. As I open the pot, I want to eat it all up, but instead slather it over my face. Thy work be done, lips miraculously unlicked, my day can finally begin. Thoughts already turned to what's for tea? What can be my sin? Perhaps, a shower smoothie and some double choc. The perfect combo for a light snack. For dinner, a vit C toner tab with a large piece of Summer pudd.

Lush Times, an evening bedtime read. Contents absorbed from cover to cover to keep up with all the news. What's hot, what's not, who are the new kids on the block, which ones are saying ta-ra. What goes on behind the scenes and how does the company manage to be so green. A tiny insight into Lush unseen. Pages of fun with an ethical note, explaining where the ingredients are sourced. How this is sustained so that everyone gains – the suppliers and our environment. Every area of production thought out, including the black pots, which can be returned and further recycled. I was surprised to learn from my local store that not everyone washes these out. Lush does enough, so do your bit and bring them in clean! I settle down to write my wish list – what do I want to try next? There's a large choice of lotions, potions and bars. Who has a birthday coming up? Do I need supplies in reserve? These small tokens I give to congratulate or bring cheer. A smile never failing to appear – that standard Lush receipt.

What I wanted to convey was this: a lush life has a positive impact on the world. No matter where or who you are. Your contribution counts, but dig deep before you buy. What does the company believe? Whose interests do they have in mind? These may be the best and worst of times, just like Charles Dickens wrote, but join this family for lush times to be well within your scope.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

What's In A Name?

What's in a name? The title of my new pet hate, for to me it sums up the crazy game of fame. Shakespeare said it was, “...that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell so sweet.” The roses I'm talking about not delicately scented, their protruding thorns digging in my side. Fame gone to their head, these so-called celebs weave mega-deals the world over. Why so bitter I hear you cry? Because it's just not fair. Using their name to gain access to all areas. Celebrities given carte blanche to criss-cross from one talent to another.

Stars are presumed to possess other marketable talents. A TV presenter? Write a racy novel. A singer? Go into fashion. A model? Release an album or land a role in a movie. The industry sewed up. Hard to get a foot in the door if you're not already a “somebody”. Sure, some individuals are multi-talented, but others have little credentials. A way of making big bucks and publicity. Every genre covered, despite any noticeable flaws. TV, radio and magazines swoon at their feet , wanting to be the first to announce this newly discovered role.

Work it, work it!” the agents shout, talented unknowns pushed to the fringes. Their faces pressed up against the glass, desperate for a small chink in the dome. Fame not their aim, but recognition of their skill. Their dream coming to fruition. Without an agent, you've had it. Dust, a familiar taste in your mouth, rejection an old habit. The services of an agent or publicist unobtainable if you don't have the right look or style. Unrepresented, windows of opportunity remain tightly shut. Do you instead splash your cash to get your material out there? It's a lot of hard work if you're unknown and unused to the business. The market saturated they say, but is this fact or fiction?

Everybody wants to be somebody. Thinking they can write a bestseller, dance, sing and act. Most of them obnoxious, misguided in their beliefs. Those lacking in skill, the ones making it through. Their saleability part of the problem. Celebs with a household name can be relied upon to deliver the goods, even if it's outside their expertise. It has to be said, are agents passing up raw, hidden talent? I think this could be true. I see the same artists working the room in a myriad of forms. “Nothing wrong in this. Strike while the market's hot,” the typical response, but I disagree. Fine, make a name in your field, but don't use it to the nth degree. Why not use it instead to advocate good, champion benefits and causes? Stand aside, let others light shine. Let them at least have the opportunity.

Yes, this is a rant, but better out than in. No resolution in sight to this woe. One option has now occurred, Just William's Violet Elizabeth entering my head. “I'll scream and scream 'til I'm sick!”, with a stamp of my feet, until I get my way. For I'm led to believe, it's how you achieve an undisputed name.