Spread the love: the link between jam and life expectancy


Ok. Bear with me.

You might not think that the sugary goodness of jam would help with life expectancy, and realistically, eating it in moderation is most likely not going to have any effect whatsoever on your life expectancy. The thing is, depending on your heritage, it might not be your life expectancy I’m talking about.

Today is National ‘Close the Gap’ Day. Something of a mouthful to say, but super important because if you compare the average life expectancy of non-Indigenous Australians to that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there is an unbelievably large gap. A 10-17 year gap in fact.

On it’s website Oxfam talks about some of the reasons behind the ongoing Indigenous health crisis. These include accessability to health services, particularly for remote Aboriginal communities, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in mainstream health services (turning something simple like a routine doctors visit into a confusing, maybe even distressing, ordeal). It also highlights the root cause:

More than 200 years of dispossession, racism and discrimination have left Indigenous Australians with some of the lowest levels of education, highest levels of unemployment, poorest health and most appalling housing conditions.

One amazing project that is working towards empowerment and employment for Indigenous Australians in remote communities is Outback Pride.

Enter Jam. And sauces, and spices, etc. All delicous, all incorporating Australian native ingredients, this brand works to provide training and industry within traditional Aboriginal communities. My personal favourite is the Lemon Myrtle flakes, which I love to use in place of lemon grass in Thai dishes.

Check out their full range at: http://www.outbackpride.com.au/retail-products

A Sandwhich and a Story – the best salad sandwhich combo in history

On Monday I went to the launch of the new YWCA Canberra Cookbook, Frugal Feast. This collection of 13 easy and affordable  recipes is selling for $20 to raise money for the Lanyon Food Hub which provides emergency food relief for local families in need. Each recipe is accompanied by a story from the contributors who include volunteers and board members.

Frugal Feast

The launch was held at the ANU Food Co-Op (which is awesome, btw) and featured sandwhich making demonstrations from two of the books celebrity contributors, Minister Shane Rattenbury – Member of the Legislative Assembly, ACT Greens; and Natasha Rudra – food and wine editor for the Canberra Times; along with Francis Crimmins –  executive director, YWCA Canberra. Each told us the story behind their favourite frugal sandwhich and made some for us to try.

I am inspired.


The story behind my favourite sandwhich (or wrap – as pictured above) goes back 6 months to my time in Uluru with two of my favourite people. We were only there for a few days so we didn’t want to have to buy cheese for crackers and cheese for sandwhiches – so we decided to use brie for both. Yum-o.

One of these lovely ladies is a grazer – one of those people who eats in tiny spurts all day long. And as such she always has some kind of trail mix, nuts or the like in her bag. On this particular trip she was transporting a packet of Craisins (dried cranberries). Also delicous.

But it’s when you put these two ingredients together that you get the taste explosion. So what’s in it?


– The Best Sandwhich Combo Ever –

Bread or wrap

Lettuce (mesculin is my favourite)




Dried Cranberries


A Tale of Two Literacy Rates…

…How your love of second hand books can help to raise indigenous literacy rates in remote Australia.

Old Books

I love old books. I love to read them, to smell them, to run my hands along their spines. It’s a serious problem that has reached the point where I am not really allowed in second-hand bookstores unsupervised anymore. I just buy too much.

But you know what I really don’t love?

The knowledge that in this country there are many people who may never understand the joy of starting a new book; or returning to a beloved classic like a comfy pair of slippers.

In Australia this is most likely for indigenous children living in remote areas. Across the nation only 32.5% of Year 7 indigenous children living in very remote areas were measured at or above the national minimum standard for reading in 2013 as compared with 92.7% of non-indigenous children in the same areas. This was even worse in the NT were only 13.3% of Year 7 indigenous children living in very remote areas and only 44.9% living in remote areas achieved the national minimum standard. This is compared with non-indigenous scores of 97.5% and 93.6% respectively.

I think of the beautiful stories, the funny stories, the powerful inspirations that I would have missed out on had I not grown up with books. What a different person I might be.

Our indigenous children are being robbed of their potential by being robbed of their literacy, and I can barely believe that in Australia today this is still such a big issue!! It’s horrifying.


So how can you help out and score some lovely old books for your own library?

Hold a book swap. Invite some of your favourite bibliophiles (lovers of books) around and swap books with them, dropping a small donation into a jar for every swap. Sending these donations to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) will assist them to:

raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions. This is done through the delivery of books and literacy resources, publishing and visits out to remote communities.’ – http://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/about

For more information on how to hold an ILF book swap click here.

Got no books you are willing to part with? Don’t panic. Just head down to your local op-shop. The advent of Kindle has meant that an overwhelming number of excellent titles have ended up on op-shop shelves for as little as $2 or $3. Two charities, one very cheap stone.

Got kids? Get together with a group of other parents and swap the books your babies are growing out of for something a little more challenging.

Got no time to organise a book swap? I can totally sympathise with that. But if you still want to help you can donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation here.