The problem with Australian made baby formula…

I’m back after a long hiatus. Between planning a wedding and an unexpectedly nasty sinus infection, life just seems to have gotten away from me. But here I am, rising from my cyber slumber to write potentially my most dramatic post yet – because Australian babies are in danger.

Baby formula

All You Need is LLUF is all about making consumer decisions that promote the fair treatment of workers, because sadly there are many countries where governments are not prepared to protect their people from exploitation (and of course many companies happy to capitalise on this situation). And in a shocking display of what happens when a government does not sufficiently regulate it’s markets to protect the people, in 2008 contaminated baby formula killed six babies in the People’s Republic of China and put another 54,000 in hospital.

Ever since then Chinese nationals have been looking outside their own country for formula. This has resulted in such massive shortages in the UK and Hong Kong that it has been made a criminal offence to send baby formula out of these countries in bulk. And now it is resulting in similar shortages here in Australia.

So you see, the problem with Australian made baby formula is that there isn’t any left on Australian shelves.

Mothers and fathers all over our country are tearing out there hair trying to get access to food for their small children. Horror stories abound – about driving all over town, reaching out on social media to other families about where certain brands may be in stock, or for short-term loans. I mean seriously – people are borrowing half a tin of baby formula because they cannot get what they need to feed their children.

Caroline Raj, of the baby and toddler blog Mamma Raj, first reported on this crisis just over a week ago after having to buy her little munchkin a different formula type because it was all she could find. Since then she has been inundated with messages from other mothers in the same situation. After realising how many babies are being put at risk, Caroline decided to set up a petition, asking the Australian Government to follow suit with other countries, putting in place safeguards to ensure the food security of Australian babies is protected. You can read and sign Caroline’s petition on change.org or read about other things you can do to help here.

Good news for people who love Sherbies and other Allens lollies…

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Australia is reeling from announcements that Allens will be discontinuing a number of it’s lines so loved from our childhoods including Sherbies, jubes, spearmint leaves and green frogs.

Well, OK, noone cares about green frogs. But sherbies are a school camp staple, right?

But we can all relax. I have done my research (mmm, delicous research) and have identified a number of suitable substitutes which come with the added bonus of being made right here in Australia:

Sherbet Bombs

Not as soft, but delicously fruity and fizzy just like Sherbies.

Sherbert Bombs

Pascall Jubes

Not too hard. Not too soft. The perfect jube.

Bols Mint Leaves

Available at Kmart and at a ridiculously low price, you’re mad if you are not already using this identical tasting alternative.

With all these substitutes I won’t be suffering from Allens lolly withdrawal, but then again I started phasing Allens out of my diet in first year uni, along with all of Nestle’s other brands.

After hearing in first unit marketing about the devastating affects of Nestle’s aggressive campaigns to market infant formula to mothers in developing countries, it didn’t feel like much of a choice in the end.

I won’t harp on about the details – if you want to know more I suggest you start your own research here – but needless to say, a commitment to shopping ethical does not involve contributing to the profit margins of a company that is repeatedly accused of breaching World Health Organisation standards that are designed to reduce infant mortality rates in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities because they can turn a quick buck.

So maybe don’t mourn the loss of Sherbies, but rather look forward to a brave new world of more ethical (and equally delicous) options to explore. Mmmmm.

A little taste of Northern Tasmania

The sun rises on a sleepy Sunday in Devonport Tasmania. It’s hours before I get up though. There is a frost, which is actually not that common in this part of Tassie, so everyone stayed rugged up in bed until the day warmed up to a ‘balmy’ 14-or-so-degrees. Mr LLUF and I have heard everyone rave about the new cafes about town all weekend, and on our last day we find some time to sit down with my darling mother at Laneway.

Laneway

I check my GPS to make 100% sure we’re not in Melbourne, as this hole-in-the-wall coffee house would not be out of place in the laneways of that great city across the Strait.

With a real nod to local produce they have some delicous options on their breakfast menu, most of which include generous servings of  Mt Gnommon bacon. If you fancy a picnic lunch to follow, locally produced small goods, cheeses and condiments are also available in their deli section.

After a quick cup of tea and some cuddles with my sister and niece, Mr LLUF and I start the trip to Launceston, where we will spend our final night before heading back to the ‘Berra.

Ashgrove

Along the way we stop in at Ashgrove Cheese Factory. Something of a ritual on our Tassie trips. We do a couple of free taste tests, and then agonise over how much of each cheese we can safely transport home. We end up prioritising suitcase space for the bush pepper cheddar. Mr LLUF’s absolute favourite, and for me it’s a close second to the Wild Wasabi cheese!!

Raspberry farm

After having filled our savoury stomach with cheese, we decide to stop off at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm to fill our dessert stomachs. Rapberry icecream with a complimentary dark chocolate coated raspberry has me in heaven, and Mr LLUF runs around tasting raspberry jams, sauces and vinegars and suprisingly only comes away with a bottle of raspberry wine and three jams. We got off lightly this time.

Boags

And then off to our final stop in Launceston for our very last activity. A tour of the historic Boags Brewery. This has been high on Mr LLUFs Tassie-to-do list ever since he first started making trips down here with me. And it does not disappoint. A self-confessed history nerd he gets lost in the beer-lovers museum, reading about the legacy of the Boags family, and the story behind some of their beers, such as the Wizard Smith Ale. I have to track him down with high-vis and safety glasses in hand to start the tour. We are visiting on a Sunday, so the brewery is not in operation, but our guide talks us through the process and then gives us three pots to try at the end – matching each to a locally produced cheese.

We thank our stars that we had the sense to stay within walking distance of the brewery and settle in for a good session with some new friends we’ve made during the tour.

Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Why am I so tired? A suprising answer.

Bed

Noticed a little inconsistency in my blogging lately? Two blogs here and then nothing for a few weeks?

Truth be told, I’ve been exhausted. Unbelievably, can-barely-drag-myself-out-of-bed-some-mornings, feel-hungover-but-I-haven’t-been-drinking tired. And as such, my my A-game hasn’t been anywhere for a long time!! I haven’t brought it with me to the blog, or to the community organisations I work with, or to my half of the house work (my poor hubby).

Given a long family history of depression I figured it was most likely a little ticking genetic time-bomb going off, but on the off chance it was something else I asked the doctor to do the standard gammit of blood tests. They say you should get them done every two years anyway, and it’s been a lot longer than that for me. And to my suprise it came back with something.

I expected it to be a thyroid thing at the very least (medical history prejudice again), but in fact I had a vitamin B12 deficiency – a vitamin important for brain function and energy production. Excited at stumbling across a solution so quickly, I eagerly asked the doctor what veggies I could eat to fix it – none. I was confused. All vitamins come from fruit and veggies don’t they?

After a short Google (not a verb, I know), I have come to understand – and kids, I wouldn’t recommend quoting this in a science project – that vitamin B12 is, well, kind of, sort of, but not exactly, the poop of a special kind of bacteria that grows in dirty water. We use clean water to grow our veggies, but animals still drink the dirty stuff. So the main source of natural B12 is animal products. Or something like that. I encourage you to do your own research if you are looking for the actual answer. I am a raconteur, not a medical scientist.

Anyway. Not being a big meat eater the Doctor suggested that I take a fairly sizeable dose of the Vitamin. I shan’t tell you what it was, because I don’t want this article to inspire people to take supplements at higher dosages than the label recommends without individual medical advice. But I shall tell you that I grabbed the first Australian made 1000mcg bottle of B12 I could find, although you can get lower doses as part of multi-vitamins and ‘stress formulas’.

When I first started to feel better I put it down to a coincidentally timed holiday, told myself the supplements were hippie voodoo, and stopped taking them. This led to a slow slide back to where we started. Within 4 days of getting back on the little pink pills I was feeling good. I’d forgotten I could feel that good. The extra energy, and the absence of brain fog was a very welcome relief.

Now of course, this is my experience based on individually tailored advice provided to me by a licensed medical practitioner. If anything my relapse and original reluctance are warnings against self-diagnosis. So don’t use this post as an excuse to delay a visit to the doctor if you need one. But if you are feeling a little run down, particularly if you are a veggo, give some thought to your own vitamin B12 levels.

The Fab 5: The best posts of the past year

 28 April marks the one year anniversary of All You Need is LLUF.

It’s been a year of little triumphs, terrible disorganisation and great support from my loved ones. 44 posts and over 700 visits later, I have chosen 5 of my favourites to share:

Number

The first post I published, detailing the four part philosphy designed ‘to minimise the impact that my love of pretty things has on people and planet‘, that All You Need is LLUF was born from.

about

Number

The most popular post about our delightful stay in Hepburn Springs, Daylesford – a beautiful little town in wine country Victoria which I highly recommend for couples looking for romance, families looking for fun, and just about anyone looking for the perfect spot to relax.

Fair Grotto - HSMR

Number

The first to go ‘viral’ … ok, so the term ‘viral’ might be a bit of an overstatement. This is the first to be shared on Facebook by someone else. In particular the lovely people at Taygra Shoes Australia who were excited to be mentioned in the post.

Family of Taygra

Number

 My Mum’s favourite post. And there is no higher seal of approval.

paper binders 2

Number

The one that won…or at the very least was a favourite of the blog Living Well Spending Less who allows other blogs to post their best spend thrifting ideas to their Thrifty Thursday page.

BeetrootThrifty ThursdaySpring onions

So there you have it. Five of the best. A big thankyou for sticking with me so far, and a toast to the year ahead Champagne

5 alternatives to giving chocolate this Easter

I’m no health nut. And I love chocolate as much as the next overworked, slightly hormonal woman who occassional eats her feelings. But I feel like there are so many more sweet treats in everyday life than there ever where when I was a kid. Maybe that’s just because my Mum doesn’t tell me what to eat anymore, I don’t know. But I don know that there are alternatives out there to giving chocolate:

1) Easter themed books

Like these appropriately themed second hand books collected from local op-shops and second hand book stores.

bunny books

2) Real eggs

Healthy and delicous, and pretty as well. Die your egg shells with food die, or for something more adventurous, try coloured devilled eggs.

Colored Eggs in Easter Basket - Free High Resolution Photo

3) A real chicken or a real bunny

There are plenty of homeless bunnies and chickens available for adoption through the RSPCA. Just remember that an Easter bunny, just like a Christmas puppy, is a lifetime decision. Be a responsible pet owner.

Rabbit

4) Toys

If real bunnies aren’t your bag perhaps you should consider a bag of toy bunnies, like this cute as a button carrot full of fairtrade bunnies.

bunnies

5) Hours of fun

Or sit down with the people you love, no matter what age they are and do some easter crafting. Be inspired by these 40 great Easter craft ideas.

craft bunny

Spread the love: the link between jam and life expectancy

IMG_1687

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

5 things in your kitchen you really need to stop throwing away…

Coffee cubes

1. Unused coffee

Got leftovers at the bottom of your percolator or plunger? Not a problem!

We keep a jar of leftovers in the fridge for iced coffees. But if you don’t go through caffeine, glorious caffeine, as quickly as we do then pour into your ice cube tray and freeze. Then you can add them to your iced coffees (and espresso martinis!!) to get extra chill without watering down your drink.

Be sure to transfer your coffee cubes to an airtight container or ziplock bag once frozen though. Noone likes that freezer taster in their beverage!

Dish brush 1

2. Old dish brushes

When your dish brush gets a little bent and dirty, don’t throw it away. These are great for cleaning the shower, or anywhere else you might ordinarily use a traditional scrubbing brush.

I love that the handle allows you some extra distance from some of life’s more unpleasant cleaning jobs – like this little doosey in our backyard.

Dish brush 2

3. Empty glass jars

Why pay big money for BPA free lunchboxes when you have glass jars in the house?

Not only do my old honey jars hold in a cold soup for transport better than any airtight sealed plastic number I’ve ever had, but these old coffee jars are the perfect size for packing salads – seen here with a quinoa and cranberry salad (yum!!).

See this article for a great guide on how to pack the perfect salad in a jar.

Salad Jar 3

4. Rubber bands

You know those little purple things that come around every bunch of herbs you buy?

These puppies are actually suprisingly useful for repairing broken zips.

Rubber bands

5. Orange bags:

Ok, so now I’m really stretching. But if you have no better option your mesh citrus bags can be used in the laundry as a wash bag for your delicates. Or things you need to keep together: socks, bikinis, lego (no kidding – I saw someone wash their lego in the machine Pinterest!!).

Hooray for more money, and less landfill. Have a great week guys.

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.

Wrap

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)

Tomato

Cucumber

Brie

Dried Cranberries

 

Daylesford and region (ethical holiday extrordinaire – Pt 2)

Oh, delightful Daylesford. Such a wonderful holiday destination I couldn’t fit two days of exploring and ethical shopping into one post.

Last week I spoke about our stay in the lovely Hepburn Springs, a sleepy little village just outside which is perfect for an uber-relaxing getaway. If you are looking for a little more buzz thoug, Daylesford itself has a fantastic blend of shops, galleries and cafes to keep you stimulated.

Good cafes are, I believe, are close to the most important part of any holiday. Specifically cafes that serve brunch. Luckily the Daylesford streets are packed with such cafes – although many don’t open til 10am – and most of them serve ‘Istra bacon’, from a local producer of small goods. A close friend of mine recommends The Book Barn, down by the lake, which also sells second-hand books (I am in heaven), but unfortunately this was temporarily closed during our stay, so I cannot comment further.

Convent 1

The Convent Gallery is probably the best known of Daylesford institutions and is well worth a visit. This beautiful old building has rooms filled with canvases, jewellry and sculpture by local and international artists and boasts an equally beautiful garden. There is plenty to explore, including an old stair case which winds up to the bell-tower, or down to the small Convent museum, held in the basement. Once you grow tired of wandering through, you can sit and reflect under the stained glass windows of the chapel, or sit and revive in the modern cafe at the entry to the gallery.

Convent 2

Daylesford itself wasn’t quite enough excitement for us so we travelled further afield to Creswick, which has a woollen mill. You can choose to do a tour of the mill, or like I did, spend hours wandering through their factory outlet instead. They have a huge range of locally made mens and womens clothing along with bedding. Although the kids section is actually quite small, they have some great products including these little jackets which are so cute I almost bought one even though I have no idea who I would give it to.

Creswick

We also drove the 40(ish) minutes into Sovereign Hill, Ballarat. Both self-confessed history nerds, Mr LLUF and I ran about this replica of an 1850’s gold rush town desperately trying to see and experience everything – the pouring of a $140,000 gold ignot, learning how to pan for gold, sharing a devonshire tea served by a woman in maids cap and apron. Incredibly Sovereign Hill has a number of artisans who work on site, hand crafting souvenirs using traditional methods.

Lollies - Sovereign Hill

We watched the making of the boiled lollies which you could buy at the1850’s Grocer store along with hand made jams and sauces. In a somewhat modern twist these can also be bought online if you don’t want to go all the way to Ballarat to try them.

Grocer - Sovereign Hill

You can also watch and even assist in the making of candles. We saw four girls working with the artisan to create some rainbow candles to take home with them and they looked to be having a really good time of it. Perhaps most incredibly, you can watch heavier industries at work such as wheelrights, blacksmiths, and the foundry where you can watch an artisan spin a lump of metal into a saucepan, a toothpick holder, a bell, and more, which you can then buy for what I thought was a suprisingly reasonable price.

Foundry - Sovereign Hill

I must admit, between all these vendors I went a little nuts stocking up on locally made goodies. And so it was with a heavy heart, and a heavy back seat, we drove away from the Daylesford region.