How to feed the world’s poorest without growing more food


I was invited to an event held by the ACT Fair Trade Collective last night. The topic was on food sustainability and fair trade. There were four speakers:

  • Mandy Nearhos, Co-convenor ACT Fair TradeCollective;
  • Molly Harriss, the newly appointed CEO of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand;
  • Debbie Hunt, NSW/ ACT Campaign and Engagement Coordinator, Oxfam Australia; and
  • Federico Davila, ANU PHD Student specialising in food sustainability

In the past 2 years I have been searching for answers to help the world’s poorest. My search led me to setting up Oz Fair Trade in the hope that I could help some people to improve their living standards through their skills and a fair trading system. At the moment Oz Fair Trade only deals with handicrafts, which many women rely upon for a sustainable income, as land becomes a scarce resource in many developing countries. I was thinking about expanding into food such as coffee and tea, but decided to postpone the plan because there are a few businesses in Australia that are doing a wonderful job in this field (such as Republica).

The night was very educational for me, as my knowledge of fairtrade concentrated on handicrafts not food. You’d think that farmers are the ones closest to food so why are they starving? One answer is that farmers are pressured by global economic systems to grow “cash crops” such as cotton. It’s all good when they get a good return, but the reliance on a single product inevitably makes one vulnerable to price changes. Other answers include their reliance on good weather conditions, unfair prices set by powerful buyers, corruption, land grabs etc.

The problem is not that we are not growing enough food. The problem is that a lot of the food is wasted instead of feeding the people who need it most. The world food system, as part of the global trade system, is broken. Governments have been shown to be powerless in terms of driving changes. NGOs have been doing great jobs such as pushing for Fair Trade. There are many ways to fix the system e.g. fairtrade, microfinance, microinsurance, addressing climate change etc.

As consumers, we have so much power that we don’t realise. Again and again, it has been shown that companies do listen if we are loud enough and care enough. Oxfam recently exposed ANZ’s involvement in a sugar plantation investment in Cambodia which forced hundreds of farmers to leave their farms. This contradicts ANZ’s social responsible policy. As consumers, we can hold them accountable. Be sure to be loud and clear.

So what can you do? You can:

  • choose fairtrade certified products whenever possible
  • spread the message of fairtrade among your friends and colleagues
  • waste less food and start a worm farm
  • buy locally produced food helps to reduce food miles
  • sign petitions to stop land grabs and unfair trade
  • support brands that really respect people and planet
  • vote for politicians who care about climate and people
  • write to companies who don’t have a social responsible policy or don’t obey them
  • make some noise on social media to show that you care
  • eat more veggie helps to reduce demand for meat which has higher carbon footprints, and veggie is good for you
  • lend small amounts to the poorest through organisations like Kiva and Good Return. From personal experience, the repayments have been excellent
  • choose superannuation funds such as Australian Ethical Super that invest only in ethical companies


Molly pointed out that in UK more than 80% know about fairtrade and more than 50% regularly buy fairtrade. In Australia, 50% know about fairtrade and 15% regularly buy fairtrade. This confirms my feeling that a lot more can be done in Australia.

If you are interested in how to fix the world food system, you can find useful information on Oxfam’s website. If you are interested in fairtrade handicrafts please checkout my not-for-profit social business Oz Fair Trade where customer service is guaranteed!

No-brainer weight loss program


All my life I have struggled with weight. I wished for a magic pill that would undo all the calories I consumed. I’ve tried all sorts of weight loss programs, diets, exercise programs etc. etc. and they either didn’t work at all or worked only for a short time period.

I thought it was unfair, and that weight loss was too hard. Until…I came across this quote:

“For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.”

I have been upset over a first world problem for so long, and the solution is so simple.

So…what am I going to do about it?

I did some research, and I was shocked to find that:

” an average Australian wastes 200kg of food each year, while two millions of us also go hungry.” – Foodbank

 “The world produces enough food for everyone, yet one in eight still go hungry.” – Oxfam

Foodbank ( is the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia, and it delivered 31,794,967 meals last year. It partners with many big and small businesses that either produce or sell groceries.

Oxfam runs an annual “Eat Local Feed Global” event ( that encourages people to raise awareness on global hunger.

So, after some thought, here’s my 10 point no-brainer weight loss program:

  • limit calorie intake to 300 per meal (3 meals a day)
  • only snack on fruit or something equally healthy
  • no chips, fast food, donuts, sugary drinks etc.
  • grow my own veggie and buy local
  • feel hunger and wait, until I’m absolutely sure that it’s hunger not craving
  • clean kitchen once a month and donate food I don’t need
  • donate the amounts I save on food to people who really need it
  • eat out less and order less when I do eat out
  • eat slower to allow the brain to register fullness
  • skip artificial sweeteners

and exercise, although I have found that it is more useful for health reasons than weight loss. I have been following this program for 2 weeks now, and I have lost 1.5kg. I will report back on my progress in a few months time.