FIRE, FURY & THE DANGER OF ZERO SUM POLITICS

Photo Credits:Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

“Media is personal.It is a series of blood scores .The media in its often collective mind decides who is going to rise and who is going to fall,who lives and who dies.If you stay around long enough in the media eye,your fate,like that of a banana republic despot ,is often an unkind one -a law Hilary Clinton was not able to circumvent.The media has the last word.”

-Michael Wolff

This post should have been  a book review.

When I started reading this book it was to get insight into the Trump Presidency and to get all the juicy details about exactly what could be happening on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,Washington DC,like everyone else I was curious to get into the inner sanctums of the Trump White House.Midway through the book I realized the book was not about that,it was a book about what American politics had become,the politics of self interest.Michael Wolff indeed  had given us a peek into the  Trump White House ,yet if he had changed the characters and location of  this story ,it could be any Presidency somewhere in the world.

It was a revelation of the  world political stage as it is right now,  the role of the media and  our role ,the not so helpless and hapless  minions of  a system we have been caught up in-a zero sum political game of thrones.

In all the discussions I watched on CNN of what was termed as an explosive  book ,the role of the media was never discussed or  talked about.The power of media and how it makes us believe  we are making choices when in fact the choices have already been made for us is something no one touched.Yet,we know media in the USA and in my country has played a role,a big one in the way the politics in these two countries has panned out.

The months before the American elections , if you watched  international news channels,especially CNN,President Donald Trump received a lot of coverage not all of it favorable,actually most of it  negative formed a recurring narrative on most news channels and discussion panels.There was enough time and information to be able to make the choice between President Trump , Hilary or  Bernie Sanders,they chose a former TV Reality Show star (there is nothing wrong with reality TV stars).

Michael Wolff for all the backlash he has received over the book,did say something that pretty much describes how President Trump would like to run the white house when he wrote,“Curiously for a man who seemed to have led a movement based in anger and retribution,Trump was very much(or he believed he was very much a politician of the old stripe-a lets -work-it out-guy.You scratch my back,I’ll scratch yours .He was in his mind,the ultimate tactician,always knowing what the other guy wanted.”

That knowing what the other guy wants is how he was able to get the GOP  nomination and beat Hilary at the polls.He knew and was speaking a language the average American understood,Americans wanted someone who was going to save them,their country and the values they thought their country stood for.Trump’s supporters wanted someone who could make America great again and Trump was speaking a language they were familiar with and could relate to.

He was the ultimate salesman.

The book is not just about Trump’s White House,it is a story about what is happening the world over,politically,it is a battle between “good’ and “evil” .Wolff provides what I consider a perfect description of politics today when he writes,“Politics had seemed to become,even well before the age of Trump,a mortal affair.It was now zero-sum:When one side profited,another lost.One side’s victory was another’s death.The old notion that politics was a traders game,an understanding that somebody else had something you wanted-a vote,goodwill,old-fashioned patronage-and that in the end the only issue was cost,had gone out of fashion.Now,it was a battle between good and evil.” 

That up there describes politics today,zero-sum.

And that is why America ,my country Kenya and many others   the world over are in the mess they are today.

When politics becomes a zero sum  game no one wins.Absolutely no one will ever win if we continue playing politics the way we are doing right now  where our wins are pegged on another person’s or groups loss.We fell into the zero sum trap when we started creating societies where everyone was placed into a particular social,ethnic,tribal or racial group and we aligned our political interests along those groups.

Read this fantastic article in the Washington post by llya Somin on Identity politics and the dangers of Zero-Sum Thinking.

This book is about that kind of politics, it reveals ,to borrow Wolff’s words that politics has become “a discrete business of insular,inbred,incestuous interests.”

Something will have to give if we go on like this and it will not be pretty.

Read the book.

DANS LE NOIR EXPERIENCE

 

It is some minutes to 7 pm on Thursday and I am walking towards Soi Restaurant at dusitD2 Nairobi, excited for what I  am sure will be a thrilling and fun evening .It is the  launch of their dining in the dark experience,part of the #dusitD2moments.

The first dining in the dark experience was held in Paris,France in 1997 and over the years the idea has been taken up by many other restaurants around the world  in order to deliver  a novel  and multi sensory experience to their diners.

The French call it “dans le noir” which in English translates to in the dark.

As the hostess at Soi was walking me to my table ,the questions swirling in my mind were :

What do I expect from my first dining in the dark experience ?

What really happens at a dining in the dark experience ?

What  happens when you cannot see what is on your plate , does it really  heighten  your enjoyment of food ?

Seated  with me at Soi the Thai  Restaurant   are other food bloggers like Susan Wong Editor at Capital Lifestyle,Kaluhi of Kaluhi’s Kitchen,Katy Fentress of Yummy Magazine  and Ravneet Sehmi of The Asian Weekly ,we are on our second course , and we are trying to guess what it is  on our plates and sharing it with Karim the F & B Director.

We are clearly getting something right guessing from the encouraging response we get from him who though he does not tell us exactly what is on our plates is keenly following the progress of our meal and making sure we are comfortable,that we know exactly where our plates are placed,ensuring we have our drinks  and his cheerful banter keep us engaged and relaxed  throughout the course of the meal.

Karim has such a delightful and engaging personality , has worked in a number of countries and has a genuine love for great food an  interview with him is something I am looking forward to doing.

On our second course  I am chewing on something really delicious  – a vegetable wrap  with  a filling of what tastes like pork or is it chicken I cannot tell as clearly  I am in the dark (pun intended).

Later after the plates for this course have been cleared, we find out that it was  a salad of spicy grilled pork with Tom Yum paste made by the chef whom Karim introduces as   Supa Chai .

All food at dining in the dark experiences is served in bite sized pieces ,has no bones and you can use your hands (we got hot towels before this course) . I  used my fingers to finish my  prawns and egg fried rice with a thick red curry and relished every bite of it.

 This course  was pretty hilarious  because around me I kept hearing prawns being mentioned , I had not yet started on  mine and I kept thinking..what are these guys talking about…where are my prawns?!

The dining in the dark experience at dusitD2  will be happening on the 1st Thursday of every month, officially it begins with the first dining in the dark experience on the 8th of this month (be sure to make your reservations early).

We had a connoisseur of Asian food on our table   and she got the third course which was  chicken  wonton soup right on the first few seconds of this course .Wontons are little squares of dough  and can be filled with chicken ,pork,shrimp or vegetables  the edges are  brushed with some water and  crimped to seal in the fillings ,they are boiled and served with soup.This course was  delightfully delicious and got rave reviews from everyone at the table and  I   remember getting surprised then disappointed  when I started scraping the bottom of the bowl with the soup spoon and finding that the delightfully delicious  soup was over!

Wontons can  also be served  deep-fried or baked with a sauce.

Would I do it again ?

A definite yes , the dusitD2 will be offering a new menu for each dining in the dark experience in the coming months and with 2 new chefs ,diners will be getting some really great  things on the menu.

My suggestion  when you are making your reservations would be to go for the experience as a group ,either as a family,a group of friends or with  your colleagues from work ,that way you get to share your experience through out the course of the meal.

Overall ,it was a great experience and I would definitely go back.

It had me paying more attention to my food,I remember trying to use my sense of smell to try to guess what was on my plate every time we got a new course and deliberately taking longer to chew my food and getting thrilled with the burst of flavors on my palate through out and I realized  how powerful our senses are and  how little  use we make of our other senses when enjoying  food.

Bon appetit!

 

Walkway from the parking that leads through 14 Riverside Drive to the Soi Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

KONNICHIWA,HAVE YOU BEEN TO MINISO ?

 

These bags would be perfect for carrying make-up.

Konnichiwa (hello or good day in Japanese said with a deep bow from the waist)

Last year on May 16,2017 Kenya and Japan signed a cooperation agreement that would see Miniso a fashion brand from Japan make forays into the Kenyan market.Seven months later on December 22nd , Miniso would open its first retail store at the upmarket Village Market shopping  complex  and barely a month later they would open their second store at the Thika Road Mall .

The two  Kenyan  Miniso stores all located in Nairobi city  join a growing list of the over 2,600 outlets it has globally with its presence in Africa being in South Africa,Morocco,Nigeria,Egypt and Madagascar.Kenyans love the brand already as the few times I have been there the aisles have been busy and the staff are always very courteous and helpful.

Whenever I think of Japan it is the  vivid memories of cherry tree blossom season, the geta(the very fashionable wooden sandals) and kimonos that come to mind and sushi,how could i forget how the Japanese gave us Sushi!

Japanese culture intrigues me ,it is so prim and proper ,steeped in tradition yet  as a country is so technologically advanced it is mind boggling.  Tradition and technological advancement  can co- exist we just have to find the balance and African countries are coming into themselves and we have  seen an ever increasing appreciation of African culture globally over the last decade.

Miniso brand specializes in lifestyle products and the range of items in their stores range from play dough , nail polish to kitchen saucepan and mobile phone accessories .I found their products favorably priced and I would dare say they will disrupt the lifestyle retail sector with their high quality but well priced items.

 

As a brand Miniso gives the best of what we appreciate about the Japanese culture,their precision to detail,courtesy(we had an attendant follow us and bring a shopping cart) and a whole new way of doing business .

Konnichiwa(deep bow)

HOW EMOJI’S ARE CHANGING HOW WE COMMUNICATE

How many of you use emoji’s when communicating with family or friends ?

I know I do all most of the time.

Did you know there is world Emoji day marked on July 17th?

Emoji’s are described by the Oxford Dictionary as a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion.

There are 2,666 emoji characters available as of June of last year,more than there are letters of the alphabet….!

Thanks to technology and the rising use of social media we have seen an increase in the use of emoji’s even  by big brands and millennials are quite adept at using them, Goldman Sachs after research on millennials  condensed their findings into  a 22  emoji character Tweet.

To be honest the first time I watched the video last year  I had no idea who had done it .

A music video made up of entirely emoji’s..who does that?

Well Sauti Sol does.

The Kenyan music group remains one of my favorites and I have followed their music over the years .I like the boldness with which they bring to each of their music projects  their  Afro-pop sound and as they have become more daring over the years , won awards that no other Kenyan group has they  continue to ruffle the very smooth moral feathers of Kenyan society or not.

Whether you think their music videos  raunchy or simply great works of art,music for them as a form of art offers  a reflection of  society as it is.

The Friendzone music video was a first in terms of emoji use,  as you might expect …has a raunchy subtext.But it did say something about how we have moved from text to visual messaging and  how we have adopted them as a  fun way to express our thoughts and ideas.

An Emoji sentiment analysis done between 2015 and 2017 among 6 billion users show emoji use is higher among women.

The analysis ran by Brandwatch also analysed some of the most popular emojis among men and women .

Last year Facebook adopted use of emoji reactions where users who were previously limited to “liking” posts  now have multiple options to choose from that range from “love”,”sad”,”angry”,”wow” or ‘haha.”

Emojis are changing the way we express ourselves which must say something about how we communicate with each other.In a world where we  are more connected than we have ever been in human history,why have we resorted to use of emojis?

Have we exchanged real conversations for  over reliance on technology  and do emojis muddy the waters of communication or make them clearer ?

What does this say about how we will communicate with each other in a few years and what does that mean for relationships today and in the future ?

It will be interesting to see where we are headed and how things change but just incase you want to keep up with all things emoji related,then use this resource tool for all things emoji related- Emojipedia .

 

 

CHRISTMAS POST SERIES:BEST GIFTS COST YOU NOTHING

 

My friend Wambui and I are on an errand around Toi in Kibera and as she is parking her car,she notices someone she thinks she knows,but he looks different she says.I turn to take a second look at  the  young man she is referring to who is now directing us to a parking spot.You could easily pass him,ignore him or shudder when you look at him.

He is in torn jeans,a grey t shirt that has seen better days , open pair of battered brown  shoes and in his hands a faded grey towel.See those towels that they sell in traffic jams in Nairobi that end up somewhere in your car until you need it and can’t remember where you placed the last one one you bought and you tell yourself you have to buy another one.And when you buy a new one you find the old one and now you have a couple of towels that you really do not need.

Yes,those towels.

That is what he is holding in his hand,a small grey,damp  towel.

He comes to stand next to the drivers side of the car,unconsciously wiping the car as he talks to us,he works at a car wash.

But that is not what you notice when you first see him,you will first see the sores on his lips,sores that have turned his lips pink,an unnatural shade of pink with  red sores that look like blisters,the pink spots on his skin seem to be spreading because he also has a patch of pink with a smattering of his natural skin color on the  tip of his nose.

Wambui makes small talk with him and promises to be back in a few minutes,sadly I  do not think much about that young man all I ask myself is what happened to him and quickly start calculating how much time we will have to spend in traffic to get home.

When we get back to the car,I strap myself in and then Wambui does not drive off,she starts a conversation with him.

His name is Amigo,he is 35 and this skin condition he has…one day he was fine,all dark brown melanin color, then one day he wakes up and his skin color has started to change  and he cannot explain it.He struggles to explain what changed,how his skin changed and I can tell he does not know what to say as he keeps shaking his head .He works at a car wash nowadays as he cannot find a job,lives with his mother and has a 6 year old son that calls him dad that he has to take care of. Wambui talks and I listen and thinking to myself of how many other people  have been helped by Amigo to park their cars and once they had done so,they locked  their cars , went off to their business,shopping for stuff at Toi or Adams and when they were done,they came got into their cars and drove off.Did not even look back.

Those people could be me.

Amigo talked and as he talked of how he had been to Kenyatta and Mbagathi hospitals hoping to get medication for his skin condition,but nothing seems to change even after these visits and medication.

Amigo talked and we listened and later as we drove back home we talked about him and we felt our hearts break,listening to him.We promised to back and we prayed for him.

I hope we can do something for Amigo,maybe get him someone that could diagonize his skin condition or give him a job

If you are ever in Toi during this Christmas season and you see that young man,say hallo to him,encourage him because sometimes we meet people on the street they look fine to us but they are fighting giants within themselves,they are fighting battles we know nothing about and carrying loads of care and worry that would crash us.

As we celebrate Christmas this year,spare a thought and your time for the people you would normally never talk to or listen to and just give them your time,it costs nothing.

My encounter with Amigo made me think of the help I have received from people over the years and sometimes that help was not even monetary,it was a listening ear,encouragement,prayers,best of wishes as I worked on an idea and I realized that the best help we can give to anyone is our time.

It also challenged me to give time to people who sometimes are in the periphery of my life,people I would not normally talk to because I was afraid that there is nothing I could say to them that would change their circumstances or be of help .We all can be an answer to someones prayer and sometimes their prayer is that someone sees them,sees them and listens to them because when we listen,it shows we care.

The value of time is so precious,that time you give to a friend looking for someone to listen to the challenges they are going through at work,with life or as they grow their business is invaluable.If you spare some time to listen to someone,maybe that is all they need to know that someone cares enough to give them their time may give that person the strength to live another day.

.This Christmas,give more of yourself,of your time to someone you would  normally not give your time to,listen to them and really hear what they are saying.It is the best thing you can do to yourself and to someone who needs you.

The best Christ Christmas gifts cost you nothing.

CHRISTMAS POST SERIES:HIDDEN GEMS

 

So there is this little gem,hidden somewhere past Kiserian town about 90 minutes drive  out of Nairobi,along the Magadi road,on a private road  and next  to Ole Polos are  the Ol Talet  and Ol Oika Cottages.This lovely little getaway is nestled in the beautiful wilderness of Kiserian ,from the balcony,you get a lovely and breath taking view of the Rift Valley and you can see the black winding ribbon of Magadi road as it winds its way to Lake Magadi.

Later in the day,as you  sip Kenyan tea or coffee ,it is to the accompanying rattling of the bells on the necks  of Maasai cattle, grazing a few  short meters down the hill.Across the ridge are the herds of goats dotting the landscape as  they make their way up the ridge nibbling on the shrubs and jumping over the rocks that litter the hill.Maybe they will end up on some of our plates over the Christmas season(how sad I think and it almost puts me off eating dinner later).

Ol Talet cottage can accommodate 6 people comfortably as it has 2 double rooms and one room with a double bed,the cottages  are self catering and on hand are David and his able assistant who will roast succulent  goat ribs to perfection.Each of the cottages comes with a fully equipped kitchen and a coffee maker(best news).There is hot shower in their bathrooms ,very  beautiful bathrooms,especially at Ol Talet  where  the excitement of hearing the curtain of sea shells rattle as I walked in for a cold shower  took me to the  beautiful sandy beaches at the Kenyan coast.The bathrooms have wide open windows which let in the morning light and you can see the wide expanse of beautiful African wilderness as far as the eye can see.

Ol Talet cottage has 3 bedrooms,one of them with the 2 single beds is located on the ground floor of the cottage while below ground are the other two bedrooms.The cottage has beautiful,tasteful well done decor and as you walk down the stairs  to the other  2 bedrooms  and shared bathroom below ground ,you walk past a wall filled with  African masks and can admire the stained glass window and the tasteful use of African art and craft pieces in the decor.

There is ongoing work to have a swimming pool ready in 2018.

 

In the morning,I could not wait to wake up to watch the sunset on the balcony ,while listening to the sweet sound of birds chirping and cast my eyes over what seemed like an unending expanse of breath taking views of the Rift Valley.It is so quiet up there ,you want to spend time just watching and listening to nature as it talks to you and whispers that life is a beautiful thing , we are here for a reason and season and we need to make the best of every moment we have.

When it is time for breakfast,we walked up the hill and to the dining area  of Ol Oika cottage where David had set out for us a Kenyan breakfast  and amidst the cheerful banter , we heard nothing except the  familiar voices of friends.If you live in the city long enough ,the honking of cars,matatus becomes normal,that blissful  quietness up there is  a beautiful quietness and we did not want to leave,not yet.

I was  at Ol Talet, with a group of friends,my chama friends,some of whom I have known since Primary school through high school and over the years we  have become   business partners and we had a thoroughly great time  ,occasionally seeing  grey vervet monkeys in the trees that surround the cottage,certainly they must have been curious about us as we were about them.

Before breakfast I had time to look for the   fish pond and almost felt like I was on a Finding Nemo Mission.Remember Bruce the nice shark wit his line “Fish are friends not food.”

The cottages have TV and board games incase you are looking for a little more activity,we were happy to just sit back ,enjoy the scenery,strategize on our plans for the next year and each others company.

If you are looking for a place not too far from the city for a quick getaway then Ol Talet is the perfect location,just over an hours drive from Nairobi,leave on Friday evening and drive back on Sunday after a sumptuous lunch.Bookings at the cottages are done strictly in advance.

Contact Ol Talet .

 

CHRISTMAS POST SERIES:THE BEST BITS OF 2017

 

Image:Samir Hussein/WireImage

Very excited to be launching the 12 days of Christmas blog post series and excited to be starting with the bits and pieces that made 2017 truly special for me.

The year was full of surprises,heartbreaks,lessons,challenges overcome and above all miracles from unexpected places.Among the many things that happened over the course of the past 11 months I picked just a few that meant something to me and most seemed to have happened in the second half of the year .

Why the second half of the year had so many lessons in it for me may partly  wholly be due to the realization that I learned to open my eyes to the miracle that life is and to let it surprise me.

1.Royal Engagement

You all know Doria Radlan  ?

She is the kind of woman I would want to have a long talk  ,in a side walk  coffee bar , large mirrors antique furniture with movie posters framed on their walls,we would  watch people walk by  both be wondering where they were all hurrying to .

And we would go back to talking about tolerance for people who do not look like is,talk like us or believe in the same things we do and we would have a blast because she does look like that kind of woman.

That she sports dreadlocks gives  her instant street credentials  to her being very attuned to the very complicated nature of human beings.

Why am I talking about Doria,who up until last week was virtually unknown?

Because she is soon going to be the mother in law to Prince Harry.

Her daughter Meghan Markle, stars in the hit TV series Suits as Rachael Zane , a part time summer associate in a law firm  and is  one of my favourite characters on Suits.

The engagement of Meghan to Prince Harry was announced two days ago and the internet went wild.

Prince Harry as you well know is brother to second in line to the British throne Prince William and being a royal watcher I was elated that my favourite character in suits was engaged to this particular member of the House of Widnsor.

Growing up I admired   Princess Diana (Prince Harry’s mother)   especially for her charity work  and campaign against landmines in Africa especially in Angola where landmines had maimed and killed thousands.It was with shock and disbelief  that I still remember going to buy the paper for my father and seeing  the headline of the Sunday Nation on the morning of  August 31,1997 that she had  died in a car accident in Paris.

The engagement has to be one of my highlights for the year,I am among the millions looking forward to the  May wedding .

And why it is the highlight of the year is because this marriage  it will forever change how we view race especially In Europe and that is a good thing.s otherwise,the British press called the very idea of someone of color joining the royal family scandalous.Find out why.

Who would have thought this would happen when royalty purists made us believe  otherwise .

2.Challenges overcome

Finally I got over my fear of speaking before crowds.

I always wondered how anyone could stand before a crowd and speak,now I know how it feels like .

Yes,I am shy and would literally break into a sweat at the thought of standing up before crowds to say anything.

But the year started with meeting Joyce Mwangi,getting placed in the same group as we studied the book of John heard me mention that I blog,she wanted to start like yesterday and I told her just write.

And write she did,published a devotional based entirely on the Kenyan National Anthem and she launched it and she gave me the terrifying honor of reading a speech.

It was a really  humbling  moment for me was to speak at  book launch of the Kenya National Anthem Devotional,she writes at His Creation blog.She is doing some amazing work,head over to her blog and find out about what she has been doing and order the book from there,she will ship it to you wherever you are.

As a result of what I thought was a daunting challenge,I got to speak infront of a crowd,I did not stammer,sweat or faint.

3.Mentoring

Through my writing,and encouraging other women to tell their stories  I have given wings to 3 other writers who now have their own blogs.One of them,Joyce Mwangi of His Creation,Grace Muriuki of Godly Marriages are Beautiful   and Catherine Mbau of Ripples of Life .

It was not something I set out to do,it just happened and because I am always asking people  ,especially women to tell their stories as it is through stories that we learn and experience life,there are 3 more women sharing about some truly amazing things -God’s love and marriages a God intended it to be.

It is my hope to have a blogging workshop early in 2018 and incase you are interested please fill in your details HERE and I will be in touch.

4.Gratitude

In the fast paced world we are living in right now where when you wake up everyday,there is a newer version of everything and every few hours or so you are updating the applications on your phone,it easy to lose sight of the fact that convenience sometimes makes us self absorbed.

This convenience has made us a little impatient with people and things that do not move at lightning speed,we have come intolerant to faults,imperfections and with each other.Modern technology is giving us convenience but is robbing us of what we need most as human beings-relationship with each other.

After finishing the  Black and white photo challenge,that is when I learned that indeed I had taken so much for granted and had not really been taking time to see the beautiful things around me.Seems I have been living life at 120 km/hour and that I had not time to appreciate life as it is , makes me sad because it means that a lot of things were lost to me that I can never get back because I was busy.

You may want to try the  challenge and see what changes after 7 days,its worth it.

 

5.The value of family and friends

God put us in a family and gave us friends that stretch our limits  on love,patience,gratitude,kindness,peace,joy and a lot of other virtues.The relationships we have with our family and friends shape us,mold us,challenge us and make us better people(hopefully).

A family is the basic units from which all other social relationships are formed,it is the launching pad to all other relationships we will have in adult hood  and the skills we learn in our families determine the quality of  relationships we will have with friends and with our spouses eventually.

Can you imagine what a beautiful world we would have if we put families front and centro of government policies,development agendas locally  and the global agenda?we might just be able to solve 50% of the conflict we have in the world today.

This year I have known what having a loving family and a group of friends is all about.To my family,my kids,husband,sisters,parents a big thank you for a wonderful year.

Of special mention are the girls from my chama that made my year special:Wambui,Flo,Jackie,Belinda,Mwari,Myl,Njeri,Pat,Sue,Kagendo thank you for teaching me the true value of friendship.May we  live to celebrate many more years of friendship.

My friends from my Bible Study Fellowship who are like family to me now.

Kawi and Mukami for being sisters.

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama of Mummy Tales, you are always an inspiration keep telling the stories of the wonderful women you get to meet.

Looking forward to an amazing 2018.

 

What have been the highlights of your year so far,anything interesting happened to you that you would like to share,challenges overcome,goals achieved?

 

WHY THE DEMAND FOR ORGANIC FOODS IS GROWING

Organic Farmers are HEROES.
Peter Wendt

If you follow the Organic Farmers Market in Nairobi which I have for a couple of years,you may have noticed that  there are now more places where they have organized for Kenyans to buy organic food as well as more  vendors,  which means there has been an increase in the demand for organic food from the Kenyan market.

You must have wondered about what all the noise is  about Organic farming and why suddenly there has been a surge in the demand as well as consumption of organic produce. I thought this post would be  helpful in helping us appreciate organic farming  as well as  see why the demand for organic food has grown.

Organic farming is a system of agricultural production that involves the cultivation of crops and the rearing of animals using natural ways.

Conserve Energy defines it as a process that involves the use of biological materials,avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage.With a world population that is more than 7 billion and a land size that remains the same yet it is fighting with encroachment from human settlement,the demand for arable land is on the rise and people are looking for all manner of ways to make the most of the available land and animal resources.

One of the ways unscrupulous people have found to get more from their land and animals in order to make a few quick dollars is to pump it with chemicals,pesticides as well as speed up the maturity of farm animals like chicken by injecting them with growth hormones.

The bottom line in all of these endeavors is not a concern for the people who will eventually buy these foods from the supermarkets,it is profit  greed that is the only driver for such practices that puts the lives of other  human lives at risk.

It is true organic food costs more , because of the work involved as it is a very labor intensive exercise.It is also true that you expose yourself to less risk if you choose to go organic.

About 4 years back,I lived on a farm in Nakuru where we grew vegetables and other crops I also took up some organic farming on the side as an experiment project as well as to keep me busy.

My crops of choice were potatoes,zucchinis,carrots , to prepare I read widely and found that potatoes do very well especially if you mix dried manure into the soil and so I went about asking for dung from the farmers that owned cows around where we lived.I got a lot of it as well as a lot of curious looks as to what I needed cow dung it for.

But the venture came with a lot of challenges as well.The area where we lived was infested with moles ,how to get rid of them without using chemicals?

And we set about looking for a mole catcher,they do not exist anymore by the way and before we found we had a village of molehills on the farm as well as lost a lot of potatoes.

Up until the time we harvested the potatoes and carrots I never used a single drop of pesticide on them and they did fairly well.They potatoes and carrots came in all manner of sizes and we lost some as well to pests,but I had done it ,grown something without use of a single pesticide or chemical.

The need for organic farming is driven by the need for more sustainable methods of farming  that ensure we will still be able to produce enough food 50 years from now on when the world population is estimated will be at more than 10 billion.

For those that have tasted organically grown fruits and vegetables you  agree with me that they taste better than what you get from the supermarket shelves.Eggs from free range chicken are also more tastier ,have a yolk with the must delicious yellow color   and just a bit smaller than the eggs  that you get at the supermarket.

We consume a variety of pesticides and chemicals from foods like chicken,beef and other dairy products as well as from fruits and vegetables .The chemicals from pesticides and other  drugs  like antibiotics used to treat these animals have found their way  into our food and we have started seeing resistance to the  most widely available antibiotics used to treat very common infections.

Scientists are having to work very hard to keep up with the microbial mutations  are now resisting the currently available antibiotics.

These resistance is leaving scientists and researchers worried as it means the increased resistance by disease  causing bacteria to these drugs will expose us to infections which currently available  antibiotics will not be able to treat.

The discovery of the latest antibiotic was reported this April and it was done by Canadian scientists,it was the first in antibiotic  discovery in 3 decades 30 years  and the drug is still years away from being available to the public.

The increasing public awareness on what is going on,increasing incidences of disease  and the effects of environmentally unsustainable  decades of farming methods have pushed organic farming  front and centre.

If you are in Nairobi, follow the Organic Farmers Market on Facebook to see where the market  will be next and get to interact with the farmers working hard to ensure we produce food in a more sustainable ad environmentally friendly manner than we are d right now.

Why is organic farming important and why should you care,I have a few reasons  to think about why organic matters and who knows maybe you may take it up or talk to someone about it then we have a  new generation  of organic farmers.We may even meet at the Organic market.

1.Buying organic foods  creates a demand in the market and  will push farmers to be more responsible especially  over the use of pesticides and other chemicals as they grow crops or rear their animals.This is already happening in some countries where consumers are demanding more responsibility over the use of drugs and pesticides.

In this way we are promoting a more sustainable model that ensures the earth is able to feed the future generations that  come after us.

2.Buying organic foods means that you get the foods fresh,these foods have not been treated with any preservatives or had nay additives added to them to lengthen their shelf life.

The shelf life of organic foods is  very short because of their very minimal  journey from the farm to your plate  which is what has encouraged the farm to fork movement  globally and has had people support local farmers by buying local foods.

3.Buying organic has helped  promoted the growth of agriculture as a means of livelihood especially among young people. Across the globe young adults are taking up agriculture and providing us with food.It has  helped stem the increase in the number of the unemployed,helped increase food production as well as seen technology revolutionize farming.Europe has seen the number of its youthful population taking up farming,you may find this article from The Economist really interesting.

In Kenya as well we have several groups on social media platforms talking nothing but farming.See how dailies are falling over themselves to provide information on farming especially in the Saturday paper .

Young people are going back to the farms to ensure there is food for the more than 7 billion of us.

4.Buying organic and consuming organic ensures you know where your food comes from,how it gets produced and what goes into the production process.You are  reducing your exposure to  the  chemical toxins that could put you at risk of developing certain life threatening conditions through the ingestion of chemicals that may have been used in their production ,processing or packing.

5.By buying organic you get to interact  with the farmers that grow your food and there are benefits to that.There is nothing like meeting the person or people that put so much work to ensure you do not go hungry and appreciating the work they do.Human interaction especially in an age where technology is taking over  how we socialize with each other,a conversation with another human being is always  a great way to spend the weekend.I think one of the reasons people in big cities like Nairobi are always angry and stressed is because we speak so little to each to other,yet we know  healthy relationships are part of living a fulfilled and healthy lifestyle.

6.Taking your children with you to the organic market for  grocery shopping and let them feel,touch,sell and taste food.As I mentioned in an earlier post  taking your children grocery shopping is a  way of getting them  involved in meal planning and ensuring they adopt healthy eating habits early in life.

They will get to know how to choose fresh ingredients,how fresh food looks like and most important they will learn to value the hard work of the people like farmers who work behind the scenes to make sure we get fed.

And just in case your children  hardly ever get to travel upcountry,they will know food does not grow in the supermarket :-).

7.Buying organic is an opportunity to increase the awareness on more sustainable forms of agriculture and hopefully this will lead to legislation by governments as well as  push them to develop policies that can protect as well as promote organic farming.

Do you buy or grown organic food?would you love to be featured on our blog,please get in touch with us.

As always your feedback,comments and suggestions are welcome.See you in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

4 SIMPLE WAYS YOU CAN LIVE MORE HEALTHY

 

Good food

Having listened to a lot of people share the challenges that come with losing weight or making a healthier choice of what they put into their bodies,I do find that a lot of them have the mistaken belief that to live healthy is somehow more expensive.

It is not.

It is also interesting to see that most people choose to eat out rather than carry lunch or a snack to work which I think is healthier because then you know exactly what has gone into preparing that meal.

Carrying lunch or a snack to work  was something I did when was employed some time back and the greatest motivation for doing so was because I got to save some of the money I would have used for lunch on something else like shoes or a handbag.

And no,I really do not mean that you should not enjoy lunch with friends and colleagues every now and then, you can .

 

To live healthy and to lose weight is affordable because we live in a country blessed with an abundance of healthy food.

When writing down meal plans for people who either want to adopt a healthier lifestyle or lose weight or manage any condition my first rule of thumb is to always get to hear from them what it is that they like eating .

Some of the questions I ask is what foods  they enjoy eating and how using those choices I can help them make more healthier choices.Getting to know other foods then enjoy eating helps me show them how they can incorporate healthier choices from the foods that are available to them and that they can afford.

That is how I come up with a meal plan.

The first thing in being able to lose weight or adopt a healthier lifestyle is to take stock of where you are and how you got there and a great tool that will tell you exactly how you ended up there is by keeping a food diary.

A food diary is a record of everything you eat through out the day,how often and in what amounts.It includes keeping track of what you ate for breakfast,lunch,dinner and any snacks in between.You need also to have an idea of how many tablespoons of oil you use in preparing your meals,how much margarine/butter and the number of teaspoons of sugar you are taking in.

A food diary can surprise you and just by looking at it you will be surprised at how much you really take in.With a detailed food diary a Nutritionist is able to calculate exactly how many calories you are taking in.

Now,back to discussing living healthy is not expensive and I will show how you can do that in just 3 simple ways.

1.Know where to shop

In Kenya we are blessed with an abundance of food and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to what we can eat and are willing to spend.You just have to know where you need to be shopping.

Vegetables and fruits especially come cheap and we have no excuse to not eat more of them .Sources of carbohydrates like rice,maize flour,wheat flour,traditional grains like millet and sorghum are  very readily available.You can get them at the supermarket,neighborhood kiosk or in the numerous open air markets scattered throughout Nairobi.

Toi market that is located on Ngong Road is a great place to buy vegetables cheaply and City Market gives you fairer prices on beef,chicken and fish fillets.Ngara Market and City Market just opposite the Aga Khan hospital will also give you a wide variety of fresh vegetables to pick from.

There are also the organic markets organized at various venues around Nairobi by the Organic Farmers Market   as well as farmers around Nairobi who do deliveries of their produce every week.

It is the sources of protein that make mealtimes more expensive but you  do not have to have beef,chicken,fish fillets  to meet your nutritional requirements for protein.More affordable sources of protein are legumes like  various varieties of beans,dried peas,omena(Lake Victoria sardines) offer youd  the proteins your body needs without breaking the bank.

Omena can be bought for cheap at Toi Market.

“Yes,good food does not have to be eaten with a fork.It is all around us if we are willing to make the right choice.”

2.Carrying lunch or snacks to work

Which do you think is easier,carrying lunch to work or buying food 5 times a week  from a restaurant ?

When you carry lunch to work then you have more choice over what exactly is in your plate and especially if you are losing weight then you need to know what it is you are putting into your body.

Having watched how our food habits have been changing over the years,I am happy to see the opening of more restaurants that are serving real food as well as the demand from Kenyans for healthier food rather than the choice of fries, deep fried chicken and soda  that was available some years back.

This demand has seen restaurants that are serving traditional Kenyan foods as well as foods from other cultures find a home as well as  enthusiastic foodies in Nairobi.

There has been an increase as well in the number of entrepreneurs setting up companies giving the Kenyan consumer more healthy food choices.

3.Learn how to cook

Maybe after reading the first two you thought how can I eat healthy when I cannot cook and I do not have time to learn?

You can learn how to cook by enrolling for a cooking class,one of my favourite Chefs on Facebook is Chef Raphael,he offers cooking lessons for groups as well as individuals.

If you cannot enroll for a class,but a cookery book from any of the bookshops,follow food bloggers   or watch the food shows available on TV or YouTube as well.

A quick search of this blog will give you some recipes,easy ones I promise using local ingredients that you will enjoy.

When you cook for yourself you get to experiment and once you get cooking you will be surprised at what you can whip up with simple ingredients and a sense of creativity.

4.Exercise

Eating healthy is only one side of the healthy living coin,physical exercise is the second side.

One of the most affordable ways of exercising available to anyone on planet earth is walking.Physical exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and every human being of whatever age will thrive with physical activity.

Physical activity also helps  reduce the risk  of developing certain conditions that may come with weight gain and it also helps improve physical as well as psychological well-being.

As always I love hearing feedback from readers,how are you living healthy or making more healthy choices,what has helped and what do you think I have left out from my list that has helped you and would help someone else?

Please share your feedback in the comments section.