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Fat Gay Vegan

You might not even have known that Quorn‘s products have never been vegan, so popular are they with omnivores and vegetarians alike. But the brand has always used egg whites as a binding agent in their mycoprotein-based meat substitutes, making them a constant source of tension in vegan-non-vegan friendships (“You’re vegan? I’m not but I love Quorn!!!”).

In a few days, though, Quorn will release a range of products in the UK which avoid the use of a chicken’s menstrual cycle and provide lovely lovely mycoprotein in a completely vegan format. Two products will be launched – Quorn’s classic ‘meat-free’ pieces as well as some ‘Hot & Spicy Burgers’.

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This is good news all round. Not only does this mean that vegans can now have easy access to mycoprotein, a healthy protein source on which Quorn has something of a monopoly, but it also means that more vegetarians and health-conscious omnivores will be exposed to vegan products. So often, products like vegan cheeses, meats and milks seem weird and unsavoury to non-vegans. This is largely because the average shopper is rarely exposed to such products, which are kept under lock and key in health food shops and veggie boutiques around the country. Now, a parent on their weekly shop has a greater chance of glimpsing a vegan alternative to her usual choice of pasta topping,  and therefore a greater chance of exposing her children to vegan food in the home. After all, if veganism really is the future, it’s their future.

Veganism is on the rise. Quorn has just released their first vegan products, Follow Your Heart have announced they’ve invented some vegan scrambled eggs, and a few supermarkets are even stocking vegan options that aren’t falafel and hummus wraps.

The chances are, then, that you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who’s gone vegan, and unless you’re the kind of person who thinks “BACON!!!!” is both a comprehensive and hilarious response to such a person’s every move, you might even have thought about whether you should adopt a plant-based diet yourself. Thankfully, in this digital age, it’s easier than ever to do your own research and find out why, when and how you can make the transition yourself, and one website-thing-a-bobby has a lot of interesting and entertaining documentaries on the subject: Netflix.

So, whether you’re already thinking of going vegan, or it’s never crossed your mind, or it’s just 5AM and she hasn’t texted back and you need something to keep you going ‘til dawn, these five documentaries will make you think long and hard about how you spend your time on this planet.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014

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Premise: The often overlooked relationship between animal agriculture and climate change is laid bare in Kip Anderson’s crowd-funded documentary. Cowspiracy often makes for troubling viewing, whether it’s exploring meat’s effects on global hunger, confronting the reality of slaughter, or questioning the wall of silence from environmental activists held literally at gun-point by the industries they should be rallying against. However, the real (albeit slightly contrived) pleasure at the heart of this documentary is joining Kip on his journey from concerned environmentalist to animal rights activist.

“You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period!”

 – Howard Lyman, former fourth-generation cattle farmer of forty years

Vegucated, 2011

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Premise: Three meat and cheese-loving New Yorkers adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Along with director and presenter Marisa Miller Wolfson, the trio explore the vegan lifestyle and its effects on their health, social life, and ultimately their worldview. Filmed on a minimal budget, Vegucated explores every nook and cranny of veganism, and its charming blend of humour and solemnity, as well as the real-life struggles and triumphs of its participants, make it an accessible truth-bomb for those beginning to explore veganism.

“I’m not crazy, this issue is real, this is a real f*cking issue.”

– Brian Flegel, vegan for just two weeks

Blackfish, 2013

BLACKFISH_Film_Poster

Premise: In August 2015, SeaWorld announced that its net income had declined 84% compared to the second quarter of 2014, and many have attributed this to Blackfish. The documentary pulls no punches as it explores the captivity of Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld responsible for the deaths of three individuals, and the corporate interests responsible for his exploitation. Through interviews with former SeaWorld trainers and those responsible for his capture as an infant, Blackfish paints a deeply unsettling portrait of a psychologically traumatised individual, who just happens to weigh 12,000 pounds.

“I think that in 50 years we’ll look back and go, ‘My God, what a barbaric time.’”

– John Jett, former SeaWorld Orlando trainer

Fed Up, 2014

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Premise: “Congress says pizza is a vegetable”, reads Fed Up’s poster, which gives you some indication of the documentary’s flabbergasted and politically-charged tone. Fed Up examines the obesity pandemic affecting the children of America who, for the first time, are growing up fatter than their parents. Under particular scrutiny is the prevalence of processed foods high in sugar and saturated fat in the school meals system. The movie also examines the on-going battle between American families, physicians, and healthcare experts and large corporations intent on concealing the growing body of evidence that links a high-sugar diet to poor health. Before the end credits, Fed Up lists twenty companies, industry groups and politicians who refused to be interviewed by the filmmakers.

“In a recent study, forty-three cocaine-addicted laboratory rats were given the choice of cocaine or sugar water over a fifteen-day period. Forty out of the forty-three chose the sugar.”

– Katie Couric (narrator)

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, 2010

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Premise: Joe Cross, a fat and Australian man, spends 60 days consuming nothing but juice, and becomes a not-so-fat man. He stays Australian, though. Whilst it’s been called an infomercial disguised as a documentary, there’s no denying that Cross’ transformation, and the empowering effect he has on other victims of junk food, provides impressive evidence of a plant-based diet’s medicinal qualities, preventing and even reversing the onset of illnesses like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Watching Joe abandon his medication and heal himself with food is truly remarkable, as long as you can stand mediocre animation.

“70% of the diseases that affect us now are caused by our life choices: how we exercise, if we smoke and what we eat.”

-Dr Joel Fuhrman

Cadbury’s chocolate have revealed that the Milk Tray man is set to make a comeback, and rightfully take his place as the most sexually enticing reason for any man to buy chocolates for his lady. The polar-necked hunk has been absenst from adverts for 13 years now.

It was the iconic advert of the 80s through to the 90s. A man dressed in all black as either a spy or a burglar (I could never differentiate between the two) would perform death defying  stunts in order to deliver a box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray. His reasoning behind such a spectacular show of determination to please a woman? Simple in its explanation and delivery:

“And all because the lady loves Milk Tray.”

A piece of incredible advertising. The James Bond-esque Milk tray man was a source of desire for both men and women. Of course a female would love to know that her man had risked his life in order to pleasure her in some way. Of course a man would want to feel like a hero just for buying his other half some chocolates.

However this time there is a twist. The chocolate factory have opened the auditions to the public and an ad will be aired tonight featuring former Milk Tray Man, James Coombes, who is looking for “a new hero to deliver the famous box” and take over from him. He must be tired now, having delivered so many boxes.

What’s interesting about this call out is that the competition is open to males and females. Gender equality is in affect. 

Former Milk Tray man, James Coombes said: said: “”We’re on the search for a modern Milk Tray Man, someone who is thoughtful yet adventurous and I’m really looking forward to seeing who it will be.”

Company representative, Hortense Foult Rothenburger, said: “With an application process that’s open to all, we’re confident we’ll find a modern-day hero and new star of our ads – a thoughtful and daring individual that’s ready to step up to the mark and take on this iconic role.”

What do you think. Should the next Milk Tray man be female?

In honour of the only thing ever likely to make me homesick, here is five best places to eat vegan in London.

While finally making it out of London (and the UK) permanently is cause for much celebration, there are certain aspects of the capital that I will undoubtedly miss. The main one being the vegan treats on offer. Treats that I have sadly now forsaken.

In honour of the only thing ever likely to make me homesick, here are my top 5 vegan places (or omni. restaurants with plant-based offerings) in London.

Vx, Kings Cross, N1.

www.vegancross.com
www.vegancross.com

You want ethical junk food? You got it. Crave innovative, Willy Wonka-style vegan confectionary? You can have that, too, in abundance. Find the thought of an expanding waistline and a feeling of deep-seated sugary junky satisfaction in the farthest depths of your belly appealing? Coming right up! You want service with a smile? Hey, now you’re pushing it, buddy! Well what do you expect? Vx is a punky little vegan lifestyle boutique in Kings Cross that caters for every facet of vegan life, but truly excels at providing the type of food to make non-vegans dribble with jealousy: kebabs, hotdogs, burgers and all manner of shouldn’t-be-vegan-but-omg-it-is-how-the-fuck-did-they-do-that products.

Recommendations: the Vx giant kebab (or the regular size if you’re already feeling overwhelmed), a block of Willmersburger and something sweet.

Fed by Water, Dalston, E8.

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fedbywater.co.uk

Fed may not be a strictly vegan affair, but they serve up something most vegans are unaccustomed to: choice. The array of authentic Italian pizzas and pastas is staggering. What really makes Fed exceptional is the quality of the food. Close your eyes, take a bite, and East London simply melts away. Upon returning to the UK from Italy as a child, I was unable to even look at Pizza Hut again and felt unfulfilled by the vaguely Italian-flavoured cardboard dished up at Pizza Express. Fed is the only place to cure that longing. Their food instantly provides my taste buds with a passport back to Italy.

Recommendations: any pizza or calzone, tagliatelle fungi, anything and everything marked as vegan. Literally anything. Get stuck in.

Cook Daily, Shoreditch, E1.

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Take one professional vegan chef, mix in a passion for food, a dash of irrepressible talent and viola! you have Cook Daily. What sets Cook Daily apart from their rivals is just about everything. The menu is completely vegan, yet the food is gourmet. Each bowl is unique, each bowl arrives brimming with flavour and texture, and each one is entirely plant-based. This is exactly the type of food vegan detractors would term ‘rabbit food’: fresh, crispy veg, tofu, plenty of greens, and yet not even the biggest animal lover would ever feed it to a rabbit. It simply wouldn’t last long enough. It is just too good. Cook Daily explodes the myth that veggies and healthy eating is boring or flavourless, or that vegans only eat grey mush.

Recommendations: I only ever ate the Hard Bowl the few times I went, but I am reliably informed it’s all delicious. They have various bowls with diverse themes from around the world, even an English breakfast! Can’t go wrong.

Umana Yana, Herne Hill, SE24.

www.umanayana.co.uk
www.umanayana.co.uk

Debbie does it all. Unfortunately it’s not all vegan, but the vegan food she does make (various chanas, homemade roti done before your very eyes, patties) is all sumptuous. Umana Yana is a Guyanese restaurant (think Caribbean with a strong Indian influence) where everything is made from scratch. It’s like having access to your very own Guyanese auntie with unworldly skills in the kitchen. She’s also really friendly, so be prepared to chat. You don’t as much pick up food from Umana Yana as call in for a chat and a feed. It’s some of the best Caribbean food I have ever tasted.

Recommendation: warm homemade patties (best in town), chana roti or whatever veggie fillings she has on that day. It’s all scrum-diddly.

Any Ethiopian. (My favourite was Wolkite Kitfo next to Arsenal Stadium. However, take your pick.)

wolkitekitfo
wolkitekitfo

Ethiopian food is steadily gaining in popularity, yet still remains under-the-radar exotica for some people. Offering a variety of vegan dishes and encouraging diners to roll up their sleeves and dive in hands-first, Ethiopian is more than just a soon-to-be trend amongst obnoxious city boys and yummy mummies. The food is always a delicately balanced affair, the injera takes the places of traditional cutlery and food is eaten communally. It’s not dining, it’s a ritual. A damn tasty ritual.

Recommendations: anything vegan. Bring a few friends and get stuck in.

At the Business Design Centre there has been the first International trade show dedicated to the Made in Italy excellence.  

A full immersion into Italian food, wine and other delicacies. That was the Bellavita Expo, the first International trade show which was dedicated to the Made in Italy excellence. The exhibition took place last Sunday at the Business Design Centre in London involving producers, new distributors and International buyers.

The Bellavita hosted a series of events, meetings, masterclasses and taste itineraries, as well as workshops with buyers and professionals, and cooking experiences with celebrities such as Massimo Bottura, Francesco Mazzei and Aldo Zilli.

As you can read on the Bellavita website, the project aims to facilitate interaction between Italian producers of gastronomic specialties and foreign professionals of the Food & Beverage sector, through the first international trade show was entirely dedicated to the excellence of Made in Italy.

The main themes were tradition, creativity and quality, therefore, only carefully selected brands which embody the authentic “Italian know-how” were chosen, from small artisans who want to internationalise their traditions to the famous Italian brands which have today become icons of Made in Italy worldwide.

Food and wine…

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Starting the culinary adventure, it was easy to fall in love with delicious red wine from Messapica Salento, a company which balances an intense aroma with hints of mediterranean herbs.

Marco Funiati, the producer, said: “It works beautifully with red meats, mature cheeses and full-flavored dishes.

“Anyway, Messapica is a family run company, growing Negroamaro grapes for four generations in a traditional way. This is their signature wine – a gift from the Salento sun.”

Near his stand, chef Reezan Karakas, declared: “I think that this wine and the other products, olive oil and bread are very genuine.

“In London there are many Italian restaurants, but sometimes it’s not possible to find authentic products. Instead here I found the best quality and so, I am interested to get information because I want to open my own business.”

Walking around cold cuts stands, there were tasty salami from Udine, a city in the North of Italy.

“We also produce ham wrapped in bread and deer ham which represents our specialities,” Roberto Bertolini said.

Costantini

Another factory, Costantini brothers from Torano – a town in the Centre of Italy – exposed its succulent hams which are obtained with the best selection of products.

Adele Costantini underlined that the quality of the pork meat is guaranteed by historical experience and by strict control of all features of pigs, stating: “We are aiming to invest in technological modernization, merging the experiences of past  with most modern formulas in Torano, where there is a unique opportunity to feel Gran Sasso’ air and the Adriatc sea.

Auricarro

Approaching pickles in olive oil stands, Auricarro showed its delicious products – patè of turnip tops, patè of tomatoes, patè of green olives, grilled peppers – which represent the tradition of Puglia, a region of Southern Italy.

Angelo Carulli said: “The age-old olive trees are the main source of our culture which is based on tradition, history and passion for our job.”

Other tasty temptations were pizzas cooked by Prodal which was founded in 1994 by artisan pizza makers with over thirty years experience.

“Our company is focused on the selection of high quality raw materials, strict manufacturing  procedures laid out within its dynamic industrial setting and craftsmanship.”

Before moving to the sweets’ stands, PomUp semi-dried tomatoes grabbed the attention of many visitors who wanted to taste these tomatoes which fully express the natural aroma of Sicilian red gold, proving to be savoury, versatile and healthy food.

Executive assistant Lucia Amore, said: “We are so proud to announce that our company was awarded  the Superior taste by International taste and quality institute.”

Typical sweets and coffee…

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Looking at the Mamma Andrea products, it was impossible not to appreciate these sweets which appeared in a variety of colours and different dimensions. Mamma Andrea is a costume designer who is keen on pastry making, which inspired her to set up an atelier of small gluttony in Sicilia, producing appetising spreads and preservers, fruit jellies, honey, dried fruits in honey, chocolate cream sweetened with agave syrup and many other delicacies.

Another food innovation was the Vegan croissant launched by Forno d’Asolo company which excludes any ingredients derived from slaughtered animals, animal-derived products, such as eggs or milk and the presence of animal parts on the production lines or in the packaging materials.

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To round the exhibition off, it was a pleasure to taste an Espresso which represents a peculiarity of Italian culture.

“I could say that I was born in the coffee and that is my life. My long experience in the selection of coffee varieties and the art of toasting are the secret of our unique and incomparable flavor,” said Nino Battista.

La Pizzica: 764-766, Fulham Road, London, SW6 5SJ

Contact: 02077313762, lapizzica@hotmail.com

Price: Starters from £5 to £7; main courses from £6 to £12; side dish almost £3; dessert around £3.

A piece of Italian land has nestled in London. At La Pizzica Restaurant the owners – Italian brothers D’Aversa – aim to make you feel at home. I have to concede it’s true. The warm atmosphere and the great hospitality can enchant each customer, wherever they come from.

The style is balanced between ancient Italian traditions and modern English components. The furniture and the sign are made with local stones named ‘pietra leccese’, a material from Puglia. Whilst the geometric design of the tables and the dishes is modern-looking.

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Waiting for a menu, I listened to the background music and I recognised ‘Pizzica’- the characteristic dance from Southern Italy – which is the name of the restaurant, as well.

But the surprise arrived on my table with the list of food  from the sea and heart of Southern Italy.

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I started with cuttlefish stripes, orange hearts, red onion, lemon dressing, cherry tomato and walnut. By this plate, it’s possible to dive in Italian sea because these products are authentic, not falsified.

Another temptation for my palate was ‘ciciri e tria’, a fried homemade pasta with ‘salentinian’ chickpea sauce, which induced a delicious taste and reminded me of father’s day because this typical recipe is cooked in my town for that occasion.

Although, in truth, I had already eaten two dishes, I was not able to turn away the other main courses and some side dishes: a succulent ‘purpu a pignata’, stewed Octopus with potatoes and a filling accompaniment with spinaches, butter and Italian cheese, ‘Parmigiano’.

To accompany this typical food, I drank a red wine glass, Negroamaro del Salento.

I almost cried as friendly staff told me the name of a local dessert – very difficult to find in London – ‘pasticiotto leccese’, pastry filled with lemon custard on a bed of chocolate sauce,  a sweet flavour which I combined with a good espresso.

My verdict is positive – not for my country of origin – but for many reasons:  excellent quality of local food, big servings, cheap prices, the speed and kindness of staff. There’s no doubt, ‘La Pizzica Restaurant’ deserves five stars.

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I attend to an amazing Japanese festival in the O2 arena. I am amazed and for that Dōmo arigatō gozaimashita (thank you very much!)!

Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest Japanese culture event, held in London. This festival happens every year in July and sometimes in November for the Christmas Market. In there you can find loads of things associated with Japanese culture including video games, anime/manga, arts, fashion, food, music and more.

And this Sunday I was there for the first time to enjoy the experience.

Doors opened at 9 am at 9:30 I was in. It was a long program in Sunday’s timetable for the festival, but to be honest my friend and I barely went full the full schedule as we got lost in the multitude of options given to us.

First of all the cosplays (costume play, where the participants wear costumes to represent a character)! We started realising their presence around the tube station but as we got closer to the venue we were greeted with an amazing runaway of them. At 2:30 pm we had the CosParade with all the performers showing what they had to offer! I felt like i was in a whole different dimension.

On entrance I ended up in video game section with super Mario reminding me my earlier years when all I would do was play Mario games! There was a lot of Nintendo attention, however you could find lots of options of games to play!

Still in the same area, I came across the Anime / Manga display the main reason why I started my Japanese addiction. And that’s when I start shopping. This is where the main danger stands of going to these places: you just want to buy everything!! All around you could see art (I was really in love with Destiny Blue artist, search in facebook!!), little and big dolls of the main favourite characters, managakás (comic artist) works (even one of them drawing live!), and many accessories! I easily lost myself in books for a while!

Afterwards we ran to the main festival stage…and that was billions times better. Japan was all there, heavily concentrated! Live performances like dancers and singers (with such amazing voices!) and even Katanaya Ichi – Japanese Swordplay Masters aka Samurais – being one of my favorites (and really nice people too)! Clothes, with the most amazing Kimonos and dresses I’ve ever seen! Accessories, with funny hats, sunglasses, necklaces and many more! Food/Drinks, of course – I had to be all about Japan and I managed to eat (in a so long cue!) and drink sake (Japanese rice wine) as well (strong, han!)! Music with cd’s, posters, dvd’s, mugs! Even with Korean bands (my friend just stopped here for a while…). Once again, manga art, but this time you could pay for a drawing of yourself as a manga portrait, perfect for fans who would like to know how they would look in a manga book! And well, that’s what I did!

I chose (with many options around) Art and Design University student, Joshibi Gakuensai, to make me look manga. There were so many talented young people doing such great drawings! I was stunned by them. Especially Aoi Kitano who I chose to draw mine (were many options of work in a wall, you just pick one, which directs you for one of the students to do your drawing!). Truth being told there were so many things to see and to buy I understood why the festival runs for three days!

Next stop was Hyper Live stage and Hyper Theatre. In the former you had a schedule to watch bands live. We were fascinated with Vaniru, the pioneers of gothic electro rock-pop. What made us stay was how stunning Leoneil (the front man) looked…and a bit scary. In fact, he has more incredible power on stage and a mesmerising voice. And Yuto is such a fantastic guitarist player! After the show we had the opportunity to meet and greet the band (cue excitement!!). In the Hyper Theatre you could find anime sessions (more amazing pieces of art!).

Finally we relaxed a bit in the Hyper garden, surrounded by beds in open air! Also you could find in the second floor the Maid café (cosplay restaurants where waitresses dress in maid costumes and treat the customers as masters) and more gaming!

I can’t describe how good it was, but I can assure you it was great and that you would definately come back! Japanese culture is very particular and not for all tastes, but it’s worthy to give it a try because is beautifully unique. There are so many options around that it becomes easier to get to know Japan, and that’s some great opportunity!

The festival started in 2010 in London’s Truman Brewery and now attracts 80 000 people! It’s proved how brilliant this experience can be, for those who like Japanese culture, or want to find out, the festival comes back now in November 27th this year, for the Christmas market at Tobacco Dock. Tickets will go on sale this week!

For more info visit: http://hyperjapan.co.uk/

A new Italian product has just landed in London in a new package which let you eat a healthy and tasty meal on the road.

Summer is coming, therefore it might be time to eat something more healthy, fresh and tasty.

The new kit frisa is a perfect solution.

What is that?

It is an Italian product which is produced in Puglia – a region of Southern Italy – and the frisa represents a typical food from this sunny land. The frisa is made with durum wheat or in alternative with barley. It is usually cooked into wood oven. You could think that the frisa is as a piece of bread, but there is an important difference -The frisa is cooked into oven twice, therefore it is crisp.

The majority of Italian grandmothers are able to prepare the frisa at home. But there are many bakeries which cook and sell these delicious products.

And now, the frisa has just landed in London in a lovely kit.

Everybody can eat the frisa in just few seconds. Why? Because Rocco Zecca  from Leverano, a town in Southern Italy – has had the brilliant idea to put together in one package all the ingredients which are essential to eat the frisa.

“My company is assembling these products, using genuine ingredients which are made in Puglia.  We usually buy, set up and seal these kit frisa, guaranteeing an excellent quality,” Rocco said.

“Last year we bought specific machineries to package them in cardboard, not in plastic,” he added.

How to use the kit frisa

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When you open this kit, you can find: salt (1 gram), water (50 grams), extra-virgin olive oil (12 ml), tomatoes, capers, oregano,  a biodegradable piece of cutlery and one napkin.

Step one: Pour water on the frisa so that it can become softer  – “sponzare”, so called in Italian jargon;

Step two: Chop the tomatoes before putting them on the frisa;

Step three: Add capers; pour oil and finally, put oregano.

According to Italian traditions, it is not allowed to eat the frisa with cutlery, because this product should be eaten with your hands. Anyway, if you are not able to do this, you can use a fork.

Where to eat the kit frisa?

The frisa kit is easy to eat and easy to bring everywhere. You can eat the frisa in the Park during a lovely picnic with your family, near the Thames on a bench and with a good book to read at the same time.  Anyway, there could be another option – the tube.

It is well-known that many English people – who are very busy at work – usually eat sandwiches on the train. Now it is time to try the kit frisa.

To find out more information about this product, you can visit their facebook page here: Kit Frisa Meraviglie Salentine.

On the shelves of English supermarkets you will find Italian tomato products. They are essential ingredients, found on the dinner plates of many but few people know about worker exploitation behind the tomato production.

African migrants toil up to 14 hours, gathering tomatoes in Basilicata, a region of southern Italy. They stay in filthy farmhouses without restrooms, potable water and electricity. They are underpaid – 20 euros per day –  below the minimum wage.

They have been considered as “slaves of modern age” by Amnesty International which focused its attention on human exploitation in the food sector.

Behind tomato production there is a severe abuse – caporalato system, so called in Italian jargon. Between the boss and workers there is a gang master who compels migrants to work without contracts and low pay.

During tomato production almost 1500 workers are employed, but after that they go on the tour of exploitation in different places – from Rosarno with oranges, to Cassibile with potatoes.

One worker, Salif, 30, from Burkina Faso says: “My colleagues and me are forced to accept these bad working conditions because we have no choice.

“We come from war countries where there is absolute poverty. We escape from hell, but here there isn’t paradise.”

Salif talks about his working-day: “We usually wake up at five o’clock and wait our gangmaster (caporale) to go in the fields by van. We pick tomatoes by hand and put them on crate which can weigh up to 350 kg when full.”

They are paid to piecework:  3.50 euros per crate. Obviously, migrants try to work quickly to earn more money.

In a statement, another picker, Daniel, 33, from Ghana adds: “It’s absolutely not easy to work more than 10 hours with high temperatures. During summer time there could be up to 40 degrees. Unfortunately, our gangmasters don’t give us water or other fresh beverages.”

Another negative aspect is the lack of sanitary assistance: “Most workers don’t have regular contracts therefore, if they have some accidents at work, gangmasters don’t want call ambulance or police.”

Although there are many drawbacks, these migrants work in harsh conditions because they want to help their families.

“I have a big family in Burkina Faso, six brothers and two sisters. I usually send money to fund them  because they live in extreme poverty,” reveals Salif.

Daniel also endures many problems in tomato production to give money to his wife and his children. “When I’m very exhausted, I think about poverty in which my family lives, and I keep on working every day with responsibility.

“For this reason we don’t want risk losing our job and accept extortions from our gangmasters and bosses,” he admits.

To support African migrants there are some associations – Caritas and Osservatorio Migranti – which cooperate to help them. They provide food, bedspreads, drinks and medicines.

There are also Trade Unions which assist these workers to make their rights respect at work.

A spokesperson from Cisl Unions, Rocco Pierro says: “We carried out many statistics to analyse their working conditions.

“We found out bosses usually record one or two work-days to migrants on a whole period of tomato production. In this way they can’t receive unemployment benefits.”

There has been an attempt to stop this situation, providing diaries to migrants in order to write down their work-days.

Obviously, gang masters are not grateful for these diaries. “They told us not to use them otherwise we could be dismissed,” says Daniel.

A representative from Osservatorio Migranti, Gervasio Ungolo says: “We have tried to mediate with bosses so that they provided documents on which declare work-days. But also in this case work-days did not square with reality.”

He explains caporalato system is well planned and therefore it’s not easy to find  an effective solution.

Ungolo highlights another aspect: “Behind caporalato system there is a hierarchy which starts with migrants at the lowest level, after there are gang masters and in the highest positions there are farm owners.

“But in the tomato production, after manual harvest the processing is necessary to sell many products and export them around world, above all, to UK.”

Many Italian companies – which export abroad – are adhering to the “ethical code” so that migrants’ right are obeyed.

But Pierro says: “This ethical code doesn’t stop the abuse towards migrants. We believe it’s necessary to check that work-days are recorded and working conditions are obeyed.

“We want these workers are considered like human beings and not animals.”

In tomato production, the political sphere tried to negotiate  a settlement between farm owners and migrants. In Basilicata and Puglia, many meetings have been carried out to talk about caporalato system.

During these conferences there weren’t any representatives from migrants.

“It’s not right that workers are not included in planning measures to solve this situation,” says Salif.

Daniel expresses his anger: “Probably, there are many interests behind tomato production. For this reason Institutions abandoned us.”

To sensitise public opinion about caporalato system, in the South of Italy and in the United Kingdom, many events have been arranged by Trade Unions and by organisations which support African migrants.

Last winter in Boreano, a town located in Basilicata, there was a meeting to announce a project for migrants.

Gervasio Ungolo (Osservatorio Migranti) says: “A van and 100 bikes have been bought to transport migrants at work so that gang masters are not essential to pick them from farmhouse.”

In London on 12th November, there was the second edition of Out of the Ghetto which is organised by a group of volunteers.

They  built a school in Boreano to teach them Italian language on three levels, basic, intermediate and advanced.

This plan is useful, not only for the knowledge of Italian language, but to create a new mentality among workers so that they could struggle to obtained their rights.

A spokesperson from Out of the Ghetto, Rossana Caglia explains: “We can tell the city of London is interested to this situation. Many people ask us many information about gang masters. They want to know many more details and figures about this topic.

“There are also English people who move in Italy to help some organisation to stop this caporalato system.”

A chef, Roseanne, considers this abuse a scandal: “It’s not acceptable to sell tomatoes products in main chains like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s, which declare to respect sustainability and fair trade. Obviously, these criteria are not valid.

“When I see red and shining tomatoes, reading the label ‘Made in Italy’, I think about the enchanting  sun and warmth of Italy. But the journey doesn’t start where they’re originally grown either, that was the shock.”

A young researcher, Melany, asserts: “The journey often starts in another continent, and in this case Africa. To think that the cost you expect canned tomatoes to be, often comes from the exploitation of migrant workers. It makes you think of very pervasive remote slavery.”

A simple & delicious eggless muffins recipe!

Do you ever have those days where you’re craving something sweet but have literally nothing in the house? Well this recipe is perfect for you! Within 30 minutes, you’ll have delicious eggless muffins to devour!

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 cups of flour
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of butter/margarine
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
& both milk & dark chocolate chips

Method:
1) Put the oven on at 200 degrees C & place the muffin cups on a tray.

2) Using a sieve & add all the dry ingredients in a bowl & making sure the ingredients are combined together.

3) The next step – add the milk and vanilla extract, & then stir until the mixture thickens.

4) Heat up the butter in a pan & once the butter had melted, add to the mixture slowly whilst stirring until the butter is combined.

5) Add both the dark & milk chocolate chips & folded them into the mixture. (Optional)

6) Place the mixture into the muffin tray had set aside earlier.

7) Placed them in the oven for around 12 – 15 minutes (depending on your oven so I would check every 5/6 minutes)

8) Check to see if the muffins are ready by placing a toothpick in a muffin. If it is still wet then wait a tad longer.

9) You can now let them cool before you eat. Or like me, scoff them down them down whilst they’re warm. Mmmm!

How simple was that? Perfect for a little treat for yourself and your family!