Hope exists somewhere between Good and Evil

‘The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything’ (Albert Einstein).

We could all be forgiven for thinking that evil, dark days are the main influencers in the world today. News coverage abounds of atrocities worldwide and, as globalisation has made the world appear smaller, there is a temptation to think that unwelcome world events will explode at any moment.

Fear, of course, is a demon all of its own. ‘That which I feared most came upon me’ is one of those examples of negative thinking that can paralyse even the brave. However, it is possible to completely change perspective by using words more positively, ‘That which I hoped for most came upon me’.

Thankfully, here at LittlePod, as a team, we are more given to hope than to despair.

In the Christian calendar December is definitely a time for HOPE. Whether we are religious or not I always feel energised when different faiths show us how we can think positively about those aspects of life that bind us together. No better time is there than when we all gather together with family and friends for a great feast where the central focus is on giving rather than receiving.

FML Janet

Last month the LittlePod ‘family’ gathered in force to be part of a themed show called Food Matters Live.

We spent the year planning for this event. We saw it as our opportunity to firm up our core values and present them in a way that could be clearly understood by everyone who came to see us.

See some of our friends talking about LittlePod and our chefs from FML. 

It was a very exciting process. We knew that we needed to have our key messages loudly emblazoned on our stand. Narrowing down those messages and choosing the words to represent them was a very bold and confident thing to do. Personally, I found it a very liberating experience.

We discussed many options. We enlisted the services of a local company called Indalo who have over twenty years of experience in building exhibitions stands worldwide. From the start they generated a sense of confidence that we would be able to create something that really represented our brand.

As a core word we made a decision to use a much derided word that has lost its impact in the realm of much used phrases – the verb ‘to care’

Each of our four main aims were introduced with the words ‘LittlePod cares for…’

  • Quality  
  • Sustainability 
  • Innovation 
  • Education 

The whole exercise was so uplifting. We were all so proud of our stand and the messages we were able to communicate to people. We had a full menu of activities on offer throughout the three days.

It was heartening to have lots of LittlePodders together sharing their skills and knowledge. It was also so fabulous to see old and new friends joining together at our stand. Luckily, Will, our filmmaker was able to capture a lot of the spirit on film during the course of the show - see the wonderful film here.


I have to say a hearty thankyou to all those who came and made the show so brilliant for us: Manju Malhi, David Buchanan, Joe Mann (LittlePod’s in-house kitchen magician) and our new LittlePodder who came over from France to be with us, Danielle Jackson; Sam our Ops manager who gave everyone the opportunity to do some production and of course the whole team who were there in spirit, if not in person!

Thanks also go to our friend Dr Jan Knight who gave a talk at our stand on how it is possible to test each batch for quality, batch to batch.

Last month I wrote about our LittlePod Enterprise Award. We were thrilled that one of our first LittlePodders, Aisha, could join us to present the award to the winning students.

Central to our show was one event that we could not guarantee: the appearance of Made Setiawan who was scheduled to drop in for a Q&A session at 3pm on the final day. Sadly, the Enterprise Award students had to leave to catch their flight back to Exeter before we were able to get a connection to Made who had walked for five hours to communicate with us from Borneo where he is working on a reforestation project aimed to help combat climate change – the Katingan Project.

Made gave a graphic description of working life in the rainforest; the stifling humidity and the mosquito-laden environment which compromises the planting of the commodities. However, he was also very optimistic about the reforestation project, the halt of slash-and-burn in the community forest and a new sense of purpose for the people, who as he said, were still head hunters until 2003.

Sitting next to me was Aisha, who is now the Information and Business Sustainability Analyst for Unilever. I asked Made if there was anything he would like Aisha to tell Unilever. His answer shocked us all. I expected him to say ‘please tell them to stop planting palm oil’. His reply was to say, ‘ask them to send us some food’.

At that moment I found myself suffering from what can only be called ‘cognitive dissonance’. I looked around at Food Matters and all the discussions that had taken place in the auditorium over three days relating to food: should we be ‘free from’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘be eating insects’, ‘eating local’ supporting initiatives in new methods of farming or sending food to the growers!

I discovered later that Made was making a statement. They do have basic foodstuffs but with a more western diet that lacks the nutrients they need.

FML Manju

Reality is painful to hear sometimes. However, people listening in did say to me that they were not going to complain about their lot anymore!

LittlePod is here to tell Made’s story and to help people understand that it is essential that we support these growers in the equatorial regions. We should not be judgemental about the conditions but should support organisations that are trying to help.

In the few short years LittlePod has been around we have set up #campaignforrealvanilla. We have launched National REAL Vanilla Day to raise awareness. We have written a book to educate people about these luxury commodities. We have supported Blue Ventures, a charity which runs a marine conservation project in Madagascar. We promote the purchase of real vanilla because the livelihoods of some of the poorest people on the planet depend on us buying these products. We do our best to raise awareness of these products and where they come from. We are glad now to see that older, more established companies are now eager to do more too.

In Madagascar, we are pleased to hear that Unilever have teamed up with a large vanilla company to work with ‘Save the Children fund’ to finally put some infrastructure into the country for schooling for the vanilla growers. It is important and not before time. Let us hope that the schooling will be relevant to those communities. It is important to ask ‘Save the Children’ to let us know how they are going to monitor this initiative to make sure it works in the interest of the farmers.

Climate change and global warming is also an issue. We want a clean planet but to do so we absolutely must support the indigenous peoples who are able to look after our rainforests and continue to cultivate the crops we have come to take for granted. We need to reduce palm oil production. I even started an OU degree course in Environmental Science last year to try to understand these complex issues for myself!

Is Donald Trump really going to turn back the clock on the Paris agreement on climate change?

We shall have to wait and see. It is going to be a huge transition from Obama to Trump. I loved the report about Barack Obama explaining to his girls why Donald Trump had won the presidency. He said, ‘one thing I want you to understand girls, is that people are complicated’.

So where does this all leave us in such complex as well as turbulent and uncertain times?

Many years ago when I was a young teacher who had just joined the staff of a challenging school in East London, I overheard the headteacher one morning asking a pupil, ‘so, what do you think of your new teacher?

I winced when I heard his reply, ‘she’s very kind’.’ His mother, standing by, assessed the situation and in an instant and despite six children in tow, turned to her son and said, ‘yes, she’s kind – but don’t you ever mistake kindness for weakness’. Oh, for more wise parents like her!

To be kind and to care is to be strong and resilient.

Thank you to all you readers of my blog. I really appreciate your time.

The LittlePod team thanks you for your support.

Let’s all HOPE for a bright, new 2017.