‘The Time has Come’…..National Real Vanilla Day, Tuesday October 17th

‘The Time has Come’….. National Real Vanilla Day, Tuesday October 17th  

‘The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things.’ This quote from Lewis Carroll describes accurately how I feel putting pen to paper having allowed eight months to elapse since I last  communicated via Janet’s Jottings. And oh how many things have happened this year, particularly in relation to our fragile earth. It was with dismay that I heard the Paris agreement might be in jeopardy. Since then it is as if the planet itself has acted in revenge. I don’t think this is me anthropomorphising.  Sometimes I do feel the Gaia theory is true, that mother earth is constantly self-regulating. Perhaps I am too focused on recent climatic events but certainly the planet is offering up hurricanes, floods, drought and volcanic eruptions on a scale I find it hard to recall in my lifetime. And, as I write, there is the prospect of a large storm, not seen for thirty years, arriving in the West of the UK on National Real Vanilla Day!

Eye storm

The world of vanilla has not escaped the ravages of the weather either. On March 7th Cyclone Enawo hit North East Madagascar causing huge disruption including the destruction of a large part of the expected bumper vanilla harvest. Given that it takes over three years for the orchid vine to flower it is not just a matter of one year’s labour lost. With over 300,000 people displaced, Madagascar, the fourth largest island and ninth poorest country in the world, is really suffering. They now have the additional burden of pneumonic plague with which to contend. We consider the ‘Black Death’ as a lesson from distant history however Madagascar is one of several countries that report cases of plague each year: mainly in rural areas and mainly Bubonic in nature. This is not helped by rodent carriers of the disease being displaced when the rainforest is cut down. The WHO has assessed the current situation as a humanitarian crisis.

How can we in the Western world help? Well we can educate ourselves about the products we buy and understand what sustainability really means and the processes that are involved in our food chain. In the case of vanilla, where 97% of vanillin is synthetically derived, we can choose to pay a little more and purchase real vanilla thereby signalling to the farmers that we appreciate the conditions under which, and amount of care that is required, in vanilla growing.

LittePod launched National Real Vanilla Day in 2014 to further inform people about vanilla; its origins and cultivation. We chose the 17th October because it is around that time that the Madagascan harvest is released; from which 80% of the world’s vanilla originates. I also brought out a book of recipes in same year, interspersed with sections on the various aspects of vanilla. One day, at LPHQ, Prue Leith turned up at coffee time: you can imagine how thrilled I was when she commented on how much she had enjoyed the informative writing style.

This year my thanks go out to our friends at our local farm shop, Darts Farm [UK Farm Shop of the Year 2016] who will be hosting National Real Vanilla Day events. Do come along if you’re in the area, support us on social media or just bake a cake! This Tuesday 17th October.

I said that there are many things to talk about in my jottings …for updates please read the newsletter by signing in to ‘News on the Podvine’ here on our home page. I’ll be back in touch early in the New Year. Meanwhile let us all hope for quieter planetary activity……