How Not to be Normal (Eat Sardines).

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


ABM_1415405670 Last month I  learnt how to cook with first fresh sardines. I bought them because I found out that they were one of the most nutritious and sustainable seafood out there. Sardines are full of healthy fats, their soft edible bones are full of minerals, and since they are  lower on the food chain they are also low in mercury. They are sustainable because they are not overfished, and they have very little by-catch.  And, they are cheap. It cost me $7.50 for a kilo at the Prahran market. I could have gotten them cheaper for $6.00 at the next stall where it was already gutted and cleaned but they were not the first  ones I saw, and as a result I had to learn how to gut and clean a sardine.

I have to be honest, learning to clean and gut a whole kilogram of sardines was not a clean process. Below is a video of me doing it all over again the next day to take to some sardines to  a barbecue. (Why? Because I thought it was good idea to share my new found love of barbecued sardines. Apparently, fishes with their heads still on are not so popular at parties. Lesson learnt! Sometimes, I forget how weird I am, but, who wants to be normal right?)

Next time I should be be better with the whole cleaning and gutting process. Practice makes perfect. Or, I could buy the cheaper already cut and cleaned ones. Decisions, decisions. Even though, learning to gut sardines was definitely  not easy, the end result was well worth it. I didn't know how good they could taste!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccplBBr2qfs

After my terrible job of cleaning them, the sardines were lightly  seasoned with salt, pepper, some lemon juice and drizzled with olive oil. They were then roasted  under the grill for four minutes. They are done when they start sizzling.  You can technically eat them raw because good quality sardines are served raw for a sashimi platter, so don't worry if they are slightly undercooked.

Once they were done, I had them with a salad. And, they tasted unexpectedly good! I wasn't expecting the taste to be that good, because most white fish don't have that much flavour, but these sardines were so flavourful and fresh tasting. If you are feeling adventurous this weekend and you have never had fresh sardines before, go out and get some fresh sardines and make a day out of it- it's well worth it.

 

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With love and simplicity,

Nyamka

P.S. Me and Ines, my lovely housemate/best friend, have started Youtube channel called Nyamka and Ines Cooks. That's where this sardine gutting fail video is from. I am the one with the knife, and she is recording me. We plan to do less grizzly recipe videos in the future. If you want to  watch normal people like us cooking, please subscribe to it.

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Organic T-shirts and Slow Fashion

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


ABM_1409284771

As a result of  dressing with less I have  started paying attention to the quality of my clothes. My standards have changed. I know more about the materials that irritate me. Synthetics. I know more about the clothing and textile industry. Scarier than I previously thought. Now that I know more I have to act differently to adjust to the new information.

My current project 333  winter closet mostly consists of old clothes. Nothing was new except two pairs of tights. While  there were few things I wanted, I refrained from getting anything new because I couldn't find something that was  comfortable, long-lasting, andethical. So I had 30 items for a bit.

I knew if bought something I wasn't happy with I wouldn't wear it. So I waited, I looked, and finally I found  exactly what I was looking for. People Tree. And I got three shirts from them to complete my 33 items for the winter.

Slow Fashion means standing up against exploitation, family separation, slum cities and pollution – all the things that make fast fashion so successful"-People Tree

This quote sums up People Trees mission. They want to give customers an alternative to fast fashion.  I like that. Our demand for fast fashion has a negative effect on people, and the environment in the form of sweatshops, child labour, and global warming. So People Tree embraces the Fair Trade philosophy at all production stages.

That's why they want to be organic and fair trade at the same time.  The negative environmental impact of conventionally grown genetically modified (GM) cotton is high and they didn't want to be just Fair Trade. For them that wasn't enough.

GM cotton is vulnerable to new diseases and yields less cotton. They also need more water, and nutrients so farmers need to rely on synthetic insecticides and pesticides which they need to purchase for the GM cotton to survive. This whole process depletes the soil. This is sad because GM cotton seeds were brought to India, where a lot of the world's cotton is grown,  promising higher yields. In reality GM cotton hasn't reached its expected results.

Furthermore, farmers borrowed money to buy expensive GM seeds, plus the necessary insecticides and pesticides. But the GM cotton provided less yields at a higher cost so a  lot of farmers ended up with high amounts of debt. As a result critics blame the introduction of  GM seeds for significantly contributing to the recent high numbers of farmer suicides in India. This is why I have been searching for organic cotton clothing.

The objective of Fair Trade is not profit at any cost, but to help people in the world's most marginalised communities escape poverty, strengthen their communities and promote environmental sustainability.

Another pro of using organic cotton is that it provides more jobs fue to its labour intensive requirements. Not only jobs provide income for prosperity but they are also important to people's sense of wellbeing.

Plus, organic procures protect the farmer's health in the long-term. Working with synthetic chemicals such as conventional pesticides and herbicides without proper gear and equipment is dangerous. Often poor farmers in developing countries don't have access to or can't afford to get the necessary protection to be safe. This is important to notice and change for me because I don't want people putting their lives in dangers just so I can have tons of clothes and someone in the middle can make  an unhealthy profit from someone else's suffering .

Another thing that People Tree prefers to use  is hand crafting to preserve traditional skills such as weaving and embroidery so artisans in rural areas don't have to travel to cities and leave their families. A lot of conventional fashion companies have factories in cities far away from their homes which are located rurally . Often in conventional factories women and children work for 16 hours a day, day after day with only one day off in the week. Hand crafted items, also, take longer and this means they can provide more artisans with jobs. It is also carbon neutral. By using a hand loom rather than a machine saves one tonne of CO2 per loom, per year ( Loom is an apparatus that is used making fabric by weaving yarn or thread).

Due to their thoughtful design procedures and preference for hand crafting the People Tree design process starts more than a year (four more months longer than conventional fashion companies) before their products become available to the customers, giving  their producers enough time to create their products. Overall I am impressed by People Tree, and I am glad I found them.

Here are my final 3 items for my Project 333:

hot-air-balloon-top
Blah print draped tee
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Here's me with my not so blah shirt and my favourite (only) coat.

These three shirts are all 100% organic cotton and they are so soft. They also don't have annoying labels on the inside that itch and scratch. I have had plenty of  shirts that were made from nice materials but had terribly uncomfortable materials for their inner label and inner stitching. I can tell People Tree had thought about that. These three shirts are comfortable, long-lasting, and ethical. Triple check!

Once you know who makes your clothes, how the fabric is grown, and how it affects you it's hard not to care. Once you know more it's easier to start being more selective with your choices  in the future and start taking care of what you already have.

Now back to you. What do you think of People Tree? Do you think they are doing the right thing? Any other ethical and environmentally friendly brands I should be aware of? Let me know below in the comments section.

With love & simplicity,

Nyamka

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