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Malaika Charity

A non-profit that operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the mission of empowering girls and their communities through education.

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By Cheranne Hack 18 Sep, 2017

Those of you of a certain age may recall that ‘ Don’t Believe The Hype ’ is a half-remembered rap song from some years ago. At that time I was still working in my previous life of advertising and design. It’s a strange industry – obviously it makes its money from clients who have products and services they wish to sell to particular groups of people – and advertising agencies are as much a mainstream business as the clients they work on behalf of. Yet, the creative studios in which I spent many years were populated by very ‘alternative’ people who thought, bought and behaved very differently to the consumers they by and large were employed to influence. I felt quite comfortable there for a long time, but I look back with a certain discomfort on that world now.

Advertising is extremely influential in the highly lucrative and extremely competitive food and drinks industry (although I have never worked on campaigns in those sectors). Think how we have been persuaded to ‘ go to work on an egg ’, or that British Beef, New Zealand (and more recently Welsh) lamb and Danish bacon are somehow better than other counterparts. More recently, food and especially snack food, advertising aimed at children has become a hotly debated political issue. Jamie Oliver is a vociferous campaigner for a 9pm watershed for such advertising as are former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Health Secretary Alan Johnson. Yet little has changed. Major food brands have continued to target children with junk food products that dazzle young eyes and create a sense that such products are a normal part of everyday diet.

By Cheranne Hack 14 Sep, 2017
By Cheranne Hack 11 Sep, 2017

It was my birthday over the weekend. I played the game of reversing the numbers of my age as I often do, so for example, two years ago I was 15, last year 25 and this year I reached the ripe old age of 35! The game also involves recall and reflection too. Shortly after my 19th birthday in 1983 I left home to go and study in Wiltshire, leaving behind my South Devon comfort zone. I had been vegetarian for a relatively short time at that point, and I was excited about taking complete control of my own food. I regularly visited a health food shop called Swindon Pulse, which was an Aladdin’s Cave of open sacks of beans, grains and cereals with shelves piled high with meat replacement products that required rehydration, tins of exotic Eastern foods unfamiliar to me and also soya milk. At that time it was completely unavailable anywhere other than health food shops. I loved that shop – such shops had yet to re-imagine themselves as ‘pharmacies’ selling mainly supplements and bodybuilding potions, as they seem to now. I also liked one of the girls who worked in the shop, but that’s another story altogether.

Also I remembered being at primary school in the 1970s, at which point the full horror of school milk came flooding back to me. Miniature milk bottles holding, I think, 1/3 of a pint that arrived in the classroom first thing in the morning and were then stored on the radiator and in full sunlight. Needless to say, by the time my teacher had brutally stabbed the lids of each bottle with a knitting needle and inserted a straw later in the day, this full-fat bottle of misery was warm and thoroughly sour. I will forever be grateful to the late Margaret Thatcher for scrapping school milk (although there is little else in her legacy I am grateful for). I hated that school milk with a passion and as a result I’ve had a strong dislike for milk ever since.

Milk was no loss to me whatsoever when I shifted my diet to a fully vegan one a couple of years ago. To many, however, it is a default in the household fridge. Why? How did it come to be that humans became the only animal group to never become fully weaned?

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