You may have missed it, but a few weeks ago the Ecologist published a major special report - one of our biggest such projects for several years - examining one of Britain’s great institutions, the cuppa. The issues that lie behind production and supply of most everyday food staples – from cocoa to coffee, beef to bacon, soya to salad, prawns to pineapples – have been investigated and documented (many of them here in the Ecologist) but it seemed that no-one had taken the classic British cuppa and subjected it to such close scrutiny.
This is despite the fact that each day, millions of us take a small bag, drop it into a cup, pour in boiling water, and add a dash of milk plus a spoonful of sugar. We basically start the day with it, we end the day with it, we serve it socially or in times of distress. It’s our favourite drink, after water.
For our investigation we sent Verity Largo to Kenya to report on life for some of the thousands of estate workers who live on plantations supplying two of our favourite teas – PG Tips and Lipton. Owners of the Kericho plantation, Unilever, and the Dutch research outfit SOMO, paint two very different pictures of conditions at the Rainforest Alliance-certified estate: you can read our exclusive article online to judge for yourself.
We also reported from Cambodia on the country’s growing ‘sugar boom’ that is leading to increasing conflict over land and resources as rural communties clash with the new breed of ‘sugar barons’. We also looked at why our love affair with milk may not be a good idea; we travel to the US to examine the rise of ‘mega dairies’; we asked why the recent victory against the UK’s own ‘super-dairy’ at Nocton may only be the beginning; we revealed the global costs of both tea and sugar; and looked at ethical supply chains.
This is the first in a major new series of special reports that we’ve got planned for 2011. We’ll be tackling a number of important environmental issues in the coming months with a mixture of hard hitting reportage, undercover investigations and unique commentary.
This is what the Ecologist does best - we cover the vital and often unreported issues in a way that no other media outlet really can... or does. We are receiving reports of some encouraging developments apparently coming about as a direct result of our investigations - we’ll keep you fully updated in future weeks. In the meantime, if you have comments, feedback – or information or suggestions on issues you think we should be investigating – please get in touch with us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org