Saturday, 15 March 2014

Rotary Pic n Mix

Some months ago in was asked to prepare a speech on the topic of Pic n Mix.  This particular Club Charter celebration being held on world chocolate day. I thought that what I came up with was worthy of a sharing with a wider audience so here goes

As Rotarians we sometimes have to remind ourselves of the Areas of Focus we have within our community activities – on this occasion let me do that with a twist, or should that be a Curly Whirly or a Twirl?   We have 6 areas of focus to pick from and we often mix them together to provide all that a community needs

Peace is at the heart of what Rotary aims to bring to the world.
The founders of many of our well loved Chocolate brands were of course Quakers, Messrs Rowntree, Fry and Cadbury. And Chocolate can affect people in many different ways like this story from the Berlin Airlift  Suddenly, out of the mist came a parachute with a fresh Hershey chocolate bar from America. It took me a week to eat that candy bar. I hid it day and night. The chocolate was wonderful, but it wasn't the chocolate that was most important. What it meant was that someone in America cared. That parachute was something more important than candy. It represented hope. Hope that someday we would be free. Without hope the soul dies.” 

Our second area of focus is Health & Wellbeing
I’m told that good dark Chocolate is  packed full of good stuff like alkaloids, theobromine and phenethylamine. .  An April 2001 review of recent studies indicates that high dark chocolate consumption can decrease your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke by as much as 30 percent.  
But you really have to be a fan of raw unrefined chocolate and not to forget that many of these studies were paid for by Mars….

I’m not sure what would be said about eating chocolate at the various Health Mela (Fairs) I have now attended. Rotary is taking part in these events not as a practitioner but as a catalyst for community activity and awareness raising.

Third is Water and Sanitation
If you had to name a crop that was absolutely essential to human survival you probably wouldn’t say cocoa. But the crop that’s the main raw ingredient in chocolate is one we should all be paying close attention to.  In September 2011 scientists produced a report on the likely impact of climate change on the cocoa plantations of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire – that’s where more than half the world’s cocoa comes from, produced mainly by smallholders with few alternatives for earning a living. - only dentists would be happy about the news that rising temperatures were going to take a big bite out of chocolate production. That’s unless, a new report makes clear, a series of measures is introduced. These range from the development of hardier cocoa varieties, to improved agronomy, to investments in irrigation infrastructure. 

So our Sand Dams projects may be critical to the future livelihood of many rural farmers, and we already know this  … but also critical to the availability and affordability of chocolate for future generations, well for some that may spur on some action.

Next is Maternal and Child Health
Chocolate as an aphrodisiac?  Probably not,  but to the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility.
To us in moderation OK, but how much of our children’s health is affected by chocolate and other sugary candies is open to question …

Our 5th area of focus is Basic Education and Literacy
One of our areas of focus is aimed at helping literacy and education, helping people read and understand the wrappers.  

Numeracy can be supported by Buttons and Smarties - we’ve all done the one for you two for me trick 
Adverts could of course be educational tools, any one care to discuss the following? 
Yorkie;   its not for girls
Cadburys Eat More Milk;   1.5 pts in every bar?
Kit Kat;   2 hours steady nourishment
Penguin;   P' P'  Pick up a penguin

And of course jokes
I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa."    Voted the best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe 

And finally Community and Economic Development
Fair Trade is something that has been encouraged by consumers and of course seen as a good sales pitch.  It only started in earnest in the mid 90’s with Green and Blacks Mayan Gold.   But for us it is something that we almost take for granted – our 4-Way test doesn’t allow us to forget the need to make sure that everything we think do or say is beneficial to all.

The Divine brand is 45% owned by the growers themselves, something we are helping to develop with our microfinance support of the Coffee Growers in Ethiopia

So Pick & Mix – where did the idea, exemplified in Woollies come from?  

Who can forget standing in Woolies... plastic scoop in hand... wondering which of the colourful sweets to add to our paper bag? Or watching in horror as the urchin in front picked his nose and then proceeded to make his selections without the use of the scoop. You'd be amazed at some of the things that used to be seen in the clear perspex tubs (or maybe you wouldn't!)

So maybe it's just as well that this particular institution is pretty well a thing of the past... and that it has been replaced by the hygienic pick and mix of online sweetshops.

For me the best chocolate bar has to be Old Jamaica, apparently no longer supplied to UK stores.  What was yours?

I’ve taken us through a quick insight into the Pick & Mix of Rotary activity.  And I haven’t even mentioned POLIO’s something we have stuck at since 1985.  Just after the launch of Wispa, Boost Coconut has come and gone even Inspirations failed to make it past 1998.

But we’ll continue to close the gap on Polio won’t we ?     

The packaging may change from time to time but “Doing Good” in the world is what we have been doing for 100 years and let’s hope we have many more to come.

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