Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last Day in Nürnberg

I'm in my hotel room with a plastic bag of about 4 kilos of Palestinian almonds, around 30 soaps made with Palestinian olive oil wrapped in tissue paper, two bottles of the finest Palestinian olive oil, five packs of zaatar, two boxes of incredibly sweet, caramely dates from Saudi Arabia, and one box of soft madjool dates from Jordan. All of it organic and all of it presents from my corner of the fair.

See, some well-meaning soul put my stand beside the Saudi Arabia pavilion, not far from the Egyptian pavilion, and just a couple of stands away from our Jordanian olive oil producing colleagues and thereby saw to it that I always had kindred spirits only an el salam 'aleikom away.

Safwan with the frozen unfathomably juicy dates from Saudi Arabia. Bahaa with the gorgeous shopping bags made out of Egyptian linen. Rabih who looked after me once Nasser had left for his product launch in the UK.

Arabs always look out for one other, and it doesn't really matter that I'm not Arabic. I speak Arabic well enough, and besides, olive oil, fresh bread, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and green nabali olives with a huge sign saying Delicacies from the Land of Milk and Honey--Palestine bring us all together. We eat our makeshift lunch together, made up out of samples from each other's stands, and speak of organic foods, fair trade and Palestine.

Israelis stop by too. Maybe six or eight of them mostly to check us out.

"Is this oil from Palestine?" Unbelieving. Testing us.


"From where?"

"Mainly Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Salfit on the West Bank. Where are you from?"

"From the same country."

Clearly not Palestinian. They smile. Testing us.

"Oh yeah, from where?" I ask.


"Ah, but this is from Palestine."

"In my opinion that is the same country."

"In my opinion it isn't."

Although, of course, I wish it were. In the sense that I wish Palestine could be one country for all of the people who live on the land, and all of the Palestinian refugees who wish to return, with equal rights regardless of ethnicity, religion, nationality or any other social identity.

Another man who walks up to our stand thinks I should speak Hebrew, since I have an Israeli name. I kindly let him know that my last name is German and my first name is Hebrew. Not Israeli.

Yet another man tests my historical knowledge by acting ignorant about our company name.

"What does this Canaan mean?"

Fully aware that he knows, I still play along and go, "It's the ancient name for Palestine."

"Oh," he says. "You knew. You are vell trained."

Indeed I am.

They walk along quickly. Not really interested in our products as much as what we represent. And, I think, in making a point out of the fact that they are Israelis.

But then there are two ladies from Israel who come by our stand in the morning, with a sincere wish to congratulate us and reach out to us, and support our cause in spirit. They take our hands, and they say they are really very happy to see that we are here representing Palestine. And they said they are proud to see us here. And they wish us well. And they invite us to come to their stand, too.

Oh, and I partied with Israelis and American Jews yesterday. The Dr Bronner's Magic Soap gang. Very interesting people. Very cool. They source 90 % of the olive oil they use in their soaps from Canaan Fair Trade. That is to say, a Jewish-American owned soap company uses almost exclusively Palestinian olive oil. That's something else.

So, at the end of the day, Canaan Fair Trade really brings all of us together. With the olive oil and the Fair Trade and the organic farming.

And now Nasser is in the UK to speak of his project that is consuming his every waking hour. He will go on a speaking tour, with Equal Exchange and FLO. Things are happening. So much so that Prime Minister Brown has even issued a statement on our newly FLO-certified olive oil--the very first olive oil to be certified by FLO ever. Go Canaan!

I must sleep. Have to catch an early flight tomorrow. And figure out where to put all these almonds.

Yalla. Good night.

PS My heart goes out to Egypt tonight. To the people who were on El Hussein when the explosion took place. In support of all Egyptians, I will still go to Egypt as planned in March.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nürnberg Day 2

John from Holland is our savior. He is the importer of Canaan Fair Trade products in the Netherlands and luckily had enough olive oil, sundried tomatoes, couscous, almonds, soap, pickled olives and za'atar in stock to bring boxes of it with him down here to Nuremberg. He's also exhibiting at the fair.

So nuts to the Dutch customs! We get to have our trade show regardless of how long they're keeping our products.

But we could use our pamphlets and posters and everything.

Anyway, it looks really good now at our stand. (I'd show you pictures, but apparently you need a USB cable to transfer the pictures from the digital camera onto the computer... who would have thought?)

Tomorrow morning, we'll run across the street and get fresh bread for our booth, take the subway to the fair, put up our olives, sundried tomatoes, za'atar and our olive oils for sampling, and we're ready to go!

I'll upload photos when I get back to Sweden.

Nürnberg Day 1

Organic Fair Trade Week commenced. Sitting with Nasser Abufarha in the lobby of Best Western Hotel in Nuremberg booking in customers via e-mail. Apparently our olive oil samples got stuck in Dutch customs together with our exhibition material, and they're going to need five days to process it. The trade fair starts on Thursday.


Flew a German airline here and after a lengthy security drill in German, the speaker voice goes, "For security information, please read the card."


I looked up from my book at Arlanda airport, and saw a man walking out from the ladies' room. Things that make you go "hmmm."

It's freezing cold here. We had pasta at a place next to Lorenzkirche. Huge cathedral. Cobble stone. Timber frame houses.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ethical Consuming

So I'm going to Nuremberg. Nurenberg?


That is, in Germany.

There's an organic trade fair there, BioFach between 19-22 February, and I've been asked to help represent Palestinian fair trade and organic company Canaan Fair Trade there. Yay! They have the best olive oil in the world (I swear), and they also do really important work in a region where more than 60 years of conflict and more than 40 years of Israeli occupation have devastated the economy and isolated farmers and families from the rest of the world.

Example: since the start in 2004, Canaan Fair Trade has planted well over 26 000 olive trees in a region where many farmers have seen the Israeli wall cut off their land, and their olive orchards confiscated and/or destroyed by Israeli occupation forces.

And Canaan does all this according to international fair trade standards (in fact, they recenty had 8 cooperatives certified by Fair Trade labeling Organization International!), which guarantees fair prices and wages, and fair working conditions. All of this is possible because there are ethical consumers out there who care enough about the people who produce their food and their makeup to make sure that they can lead a decent life and earn a living on their trade.

Speaking of which (makeup and ethical consuming, that is), I recently came across a new company that makes the best organic, all natural, cruelty-free, certified entirely vegan skincare. That is to say, there are no preservatives, no mineral oils, no parabens, artificial perfume, lanolin, or any other kind of crap in them, which is a god-send for people who have sensitive skin (like me) and who are vegetarian (like me). And of course, it's not tested on animals, but that goes without saying.

The company is based in London and is called MuLondon--go and check out their website on Wait, I'll share some pictures:

Gorgeous, huh? They ship everywhere, which is a good thing for everybody who's not planning on going to London in the near future just to buy organic skincare.

Oh, and let me add one thing: if you have been told (like I have) that you're supposed to use oil-free products for your face, then I can tell you that that's simply not true. They should be mineral-oil free, but vegetable oils and butters are good for your skin. Very nourishing, mousturizing and they leave your skin super soft. But the key is to only use very little (or you'll walk around with a shiny face), and put the creme on right after you wash your face, without patting it dry first. This way, the product doesn't just sit on the surface of your skin, but your skin can "drink up" the creme.

If you're prone to oily skin (which I am), it's even more important to use oil in your products. Because the more you try to dry out your skin to get rid of the shine, the more your skin is going to think it needs to produce more oil (or sebum). But adding oil from the outside (in small quantities, with good-quality products) will eventually teach your skin that it doesn't have to produce all this extra oil, because it gets the moisture it needs anyway, and it will actually stop producing so much oil on its own.

And one note on washing your face: don't use products with soap in them. This will not only dry out your skin, but can also potentially damage its natural protective abilities (okay, so I don't know all the right terms for this, but my dad works with dermatological drug development, so he's explained this to me), especially if you have sensitive skin. It's better to either use a product without soap, or just use olive oil. Yes, I swear. It gets all the makeup off. Just use cotton pads to wipe it off.

And this concludes Ruby's Special Skin Care Class. haha.

More on Canaan Fair Trade from Germany.