Kiwis Confused by Food Labels – Survey

Some food with labels

New research has shown that New Zealanders find food labels difficult to understand and lacking in key information.

Kiwi food manufacturers are failing to provide consumers with enough detail on product labels according to a new study.

Auckland based food marketing agency Impact PR, commissioned the independent survey to gain further insight into consumer perceptions of the clarity of food labelling in New Zealand and the criteria shoppers used when selecting products to put in their supermarket trolleys.

According to the research, consumers were confused about what the labels actually revealed, with almost six out of ten (58%) of respondents saying that food labels were hard to understand.

The survey also showed that more than half of Kiwis (53%) believe that food manufacturers do not provide enough information on their labels.

More than one third (35%) of shoppers listed low levels of saturated fat as being the most important factor in selecting whether a product was healthy while another third (34%) of respondents indicated a tick given by a health organisation was the most important criteria for them personally. More than a tenth (13%) of respondents said that a healthy product would be free of ingredients which they are allergic to.

Nearly one in ten (9%) of those surveyed said a low sugar level was the most important factor in determining which products were healthy with a further 3% indicating low levels of sodium as most important.

Perhaps surprising was the comparatively low percentage of consumers placing organic ingredients as the key characteristic in healthy food products – just 5% stated this was the most important criteria for them.

Consumers who answered the survey felt that more information is needed on food labels, particularly country of origin and manufacturer details with four out of ten (42%) stating this preference. This was followed by health benefits (24%) and fat content (16%).

Country of origin was more important to older people, particularly those aged 45 and above, and health benefits more so for younger consumers, i.e. under 35.

Suitability of food for those with allergies/gluten intolerance was listed at 9% and a further 5% called for more information on product suitability for diabetics.

Consumers also indicated they were interested in more information on product suitability for pregnant women and children (4%).

Impact PR Managing Director Fleur Revell said the company commissioned the research to find out whether consumers believed food manufacturers were doing enough in terms of food labelling.

“We wanted to know if consumers felt they had enough information to make informed choices at the checkout. The survey shows that there is a considerable gap between consumer’s needs for information at the point of purchase and what is being provided currently on product.”

Revell says due to the inconspicuous nature of food labels and the limited space available, manufacturers could look to additional means of communicating their product messages with their target audience.

For more information on the study contact Impact PR

Valuing Our Waters – Survey

A rocky stream

Nelson City Council

What future would you like to see for local rivers? Should management of rivers give priority to swimming? Kayaking? Irrigation? Native species? Cultural values? At what cost?

The Cawthron Institute is running an online survey to explore how to accommodate diverse interests and values in freshwater management, with a focus on local rivers.

We need a wide range of people to provide input and express their priorities.

Go to the Tasman Rivers website to participate.

Complete the survey by 7 September and you’ll go in the draw to win a $50 prize.

Funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the survey is part of a three-year research programme to develop tools to improve freshwater decision-making.

The objective of this case study is to help develop a more complete schedule of uses and values of Tasman’s freshwater bodies and to help guide decisions around management objectives for at least some freshwater bodies. This would provide a better framework for managing our rivers including such matters as resource consent applications, targeted research projects, enhancement projects or future plan changes.

In addition to the online survey, the Tasman study involves a series of workshops with a group of local experts from a range of sectors and interests.

Results of the study will be used to further improve the Council’s resource management plan through a future variation or plan change.

Tasman Nelson Environment Awards Open

Beach at Kaiteriteri Nelson, New Zealand

The popular regional awards are open for nominations until Friday 16 September 2011. This is a joint Nelson City and Tasman District Council initiative.

This year there are eight categories including a revamped Sustainable Design category, which has been broadened to include individual buildings. Both Councils appreciate the commitment of all the category sponsors, whose support makes the awards possible.

The categories and the sponsors are:

  • Sustainable Design – Arrow International
  • Best Use of Renewable Energy – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
  • Heritage/Culture – Wakatu Incorporation or Heritage/Sites – NZ Historic Places Trust
  • Environmental Leadership – The Cawthron Institute Trust Board
  • Commercial – Radio Nelson
  • Schools – Resene
  • Rural – Landcare Research NZ
  • Community Groups – Nelson Pine Industries

Rob Francis, Co-organiser, says “The awards are all about celebrating local successes and recognising the huge amount of work that is being done to care for our environment. Some our previous winners have gone on to even greater success like the Green Ribbon Awards.”

Karen Lee, Co-organiser, says “We encourage as many nominations as possible. It’s a great opportunity to tell your own story about what you, your group or organisation is doing for our community and to inspire others.”

Prizes are awarded by sponsors and range in value from $500 – $1000.

Nominations can be made in more than one section and are welcomed from new and previous entrants. Nomination forms, including the relevant criteria, are available on the Council websites or from the main Council offices, libraries or service centres.

More information:Tasman Nelson Environment Awards 2011

Rob Francis, Tasman District Council, 03 543 8400; Karen Lee, Nelson City Council, 03 546 0339

Courses in Organic Horticulture – Fairfield House, Nelson

Course times and Structure

9.30am to 3pm One day a week at Fairfield House, Nelson, for 8 months (excluding the school holidays): end of August 2011 – end of May 2012.

There is also an evening class starting in Richmond, which will have some field trips on occasional weekends.

All courses involve practical gardening as well as theory, and many field trips which are a highlight. We have a garden on site at Fairfield House for the Level 3 course.

Unit standards are completed on these courses, which are a requirement, so there is some homework to do! If you can keep up with the assessments, which are all open book – no exams -you should have your holidays free!

What will you Learn?

Level 3 Organics

  • Historic development of organic horticulture
  • Basic principles of organic systems
  • Organic philosophies and schools of thought
  • Soils and sustainable soil management practises
  • Establishing shelter to attract beneficial insects, birds and insects
  • Identifying and managing pests and diseases
  • Making compost
  • Companion planting
  • Organic weed control methods
  • Crop rotation and green manures
  • Permaculture
  • Planning and developing an organic property

Level 4 Applied Organics

  • The New Zealand organics industry
  • Organic certification
  • Integrated management of pests, diseases, biodiversity, and soils for your property
  • Post harvest handling, storage and transport
  • Water quality and related land use
  • Training and Pruning fruit trees
  • Identify Plants
  • Liquid Fertilisers
  • Seed saving and propagation

Cost:

Approx $200-300 depending on the course

Contact: Jenny North
jennyandglenn@clear.net.nz
03 5450188

Bicycles of the Future?

Designer Dror Peleg with her Frii plastic bike

A bike made from recycled plastic. A bike ‘grown’ from bamboo. Just two recent eco-design innovations hinting at the shape of the future.

Focussing on the mass production of bicycles with limited resources, Israeli design student Dror Peleg produced the “Frii” concept bike.

Constructed from recycled plastics using injection moulding, this single speed city bike is less Labour-intensive and more accessible than conventional metal bikes. It can be customised and adapted to local needs and resources.

Bamboo bike concept by Alexander Vittouris

Australian design student Alexander Vittouris has conceived of a new approach to bicycle manufacture: grow it.

The usual process of shape modification is to manipulate the product ‘post’ harvesting using energy intensive methods such as steam or heat bending.

Vittouris proposes the structural frame of the bike is grown on the outside of a skeleton inner structure. The shaping process and energy being derived from the plants natural growth.

Innovation and graceful design suggestive of new approaches to contemporary urban transport needs.

Nelson Tasman Ecofest 2011

Ecofest Logo

Ecofest – making it easier being green. A showcase for Eco innovative products, services and messages. 20 & 21 August 2011

The Nelson Tasman Ecofest Expo is only a few weeks away. As usual this year’s Expo will be packed with great ideas, products, information and inspiration.

The Ecofest objectives:
* To make it easier being green for everyone

* To not only highlight environmental issues, but also offer easy everyday actions and solutions.

* To highlight positive environmental actions by individuals, businesses and communities.

* To encourage others to follow positive environmental examples.

* To provide an alternative to rules and regulations for environmental care.

The Nelson Tasman Ecofest 2011 – 20 & 21 August 2011
Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm and
Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm
at the Trafalgar Centre, Nelson

Only $5 for adults & free for kids!

Download the 2011 Ecofest programme here

ecofestnelsontasman.co.nz

Eco Challenge 2011

The theme of this year’s Ecofest is “Futureproof your Family”. The 2011 Eco Challenge workshops are free and running over the next few weeks.

Workshops cover a range of topics including rainwater harvesting, alternative energy & shopping sustainably.

The Nelson/Waimea eco-Home tour and Urban Edible Garden Tour take place on Saturday 13 August. Tickets are on sale at council offices.

Download the 2011 Eco Challenge programme here.

Biosecurity Month Spotlights Tomorrow’s Pests Today

Press Release: New Zealand Biosecurity Institute

New Zealand Biosecurity Institute vice president, Pedro Jensen examines Buddliea

New Zealand Biosecurity Institute vice president, Pedro Jensen examines Buddliea

Bad bugs, weedy plants and pest animals are threatening our country, and during NZ Biosecurity Month in July, New Zealanders are being encouraged to find out what they can do about them.

“Our biosecurity controls at the border are vital to stop new pests arriving in the country,” says New Zealand Biosecurity Institute vice president, Pedro Jensen.

“But everyone also needs to be aware that there are plenty of established pests already here causing damage to our environment, economy, and health.”

Recent research indicates that over 26 million eggs or chicks of native forest birds are destroyed by introduced predators, such as possums, rats, and stoats, each year.

This year’s biosecurity month theme is ‘Tomorrow’s Pests Today,’ which highlights the potential of introduced species, especially some plant species, to acclimatize to New Zealand conditions over time and start spreading into natural areas where they can cause major damage to ecosystems.

The good news is that there are plenty of things that people can do to play their part in keeping pests at bay.

“If people find out what to keep an eye out for, and take steps to control pests on their own properties, it will go a long way to protecting New Zealand from the impacts of these unwanted invaders,” says Pedro.

Visit www.biosecurity.org.nz to find out more about biosecurity, NZ Biosecurity Month, and what you can do to get involved.

NZ Biosecurity Month was launched by the NZ Biosecurity Institute in 2010 to raise awareness invasive pests. This year’s theme is ‘Tomorrow’s Pests Today.’

The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute has over 300 members from a wide range of government departments, universities, non-governmental organizations, crown research agencies and contracting companies. These include Department of Conservation, regional and local councils, National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, Landcare Research and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The NZ Biosecurity Institute holds a National Education and Training Seminar (NETS) every year, with three days of presentations, fieldtrips and workshops allowing current issues in biosecurity to be discussed by the 200 or so delegates that attend. NETS2011 is being held in Auckland in July, and will showcase biosecurity success stories from around the country and the new research that has been done to improve biosecurity in New Zealand.

Major Report suggests Catastrophe looms for Oceans

Sunset over water

Photo / Rob Edwards

The world’s oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory, a major report suggests.

The seas are degenerating faster because of the cumulative impact of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to chemical pollution and gross overfishing.

The coming together of these factors is now threatening the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history”, according to the report by a panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The panel’s stark suggestion is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish at one end of the scale to tiny corals at the other, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world’s life died out.

The 27 scientists concluded that a “combination of stressors is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in earth’s history”.

“The findings are shocking,” said Dr Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at Oxford University and IPSO’s scientific director. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, in the lifetime of our children and generations beyond that.”

Read the full story on Herald News.

Read the report details at State of the Oceans.org

Kaikoura Becomes World’s First Destination to Secure EarthCheck Gold Community Certification

Landscape of Kaikoura, New Zealand

Photo / Rob Edwards

In yet another display of New Zealand’s world-leading sustainable tourism credentials, the small whale watching capital of Kaikoura has become the first destination in the world to receive EarthCheck’s Gold Community certification.

Previously, EarthCheck awarded Gold certification only to facilities such as resorts and not communities. However, given the significant and sustained commitment displayed by Kaikoura, EarthCheck has now awarded the prestigious Gold certification to the community.

Since 1999, when Kaikoura first adopted what is now known as the EarthCheck Sustainable Communities Program, it has been meeting EarthCheck’s rigorous environmental standards across a range of indicators. This provided Kaikoura District Council with a framework to reduce the environmental impact of the community’s activities upon the increasingly popular region.

EarthCheck Certification is the world’s leading program, used by the travel and tourism industry. EC3 Global has certified more organisations than any other; resulting in over 1100 clients in more than 65 countries. EarthCheck complies with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) 14064 range of standards for greenhouse gas accounting. Go to www.earthcheck.org

Read the full story at christchurchnz.com

Call to boycott shark-fin soup

a shark swimming in the sea, happy as can be

New Zealand Forest and Bird is urging diners to boycott a popular Chinese delicacy amid concerns over inhumane fishing practices.

Shark-fin soup is a symbol of wealth and prestige in Chinese culture, selling for as much as $300 a serve in some local restaurants.

But Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said targeting sharks for their fins was a “barbaric practice”.

Sharks in New Zealand waters can be finned as long as they are dead, but Mr Hackwell said there was plenty of evidence that live finning took place.

Finning is prohibited in Australia, the USA, the EU, but not in New Zealand.

Read full story on NZ Herald News.

The Lowdown on 2010-2011 Weather Extremes

Satellite image of storm

Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

If you thought the weather’s been a bit extreme lately you’d be right.

Every year brings it’s share of unusual and extreme weather events that break centuries old records and affect millions. So how do you really know if things have been as crazy as they seem? Ask an expert.

Renown meteorologist Jeff Masters who co-founded Weather Underground, has produced a detailed analysis of recent weather events in his blog declaring: “the wild roller-coaster ride of incredible weather events during 2010, in my mind, makes that year the planet’s most extraordinary year for extreme weather since reliable global upper-air data began in the late 1940s.”

Read the full article at Weather Underground

Hands Across the Sand Global Day of Action

Hands across the sans logo

Tomorrow at noon, New Zealand will be the first of many nations to join in the international ‘Hands Across the Sands‘ day of action against offshore oil drilling.

Among events planned across the country, the Nelson region has gatherings planned at Tahunanui Beach, the Motueka Quay by the Jeanie Seddon in Motueka, and at Pohara Beach in Golden Bay.

Hands Across the Sand is a movement made up of people from all walks of life and crosses political affiliations and borders of the world.

It is about the protection of our oceans, marine wildlife, coastal economies and fisheries. The accidents that continue to happen in offshore oil drilling are a threat to all of the above.

Expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer – embracing Clean Energy is.

On a local, national and global level, Joining Hands sends a powerful visual message of human solidarity to our nations’ leaders. Every time we join hands that message is reinforced.

It is simple and logical: Say NO to offshore oil drilling and YES to a clean energy future.

A line in the sand is a powerful thing.

Transition Towns: Hands Across the Sand Aotearoa
More info at Permaculture.org.nz