Cinnamon, Spice and all things nice

I have been watching a new series with the effervescent Kate Humble which I can highly recommend.  It is called The Spice Trail, and the first episode took us to southern India and Sri Lanka in search of peppercorns and cinnamon.  I like Kate’s ebullient, if somewhat hyperactive style of reporting – she positively beams at the camera and never seems grumpy. I learnt alot about how the spice trail developed during the 16th and 17th centuries mostly through the Portuguese, then the Dutch and latterly the British traders.

Most of the world’s cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka.  Even now it is not a mechanised industry -the bark is chopped by hand and then carefully whittled by expert quill makers – as this is what cinnamon sticks are actually called.  Kate met Babynuna whose family have been quill makers for centuries – she explained that the hours are long,  the pay rubbish and the young people in her community do not want to ply the cinnamon trade anymore. In fact it is a scandal how little money is made by the producers themselves.  If ever there were a case for a Fairtrade makeover then this would surely qualify.  The mark up is staggering, as usual the fat cat supermarkets and large food corporations are creaming off all the money.  Spare a thought for Babynuna next time you reach for the cinnamon sticks in the supermarket – she actually got pennies for all her hard work, so that we could make our cakes and baking treats taste nice.

PS Go to Steenberg’s website to buy Fairtrade cinnamon…..boycott the supermarket!


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