Day 5 + 6: Jambos, Welcomes And Thank Yous

March 19, 2009

We awoke literally at the crack of dawn this morning to a spectacular East African sunrise as we made our way to the tea fields for plucking

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Before we left, breakfast was served in our guest house. First, some fresh fruit.

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And toast topped with plum jam and honey –

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Coffee + Tea

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And finally – porridge! This is a traditional Kenyan breakfast staple made with millet. Thomas made it especially for me when I showed such interest in the Kenyan food last night. He added a little butter and sugar and I put in a drizzle of honey. It was divine! Kind of like oat bran meets amaranth?

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Then we were off to our tea plucking lesson, which began with a lesson on tea quality. The best quality tea is a bud and 1, 2 or 3 leaves. You do not want broken pieces (oxidation), crispy leaves, hard leaves or stalks. Piece of cake ,right!?

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Here are some of the workers who had already begun. The process is so natural. Richard says: “Nothing is added and nothing is taken away.”

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I was paired with Cosmas Maritm. He has been at the estate 2 years now and grew up in the town of Kericho.

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We chatted for the entirety of our 30 minute plucking session. Cosmas has been married for a year and lives on the estate with his wife and 4 month old daughter named Abel. He likes to play sports in the evenings, especially football. Of course I asked him about food :mrgreen: He simply “takes tea” before work and has a bowl of porridge for a lunch break. He usually works 8 hour days and has plucked over 70 kilos of tea in one day. I asked him how he likes it and he said “It’s good wages.” I could tell he was appreciative of the opportunity to work. The workers average 35-45 kilos of tea a day for a wage of  about $.10 a kilo. They are 40% female and must be 18 to work.

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The plucking was simple but still challenging to do at a good speed. And my back hurt after 5 minutes! Cosmas said you get used to it and the more you do it the easier it gets.

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We plucked 2.5 kilos in 30 minutes (keep in mind that’s 1/20th of a normal workday!

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I think Cosmas was a little annoyed with me for talking so much and not working harder!

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With some of the ladies

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After plucking we took a tea bread (of course!)

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and headed out to tour more of the estate

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Here are some of the eucalyptus trees

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They choose eucalyptus for a number of reasons.:

  1. It accumulates biomass very quickly add matures in a very short time
  2. It has a high calorific value (it’s good fuel)
  3. It’s very lightweight and easy to split and cut
  4. In just 24 years, you can get 5 tall trees out of just one tiny seed and basically no maintenance


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To plantling

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Some environmentalists say that eucalyptus depletes the soil and neighboring plants of water, but there is so much rainfall here (2m a year) that there’s no problem.  Just across the street was a swamp, a forest and a tea field. The estate is also testing bamboo as an alternative fuel source with high hopes.

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I was getting really hungry and thankfully British cookies were right around the corner! I love how they are almost like cookie crackers.

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Then it was on to one of the tea drying and packaging factories.

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I’ll leave you with a photo recap of the process start to finish. The aroma was unbelievable – strong, strong tea bag smell!

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To the tasting room!

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We moved on to a lesson in tea breeding. Very cool!

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Here are some of the houses on the estate.

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A huge vegetable garden behind one of the villages on the estate. This is sukumawiki, which means “to get you through the end of the week.” The people eat maize (ugali), vegetables, and raise chickens and there are butchers in each of the village.

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They are simple and clean. I didn’t realize how nice they were until we ventured off of the estate and saw some of the surrounding communities.

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We drove to one of the dams to learn about hydroelectric power. All of the managers were so pleasant and gave excellent presentations! They all welcomed us enthusiastically and every presentation ended with a “Thank you” page.

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Hydroelectric power

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Children just out of school! They were so friendly too and we loved exchanging waves with everyone we passed this week.

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Next came a late lunch at the Monkey Sanctuary!!

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I don’t know who was hungrier: the monkey or me!!

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The sanctuary also had a stone mill for the estate residents to grind corn for ugali if the ever need to use it.

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We had lunch in a grass roof gazebo.

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I started with a bowl of Potato + Leek Soup

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Along with a panini-style sandwich filled with vegetable cream cheesy spread (loved it!), a veggie sambusa (which I called an empanadas by accident last night), half a hot dog, and a Scotch egg.

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What is a Scotch egg? An egg rolled in ketchupy flavors and deep fried. It was very strange, but good!

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I took a banana to have for later!

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After lunch we headed to a smallholder farm that was about a 40 minute drive away. It was BUMPY and extremely dusty with the windows open. We saw lots of the countryside on the drive, including many small towns, people and hills.

We arrived at the home of Simon and Esther Langat and their daughter Faith.

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Here we heard a talk by some of the smallholder tea farmers who are becoming Rainforest Alliance certified. There are about 30 farms that have joined together and share 4 tea factories.

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It started to rain and we were invited into their home

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I had the privilege of seeing Esther’s kitchen!

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Her dishwasher and stove, which she keeps warm with firewood

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(Yes, she’s holding an onion!)

Esther Eats Real Food!

  • Breakfast, 7am: Tea, sweet potatoes, chapatis (naan)
  • Lunch, 12:30-1pm: Rice, fruit, vegetables from the garden, beans, sometimes meat, sometimes milk. Esther feeds her workers too. Lunch is the biggest meal
  • Supper, 8pm: Fruit, chapati, millet, beans
  • Snacks: She sometimes makes potato chips!

I asked her if she ever ate sweets and she laughed and said “Rarely” because they are discouraged!

Esther has no refrigerator and when mealtime comes she picks vegetables right from her garden to cook:

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More sukumawiki!

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Here she is with gords where she stores milk and millet

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Sunset Yoga

After our 45 minute ride back we had a little time before dinner to freshen up. I took the opportunity to do yoga with the sun. I just laid down a towel and had YogaDownload on my iPod.

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Dinner + Dance

We all gathered with the managers of the estate for a farewell party complete with Kenyan cuisine and entertainment, including the Chebown dancers who made a grand entrance. The group is a group of tea pluckers that get together weekly to sing and dance, and the company supplies their costumes for performances.

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We were each pulled out, dressed and handed a stick for dancing

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I retrieved a Tusker from the bar – it’s my new favorite beer!

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I only got to finish half of my Tusker before a few bugs drank the rest while I danced! Later on a tried the Tusker Malt. Here’s me with John Mutua, an innovations process technologist at the estate. He wanted to be on the blog!

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Dinner was a grand spread of local foods, including grilled goat, which is  served at celebrations and holidays.

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I filled my plate with a little of everything.

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There were three different kinds of greens: Isoik, Isagek, and Young Pumpkin Greens.

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These greens are served everywhere. If you had told me they were made from tea I would have believed you. They were very bitter but had a sweet aroma just like tea! Coincidence? I liked the pumpkin greens the best because they were more savory like spinach. 

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Ugali! Don’t tell on me, but I added a bit of salt and it tasted like a corn tortilla chip dough! I recommend a pinch of salt if you ever try it 😉

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A Coconut Crusted Fish

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And some Red WIne Braised Beef over Rice (which was delicious)

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And I was poured a glass of wine

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75% was eaten :)

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Dessert was French flan topped with fruit. It was kind of like the fruit tarts we have at home – with a really, really good crust! I also had more passion fruit and a piece of mango.

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Here I am with Richard Fairburn, managing director, and Michiel Leijnse, Lipton’s Global Marketing Manager. (Thank you for the wonderful trip!!)

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The dancing was so much fun!!! (Video to come!)

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Day 6: Continents Unite

We had another early ride (5:30am!) after our late night out to get started early in preparation for our drive back to Nairobi.

Thomas made me another bowl of his famous millet porridge and this time I KERFed it up with banana, nuts and Barney Butter!

Barney, meet Uji

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I also ate some fruit and passion fruit juice (not all of this though)

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And instant coffee

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After breakfast we began our eco project of planting trees. Everyone who visits the estate must plant a proportional number of trees  to offset their individual carbon emission based on calculations using an emission calculator.. The trees are all indigenous because many of them are rare and endangered.

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Since we all traveled very far to get here, there were quite a lot of trees to plant!

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I traveled roughly 25,000 km and used nearly 10,000 CO2 :( I had to plant 7 trees!

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  1. Tabernaemontana
  2. Waterberry
  3. Meru Oak
  4. Lemon Tree
  5. Waterberry #2
  6. African satinwood
  7. Rothmannia 

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We said goodbye over one final cup of tea

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I have to agree with the reports of others that the Kenyan people are so friendly. Always smiling, waving, welcoming. I was so nervous to fly to Africa alone on 3 weeks notice that I almost turned it down. Now not only am I thrilled that I came, but I don’t want to leave! I definitely think I will come home with a  of me changed forever.

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{ 157 comments… read them below or add one }

1 VeggieGirl March 19, 2009 at 10:32 am

THAT SUNRISE!!! Priceless.

Kath, this is so compelling to read about – thank you so much for continuing to share your adventures so thoroughly!!


2 Sarah (lovINmytummy) March 19, 2009 at 10:35 am

Incredible post again, Kath! I feel like I have learned so much from you these past few days.

Your trip has again re emphasized for me how US-centric our thinking is in the grand scheme of things.

I especially loved seeing Esther’s home and of course EERF. Can I get that emblazoned on a yellow tea poncho? And I wouldn’t turn down a monkey for souvenir either.

Savor every moment (and deep fried egg) of your trip!!!


3 Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) March 19, 2009 at 10:39 am

Kath, What a beautiful recap of your trip! I am so glad you got this amazing experience and shared it with us. It is absolutely beautiful!


4 sarah (ghost world) March 19, 2009 at 10:43 am

seriously, i had tears in my eyes at the end of this post! thank you so much for sharing all of the details — i loved hearing about the people you met — “esther eats real food” = awesome! it made me want to travel to kenya, too. WOW.


5 life coach jen March 19, 2009 at 10:43 am

Kath, that was amazing. I loved the photos, the stories you tell, the home that you visited, everything! I am so, so glad you were able to post while you were there! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!


6 Moran March 19, 2009 at 10:44 am

Wow Kath, this is so gorgeous!
I truly love reading your recaps, and am glad you are enjoying yourself so much!


7 Greta March 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

In California, eucalyptus trees grow, deplete the soil and lose their branches like the plague. It’s interesting to see them encouraged there!


8 Sara March 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

AMAZING!! I’ve learned a lot from your posts over the past few days! I’m glad you didn’t turn down the trip. :)


9 Kelsey Miles March 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

Let’s move to another country + practice nutrition!!..


10 brandi March 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

What an amazing trip! These pictures probably do not do it justice, either :)

I’m so glad you went and got to experience this and share it with all of us.

Safe travels back!


11 Mel March 19, 2009 at 10:51 am

Wow, what an amazing opportunity! Your pictures are amazing and I can only imagine that it’s more beautiful in person!


12 Rosebud March 19, 2009 at 10:54 am

I’m originally from Mexico, and I have to say your post made me smile. I know there were some earlier comments about your trip that pointed out the dichotomy between your stay and the poverty there.

While I grew up in a heavily industrialized area near the border, and you know what? A lot of Americans absolutely took NO interest in us; the U.S. companies there wanted to keep all the workers hidden. I think Lipton is really trying. It’s not easy, I know. So instead of jumping all over Kath, who obviously took an interest in not only the tea but the people, I think it’s great you went there in the first place. Also, the best way to win over just about anyone is FOOD! My boyfriend is Chinese and I’m Hispanic and while we couldn’t be more different, I’m not afraid at all of going with him. I’ll stick out, I know, but that’s part of the adventure, take it or leave it…


13 Amy March 19, 2009 at 10:54 am

This is such a great recap of your trip! It’s so amazing. I have always been interested in Africa so it’s really, really cool to read about it. Thank you for doing such a great job sharing it all with us. I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!


14 Tina March 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

Wow, thanks for a great post. It really makes you think about the things we “need” and everything we take for granted over here. How beautiful and simple it seems over there!


15 Sarah L March 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

What an incredible post! Definitely worth taking the time to read (and time to write on your part!). Thank you for sharing so many wonderful experiences and pictures. I’m curious if you think you’ll drink more tea after this trip?


16 Laine March 19, 2009 at 11:01 am

I wonder if I am the only person bothered by the fact that you only eat 75% of the food you put on your plate, and seem proud to be wasting 25%. Especially in a place where food is such an effort to grow and make. Since you know you are only eating 75% of what you take, why not just put less food on your plate? If you are still hungry, take a little more. But stop taking more than you are going to eat.


17 Sarah W. March 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

omg you are learning SO much! i love all of your pictures!! adorable kitties and the monkeys were lovely!!!


18 tina March 19, 2009 at 11:04 am



19 Kristin March 19, 2009 at 11:06 am

What an amazing experience you have had! I’m sure the people you have met, a piece of you will stay with them just as they will stay with you. And now, thanks to your blog, they will be with us. Thank you for sharing!! I have enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures!


20 Sara March 19, 2009 at 11:07 am

All I can say is wow – such an amazing trip. It’s really interesting to see how they process tea.


21 NAOmni March 19, 2009 at 11:08 am

It looks like you had such an amazing experience. Such nice accommodations, you had quite the five star treatment!

I have to agree that Kenyan people are absolutely amazing and one of a kind. When their country was in turmoil over the election about a year and a half ago I was heartbroken, but I’m glad to see it looks as though things are falling back into place.

Fantastic pictures and I’ve sure learned a lot from your trip!



22 HeatherBakes March 19, 2009 at 11:09 am

Great post AGAIN!! I would love to visit Africa, but at least for now I get to experience it vicariously through you… enjoy the rest of your trip!


23 Kiersten March 19, 2009 at 11:13 am

Wow, amazing pictures Kath. What a great experience you must be having.

(FYI, a real scotch egg is a hard boiled egg with sausage wrapped around it, and then deep fried)


24 Katie March 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

Fantastic post! Great photos and very informative. It’s so interesting to see the blend of culture, food and commerce.


25 Emily March 19, 2009 at 11:18 am

Thanks so much for doing such a great job in detailing your trip – it looks amazing! :)


26 Becca A March 19, 2009 at 11:22 am

This has been such an interesting look into another culture. I love how they have you all plant trees.


27 Jess March 19, 2009 at 11:25 am

I think I would like Kenyan food. I love the little orange house.


28 Juli (Peanut Butter and Juli) March 19, 2009 at 11:27 am

Beautiful in so many ways. SO glad you went!


29 Joanie March 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

I have so enjoyed watching your trip. Thank you for documenting it. Thanks for all your inspiration and encouragement to others.


30 Kati March 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

What an amazing trip you’ve had! You were so throrough in your descriptions and pictures~lovely! And glad you enjoyed yourself :)


31 Weekly Bite March 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

Wow! What a great post! What a great life experience for you! Safe travels home!


32 lauren (athlEAT) March 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

what a great recap and the pictures are beautiful!


33 seelee live (for the love of peanut butter) March 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

i cant get over the extravagant trip u are having!


34 BethT March 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

The tree project is really great. Nice work on all of these posts.


35 rhodeygirl March 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

Wow. Great recap Kath.

I noticed that in all of your pics you are covered up more than usual… no low neck shirts, no little shorts or anything.. was that a conscious decision because of a cultural thing or just to protect you from the sun?

Were there any other cultural differences you noted?


36 Sidi March 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

I am soo happy for you, Kath. Visiting other countries is such a good thing. I feel the same for cubans.
Have a safe flight back home!



37 Hallie March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am

Gorgeous photos! It’s easy to tell you are having an experience you will never forget. And I bet the tea over there tastes AMAAAZING. I don’t know why, but tea and coffee overseas is often so much better then the kinds we get in the US. I remember having incredible coffee in Italy and perfectly strong tea in Israel. What do they know that we don’t??


38 Kinder March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am

I too have enjoyed your posts on your holiday! It has been very informative and truly looks like it has been the experience of a lifetime!

So excuse these comments, they are not meant to be put as criticism of you, rather just general thoughts:

I am shocked at how little the workers make. If they are picking 35-40 kilo’s a day @ $.10 a kilo – $4 is all they make for what anyone else would consider hard labour.

I can see the advantage to having your plantations in a place like Africa. Unilever may say its all about the weather, but I wonder if cheap labour doesn’t play into it.

I am also curious. In one of your previous posts you said that HIV wasn’t a problem on the plantation. I wonder if Unilever “screens” out people with HIV before hiring them?


39 Chris March 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

Stunning scenery and photos…what a trip! I felt teary when I saw the photo of Esther’s kitchen. It’s not that a feel sorry for her…I almost feel sorry for our society. These people look so happy, and I bet they don’t go around whining about the recession or not having as much money as last year. THANK YOU for sharing all of this. It’s enlightening beyond the tea!


40 Irene March 19, 2009 at 11:41 am

Thanks so much for sharing your trip. The photos are just stunning and the meals look fabulous. I’ll be sending some of my friends over to take a peek. :)


41 Bec March 19, 2009 at 11:41 am

so cool! What are the yellow smock things you were wearing while picking the tea?


42 WaMumbi October 28, 2009 at 6:48 am

That’s my Kenya alright … simply beautiful. Those yellow smocks are protective gear from the rather rough tea bushes.


43 ri'chele March 19, 2009 at 11:41 am

Thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.
I also found my travels to Africa life changing. I truly enjoyed your expressions of just humbling standing on a different continent can be.


44 Sheri March 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

Kath! Thanks so much for sharing this amazing experience! I have enjoyed reading it so much. Your pictures are so beautiful too! :)


45 Marisa (trim the fat) March 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing it with us!

And I just bought millet the other day and wasn’t quite sure what I would do with it, now I’m going to try porridge!!!


46 Aimee March 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. You were so blessed to have this experience!


47 Red Head, Yellow Dog March 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

Wow, Kath. I don’t even know what to say. This is such a wonderful and beautiful post and experience you’ve had! I love that you planted trees at the end to offset your carbon emission. What a wonderful mind set to have. To give back.

My favorite picture is of you and esther with the gords. She looks so beautiful! there is something very peaceful about her expression. I love it!

Thank you so much for sharing this with us!


48 Danielle March 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

What a great post, the sunset was absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing all of this with us, I know it must take a lot of time to write but it’s so interesting to read!
I think it’s so great that they ask you to plant trees to counteract your co2 emissions! I


49 Stephanie March 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

Its so fascinating to see how the other side of the world lives. I loved seeing Esther’s kitchen, and especially what she eats every day. Very healthy, and good food. We can all take a page from her book!

Your trip sounds amazing, and I definitely envy you!

Cant wait to see your next post!!


50 Runeatrepeat March 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

Amazing post and even more amazing pictures! Loved it all :)


51 polly March 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

okay maybe THIS was my favorite post ever! 😉 hehe Thank you again for sharing this amazing trip! See ya when you get home! xoxo


52 Tracey March 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

What an amazing post. I didn’t think I could possibly love your blog anymore than I already do, but the last few posts have been incredibly informative and also very moving. Thank you for taking the time to share your adventure with all of us!


53 Missy (Missy Maintains) March 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

So amazing! This is the trip of a lifetime!! Everything is so beautiful!! Such cute monkeys too :)


54 Sarah March 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm

What an amazing journey! I hope someday to visit Africa but your experience looks amazing!


55 K March 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm

BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much for sharing everything – from tea to culture to foods. I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to type all of this up!


56 zestycook March 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Kath! Great recap…. amazing pictures. It looks like you are having so much fun.



57 Erin March 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Soo interesting! Thanks for sharing!


58 jen March 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Glad you enjoyed your short trip.
Thanks for having such an interesting blog.

Somehow I feel weird about the Lipton sponsoring to show how “great” they are doing.It all has a bit of a “staged” feeling to it.I would love to read a more natural exploration of work practices and ethics on tea estates in Africa and other locales.This is a critique of the big companies,not you Kath.

But would love to see you stop eating 75 % as well.Please just take a small amount at the beginning and add more if needed.I do understand you may be wanting to show us we don’t have to “clean our plates”,but I think we have to all learn to take much less and waste less.

Thanks for making us all think these issues over.I enjoy thinking through these issues and find the various points of view thought provoking,not negative.
Does anyone else feel a little uneasy about this company sponsered trip? I just wonder about the other side to all this that they choose to show you….

Good to consider as well.

Thanks Kath.Safe travels .Hope you get back to see and stay more in the real world there someday(not hotel/gym world!) Cheers!:)


59 Ida March 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

EERF is priceless! I’m so glad you fell in love with Kenya, it’s such an amazing place. And don’t worry, the locals drown their ugali in salt- actually have BP problems b/c of it!


60 Cyclist Kate March 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Wow–thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to recap your trip.

It looks so beautiful there, and I appreciate that you have made an effort to get to know some of the locals and to hear parts of their stories.

Have a great end to your trip and a good flight home!!


61 Amy March 19, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Jen and Kinder and others with reservations: I definitely think so too. Although you may notice that comments expressing doubts about the trip tend to disappear.

Kath, was Cosmas compensated for the time he spent picking tea with you? Since he’s paid only by the kilo, that time doing slow picking cost a lot of money for someone who probably can’t afford it.


62 Meghann March 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow! I have been really enjoying your recap of your time in Africa. Wow and jealous don’t even beging to describe the feelings I had reading your posts. :)


63 Kailey (SnackFace) March 19, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Kath, with every single post from your trip, the more and more I want to travel an get to know other cultures through the people. This looks absolutely phenomenal. Again, thank you for taking the time to share all this with us!


64 Chloe March 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

This looks like an AMAZING trip, and I am completely hooked on your blog.
I am so inspired by the way you and your husband lead your lives, and hope that I can adopt some of the same practices into my life.
Thank you for posting, and I look forward to reading more about your wonderful adventure in Africa!


65 Amy March 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Kath, thank you so much for sharing your trip w/ us. Its been amazing to read daily. I know it takes alot of time but its totally awesome! You will basically have a documentary that you can view anytime of your trip. I also loved Ester Eats Real Food. LOL – too cute!!!


66 Onolicious March 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Hmm, that might be why Cosmos looks so stressed out in the pics. Everyone else is so smiley! Kath, did he get paid extra? Did you give him a tip or something? Keep lovin’ your trip! It looks awesome.


67 Kara March 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

What a great experience. Cute monkies! So glad that you got to get down and dirty and see everything :)


68 Kori March 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Kath- I’m glad you had such a great experience! I can’t wait to see if you are able to incorporate some of your new found foods into your meals at home!

As for the comments about the “kool-aid” Kath is being fed by Unilever. I understand that many people feel very strongly about large corporations and the damage they often do to communities (walmart) or their lack of care and concern for the well being of their workforce. I share this view. I don’t want to speak for Kath, but I feel like Unilever is trying to show an aspect of the company that is doing good for their people and the planet. I believe Kath stated in an earlier post that they are trying to model their other plantations on the Kenyan one and they are working toward environmental sustainability as well as increasing the health and well-being of their labor force. Sure, there are two sides to every story, but to discount what they are doing based on a belief that all large corporations are inherently bad is not a fair assessment. It takes small consistent changes to create a habit and it seems as if Unilever is trying to promote their efforts to do good, not just appear good, as is being suggested. It doesn’t happen overnight, so I think that giving them a little credit would be kind.

As for the comments on Kath’s food choices, leisure activities, etc- She takes a lot of time to generously share her experiences with us. Of course we are all welcome to our opinions. But, we could all stand to learn a few lessons from her graciousness and keep our negativity to ourselves.


69 amethyst March 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I’ve really enjoyed travelling ‘with’ you, Kath – thanks for your excellent and enthusiastic writing and pics!

If you get the chance to try a vitamin C-rich guava – don’t miss it!

Bet you’ve experienced some glorious African sunsets too…

Happy continued travels and returns!


70 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I have to agree with the 75 percent comments. Why be proud of wasting food?? Take what you think you need to eat, then ask yourself whether you are really hungry. Now that’s intuitive eating.


71 Matt March 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Kath and I always finish all our food. Knowing her eating habits, I’ve never seen her put X amount of food on her plate and then not finishing it. I’m guessing the smaller portions were because she was GIVEN a plate of food that was already more than she wanted.


72 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

On the plus side, reading Kath’s experiences and seeing her pics has been like a mini vacay and make me forget “real” life here in the States- concerns about keeping a job, balancing a budget, etc.


73 sonia March 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm

When you gals/guys get a chance, please check this link to see how the US eating habits are different from the rest of the world.

$4.00 may not even buy a loaf of bread here (esp. if you want the sprouted extra enhanced with natural nutrients kind) but buys a lot of food in some other countries.

I have been in a lot of different countries and have noticed that the more developed a country is, the worse the eating habits are. Countries like India and Mexico, are not necessarily poor but have much better eating habits. People eat more balanced, better nutritious meals that are based on seasonal availability and cultures.


74 Sarah March 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

This post was well-written and very interesting. You definitely made the most of your short trip.

Aside from being incredibly educational, I think these past few posts also show that you are a great writer and thoughtful person. Your blog has a huge following, so I know you’d be hesitant to change anything about it, but I think you have a lot more to offer than just your daily analysis of your food intake. Topics like global nutrition, the American approach to consumption, the ethics of food, etc. would all be topics that I think would be great to hear more about. Not a criticism, just an opinion.

In terms of people being skeptical of Lipton and the wages and what not of workers- any company that is having their operations reported on by bloggers and journalists is obviously going to want to make themselves look good. There is no shame in that. Highlighting your accomplishments and emphasizing your ethical practices does not automatically mean that you’ve got something to hide. It’s always important to do your research and challenge the ideas presented to you, but I think you have to do this in the context of the situation at hand. For example, the wages that Kath cited might seem incredibly low to us, but in order for those numbers to be meaningful you have to look at what the minimum wage is and what the average cost of living in that countrey is. Cosmas himself said the wages were good!

Also, on the issue that Lipton was motivated to set up shop in Africa because the wages are so low. Consistent with most labour-intensive fields, this was most definitely a consideration. However, paying people a decent wage for their labour, when they might otherwise be unemployed is not such a bad thing. Many It’s interesting that so many Americans are outraged by this “exploitation”, yet there are so few people in the US that would actually be willing to do these kinds of jobs.

Sorry for the long comment. This trip to Kenya really got me thinking!


75 Bee March 19, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Did you make a mistake when you said the workers make a wage of $.10 /kilo and average 35-45 kilos a day?!?! That is between $3.50-$4.50 dollars per DAY. And furthermore, he only drinks tea for breakfast and gets a bowl of porridge for lunch.

I am thankful that he is able to work. SHAME on LIPTON for paying so low. I will never drink their tea again if they truly only pay their workers 10 cents per kilo picked. That is just wrong, plain and simple.


76 Jessica March 19, 2009 at 1:40 pm

looks like you are juts having the most amazing trip!!! I am in awe of all your gorgeous pictures!


77 Alice March 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Jennifer- you are such a DOWNER. STOPPP!

Matt- Kath does say she filled her plate. Just to clarify!


78 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Why am I a downer??? Urging someone not to waste food? Give me a break Alice. And yes her blog is a mini-vacay for me. I think it’s awesome to see and read this stuff.. and on someone else’s tab? Cool! I’m jealous!


79 Julia March 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for the great posts and amazing photos!


80 Amy March 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Bee: THANK YOU! Alice: I love that Jen is a downer for expressing concern about another human being’s wellbeing. She didn’t attack anybody.

FYI, $4 a day is not an amazing wage in Kenya; it’s not the worst. It’s most certainly more than most people can make in the rural areas where the plantation is. But it’s nothing for Lipton to brag about. I’m sure Cosmas *is* “grateful for the opportunity to work.” However when there’s that level of “gratefulness”, there’s the opportunity for employers to exploit it.

However, $4 doesn’t buy a ton of food in Kenya or any place else; the country has a 30% malnutrition rate for kids under 5 (a leading indicator). Not to mention their income needs to stretch for more than just food… As Bee said, doesn’t sound like Cosmas eats much at all for the back-breaking work he does. And he made less today for being pressured to show around the important foreign visitors.


81 Beadie @ What I Ate Yesterday March 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Beautiful post, Kath. I am so excited for you that you are able to take this trip and that you are gracious enough to share it with us.


82 Jen A. March 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Like some others, I also have reservations about this Lipton sponsored trip, but unlike others, I do not see the opinions and viewpoints expressed as negative. I think it is important for all thoughts to be expressed because it often makes us think of things we hadn’t thought of before!

I realize that wages paid to the workers seem low to us, but I am curious as to the cost of living of the workers and how their wages correspond to that cost.

I also wonder if the construction of the tea crops required a removal of the locals’ crops and how(if?) that has affected them. I see that there are several crops of food provided for the workers, but I’m curious if they have to travel to bigger towns for certain foods and pay more for imported food, instead of getting that food from crops they had before. The reason I ask this is because the hospital expressed how many of the workers do not eat balanced diets. Is this because they can’t afford the high cost of imports?

Just curious if you had any information on these types of things. Thanks for sharing your experiences!


83 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Thanks Amy.


84 Alice March 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Whatever…plain and simple, Jennifer, you just jump on the bandwagon EVERY darn time when someone criticizes Kath or says something negative. I just feel sorry for you…you’re so negative on here.


85 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Alice- you are simply incorrect.


86 Kori March 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm

btw kath- i just had to ask- Did you ever think that you would be posting a picture of you spitting in a bucket in Africa?!?! I think that is one of my favorite “moments” you shared! hahaha!


87 jen March 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I don’t know if this is meant for me or another of the many jen’s and jennifer’s but just to clarify,I was thanking Kath for her blog.I was just wondering about Lipton and some of the practises and promoting discussion.
I really enjoy hearing different ideas and viewpoints on this blog.
But I am grateful to Kath for providing such a forum and interesting space.
I am certainly not “against” Kath.She seems wonderful and works hard at her blog.
I certainly hope Kath and others know my concerns about Lipton are no reflection on Kath in ANY WAY.
And I definitely like to consider both “sides of the fence” that people have written about.
It makes me reflect on my thoughts and reconsider them once I have read other’s ideas.
In general I find the posts enlightening .
It’s a shame a few people think one is either a fan of Kath or not based on these type of discussions.
I AM a fan of Kath ,and she seems very intelligent and I certainly hope she appreciates her readers look at all sides of the equation and get thinking on things.
I am referring to discussions on the big picture in the world, not the type of readers that are deliberately hateful or something….
I respect you Kath,and I am certain you respect other’s ideas too!
Peace all! :)


88 Caroline March 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I am amazed of the details of your adventure…I really got a good feel for what it’s like in Africa, a place that I is completely foreign to me.


89 Carrie H March 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I too feel uneasy about aspects of this tour and agree with concerns voiced about Lipton. But I don’t mean that as a reflection of Kath. In fact, I really hope Kath will give us her objective, honest opinion when she is home, but we should remember that she is a paid blogger doing her job. That is not a criticism of her at all but instead is an observation worh remembering.


90 Andrea [bella eats] March 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Kath! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing trip with us. I’ve had so much fun reading about your adventure and viewing all of your beautiful photographs. It truly looks like a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you were the perfect person to have been chosen for the opportunity. Safe travels!!!


91 jen March 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Good point.One may not get asked back on trip’s by a company if one question’s a company’ s motive.
Gosh this blogging world is tricky,because most blogs are people’s personal views and opinions which attract the reader in the first palce but as the blog world grows and gets more commericial and companies offer opportunities to bloggers(whether money,trips around the world,free products)it will be interesting to see how this affect blogs more and more.
Fascinating stuff to ponder!


92 Carrie H March 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm

And Kath certainly is good at her job! Just look at all our comments! :)


93 Whitney March 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Wow! I was just going to make some silly comment about the eucalyptus trees but I love all the ideas on here! At the end of the day, if I was given the opportunity Kath was given to travel to Africa and be given such an AMAZING opportunity I would say yes to it in a heartbeat. I def. disagree with some of Lipton’s teachings (for example, even if workers are being paid 4.50 an hour there do you have ANY idea how much Lipton makes in the US? Furthermore, eucaplytus DESTROY the soil so that nothing will likely be able to plant where those trees are now standing…and it’s a huge cash crop which I’m guessing the final pockets profits from those crops fall into are still a mystery…again I doubt it’s the workers), but Kath took on an adventure and an amazing one at that!


94 evelyn March 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm

hi carrie h., just to clarify- kath’s not a “paid blogger doing her job”, she actually started all on her own! she’s totally independent and currently working towards her RD and MA in nutrition. the fact that this is her labor of love is what makes it so cool i think! it also means she can type whatever opinion she has… so i hope this free trip doesn’t buy her free mind/thinking/voice! :)


95 Jennifer March 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm

“It’s a shame a few people think one is either a fan of Kath or not based on these type of discussions.”- Jen

Thanks again. It’s this for or against mentality that drives me nuts!!!


96 evelyn March 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

whitney- they’re not being paid $4.50 an hour, it’s $4.50 a DAY! maximum- they’re paid 10 cents per kilo they can gather, so it’s a hard day’s labor. kath only got 2.5 kilos in half an hour…


97 Caitlin March 19, 2009 at 3:02 pm

thank you so much for blogging in such detail about your trip. It sounds wonderful. safe travels when you come home.


98 Carrie H March 19, 2009 at 3:07 pm

evelyn —
I’m aware that Kath is a student and has other aspirations,, and I realize she started the blog as a personal project and didn’t expect payment. But it seems she is now being compensated in many ways, including through free product samples, advertising dollars and worldwide travel. That is not a crticism of her, it is a statement of fact.


99 Sara Kaiser March 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I love how people say “just to clarify” and then spout off something that is actually not true at all. It just adds to the confusion! I say, let Kath deal with questions about how/why she blogs and how she is or isn’t compensated. She doesn’t need henchmen clarifying things for her (especially when they’re misinformed!)


100 Mandy March 19, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I have LOVED seeing the photos and reading about your experiences in Africa! What an exciting experience for you! I’ve really enjoyed seeing the foods that were offered! Thank you for sharing!


101 Heather McD (heather eats almond butter) March 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Amazing Kath. They really packed a lot into your short trip. I don’t doubt that you will be back in Africa someday.

Love the KERFed up porridge. Barney Butter goes international. Deep fried egg – I’m surprised we don’t do that down here in the South. :)

Oh, and I loved the picture of you in front of the tall Eucalyptus trees. Cool shot!


102 BethT March 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

As someone who works in public relations, I think it’s pretty brilliant of all of these companies who use food blogs to market their products. It’s not just Kath’s blog – most of the ones I read feature products they’ve been sent from Quaker, Amy’s, and a whole host of other companies trying to market to us, the readers. It is what it is. And while taking free stuff doesn’t guarantee the blogger will give it a positive review, I don’t think anyone here would bash the company that gave them a free trip WHILE they were still on the trip, nor would they ask pointed investigative questions if that wasn’t the nature of the trip.


103 Katharine March 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Wow, so many comments! You may never get to mine, but I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with us through your blog–so interesting and inspiring to read about and totally makes me want to travel again :) Have a safe trip home!


104 Lisa D March 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Thank you SOOO much for taking the time to post(in detail) about your trip/eats while you are there. It is so informative and interesting, maybe you can just drop out of school and take so many trips and blog about them as a super successful travel/food writer! Thanks again for the updates!


105 Laine March 19, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I made the first comment about her only eating 75% of her food, because there have been a few recent posts where she has prepared her own food (maybe the salad bar) and then stated that lately she is only eating 75% of what she has served herself.

I am a big fan of this site, but not of purposefully wasting food and being proud of it.


106 Emma March 19, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Kath – I have enjoyed reading about your Kenyan adventure, and seeing all the pictures! I’m glad you’re enjoying your short time there. :-)

BethT – I think your comment is very well written and says it all. I’m sure – or I hope – Kath also has a lot of questions she would like to ask; but in her shoes (still on the trip, sponsored by Lipton), most of us would probably write rather positively about that company as well. Also, even if we had some doubts regarding the ethics of the company (environmental issues, working conditions, salaries, etc…), many of us would probably still go on the trip (it wouldn’t really help anyone if you turned it down, anyway; and by going, you get a chance to get at least a glimpse of how the company works). I hope we can read some more of Kath’s “personal” opinions once she is back from the trip, too.

That said, I have also enjoyed reading the different comments regarding the Kenyan trip – and as Kath, I would be proud to have so many educated and worldly readers! I hope you don’t see the comments as criticism (and certainly not towards you personally!), but rather as a base for an interesting debate. It shows that many of your readers think outside of their “own circles”, and truly seem to care about our planet and other people on this planet as well.

In any case, enjoy your last days there! I look forward to seeing your pictures from the national park (if I remember correctly, you were going to drive through one of them?). :-)


107 Rebecca March 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us! It sounds like an awesome trip, those pictures are fabulous!


108 Sarah (Tales of Expansion) March 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm

kath, what an AMAZING trip … and an epic post! thank you for taking the time to capture all of this in photos AND words. we’re all living vicariously through you and your beyond incredible opportunity to experience another culture in this way!


109 Sherry Hylton March 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm

I have felt privileged to share Kath’s adventure with her and I think she’s been generous to spend so much time documenting it for us. I’ve learned SO much from her posts (and I’ve also enjoyed Matt’s posts too). Can’t wait for her to be safely back home.


110 Whitney March 19, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Evelyn–Thanks for the clairification! I meant to say that…sometimes my fingers type faster than my head is thinking…


111 Christine March 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Kath- I want to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. Your photos are amazing. Yours is one of the few I actually have the patience to read.

I guess I have a different take on Lipton than everybody else. I think it’s great what they appear to be doing at their plant. I’ve never been to Kenya, but I have been to other African countries, and I have to say this gives me hope.

Unfortunately, any farm type job is going to be a lower wage job anywhere you are. What gives me hope is seeing all the children in school being educated, so the next generation will be better equipped for their world. This seems silly to us because we take education for granted.

I have a friend who was raised in a place very similar to this in Zimbabwe. His parents were farm workers. He was able to go to school through this company, go away to college and is now a computer engineer in the states. This is how it works when countries are trying to catch up to the modern world. So, please, you who said you will boycott Lipton for their low wages, think of the families that are dependent on this company.


112 kathleen March 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I am loving this virtual field trip…the photos and daily recaps are amazing Kath – thanks so much for sharing your trip with us.


113 Cole March 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Thank you so much for sharing so much from your trip! It looks like it truly was an amazing experience.


114 Kinder March 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

I did start out by saying that I have enjoyed Kath’s adventures via her blog.

And I also said that my questioning of Lipton/Unilever was in no way a critcism of Kath.

However, as Americans and Canadians we are pretty unaware of where our food/drink comes from and I think that the questions raised about sustainable development and fair wages and export processing zones are fair ones to ask. Not of Kath, as she is not an expert, and she is a guest of the company, but of ourselves, our society, our increasingly global world.

Is it wonderful to see Esther’s kitchen and see that Esther eats real food – yes of course. But her kitchen is very different than ours, and I would venture that her kitchen is very different than the upper eschelons of Unilever staff on the plantation.

Is everything always fair? No. But is is a good thing to look at the inequalities in life and question why we have so much priveledge? I think so.

I am not in anyway questioning Kath by questioning Unilever and Lipton. I think companies need to be questioned. I think they are working towards sustainable development, but it is MY opinion that they are a long way off.


115 Katie S March 19, 2009 at 6:53 pm

This is such an amazing trip, Kath! I’m so envious of this experience! Your posts have been so fascinating and I’ve looked forward to reading! Thank you for taking so much time to catch us up with your travels!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!!!


116 Bev March 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

One word. AMAZING !
Thank you Kath for a beautiful recap on your trip.
Have a safe trip home


117 Lauren March 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I’ve really enjoyed reading these posts, Kath!

“Nothing is added and nothing is taken away.” – I love this quote, and strive to eat according to this philosophy :)


118 KatieF March 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

What a fantastic experience, Kath! Thank you for sharing! You have opened my eyes to another way of life and it is so cool to see an experience like yours documented so well.

And even though I’m assuming you are pretty much removed from the world of college basketball right now, being across the world and all, I must say this, because I know you and the husband are Duke fans…GO BINGHAMTON!!!! :) My parents are both alums and I am a lifelong Syracuse fan, so I am hoping against hope that Binghamton can pull off an upset tonight. Nothing like a little friendly competition. 😛


119 Stephanie March 19, 2009 at 7:23 pm

AMAZING!!! Thank you Kath for sharing your experience with all of us…it is worth the work you put into the posts.


120 Oh She Glows March 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us Kath…all of your posts have really made me think about many Global issues.


121 melissa (fitnessnyc) March 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm

I don’t know why but these posts make me cry. I am just so happy that you had the opportunity and enjoyed it so much. You are such a wonderful and gracious blogger and such a critical part of the food blogging community.


122 Erin March 19, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Kath! My husband LURVS scotch eggs. So cool you had them!
Also, your pic of the eucalyptus trees is fab!


123 Justy2003 March 19, 2009 at 10:13 pm

I’m really enjoying these posts and I love how it’s all so natural and green! Seems like the perfect fit for you! What an amazing experience!


124 Jagjeet S KAndal March 19, 2009 at 11:54 pm


I am a Unilever employee in India and a Tea Man who has been to kericho and thus your writing was really nostalgic. Very nicely written capturing the life and work beautifully.


125 BethW March 20, 2009 at 12:10 am

I think the people commenting on how little money $4.50 per day is are a little naive. Do you really think that the people in developing countries that make your iPod, produce the stuff you buy at WalMart, or grow the coffee and chocolate you eat are all paid American style wages? Of course not.

To judge whether this is a decent wage or not you have to put it in the local context. Maybe Kath can share how the wages and benefits the Lipton workers get compare to the income of other rural Kenyans.

Also, Kath mentioned yesterday that the Lipton plantation was certified by the Rainforest Alliance. I am sure that wouldn’t be the case if they weren’t paying their workers decent wages by local standards.


126 Caroline March 20, 2009 at 12:14 am

What fun! A tea-lover’s dream!


127 KJ March 20, 2009 at 1:38 am

To those with issues regarding wages… yes it is true that $4 is very low by North American standards but there is more at play with the issue. To pay an employee significantly higher wage than their brother or neighbour could lead to much more significant social issues. Significant increases to wages in an area would lead to wealth disparities that could devastate entire towns or cultural groups. Imposing our ‘normal’ on these people is not necessarily ‘best’. Allowing these people to remain in the countryside and maintain a subsistence based lifestyle offers them so many more possibilities than the desire for money in the cities which often leads to a life in townships or shantytowns. Extra money does not always lead to ‘the American Dream’, and really the American dream only benefits those of us who have hit it.

I think we all need to do a little more research into Lipton’s practices before we judge every move they make. It appears that they are doing their best to form a mutually beneficial relationship with the people in the region. I’m sure there are several anthropologists working hard to determine how to best serve the people in the area, whether it’s right or wrong, I’m sure the effort is being made.

If anyone wants to do some research into companies that have had detrimental effects on African society, do a quick google search of Nestle and infant formula… then think about it next time you drink your Nestle coffee, eat your shredded wheat or heat up your lean cuisine… We easily forgive these wrongs when they’re no longer in the spot light. Last week I doubt many of us were questioning Lipton’s ethics.

Kath, great work in Africa. Thank you so much for ‘taking us with you’. I hope you are able to return someday and share your knowledge and gifts with some more people who are in need of help from someone like you.


128 Alison March 20, 2009 at 2:03 am

I think it is important to remember something that no one has brought up here…

Kath is not an expert.

She is a wonderful and talented blogger who certainly knows her stuff – but to ask her to fly halfway across the globe and ask all of the questions that we have home have had time (and sleep) to formulate and ponder is asking a lot. I have been fortunate to travel most of the globe, and I can honestly say that half the time – between the culture shock and attempting to adapt – I have forgotten to ask questions that at home I would have formulated in an instant. This has not been a long 2 week excursion for her. Yes, it has been lovely and luxurious at times, but I am sure it has been plenty stressful as well. Please give Kath a break… if you want to change the world – go out and do it yourself. Don’t ask someone else to.

Kath – Safe travels and good wishes!


129 Alice in DC March 20, 2009 at 2:30 am

I think most importantly this experience and Kath’s beautiful and diligent blogging has sparked many many questions and debates. I think the wonderful thing that is demonstrated in Kath’s experience is that she went with an open mind to the whole experience. As a former Peace Corps volunteer I can say that the people I’ve seen affect the most change entered their experiences(of all shapes and colors) with a smile, an open intellegent mind and some research. Kath showed all of that here for us.


130 Alice in DC March 20, 2009 at 2:32 am

…and having said that, please continue to debate and research these very important issues! A place to start:


131 Anne P March 20, 2009 at 3:10 am

Again, spectacular, and a great, informative recap!


132 megan March 20, 2009 at 5:34 am

Wow! The experience of a lifetime. I enjoyed reading your posts so, so much. Thank you for sharing!


133 Becky March 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

I am going to school to be an RD as well and something that we know is true is that you shouldn’t eat past fullness. If you take something, or are served something, and you don’t eat all of it, it is not bad or selfish. Kath does eat all her food most of the time but sometimes we think we want more than we are able to eat. There is nothing wrong with that. I have trouble leaving food on my plate and if I were full and able to do that I would be proud as well.


134 Anon March 20, 2009 at 8:59 am

I just find it interesting that there are still people who are naive to the fact that Kath isn’t making a substantial amount of money from her blog. Not to take anything away from her talent and time put in, but to think that she is not reaping fiscal benefits probably near what some of you make a year is just foolish.

Again, I think she deserves it with the time and work put in. I just want to clarify to those thinking she doesn’t get paid that you are incorrect.


135 Lindsey March 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

Hi Kath,
I’m a longtime reader of your blog and have FINALLY decided to comment! Thank you very much for sharing your amazing experience in Africa with us. It’s quite amazing seeing all of the pictures of the people, the food, everything!

I’ve never been to Africa before but I did tutor children from Somali. They were actually Somali Bantu children and were refugees. I learned so much from them about their culture, their life in Africa and how difficult life can be in the US. Some of the stories were incredibly heartbreaking but I will never forget that experience. And I’m sure you’ll never forget this amazing opportunity that you had.

I have a comment regarding the 75% of what Kath ate comment. I know that whenever I’m not eating the food I’m used to, on vacation for example, sometimes I have no idea how much of it I will be able to eat. There are times when I overestimate because I don’t know how filling the foods will be. Also, if I have never tried the food before, I want to get a taste of lots of different items and sometimes I take more than I can eat. I don’t think Kath is being proud that she only ate 75%, she is just stating that she ate that much.

Thank you again for sharing the pictures and your experience Kath,



136 FatFighterTV March 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

Wow Kath – Thanks for sharing your amazing experienc with us… and for inspiring this very interesting debate. It makes us all think. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip. :)


137 Bee March 20, 2009 at 9:36 am

“I think the people commenting on how little money $4.50 per day is are a little naive”

This honestly made me mad…it is you who are naive. I have LIVED in third world countries. Not just visited, but lived, for months on end. It is true that the wages are very low in rural areas. However, it is not true that the cost of living is vastly less to allow survival on this type of income. In Mexico for example, a 100ftx50ft plot of land at a city dump (yes people live there) costs $2000. For people that make about $10day.

Most of the places that i lived, food and such were a few dollars cheaper than the US….not a huge difference. The people could not afford the food and thus lived off of diets that lead to clear malnutrition.

I suggest to anyone that states that the wages are appropriate to go drink ONLY tea in the morning, eat porridge at lunch, and then do back breaking labor all day. The argument of “it is better than what they would have if Lipton weren’t there” still does not make a wrong…right.

I agree, that many companies go overseas to exploit cheap labor, but that does not make it right. You cannot live off of $4.50/day, even in Kenya. As evidence by the worker eating only tea and porridge.

It is heart breaking. If you do not want to pay the workers more, then at least, feed them better.


138 laci March 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

SUCH an amazing trip + last couple posts- thanks for dedicating the time to share your journey in Africa… Now I want to travel there! :)


139 Carrie H March 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

I commented on the various types of payment Kath may or may not be getting through her blog. I did not mean to imply that Kath does not deserve some sort of compensation, because I think she does, nor did I mean to imply that she is making the equvilent of a full-time salary through her blog. I simply wanted to point out that the blog is a job through which she does recieve some type of payment for her work, whether it be travel (to Africa, Chicago …), free products or advertising dollars through FoodBuzz, however minimal. In fact, I think Kath has called her blogging a “part time job” once or twice. I don’t think making these observations means that I am naive.


140 Anon March 20, 2009 at 10:31 am


My wording was misleading (sorry). I meant to say that people who do NOT think that she is making money are being naive. I believe Kath makes a substantial amount with it. I think she makes money equivalent to what someone with a low-paying full-time job might make. That is what I was saying.


141 Carrie H March 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

Thanks. And I’ve got to stop reading all these comments and actually get some work done. He he. :)


142 Leah A. March 20, 2009 at 10:38 am

Amazing! I am happy to see that the monkeys weren’t mean! The ones I met in India were! 😉


143 Anon #2 March 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

Anon, I don’t think she makes $30k a year with this. Besides, she earns money- she doesn’t “get paid” in the sense that she has a boss editing blog content. She can write whatever she wants. Of course receiving gifts might influence what someone writes. That’s why journalists generally don’t accept free trips etc., and if they do they disclose it. This is a blog, not journalism, so at least Kath mentions when the stuff she’s writing about she’s received as a gift. So readers can take from that what they will. But anyway, I don’t mind that this blog earns her money and the fact that she’s not “getting paid” in the traditional sense makes the blog better I think. Compare it to something like Eat Like Me, where Cristin gets paid by to write it and her disinterest is clear. Kath on the other hand clearly puts passion into this.


144 Jessica March 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

I honestly don’t think it is anyone’s business about what fiscal benefits kath reaps from this site.


145 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) March 20, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for the recaps!


146 Jennifer March 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Jessica- That is true, it is no one’s business, but I am curious to know how a full-time grad student affords organic goodies and items like Barney Butter, as well as going out to eat occasionally. Every grad student I know of is broke. I assume she made money off her blog to support these habits- and there’s nothing wrong with that.


147 Whitney March 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Bee (#136) thanks for saying that!


148 Anon #2 March 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

It’s not a big mystery: her husband has a full-time job, remember? Plus there’s grad school loans. That’s how I supported myself in grad school.


149 Jennifer March 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Anon #2- so you used your grad school loans to pay for PB and the like? Huh. Interesting. I would hope her blog does give her some income, with as much effort she puts into it.


150 Anon #2 March 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Jennifer- yeah. You can receive loans that pay your tuition and living costs. Grants too. Since living costs include groceries… Also, my husband’s salary sure helped w/groceries too!


151 Jennifer March 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Good point. Thanks for the clarification.


152 Andrea March 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Hi Everyone and Kath,

This is Andrea, and I am part of the Lipton team that invited Kath to Africa. We are glad to see so many people respond to her postings, and I wanted to engage in the conversation to address a few things. First, we made the decision to open up the Kericho tea estate to Kath (and others) to provide an honest and transparent view as to what we are doing to help improve the environment and the living conditions of workers in Kenya and across the world at the estates where we source our tea. We are very proud of our collaboration with The Rainforest Alliance, an organization that has very strict guidelines that must be met to achieve certification. We expect Kath to give an honest appraisal of her trip and the work that Lipton is doing in Kericho. Second, to address the concerns about wages in Kenya, the workers at our tea estates make more that 3 times the local minimum wage, plus benefits including free healthcare for all workers and their families and free primary education and the possibility of scholarships for all schoolage children. One of the criteria that the Rainforest Alliance certifies us on is the quality of life and wages for our workers and their families. In practical terms this means our farmers and workers have safe and fair working conditions, environmental protection and economic sustainability. We are working hard to roll out these sustainable practices at tea estates across the world, and thus hopefully impact an entire industry.

We are interested in your open and honest feedback from Kath and all of you, so thank you all for your thoughts and opinions. We are listening and taking notes.


153 Kath March 21, 2009 at 12:13 am

Thank you for your comment and clarification!



154 Penny March 21, 2009 at 8:59 am

I’m glad to see a real discussion happening. I really tire of the word “amazing” when I venture into the comments section.
I read the statement from the Lipton person, and this line caught my attention: “We expect Kath to give an honest appraisal of her trip and the work that Lipton is doing in Kericho.”
An interesting thing happens to people’s appraisals of things once they are wined and dined. It’s not even on a conscious level, but their “honesty” is shifted once they are offered treats, in any form. In politics, the practice is so well accepted, and its influence so easily trackable, that it is regulated (kind of…). Current research shows that when a pharmaceutical rep drops off samples of their drug with a bag of cookies or lunch, prescriptions of that particular drug increase in that doctor’s office by as much as 72%. Kath will certainly do her best, very consciously, to “honestly” appraise Unilever and Lipton, but any sociologist (my field) knows that business class, wine, delicious food, smiling faces, luxury accommodations, pools, etc. influence opinions in a very predictable way. It’s really a no-brainer, and I’m sure Unilever knows this as well.


155 Vanessa March 21, 2009 at 9:24 am

Hey girl! Welcome back home — was SO nice meeting you and I love your photos. Already feeling nostalgic. One comment in response to Penny: As a journalist, I can say that when companies send me free stuff or bring me on trips like this, I actually tend to be LESS inclined to write nice things about them because I’m aware of the fact that they’re trying to coax me into giving them good press. I wanted to go on this trip to find loopholes and call Unilever on any B.S. — but in the end, what Kath says is right. As bad as the other brands Unilever may be (margarine, Axe deodorant, etc), their tea is produced with a stunning amount of detail to worker welfare, sustainable farming and so on. I truly commend them.

Also, Kath — check out my friend Meghan’s blog: — has a similar vibe to yours and I think you’d be into it.

Keep in touch!!


156 Penny March 21, 2009 at 9:46 am

Yes, thank you for making my point. You BELIEVE that you are NOT falling for the brazen attempts at winning you over. You say, “I know what they’re up to! I won’t be fooled…and yet…they got you! Good for them. Check out the research.


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