Inside a Chile Pepper or how to connect the global with the local

IMG_2081Mexican food is famous for its inclusion of chile peppers; British food is not. This is why it is particularly fascinating to me that an old high school friend and his partner have made a wonderful business out of growing, promoting, and selling chile peppers in the UK–in Bedforshire, no less, where you are more likely to find a Clanger (rather like a cornish pasty) than Mole. Edible Ornamentals, runs workshops (including one on hydroponic chile growing), does tours (Chile tour to Texas anyone?) and has a tasting kitchen (visited by the likes of Heston Blumenthal). Their core business, however, is the growing and selling of Chile plants–nearly 150 varieties of chile plants.  Recently I had the opportunity to add to this collection. Continue reading

Escaping poverty through low end globalisation?

Guangzhou logistics

This photograph is taken in Guangzhou (the city once known as Canton) at a wholesale clothing market. Most of the people in the market are not from Guangzhou. The market traders are a mix of people from China and from a number of different nations in Africa. The customers are primarily Africans.  It is an international place, drawing all toward a common goal:  to escape poverty through the international circulation of cell phones and clothing.    Continue reading

“Mean Professor” and the context of rudeness

Mean Professor Tells Student to “get your sh*t together”

This story appeared a couple of years ago and soon after NPR did a musical version ( The blogger received hundreds of comments and likes. More recently it appeared on my facebook page, posted by another academic. The story, and the sentiment, still have currency. Indeed, the rudeness of students is often something discussed by university teachers (and I suspect other teachers as well). We talk strategy for getting students to be on time (and be quiet and turn off their cell phones). We lament a situation where we do not feel as empowered to say what we feel as this particular professor did. We wish we could be Professor Snape or Lord Sugar and cut the-one-who-must-be-silenced down to size. Continue reading

Do you know where that box comes from?

Wet Market Boxes

Have you ever wondered about the life of that recycled cardboard box that your child’s new toy came in?  Many of these boxes will have come from Asia, where there are armies of elderly people who collect them and then recycle them as a way to make extra money to make ends meet. This practice is another side to neoliberal approaches to economic freedom.  Continue reading