VOLUNTEERING with farmers in Kenya has led to one Warwick man completely changing his diet – and now he wants to help others to do the same.
Michael Duckworth spent his summer living and working with fruit and vegetable farmers in the east African country, surviving on a diet of local produce and very little meat.
On returning to his hometown of Warwick, the 22-year-old began researching the environmental impacts of industrial farming and decided to change to a sustainable vegetarian diet.
Michael, who now works as a waiter, said: “I saw first-hand the struggles of farmers at grass root level where poverty is entirely visible. Since I returned home I’ve been more aware of the necessity of westerners buying the right products for the sustainability of economies all over the world.
“In Kenya my consumption of meat was reduced drastically and I had my head turned to the global problems of intensive rearing. I believe people ignore the many problems of eating meat.
“I now want to start an ethical trading group in the district where we can buy in bulk, therefore bringing costs down, cutting food miles and packaging while supporting honest, ethical suppliers.”
Volunteering in Kenya was not a first for Michael, who has also worked as a cricket coach in India, a conservationist in Sri Lanka, and studied in Kazakhstan.
But his stay in Africa was not all plain sailing. He had to return to his host family’s home by 6.30pm each night as it was too dangerous to be out after dark.
Despite this, Michael said he would not change any of his time in Kenya – which was organised and funded through government-backed volunteer group ICS.
Michael, who is now living back at his parent’s home in Warwick, said: “The best experience for me was meeting a farmer who I explained my new found love of avocados to. He then handed me over a bag full of them. It made me think, why eat things like crisps and cakes when we could grow things like this in our back garden?
“My trip to Kenya was the experience of a lifetime and I have some amazing memories and met some brilliant people.
“I hope now to start this ethical co-operative as a way to meet like-minded people in the community and help support honest and ethical suppliers.”
Email email@example.com to find out more about joining the group.