Last Christmas, Pesto Princess was gifted a brightly coloured Wonderbag™ by one of our larger suppliers. My policy around corporate gifts is this: although they are presented to me as HRH The Pesto Princess, I share them with the team.
This can prove tricky at times. Think five loaves and two fishes 😉
Some staff eyed the substantial gift displayed in the open plan office with perplexed expressions on their faces, too shy to ask what it was. Others walked past and didn’t resonate with the plump ‘pumpkin’ at all. It was Princess Rachael, our accountant, who greeted the Wonderbag™ like a long lost relative from her motherland, her face illuminated with a rare, wide smile. “You cook your food in it,” she explained to a cluster of puzzled pesto makers. She clearly had the competitive advantage, having seen a primitive version back in Zimbabwe. Rachael bonded with that Wonderbag™ so intensely, that despite my overdeveloped sense of fairness, I gave it only to her that Christmas.
For the uninitiated, here’s Wonderbag 101: Bring your pot of soup/stew/curry to the boil in the morning before work, tuck it into the Wonderbag to do its thing, and a delicious meal will be waiting for you when you get home. Well that’s how it works if you live in a sophisticated part of town and can just sidle over to the Smeg, or switch on your Defy. If you live in a rural area without electricity, the picture is very different: you walk, sister, for frickin’ miles in the hope of finding enough firewood to bring that pot to the boil, and keep it boiling to cook the daily meal. And tomorrow you’ll do the same. You don’t go to work. This IS your work. Your young children play around the fire as you do your chores, and inhale the smoke. Some of them will die before they reach the age of 5 from severe household air pollution.
The dramatic difference between the lives of urban and rural women touched the heart of Wonderbag™ founder, Sarah Collins. Her eureka moment came when she realised what an impact this giant tea cosy could make. She set about manufacturing some and making them available to rural families. After experimenting with her first family, she had this to report:
“Within three months, the children only needed to gather firewood once a week, and they were all in school. They had money for shoes. It was a catalyst out of poverty for them.” —Sarah Collins
With loadshedding the length and breadth of our kingdom, cooking in a Wonderbag™ makes a whole lot of sense. It reduces the electricity bill. It also encourages us to eat home cooked meals rather than reach for fast food.
But the real wonders are these: for every 1000 bags sold, a job is created. Up to one ton of carbon emissions have been reduced. 1248 hours have been saved on collecting firewood. Children are going to school. Rural women have some choice as to how they spend their day.
In order to satisfy my sense of fairness, I think I’ll have to buy a Wonderbag™ for each member of the Pesto Princess team this Christmas.
PS Need a great Wonderbag recipe?
PPS They have a great website where you can find out more.