Hello! My name is Leontien Aarnoudse. I am a freelance journalist, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I write articles for newspapers, magazines and websites, mainly on food, agriculture and sustainability issues. Please find some of my articles in English below.
Besides that, I am author of the award winning De Groene Garde (2012, Prometheus/Keff& Dessing). This means ‘the green whisk’ as well as ‘the green guard’. The book is about the origin of our food, how our food is made and what the social and environmental impact is of our food production. It contains interviews with Dutch food pioniers and background stories on food waste, sustainable fisheries, meat industry, fair trade, labels and certifications systems and discussions on healthy food. Plus: 100 seasonal recipes.
How to breath new life into desert soil?
THE OPTIMIST SPRING 2016
It’s no simple feat to plant trees here,” Jurriaan Ruys observes. He’s contacted me via Skype from his hotel room in Doha, the capital of Qatar, an Arab emirate that consists primarily of desert. That large stretch of sand is not even the main challenge, though, says Ruys. “People need to become used to our idea. That takes time.”
Sowing seeds in the desert. It may seem like a mirage, but planting trees in the corkdry ground is the core business of the Land Life Company, an Amsterdam startup that the 47-year-old Ruys co-founded in 2013. With the help of a type of incubator, a small water reservoir and soil-enriching fungi, a scrawny little branch can grow into a tree as tall as three meters, says Ruys.
World Hunger still prevails
ONEWORLD, AUTUMN 2015
Every five seconds a child under the age of ten dies of hunger. On a planet overflowing with wealth. We are in need of a major overhaul, says Martín Caparrós.
Coffee, tea, water? Martín Caparrós declines kindly. The Argentinian journalist has just had breakfast when we meet in the lounge of the hotel he is staying at during his short visit to the Netherlands. It is a noted contradiction: we, our bellies full, forgo food when around the world hundreds of millions of people do not get the required 2200 calories a day. This bitter injustice hardly impresses us anymore, says Caparrós. The fact that the United Nations uses the cold sounding ‘food security’ to talk about the problem contributes to that.
Caparrós wants to rebrand hunger. In 656 pages he documents stories of the poorest in the world. From rural India to the slums of Dhaka in Bangladesh. From the dumping ground in Buenos Aires in his home country of Argentina to the food bank in the United States or the land grabbing ridden Madagaskar. The book starts with a hospital in the African country of Niger. A mother straps a boy into a cloth on her back. As she always does. His belly to her back, his arms and legs spread out. Only this time, he is dead. It is the first time Caparrós is confronted with this extreme form of hunger.
What made you write a book abouth hunger in the first place?
“Hunger is a cliché. Even Miss Universe calls to stop hunger. I wanted to really understand the issue of it. So I decided to find people who suffer from it and hear their stories.”
So you ended up in Niger.
“Yes, I asked a mother feeding her children a millet dumpling (thick millet pudding served in the form of a dumpling, red.) if she really ate this every day. She said: ‘Well, every day that I eat.’ That was a stupid question, which showed how little I knew and how large the gap between our worlds was. On the one hand me, wondering if her diet was varied enough. And she on the other, wondering if she would eat at all. It was the moment that made me think: I want to bridge this gap.”