New Zealanders always seem to be ready to help out and contribute to good causes.
Volunteers in this country provide hours and hours of their time to all manner of organisations.
When the SPCA decided to make a "celebrity" cookbook to promote the Blue Tick scheme, publisher Random House came on board. Folk such as Jesse Mulligan, Joe Cotton and Bob Parker signed up to the project and sent in their favourite recipes.
Made with Love is a kind of an updated version of the community, cultural group or church cookbook of yesteryear, with recipes from a whole bunch of people coming together to help support a cause. The cover looks a bit like an old-style fund-raiser booklet, but don't be put off, because having cooked all the recipes, I know there are heaps of tasty dishes to try.
All feature Blue Tick-approved ingredients. After all, happy animals make happy food and therefore happy people.
So what is the Blue Tick?
When my friend Robyn Kippenberger became CEO of the SPCA she inherited an egg-accreditation scheme known as The Red Barn. In her previous life as an food educator, a food promotor and as Minister of Consumer Affairs she was aware of similar schemes in the world, where an independent body (such as the RNZSPCA), worked to audit production and give consumers a guarantee of a product's provenance.
The Red Barn became a Blue Tick and Robyn set to work with producers and Government agencies to make this happen. Having worked together on various food projects she got me on board and we set up Blue Tick stands at The Food Show. Eight years later, it is a testament to her efforts to see eggs, pork, poultry, turkey and now salmon being "blue ticked".
Farms are audited by independent auditors and lose their accreditation if they are not compliant. The scheme is paid for by levies from producers based on sales. Accreditation can not be bought.
As Robyn says "The power is in the hands of the consumer, everyone who chooses to support this scheme by buying Blue Tick supports better animal welfare standards and ethical production".
But back to the book. For two weeks, at the beginning of this year, Robyn and I cooked our way through all the recipes and styled the food to produce Made with Love. Producers gave their product, while photographers Rosita Manning and Antoinette Walters gave their time, taking hundreds of photos.
The result: a lovely little book that would make a perfect present or for you to keep. By buying it you are helping the scheme and thanking all the volunteers who so willingly made such an effort. Pat on the back all round!
Living has five copies of Made with Love to give away. To enter the draw, visit winwithheraldonsunday.co.nz and enter the keywords Blue Tick along with your details. Entries close 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 14.