It’s Illegal for us to Grow it, But we can Import it?

You may well have seen online and in our newsletter that Boris Johnson and MPs recently voted down an amendment to maintain British standards on future trade deals and imports.  This is a potential disaster for British agriculture, environment, and the health of the British people.  As Jamie Oliver has written in his letter to Boris Johnson– ‘I believe you’re about to seriously undermine public health and unpick the delicate patchwork quilt of farmers and food producers who are the backbone of this country.’

Now that we have left the EU, Britan no longer has to abide by the rules that it has in place to protect people from harmful food processes, like washing chicken in chlorine, genetically modifying food, or pesticides that have been proven to cause humans harm. This means that our government is able make up its own rules on what can be imported and fed to the public, regardless of the health implications. Because of the  recent vote, American agribusiness will be allowed to sell goods in the UK even if they do not comply with the same production standards as British farmers – as long as they pay a tariff to do so.  This means that there will be food on our shelves that would be illegal for the UK to produce.

The implications of this are huge – Jamie Oliver described the decline in the quality of our food as a ‘race to the bottom’ and that’s exactly what it will be. Our farmers will not be able to compete with the cheaper food being imported and will therefore have to cut corners to try to do so.  Farms are already heavily subsidised in this country because of the cheap food culture that supermarkets have created – so imagine the increase in subsidies (provided by taxes) that will have to go to our farmers to cover their further losses.

There will be an impact on our health too – Non government organisations have pointed out that the chlorine washing of chicken by US farmers is used as an alternative to keeping facilities clean chlorine is part of a processing method that makes up for poorer welfare standards on poultry farms that have sacrificed hygiene for increased production. The US hygiene standards are far lower than British standards (for example, US producers are allowed to include up to 30 insect fragments in a 100g jar of peanut butter, 11 rodent hairs in a 25g container of paprika, or 3mg of mammal excrement per each pound of ginger). To compare, the EU guidelines allow zero foreign bodies in any food.  In the USA, some animals are treated with hormones to increase the worth of the meat and to make animals cheaper to raise.  The main reason that Britain has banned the hormone-enhancement of animals is for animal welfare reasons, however excess hormones (like the ones in hormone-fed beef) have been proven to cause tumours and there is evidence to suggest that eating hormone-enhanced meat can increase the risk of cancer in humans.  The USA allows 82 different pesticides that are banned in the EU and UK due to impacts on both health and the environment. Food that is grown with these pesticides would be sold on our shelves.

The potential impact on our health has a knock-on effect to the NHS, who, most likely, will experience extra strain on the system due to health issues. It has been suggested that the Covid19 virus was passed to humans through the food chain – we should be learning from our mistakes rather than introducing new potential hazards into our communities. Remember the beginning of the lockdown?  So many of us experienced difficulties at the beginning of the pandemic, and felt real desperation and fear (that we experienced first hand at Greener Greens speaking to people who were calling us up every day, unable to get any food in the supermarkets and were desperate for a delivery company that wasn’t already at capacity) about sourcing food for their families. Even now as we near the end of the lockdown, the Coronavirus is a very real threat to many people. Now is not the time to be making it more difficult to have access to healthy food that can support the immune system, or local produce that has total traceability.  What’s more, we’ll be threatening the future of our farmers and food producers who, despite extraordinary challenges, have worked so hard to keep us fed throughout the Covid-19 crisis

I haven’t even covered the impact on our environment, which is already under stress from intensive farming. The need to compete with cheap imported food will only increase this stress, not to mention stretch the animal welfare standards of British livestock as farmers cut corners to make ends meet.

There is a real campaign by small farmers in America at the moment. As conditions in large meat and produce plants worsen. Wayne Pacelle (co-founder of the Humane Society of the United States) succinctly described the society’s four goals – “Less cruelty. More husbandry. Fewer animals. More farmers to care for them”

Less cruelty: “We are deeply distressed by the industrialization of agriculture, where animals have been moved from outdoor settings where they can feel soil beneath their feet and the sun on their backs.” Instead, they are “confined in cages and crates barely larger than their body”.

More husbandry: “We want to value farmers who are actually farming, and tending to the animals.” He quoted a farmer who told him that “the animals on his farm have just one bad day.”

Fewer animals: “We can’t responsibly raise nine billion animals in this country for food.” (Think about what would happen if that number were to increase to cater for Britain too.)

More farmers: “What we’re trying to do is connect people to their food, to make responsible choices.”

We in the UK, and certainly at Greener Greens, campaign for the exact same things.  By allowing this trade deal to go ahead in its current form, we risk not only jeopardising our own values, but sidelining the fight of the small, independent farmers overseas.

The vote down of this amendment is a disaster – and who will it affect the most? The poorest in our society, who do not have the luxury of choice as some do, and will always have to settle for the cheapest option despite the negative impact on their health. Once again, the most vulnerable in our society will be the ones who suffer – but not Boris Johnson or his MPs – they probably don’t shop at Aldi.

Please sign the petition to protect our food supply chain – then email your local MP (the link does it all for you). Fighting this will, in the long run, benefit our local economy, our environment and the health of our loved ones. Businesses like ours are at serious risk of disappearing, and once they’re gone it will be hard for them to come back.

 

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Recipe: Carrot, Lentil & Ginger Soup

This is a recipe that is quick and easy to make, yet full of goodness.  We would like to thank one of our long-term customers and friends Juanita for putting this recipe together for us – she says that “when you don’t know where to turn to feel good again, stick to the basics”, which we are all for! The carrot & ginger combination is essential in your repertoire of recipes – as its straightforward goodness offers your digestion a much needed rest from your every day eating habits! You can also make this soup without the lentils.

4- 6 carrots

3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

¼ tsp ground cumin,

pinch Black pepper

4 cm piece fresh ginger grated

3cm piece fresh turmeric root or ¼ tsp turmeric powder

3 celery stalks chopped

sea salt

½ cup red lentils rinsed

Parsley or coriander for garnish

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Heat the oil and sautee carrots, celery, ginger, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and salt. Fill with water to height of vegetables and add lentils. Boil and cook for 15 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are soft. Blend to puree. Serve with fresh parsley or Coriander garnish.

Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which is best absorbed into the bloodstream when consumed with ginger and black pepper. Ginger and black pepper burn away congestion and sluggishness from overly rich, oily foods. Meanwhile, celery is a diuretic that dries up water retention. This detoxifying recipe also features the mild laxative effects of carrot. Carrot is high in anti-oxidants for your immune system. Its beta-carotene supports the liver while purifying the blood.  You may feel improved vitality and clarity of mind within hours!

You can find out more about turmeric and the health qualities of other spices and herbs on one of our previous blog posts.

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Just like Grandma used to make – or is it?

“Eat your Greens!”  How many of us heard this from a parent or grandparent when we were young? The message being delivered to us as children was simple: eating your vegetables made you strong and healthy.  Those words now engrained in us passed down knowledge early enough to stay with us for the rest of our lives, but how many of us have such a busy life  that we have omitted to pass this pearl of wisdom to our children? I have to put my hand up to that one.

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It’s all well and good understanding that vegetables are good for you, but life as a grown-up doesn’t always lend itself to eating as healthy as you could! Our hectic lifestyles don’t leave us with much time to prepare fresh food every day, let alone research exactly what it is that your body needs for certain things. Let’s look at the immune system – It’s obvious that regular physical exercise and a healthy diet strengthen the immune system, but what are the best fresh vegetables to eat to give it that extra boost?

Diets based on fresh or minimally processed foods protect the health of all systems of the body, including the immune system which protects the body from infection due to bacteria, viruses and other microbes.  Foods that boost your immune system include:

  • Beetroot – try it roasted, use it in risottos or stews, or even grate it raw on meals
  • Shiitake mushrooms – they make a beautiful stroganoff and are perfect for stir-fries
  • Kale – blend it into fruit smoothies, steam it in butter or add it to casseroles
  • Nettle – not commonly eaten, but makes a healthy night-time tea
  • Grapefruit – yes, it’s sour! Try eating it with yoghurt and honey for breakfast or blend it with banana to sweeten it up
  • Avocado – needs no introduction!
  • Leafy greens such as spinach and chard – gently steam them and season to make a wonderful side dish
  • Grains, seeds and nuts – mix a selection and eat them as a snack throughout the day

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At Greener Greens our customer base includes a high proportion of nutritionists and people managing illness who require fresh, organic, seasonal produce and often a wide range of colourful fruit and vegetables.  Whatever their reasons for buying organic produce, it is likely to echo the results of study led by Newcastle University in 2014 which concluded that organically grown crops contain significantly higher concentrations of nutrient-rich antioxidants and lower levels of undesirable cadmium (a toxic heavy metal) and chemicals. This extensive study analysed a larger volume of research than any previous study and concluded that switching to eating organic crops is equivalent to eating one or two additional portions of fruit or vegetables per day!

We all know that different studies often come to opposing conclusions but feedback from our customers makes it plain to us that our often locally grown produce does make a difference to their physical and mental health, as well as taste a whole lot better than produce that they’ve eaten before.  So what could the reason be for the higher concentrations of desirable nutrients in organic produce?

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Plants obtain nutrients for their own benefit from soil but without bacteria, fungi and other microbes and animals that occur naturally in the soil plants are less able to absorb these essential nutrients.  Earthworms are particularly important in converting metals and other nutrients into plant friendly form.  Intensification of agriculture and use of pesticides has reduced the presence of bacteria, fungi and animals in soils.

Studies carried out by the Sustainable Soils Alliance indicate that there are more earthworms in organic soil. As a result organic soil is more porous (which helps plant root penetration and drainage and reduces soil erosion) and has a greater soil organic matter from broken down leaves and plant roots.

Declining nutritional value of food is evident from records maintained in the UK and republished by the government annually. Between 1940 and 1991, commercially grown potatoes lost 47% of copper, 45% of iron and 35% of calcium, with carrots losing even more. Broccoli and tomatoes lost 80% of copper and 75% of their calcium. To put it in perspective –  we need to eat 10 tomatoes today to get same nutrients from 1 tomato in 1940, and eating one orange in 1940 would have given us the same nutrients as eight oranges today!

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Whilst this research is shocking, it’s worth noting that farming methods are now starting to improve again with the resurgence of small-scale, local and organic farms. These are the farms that we champion and work tirelessly to ensure that their produce can reach as many people as possible – meaning that it’s not as hard to eat truly healthy veg as you might think. So go on, make Grandma proud, eat your greens!

HOW CAN I GO MEAT FREE AND BEETROOT TO MYSELF?

The current focus on increasing plant-based eating and being more aware of where your food comes from is welcomed by us at Greener Greens, our local growers and our nutritionists – it fits right in with our core values of making those small day-to-day changes that can help the environment, as well as improving our own health, so that everybody wins!

Sceptics among us worry that plant-based eating and Veganuary is becoming more of a marketing ploy – and whilst we are very excited by the current trend of having a meat-free diet and eating higher quality, locally produced foods, we also believe that radical changes in diet should not be made without understanding what is involved and how to do it successfully so that you remain healthy and happy whilst making sure that you are doing your bit for the environment.

One of our customers made the change to a vegan diet after a lifetime of eating meat and dairy and was astounded by the results as she explains:

A recent switch over the last 6 months to a plant-based diet has reaped definite benefits to my health and wellbeing. This has included an improved sleep pattern, less frequent and less intense migraines, glossy and well-conditioned hair, more healthy and natural glow to skin tone. Along the way excess weight has disappeared and energy levels have improved.

The most amazing part of this journey into adopting a plant based diet? My firmly entrenched carnivore husband has dropped all resistance and is a convert too!

Her experience is echoed by many people that we speak to. They find that the everyday feeling of good health is far greater than just the science-based health benefits – which include weight loss, lower blood sugar, improved kidney function, a lower risk of heart disease and a reduction of arthritis.

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Here are a few tips which we have collected from our clients and nutritionists which will help you to start your journey on a successful transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet:
Get enough protein Try to incorporate at least one high-protein item in each meal (legumes, seeds, nuts, soy foods)
Add Vitamin 12 This is important for the creation of red blood cells and more.  Vegetarians source B12 from eggs and milk, but vegans often need to use supplements or products such as Engevita flakes (a highly nutritious and delicious addition to most foods)
Eat enough calories Vegetarian/vegan diets tend to be lower in calories, so make sure that you’re eating enough!

Drink more water Many of us drink insufficient water anyway, but if switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet your fibre intake is likely to increase.  Fibre needs water to aid its movement through the digestive tract, so make sure that you drink more water

Get enough iron Iron which is derived from meat is a form known as heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body.  Iron sourced from plant-based food is non-heme iron which is not so easily absorbed by the body.  Make sure that you eat plenty of foods that are rich in iron such as lentils, bens, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.  Pair these with foods rich in Vitamin C (found in many vegetables and fruit) as this helps with non-heme iron absorption.
Get enough calcium Needed for bone density and many other functions, make sure that you include calcium rich foods such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, pak choy, figs and oranges in your diet
Eat enough Omega 3 fatty acids Often derived from fatty fish, a vegan should include chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, brussel sprouts in their diet
Use wholefoods, not processed  There are many processed foods that are plant-based, but often these do not contain the nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are important to any diet.  Cook from raw.  Make things easier for yourself by preparing larger amounts of a dish and having it for more than one meal. Use the 80/20 rule – if you stick to the rules for 80% of the time you are likely to be able to afford to break a few rules!

If the above sounds daunting see http://www.forksoverknives.com  and http://www.pcrm.org for balanced recipes. It’s not as scary as it sounds!

And remember – those cravings like butter on toast can make any diet transition daunting but substitutes do exist – and you may not even notice the difference!
Dairy Use nut butters or avocado or coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt on toast, coconut milk in coffee and oat or nut milk on cereal
Dvegan eton messesserts and cakes Make meringues with chickpea liquid and coconut sugar, cream from whipped solid coconut milk and cakes/cheesecakes using dates and maple or agarve syrup
Meat texture Jackfruit flesh is very meaty and full of nutrients, minerals and vitamins,  This vegan mainstay is available in tins either plain or ready marinated. Portobello mushrooms can be used to make very meaty tasting burgers….that are always moist!

And to all of you vegan converts out there – what advice do you have?

I’VE CARVED THE PUMPKIN – NOW WHAT SHOULD I MAKE WITH THE FLESH?

Well that’s easy.  Here are 3 suggestions:

Pumpkin Gratin

Ingredients:

45ml (3tbsp) olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1kg pumpkin flesh cut into small chunks

2tsp chopped fresh thyme

Freshly ground salt (or fine Pink Himalayan salt) and pepper

25g parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 30ml ofpumpkin gratin the oil in a pan, add the onions and fry for about 10minutes until softened and lightly brown.

Meanwhile parboil the pumpkin flesh in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 45ml (3 tbsp) of the cooking liquid.  Mix the pumpkin with he reserved liquid, the thyme, the remaining oil and seasoning.

Spread the onion over the bottom on a dish.  Put the pumpkin mixture on top.  Bake at 190˚C (375˚F) mark 5 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 15 minutes more.

Pumpkin Tarts

Ingredients:

350g sweet pastry (see below or buy ready made)

900g pumpkin flesh diced

Milk for cooking

3 eggs, lightly beaten

75g soft brown sugar (or rapadura sugar)

60ml golden syrup (or substitute)

225ml double cream

5ml cinnamonpumpkin tart

5ml ground ginger

Grated nutmeg

 

To make the sweet pastry:

200g plain flour

175g cold butter, cut into pieces

50g icing sugar

1tsp salt (optional)

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs.  Pat around the sides.  Tip the crumbs into a bowl and gently bring the crumbs together so you can roll the pastry.

To make the tarts:

Roll out the pastry and stamp into 25 – 30 rounds and line bun/cake tins.  Chill.

Cook the pumpkin mixture in a little milk until tender (approximately 20 minutes). Drain well then mash or puree in a blender or food processor.  Mix thoroughly with all the remaining ingredients, except the nutmeg.

Spoon a little pumpkin mixture into each pastry case.  Sprinkle the grated nutmeg over each tart. Bake at 190˚C (375˚F) mark 5 for 25-30 minutes until the filling has set and the pastry is light golden.  Serve warm or cold.

Spiced pumpkin soup

Ingredients:

Pumpkin flesh

Onion

Garlic

Ground cinnamon

Ground nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper

Coconut milk

Maple syrup (optional)

The secret to a rich tasting pumpkin soup is to gently roast the flesh before you make the soup.  Putpumpkin soup the flesh on a tray and bake for just 5-10 minutes (checking during this time) until it is starting to go a golden colour.

Meanwhile fry the onion and garlic in oil (any, but I use coconut oil).  Add the roasted pumpkin flesh, cinnamon, nutmeg, pinch of cayenne pepper and ground black pepper. Stir, the add vegetable stock so that the pumpkin mixture is covered.  You can add more water later if the soup is too thick.  Don’t add too much water as you will be adding coconut milk later.

Bring the soil to boil, simmer for about 15 minutes and then add coconut milk.  Don’t use the full can if you are making a small amount of soup.  Add maple syrup if you are using it and taste test until your soup is just to your liking.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

As the squash season starts we thought it is a good time to look at some of the more unusual squash and how to cook them.  After all you may have one in your box this week!!

spag squashSpaghetti squash has string-like fibres within its flesh which, when fluffed up with a fork, look fairly similar to spaghetti.  Hence why this squash flesh has earned a reputation as a pasta replacement.

Searching for ways to cook this squash reveal a range from making holes in it and boiling it in a small amount of water, baking it whole, steaming it and cutting it before roasting it.  There is only one way that I think brings out the beautiful slightly nutty flavour and that is cutting it in half (lengthways, is my preference) and taking out the seeds leaving a bowl into which a small amount of oil can be added.

Take care when you cut the squash. Using a sharp knife, cut off both ends so that your knife has some softer flesh to start the lengthways incision.  Turn the squash onto the most stable of the ends and carefully cut through the length of the squash.

Use any oil – olive, coconut or any of your choice –  and spread it over all the visible flesh with a brush, before seasoning it with freshly ground salt (I use Pink Himalayan salt) and black pepper.  Then place it flesh side down on a tray and roasting it in a pre-heated oven at 200˚c/400˚f or gas mark 6.

To make it easier to clean the tray place a sheet of parchment/baking paper on the tray first.

Squash come in all sizes and our biodynamic ones tend to be a bit larger at over 1kg.  At this size they are likely to take approximately 40/50 minutes to cook, so that the flesh is softened and the outside is caramelised.  I suggest checking the flesh with a fork from about 30 minutes into cooking.

When it is done, turn it over and to serve fork the flesh, either taking the flesh out to another plate or eating it whilst still in its skin.

As mentioned earlier this squash fibre is a great substitute for pasta so you can use it as the spagspaghetti squashhetti upon which you place bolognaise or similar.  It will probably come as no surprise to hear that it works well with typical Italian ingredients such as tomatoes, pepper, mushrooms and cheese – especially parmesan or vegan substitutes.

 

Roasted red peppers with cooked onions or shallots and spices such as turmeric or herbs such as oregano are a favourite of mine, sometimes with cheese or a vegan alternative using ground cashew nuts.

Have you a favourite way of cooking and eating this fabulous squash?  If so, do let us know – perhaps by a post of Facebook, or a comment here on our Blog page.

Organic Farming is the Bees Knees!

If you look at the plate of food on your dinner table, bees have played their part either pollinating the many vegetables and fruits we eat directly or pollinating the food for the animals that we then consume. And don’t forget the honey and wax they produce – two other important products that come courtesy of their hard work.

It’s hard to imagine a fruit salad without strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, orchard fruits, citrus fruits and tropical fruits.  But precisely what would happen if the honey bee were to disappear (amongst other meals impacted by crop loss).

tiago-faifa-NXDr9mDZ3cw-unsplashPollination is the highest agricultural contributor to yields worldwide, contributing far beyond any other agricultural management practice. This makes bees and other pollinators major contributors to agriculture. Pollinators affect 35 percent of global agricultural land, supporting the production of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide. Amazing!

Disturbingly honey bees, a very important pollinator, are disappearing globally at an alarmingly rate due to pesticides, parasites, habitat loss, and disease. Declines in their health and populations are seen globally as posing risks for biodiversity, long-term food security and ultimately human health.

With a potentially pessimistic outlook for the honey bee it’s great to hear that a study published in June (2019) shows that organic farming can mitigate the negative effects of intensive farming and increase in particular honeybee colony survival.

Researchers of the French national research institutes INRA and CNRS are the first to show that organic farming benefits honeybee colonies. Compared with bee colonies on non-organic land, colonies on organic farms had 37% more broods, with 20% more adult bees, and 53% greater honey production. Whilst they expected to confirm the benefits of organic farming with honeybee colonies they were surprised at the scale of the positive effects.

The research team analysed six years of data collected through a honeybee monitoring scheme ECOBEE which has been operating in France since 2008., Researchers particularly noted the benefits of organic farming to honeybee colonies during the flower-scarce period between the blooms of rapeseed and sunflower.

Since 2000, honeybee colonies have shown an increasing trend of poor development and high death rate. This has been attributed in part to intensive agriculture with its high usage of chemicals and single crop planting.  Evidence from this study indicates that organic farming can mitigate this decline and, moreover, can benefit the yields of crops grown by conventional farmers within 1500m of the hives.

aaron-burden-6csuZQ9oZcI-unsplashThe researchers found that the development of the colony ie the number of living adults benefited mostly where organic farmland is up to 300m from the hives thought to be due to more diverse pollen resource and decreased pesticide drift at the local scale.

But when it comes to honey reserves these benefited where organic farmland is up to 1,500m from the hives thought to be due to an increased availability of melliferous1 flowers over a longer distance for foraging bees.

A wonderful explanation given by Vincent Bretagnolle, the project leader, demonstrates the distain and lack of awareness that we know from our growers is often shown by their conventional neighbours.  He noted “Organic farms and fields are often seen by conventional farmers as a source for pests; we show here that organic farming has actually positive effects at the landscape scale, not only for biodiversity in general, but for beekeepers as well and even for conventional farmers since honeybees contribute to rapeseed and sunflower yields”.

When you next tuck into a delicious Greener Greens fruit salad or bowl of steamed vegetables recognise that you are not only nourishing your body and supporting our fabulous farmers but you’re doing your bit to help support our wonderful honeybees who do so much for us.

1 A melliferous flower is a plant which produces substances that can be collected by insects and turned into honey

Reference

Wintermantel, D, Odoux, J-F, Chadœuf, J, Bretagnolle, V. Organic farming positively affects honeybee colonies in a flower-poor period in agricultural landscapes. J Appl Ecol 2019. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13447

 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (May 2018), Why bees matter

Click to access i9527en.pdf

There’s nought Blue about Blueberries

One of the high spots of the year for me is the arrival of the first blueberries from Horsham.  The season may be short – eight weeks or so – but it is packed with six varieties of blueberries, each with their own special flavour and becoming sweeter as the summer progresses.

Our Horsham blueberries are grown on fertile clay soil in Lower Beeding by Bob Hewitt of Selehurst Gardens (better known to us as Blueberry Bob).  Over the years he has transformed a relatively small area into an extremely productive site and the weather this year has helped to improve this productivity.  Last year the long, early Summer temperatures took their toll on the blueberry plants and the season finished before August was out.

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I can recall my first tasting of a Blueberry Bob berry so vividly.  The sweet, flavoursome taste and amazing juiciness brought a huge grin to my face.  “This is heaven” I thought as I dived back into the punnet! Unsurprisingly, as we encourage people at our markets to taste the berries I have learnt that my reaction was not unique to me!  Collectively us “lovers of blueberries from Bob” could be deemed to be “people who know what they like”, but we think we fall into the category of having a “well-developed palette” as these blueberries are used by the Michelin 1 chef, Tom Kemble, at South Lodge in Lower Beeding.  I rest our case!

We have always been fascinated by these blueberries and why they can sell so well, at double the price, to those in London but are not generally appreciated in their home territory of Sussex. So we ran a taste test at Horsham Market a few years ago.  We bought some organic blueberries from Waitrose – variety Duke and from Poland. We had some Duke variety from Blueberry Bob on our stall at the same time.  The Waitrose blueberries were more expensive (a little aside, but important to us).  Customers and passers-by were invited to taste one of each and to provide a comparison. The facial expressions presented us with the best reactions.  The Polish blueberries were sharp and tasteless and usually generated a grimace. Blueberry Bob’s Duke blueberries mostly generated a satisfactory smile (and often a purchase – a double win!).

Whilst initially I was sold on these blueberries by their taste, I soon found out their health benefits – for young and old.  My grand-daughter was weaned on these blueberries and was declared the healthiest baby seen by the doctor for a long time at one of her early progress appointments.

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Blueberries are considered a superfood today but have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries.  American Indians used blueberry leaves as a tonic for colicky babies and in Europe the fruit itself was used to cure diarrhoea, dysentery and scurvy as well as circulatory problems and eye diseases. In particular, blueberries were used to treat diabetic retinopathy (an eye disease associated with diabetes) and some physicians still use it as part of treatments.

Top researchers, Béliveau and Gingras, were particularly interested in this traditional use of blueberries for diabetic retinopathies as the latter are caused by “uncontrolled angiogenesis” in blood vessels, a phenomenon which is instrumental in the growth of cancer tumours.  Their research suggests that molecules known as anthocyanidins (found abundantly in blueberries) can be responsible for the anti-angiogenic effects of these berries and slow the growth of tumours.  Angiogenesis is a process whereby the cancer tumours, which require food and oxygen to grow, trigger chemical signals to attract the cells of blood vessels located nearby.  These blood vessels react by clearing a path to the tumour by dissolving the surrounding tissue and forming a new blood vessel thus facilitating the flow of food and oxygen to the tumour.

Research has determined that benefits of blueberries include improvement of cognitive health (this has to be a subject of a future blog as it is quite technical, but associated with the antioxidant content acting as a “de-rusting agent”), prevents urinary tract infection occurring, helps anti-ageing and improves skin, heart and eyes through its mineral and vitamin content.

These guys are so under-estimated because we have them throughout the year.  But, the greatest benefit will be achieved from the farm fresh ones that are produced locally and are available on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

Salad Days

‘O Summer sun, O moving trees!

O cheerful human noise, O busy glittering street!

What hour shall Fate in all the future find.

Or what delights, ever to equal these:

Only to taste the warmth, the light, the wind,

Only to be alive, and feel that life is sweet.

Laurence Binyon

 

According to the ancient Chinese, the secret of good health was to live in harmony with nature. They saw a balanced life as one that does not continually disregard the rhythms of nature, but one that observes and adapts to the natural flow of things.

One of the most fundamental links to nature we have is through our diet. By eating the food that grows around us from season to season, we can maintain our connection with the earth and receive the best nourishment to support and balance us.

Spring merges into Summer on 21 June, when we experience the longest amount of daylight of the year, the Summer Solstice. During the Summer, nature begins to bloom and manifest her magnificent glory.  We have the widest possible choice of food to pick from.

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This includes foods that represent every earthly colour, nourishes the body with the rainbow of pigments. The reds of cherries and tomatoes, the oranges of carrots and nectarines, the greens of cucumbers courgettes and peas, the yellows of peppers and peaches and the mauves and blues of aubergine and grapes.

Leaves, stems, assorted green beans, herbs, and fresh fruit are just some of the delicious plants available, making it a perfect season to take a bite into raw – salads galore!

Salad Dressings

You can breathe life into everything from a humble rice noodle to an array of different salads with a simple salad dressing. If they’re too much like hard work then you won’t use them and salads can quickly become dull.

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The Classic Dressing

From this basic recipe, play around with it by adding any of the ingredients you LIKE to it and just give it a try. Have fun and find your own exciting combinations.

(Makes approximately 130mls and will keep for a week in the fridge).

In a glass jar, add a finely chopped clove of garlic (or crush a clove in a garlic crusher)! To this add:

  • 6 tbsps of olive oil
  • 2 tbsps of flax oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lecithin granules

Put the lid on tightly and shake like mad!

Dress up your dressing: From here, eat it as it is or get creative – add a pinch of cumin powder to it or some fresh herbs like mint or basil or pop a quarter of a teaspoon of mustard in to spice it up!