“I Can Get This Cheaper at Sainsbury’s”

This weekend two things happened – firstly, Tesco announced that it was going to merge with French supermarket chain Carrefour as part of a ‘strategic alliance’ to cut prices and become more of a force when buying from global producers. Secondly, the French organisation The Food Assembly sent an email to its UK members to let us know that they were pulling out of the United Kingdom to focus on their more successful assemblies across Europe.

These two occurrences are on entirely separate scales in terms of size – and for that reason the connection between the two may not be all that obvious. But the connection is there, and it is becoming increasingly common to hear of the big businesses and corporations going from strength to strength whilst small independents and high streets seem to be operating at an ever-worsening decline.

In July 2014  The Food Assembly launched in the UK, enabling the general public to purchase high-quality food while supporting small-scale producers who create jobs and foster social well-being.  Each Food Assembly is an independent and local project while remaining part of The Food Assembly collective. It is the local farmers and foodmakers and a unique community spirit that keeps the network alive.

Unfortunately, The Food Assembly business model that works so well across the rest of Europe just doesn’t work here. In fact, when the UK opened more Food Assemblies we actually bought down the average business volume per collection. Basically, we just didn’t have enough public interest in our Food Assemblies.
Unknown
There are many contributing factors to this. The main one is that small businesses just can’t compete with the cheap prices that supermarkets can offer. Small independent businesses like Greener Greens buy their ingredients, produce and stock at a fair price from reliable and ethical growers whilst supermarkets can squeeze farmers and suppliers as much as they like to get their prices lower and lower. Despite the fact that these prices cripple growers and producers, customers still buy into the lie of cheap food. As a small independent business who sell fresh produce that has been bought at a fair price, we see this first hand. All too often at markets we are asked “why is this so expensive?” or told that “I can get this cheaper at Sainsbury’s”.   Supermarkets are all too happy to sacrifice their growers and suppliers to ensure that people still buy their products – all too often compromising quality for cost. For as long as this happens, organisations that focus on community will never be able to thrive. The reason why the Food Assembly works so well in the rest of Europe is because many European countries recognise the importance of their local farmers and their community. Even supermarkets in Europe tend to sell local produce in each of their stores – because that’s what the consumers want.

 

So, as Tesco and Carrefour try to use their joint buying power to cut costs and offer lower prices to customers (as a reaction to Sainsbury’s and Asda merging to do the same thing to their suppliers), please remember that there are consequences to these actions.  Growers will continue to suffer, organisations like the Food Assembly will continue to disappear. Without local businesses and organisations there isn’t a community, and without community we really don’t have very much at all.

cauliflower-1644626_1920

 

We’d like to thank Jane of Woking & Guildford Food Assemblies for all of the enthusiasm and passion, not to mention the hard work, that she has put into organising and running both events. We at Greener Greens have had a wonderful experience with the Food Assembly, and hope to be able to keep providing their members with organic fresh produce in the future.

Uh Oh! There’s Meat in your Veggie Meal!

Last Friday it was revealed that traces of meat have been discovered in supermarket ready meals. Ready meals by both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been caught out – and the presence of whole animal DNA indicates that the meals contain either meat or animal skin.

This is disturbing as every consumer has the right to know what is in their food.  In our society, it is fast becoming the norm to expect supermarkets to ‘lead the way’ when it comes to environmental issues. We’re expected to applaud them for voluntarily pledging to cut plastic waste by 2025, yet there are small businesses that have existed for years that have been built on environmentally friendly foundations from day one.  Finding meat traces in independently approved ready meals made by the supermarket giants themselves is just another scandal in a long, long line of them. And it’s not going to be the last either.

And yet, they still want us to feel dependent on them. Maybe it’s time we stopped waiting for the giants to decide when it’s time to start caring about the environment. After all – they only decide to change their ways when the consumers start to object to their practices – it’s rarely done for the good of the planet or because it’s simply the right thing to do.

pexels-photo-319798

Big supermarkets work purely for profit – at the expense of the environment, the people who supply them and even their own customers. There are thousands of small, independent businesses out there which have been created out of love and passion for the way things should be done to ensure that everybody along the supply chain – along with the land itself – is treated fairly and with respect.

We keep saying it: The consumers are the ones with the power. We control where our money goes and who we give it to. Choosing where we buy is a powerful form of direct action. Let’s not leave the important decisions to the giants anymore – if we want to ensure that there’s no meat in our veggie meals, let’s make our own! If we don’t want to throw away plastic packaging every day, let’s not buy it in the first place. If we don’t buy it, they won’t put it on the shelves.

Most importantly – as a powerful consumer with the luxury of choice – let’s share that power with the small, independent and ethical business owners rather than the businesses that show us, time and time again, where their real priorities lie. We should make more of a conscious effort to buy from the people that really care, rather than the people that just pretend to.

 

Bake With Jack: Another Exciting Recipe

We were lucky enough to get a recipe from Jack last year – and now Bake with Jack is back! Chef Jack Sturgess is passionate not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We’ve been lucky enough to get something back, and we’ll be hearing from him with yet another recipe over the next couple of weeks!

IMG_0026.JPG

Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so brill! I can’t wait to try this for lunch one day this week.

 

Grilled Asparagus Ciabatta with Lemon and Tarragon Pesto

 IMG_0028.jpg

Serves 2

 For the Pesto:

 

20g          Greener Greens organic tarragon leaves

80g          Olive oil

10            Toasted pine nuts

20g          Finely grated pecorino

Pinch of Salt

 

12            Greener Green organic asparagus spears

1               Ciabatta

1               Clove of garlic

½               Lemon

4tbsp     Greek yoghurt

 

Olive oil

Black Pepper

Salt

 

 

 

First make your pesto. Put the olive oil, tarragon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt into a mini food processor and blend together. You can make it quite smooth if you like but I like mine to be coarse. Add the pecorino and pulse until it is just combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you need to.

 

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears, peel and halve the garlic clove, and cut two chunks of ciabatta. Rub the cut side of ciabatta with a little olive oil.

 

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until it is just smoking. Grill your ciabatta for around 2-3 minutes until charred and when they are still warm rub the grilled side with the cut side of the garlic and season with a little salt. Put the ciabatta toasts on two plates.

 

Next get the asparagus onto the grill. I like to hold mine down with a potato masher to be sure they get charred evenly all the way up the stems. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and grill the other side the same. No need for oil at this stage as it’ll just make your kitchen smoky! When they are ready they should be charred and blackened in lines with still some bite.

 

Place the hot asparagus into a large mixing bowl, add three tablespoons of your pesto and a good squeeze of lemon. If your pesto is well seasoned you shouldn’t need to add any salt at this point. Toss the asparagus to dress it nicely all over then arrange the spears on top of your toasts.

 

Finish with two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt on each one, a drizzle of the pesto that’s left in the bowl and a little black pepper. Serve!

 

TIP: Any leftover pesto will keep nicely in the fridge for two days.

 

IMG_0027.JPG

Our New Website & Online Ordering are Here!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

broccoli-close-up-colors-76083.jpg

We’ve just launched our new website – complete with online ordering! It’s never been easier to get organic, fresh produce grown by local independent farmers delivered directly to your door!  With this in mind, it’s time to talk about your overall health and wellbeing….

It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to really invest in your own health and adopt positive life changes, especially when it comes to changing your eating habits. It’s an investment well worth taking though – what you eat directly impacts how you feel, both in your body and in your mind. You wouldn’t fill a car with dirty petrol, so why fuel your own body with anything other than the cleanest and most natural of foods? Up until the beginning of the 20th century, good diet and physical well-being was the foundation of all medical treatment. Unfortunately, overtime, this basic knowledge that our ancestors had acquired about the importance of the nutritional benefits in the foods that were available to them.

We at Greener Greens think that it’s about time that we rediscover what our ancestors once knew and reconnected with our food. Our seasonal boxes contain the fresh produce that your body needs to maintain its health and vitality and is free from chemicals. Trust in nature! It knows best when it comes to growing our food. According to the changing seasons, our bodies need different nutrients to maintain great health. Nature has provided a range of produce that contains exactly what we need to ensure that we’re at our best all year round – both in our bodies and our minds.

Greener Greens offers a quality organic range of fruit and vegetables, grown by certified organic, independent growers, delivered to your door every week. Your first steps towards being healthy and making a positive lifestyle choice starts here!

Visit our website and make your first order today!

Greener Greens ‘Unwrapped’ Scheme – Update

This Christmas, as we have for the past ten years, Greener Greens organised a charitable scheme which got our fantastic produce out to as many families and individuals who would benefit from it as possible. Using our contacts across Sussex & Surrey, we identified organisations who help people in their communities that need that extra bit of support, and came up with bags & boxes of fresh produce that would help these charities and organisations to help them over the festive season. Our team supplied the produce at cost, filled the bags and passed them on to the charities or Childrens’ Centres for distribution. We couldn’t have done it without our customers – it was their donations that made this year such a successful one!

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 10.24.01
The contents of one of our bags from the ‘Unwrapped’ scheme.

Because of everybody’s hard work and generosity, over 450kg of fruit and veg was sent to Crawley in our family bags – feeding over 200 people. Twelve senior citizen bags went out to those who needed them, and over 115kg of fresh produce was sent to Redhill for the VARB Festive Feast – an event aimed at providing a place to go for people who might not have anywhere else to go on Christmas Day. Our produce fed over 140 people including volunteers at this event. The guests were mostly elderly people who would have otherwise been on their own at Christmas.

We are so, so proud to be able to have helped so many people this Christmas, and are so grateful to our amazing customers who supported this scheme and made it happen for us.  Here’s to a wonderful 2018!

Bake With Jack: A Delicious Collaboration

Bake with Jack is run by chef Jack Sturgess, who is passionate –  not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We were delighted to see that, not only did he make these gorgeous looking pumpkin doughnuts, he also gave us a recipe for a beetroot and spelt focaccia!

We’re sharing the recipe with you – please, please remember that this method is expertly put together to make it simple and enjoyable enough for you to try at home! So please do – try it with your children this weekend, or stay out of the pub and in the kitchen one cold evening this week and treat yourself!

Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so gorgeous!

 

IMG_5796

 

Beetroot and Spelt Focaccia

So, thanks to some deliciously earthy and sweet beetroots from Greener Greens I have developed a focaccia to celebrate their beautiful colour and delicate flavour.

Spelt is an ancient grain, and this recipe used quite a large proportion of wholemeal spelt flour to make a real comforting and wholesome bread. To get the best flavour and colour from the beetroots, I wrapped one yellow and one purple individually in tin foil and baked in the oven at for an hour, until a knife can be easily pushed into the centre.

Wait a while before peeling, but keep them in the tin foil. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze them out of the tin foil leaving their skins behind, then rub off any bits that are still there.

This recipe will make one focaccia.

 

Difficulty: Easy

3 hours

 

Ingredients

For the dough

350g       Wholemeal Spelt Flour

150g       Strong White Bread Flour

10g          Salt

12g          Fresh Yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dry easy bake yeast

330g       Room Temperature Water

20g          Olive oil

 

For the topping

2 cooked beetroots (see above)

4tbsp     Olive Oil

4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked

Maldon sea salt flakes

 

IMG_5799

 

Method

  1. Place a large bowl on your scales and weigh out your white flour. Zero the scales and weigh your wholemeal flour on top, and then do the same with the salt.
  2. Weigh your room temperature water into a jug. If you are using fresh yeast, pop it into the water to dissolve before moving on to step 4. Or, your 7g sachet of dry yeast can be popped into the bowl with the flour.
  3. Pour the yeasty liquid into the bowl, add the olive oil and use a dough scraper to mix everything together. When it all comes together into a relatively firm dough, turn it out onto the table.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes on a clean surface, without dusting with any flour. If the dough makes a mess on the table, bring everything back together with the flat side of your dough scraper as you go along.
  5. Next, with the slightest dusting of flour on the table, shape the dough into a ball, and place it back into the bowl. Dust the dough’s surface lightly, and cover the bowl with a clean cloth. Allow 60-90 minutes for your dough to rest and rise, developing flavour and texture.
  6. While your dough rests you can get to work making your topping. Slice your beetroots into rounds about 3mm thick. If you’re using one purple and one yellow beetroot like I did, slice them into separate bowls. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of each, chop your rosemary leaves roughly and sprinkle them over too. Mix up each bowl and leave to marinade.
  7. Prepare yourself a tray for the next part. You’ll need one that’s roughly 35cm by 25cm, lined with a piece of parchment paper and drizzled with olive oil.
  8. When your dough has puffed up nicely, transfer the dough ball onto your oiled tray. Press with your fingertips to spread the dough out really well.
  9. Now arrange your beetroot all over the top, pushing pieces down into the dough with your fingertips, and pour the remaining herb oil over the top.
  10. Rest the dough, uncovered for 45-60 minutes, and at some point during this time, preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/Gas Mark 5 with an empty deep tray in the bottom
  11. When you are ready to bake, boil a kettle of water, and sprinkle your sea salt over the top or your dough.
  12. Carefully place your focaccia into the oven, pour about 1cm deep of water from the kettle into the hot tray and shut the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Slide a knife underneath the focaccia and tip it up to peep underneath. When the focaccia is golden all over the base it is ready. If it’s still a little pale in the centre, bake for longer, 5 minutes extra at a time until it’s done.
  14. Transfer the focaccia to a wire rack, and drizzle well with olive oil. Leave to cool before tucking in!

 

 

You can find out more about Jack and what he does on his website, as well as getting more tips, recipes and advice – and we’d thoroughly recommend that you do!

Why Organic, and Why Greener Greens?

Organic means working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment – this means more wildlife!
We’ve broken down the reasons why we think that organic – and Greener Greens – is so important. Let us know what you think!

 

greenergreens infograhic

You can find out about our growers, what we do and how you can change your lifestyle and support your local community through simply eating by visiting our website.

An Interview with Daniel of Orchard Eggs

Orchard Farm Biodynamic Eggs are laid by these beautiful free range & happy hens. This, along with their nutritional diet gleaned naturally from the biodynamically farmed orchard and added grains and the farmers that lovingly care for them,  is why you will never taste eggs as good as these anywhere else. They’re big, full of rich yolk, and taste amazing.

The eggs that we sell are biodynamic, organic and local to Sussex. The hens are all reared on Orchard Eggs Farm. Daniel and his family strongly believe this is the greatest way to grow healthy birds and ensure that the eggs are of exceptional quality.

Hen-pink-flower-house-background.jpg

They rear Lohmann Browns hens as they have a friendly nature and produce excellent quality eggs. They keep them protected in a tunnel whilst they are young and once they are fully feathered and strong enough to withstand weather conditions (usually between 4 and 6 weeks) they are allowed to roam around the orchard. During the initial early growing stage, they develop a strong immune system adequate for our ecosystem that prevents them catching diseases and keeps them totally free from antibiotics.

The hen houses are moved to different plots within the farm as new flocks are introduced. This is prevents disease and helps new hens to develop their immune systems. It also keeps the ground suitable for growing the apples and pears as the hens aerate and fertilise the soil.

Chicks-in-softfruit.jpg

We have asked Daniel a few questions about his farm and his hens. We think it’s important that our customers know where our food comes from.

What inspired you to begin farming?

My dad taught me how beautiful nature is, and how complex the systems work together, I wanted to work with these systems and create quality food.

 

What makes the land that you farm so special?

It’s treated with respect, we feed the soil, and in return, it can feed all that’s growing.

 

What is so important about Biodynamic Farming for you?

For me Biodynamic farming means that the farm becomes a sustainable “organism” where all the processes on the farm work together and are in balance.

 

What makes your eggs stand out from others?

Maybe our customers can answer this question better. But we think it’s their quality, flavour, natural deep yellow/orange colour of the yolk and freshness.

 

How do your hens differ from those in industrial egg farms?

Guided by the cockerels, our hens roam freely 24/7. This encourages them to express their natural behaviour and source their food whenever, wherever! They are really relaxed, fully beaked, not treated with antibiotics and not vaccinated. They are happy birds, part of the farm, where they keep control of pests, keep the grass short, and fertilise the soil.

 

Your hen houses are moveable, why is this?

Our houses are movable, so we can give our birds a fresh run, and manure is evenly spread through the orchard, and parasites are better controlled.

 

Do you have any particularly favourite hens? Charlie, (Jill – the owner of Greener Greens’ daughter)  is a shepherdess and has 15 sheep, but her favourite, Pixie, lives in the house with her!)

All our hens our brown, but a few summers ago, one hen created a nest in the orchard, this resulted in a white hen. It does live in the orchard by itself, and always comes up to us when we are working.

Group-in-pink-flowers.jpg

Orchard Farm eggs are yours to add to your box order or bespoke order from £2.32 for a box of 6. Large are £2.72 for six. Try them, they’re just gorgeous!

From the Newsletter Archive…

The 5:2 diet…. If you are like me, every time there is a new supposedly effective diet bandied about you’ll want to know what makes it work (and therefore whether it is sustainable). The 5:2 diet is certainly vogue at present with many celebrities declaring this is their food regime.  This is a fasting diet where 5 days of normal eating are interspersed with 2 days of restricted calories (500kcal for women, 600kcal for men).

This diet has been shown to be both highly effective in burning fat and turning on anti-ageing genes. How does this happen?  One of the reasons is that on the fasting days it stops glucose release which in turn reduces insulin levels.  Another likely reason for the rapid weight loss is the body switching from sugar to what is called ketogenic metabolism. This means that our bodies are using fat for energy. Ketones are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the food you just ate or fat you were carrying on your hips. A recent article I read noted that it is highly likely that our ancestors, on lean days when hunting was not productive, ran perfectly well on ketones as the body’s alternative energy source. In fact is likely that we go into it in the mornings when we haven’t eaten for a few hours.

Interestingly, and I have heard this several times recently, there have been many reports of Alzheimer’s patients and children with fits who have made major improvements in symptoms from consuming an equivalent of a tablespoon of virgin pressed coconut oil daily.  Why? Ketones are made directly from coconut oil which contain elements that convert directly into ketones which the body can burn for energy rather than store as fat. The benefit of coconut oil extends to simply increasing short term memory.  Studies in children with severe epilepsy have shown that almost a third cut their number of seizures by 40%.

Coconut oil is relatively high in calories but as there are little calories left to turn to body fat after the ketones have been burnt for energy it is recommended for the 5:2 diet

March against Monsanto… Next week on May 25, on 6 continents, in 36 countries, and in 250 cities at least, tens of thousands of people will March against Monsanto to  

  • Protect our food supply
  • Support local farmers
  • Spread awareness about the harmful effects of genetically modified foods
  • Promote organic solutions
  • Expose the cronyism between big business and big government (including the Agriculture Appropriations Bill that President Obama signed into law which protects these companies from litigation)
  • Bring accountability to those responsible for the corruption.

For more information please see the March Against Monsanto website www.march-against-monsanto.com.

At present the march closest to us is in Bristol with one perhaps taking place in London.