We’re Backing British Farming, and it’s Exciting!

Today is Back British Farming day!  Did you know that UK food self-sufficiency is now just 61% – down from 75% in 1991?  The campaign by countryside magazine highlights acres of reasons why British farming deserves your support, as well as offering you the chance to make a real difference.

The day coincides with the week that we took part in Go! Organic –  a London-based festival encouraging people to take part in organic living. We built and constructed a pop-up farm shop for the people of London, at which we showcased five of our key British growers.

The event was a huge success, with people lining up to buy our produce! We were very proud to be able to shout about the growers  – Sunshine & Green, Cherry Gardens, Tablehurst Farm, Dynamic Organics and Sweet Apples Orchard. Daniel from Orchard Farm’s eggs also went down a storm.  We had several comments on the quality of our produce, with some people even asking if it was real – the ultimate compliment.

We pride ourselves on our growers and the quality of our produce and our British farmers who are working hard to enhance the British countryside, protect the environment, maintain habitats for native plants and animals and support wildlife species. Whether it’s helping birds get through the winter months by putting down seed, establishing woodlands and hedgerows to create habitat for animals or planting fields of pollen and nectar rich flower mixes to feed bees and butterflies, British farmers are taking action every day.

Our growers take real pride in the land that they grow on, and try to encourage and enhance wildlife every step of the way. For example, Jonathan at Cherry Gardens Farm collects fallen apples over the summer and stores them until the winter, when he puts them out for the birds that may be struggling with the frozen ground, and Blueberry Bob in Horsham practises biannual thinning and coppicing of  woodland on the farm, which has encouraged flora and shrubs such as bluebells, narcissi and snowdrops, buddleia and elder and has recently received a forestry commission grant for coppicing regeneration.

With the spirit of buying British in mind – it’s time to introduce our new line of BRITISH GROWN pulses and grains! We’ve started stocking Hodmedod’s, who specialise in British grown chick peas, spelt grain, lentils, and – for the first time – British grown Quinoa. We’re very excited to have them on board, and are hoping that you can revolutionise your cupboards and eat more of these protein-based little treasures, safe in the knowledge that they’ve come from a local grower with a transparent food chain.

Buying British has never been more important. With climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut food miles and protect our wildlife is getting more important. Choosing how we eat is a simple but powerful form of direct action:

 

1.BUY BRITISH

  • Buy British food with a transparent supply chain – so you know the journey that your food has taken to get to your table. This way you can ensure that your food is of the highest quality, and that the farmer who grew it has been cut a fair deal.

 

2. EAT WITH THE SEASONS

  • You can check out the Great British Larderto find out when British fruit and veg are at their best. It’s important to eat seasonal produce because that allows you to buy British all year round. This cuts food miles and guarantees that your food has come from a place of quality.


3. CARE FOR THE COUNTRYSIDE

  • British farmers are custodians of around 75% of the British countryside. It’s important that we too take responsibility for it too.  Whilst out enjoying the countryside, make sure you take your litter home, follow the countryside code, and if out with your four legged friends, keep them on a lead around livestock and pick up after them.


At Greener Greens we take pride in our growers. All of them are independent, certified organic or biodynamic, and take great pride in their produce. This shows in the quality of the produce in our boxes that we send out weekly. The farms that we collect from all take great steps to preserve and encourage their natural environments and habitats. If you shop with us, you can guarantee that you’re backing British farming.

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A Surrey Kitchen Recipe: Chicken and Mange Tout Stir Fry

We recently got in touch with Emma, a fabulous set-taught chef who runs the blog Surrey Kitchen. We asked her to create a recipe for the summer from some produce that we sent her. We were lucky enough to get two recipes back! The last one was a gorgeous vegetarian asparagus frittata.
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This time we’ve got a great recipe for a chicken stir-fry. Remember, if you’re vegetarian you can replace the chicken with soya products or go on ahead without it.  This recipe is wonderfully quick, making it a perfect one for a manic work or school night.

Chicken and Mange Tout Stir Fry

 

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Emma says:

“Chicken stir-fry is very quick, healthy, easy to make and relatively low cost.  The  beautiful Magetout or snow pea/snap pea from Greener Greens are low calorie, high in vitamin C, Vitamin A and K and prevents against a host of diseases from cancer to heart disease and even depression.  Carrots are a wonderful source of beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.  A perfect dish to enjoy this summer in your garden with a glass of something cold.”
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Serves 2-3

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon fresh ginger

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

A splash soy sauce

Salt and pepper

2 chicken breasts

2 carrots sliced into thin strips

200g mangetout

1 large Portobello mushroom chopped

Coriander to garnish

 

Preparation Method:

 

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken for 5-6 minutes or until browned.

2) Add the onion, carrot, mangetout and mushrooms and fry for a further 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add the chopped garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce and season with salt and pepper.

 

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That’s it, simple yet incredibly effective. Please let us know what you think, and for more recipes visit Emma’s blog – Surrey Kitchen.

 

A Surrey Kitchen Recipe: Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata

We recently got in touch with Emma, a fabulous set-taught chef who runs the blog Surrey Kitchen. We asked her to create a recipe for the summer from some produce that we sent her. She came back with not one, but two brilliant recipes!  We’ll be keeping the second one from you for another week or so, but in the mean time here’s a great recipe for Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata. 

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Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata

Emma says:
“I adore Italian/Spanish Frittata but you do not need to limit yourself to traditional ingredients like onion, red pepper, garlic and cheese.  Here is a frittata with the Asian flavours of Bak Choy, grated ginger and asparagus for something a little different this summer.  Perfect for lunch in the garden or packed up in a tupperware box for a picnic with friends and family.”
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Ingredients

 

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pinch paprika

1 small head bok choy, cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

9 eggs, beaten to mix

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

 

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Preparation Method:

 

1) Preheat oven to 325 F/165C. In a medium cast iron or ovenproof non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat.

2) Add the ginger, garlic, paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant (approx. 30 seconds).

3) Add the bok choy and cook stirring, until the leaves wilt, about 2 minutes.

4) Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender (approx. 3 minutes more).

5) Evenly distribute the vegetables in the pan and then add the eggs and a touch of remaining salt and pepper.

6) Cook the frittata, without stirring, until the edges start to set, about 2 minutes.

7) Put the frittata in the oven and bake until firm, about 25 minutes. Drizzle the sesame oil over the top.

 

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That’s it, simple yet incredibly effective. We’ll be posting up Emma’s second recipe next week, which leaves you plenty of time to try this one! For more recipes visit Emma’s blog – Surrey Kitchen.

Paprika is used in this recipe. It is an anti-oxidant spice that really helps to fight disease. It’s a nice little addition to any recipe – find out more health benefits of herbs and spices on our previous blog post.

 

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.

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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.

 

Our New Grower: Sunshine and Green

Yesterday we went to visit Greg at Peacocks Farm in Wickhambrook. He is the latest small, independent farmer to supply us at Organics for All and we’re really quite excited about it.

Sunshine and Green grow a wide range of vegetables and fruit using totally Organic techniques, (as Greg says – “in a nut shell means that we feed the soil, rather then the plant”).  Soil health is the most important thing, because if the soil is healthy, then so are the crops. This means they can be strong and defend themselves from disease and pests.

 

We visited the poly tunnels and saw the gorgeous salad leaves, beetroot and leafies being grown and were immediately sold to the whole ethos of Sunshine and Greens. Greg uses a ‘no-dig’ method of organic farming – where the land is covered in sheeting for a few months before crops are planted, to kill any weeds. Tilling the soil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as well as exposes a very delicate ecosystem to the air which dries it out.  The soil loses a lot of its nutrients as well as some of its organic matter, and as a consequence, does not retain water as well. The delicate soil structure is destroyed, compaction of soil occurs, leading to hardpan formation, and reduced water infiltration in the soil, and more surface runoff, which increases soil erosion.

 

Judging by the quality of the leafies we saw growing yesterday, the soil is very much enjoying this method, as is Gregg. He’s clearly very proud of the produce that he is growing at the moment, and if you take a look you can see why:

 

At the moment,  Sunshine and Green are able to supply freshly harvested fruit and vegetables to the surrounding towns, villages, pubs and shops. It is important to Greg that his market stays local so that he can retain the quality standards of the produce and ensure it is delivered fresh as fresh be can with shortest distances travelled from field to kitchen.

Like us at Organics for All, Sunshine and Green are passionate about their wildlife. The farm already plays hosts to some iconic birds, like buzzards and barn owls, and over the coming years they will be expanding the range of habitats for wildlife. They plan to plant areas of trees and hedging that will provide home and food for animals, as well as growing wild flowers and native meadow land. For every project undertaken on the farm, they’re always mindful of what impact it will have on the wild inhabitants of the farm.

 

We’re very excited to be working with Sunshine and Green and genuinely can’t wait to see what happens next  – because of growers like Sunshine and Green the future of food production in Suffolk is looking pretty great!

This week we have gorgeous mixed leaves from Sunshine & Green. Be sure to add them as an extra to your box.

 

 

National Vegetarian Week: A Rather Special Recipe

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, over the next four weeks we will be collating recipes from a variety of talented cooks and chefs. All of the recipes have been inspired and created by the produce that we have provided. Our aim is to prove that – whether you’re a Michelin starred chef, a baker or simply somebody that enjoys cooking, organic and vegetarian food is for everybody.  We’re really curious to see the different ways that our selection of produce is going to be used!

This week, we have teamed up with Javier Lopez – Chief Food Evangelist for the Winton Group. By combining our beautiful, independently grown produce and his exquisite culinary technique, a truly stunning recipe has been created. This recipe is perfect for special events and dinner parties, or for somebody who just wants to try something different. Read on to find out how to make this fabulous starter – and remember – all of this produce can be sourced locally by us, which will make it taste even better!

 

 

Chard, Spinach and Wild Garlic Millefeuille

 

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Ingredients for 4 portions, as starter:

2 duck eggs

50g Maldon salt

30g coconut sugar

25g fennel pollen

100g goat’s butter

50g fermented wild garlic

50g chard

50g perpetual spinach

40g wild garlic

Flowering shoots to garnish

 

Method:

  • You will need to cure your eggs a day in advance; combine 50g of salt, 30g of sugar and 25g of fennel pollen in a bowl, place half of it on a flat tray or container and make a small well with the back of a spoon, place the duck egg yolk (ensuring no egg white remains) in the well and cover with the rest of the cure mixture. Refrigerate for 24hours.

 

  • Clarify (skim the surface of the liquid as it is heated to remove impurities) 100g of goat’s butter, saving the milk solids for other use, add 200g of fermented wild garlic leaves, buds and flowers and a leaf of raw wild garlic. Puree until very smooth and add a little fennel salt.

 

  • Blanch (scald in boiling water and remove after a brief  interval) the fresh chard, spinach and wild garlic leaves in salted water and immediately refresh in iced water, quickly drain and dry.

 

  • Layer the leaves one by one brushing a little fermented wild garlic butter in between each layer, build it up until is around 3cm tall and refrigerate. Once cold, portion it by timing into rectangular pieces.

 

To Serve:

  • Get the yolks out of their cure and lightly rinse in cold water. Set aside.

 

  • Place the vegetable millefeuille onto a plate and wrap it with clingfilm, place the plate on top of a simmering pan with water and let it warm for 5-6 minutes.

 

  • Gently remove the millefeuille of the plate and place onto your serving plate or bowl, cut the egg yolks in half and place half of it on top on the millefeuille. Garnish with a raw shoot and its flower (you can use peas, wild garlic, nasturtium, chickweed, etc)

 

Recipe by Javier Lopez, Chief Food Evangelist.

 

Keep checking back for our follow up recipe posts! In the meantime – enjoy this one!

Monsanto: The Chemicals in our Crops

More than 365 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto Co. in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. Additionally, thousands of other plaintiffs have made similar claims against Monsanto in state courts. Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate the total number of plaintiffs at approximately 3,500.

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Monsanto are the company who sued hundreds of small farmers across the USA for breaking their patent laws. One in particular case came about after a 75-year-old farmer bought soybeans from a grain store near his farm in Indiana and used them to plant a late-season second crop. He then used some of the resulting seeds to replant more crops in subsequent years. He was taken to court, along with numerous other independent farmers, for illegally growing patented Monsanto crops. Arguably, seed patents to this extent should never have been allowed to happen. Lawsuits such as this one do not appear to be because Monsanto are protecting their intellectual property – they appear to be infringing on independent farmers’ rights to grow food.

This time though, it is Monsanto who have been taken to court over their weedkiller Roundup, which has been accused of causing cancer in hundreds of people.  The accused carcinogen in Roundup is a chemical called glyphosate.  It is used to kill weeds, especially weeds and grasses that compete with crops. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the history of agriculture, employed by farmers and landscapers as a powerful weed killer.  (Since 1974 in the U.S alone, over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate have been applied to crops). The trademarked name – Roundup Ready, is the herbicide notorious for its use with GM seeds to resist the otherwise toxic effect glyphosate has on most vegetation. By creating Roundup and their GMO seeds, Monsanto have created an irresistibly useful (and enormously profitable) product: crops that can be sprayed with the most effective herbicide on the market without suffering any damage themselves.

There is no definitive outcome on whether glyphosate is a carcinogen – the World Health Organisation suggests that glyphosate ‘may’ cause cancer, and in the ongoing court cases,  an epidemiologist at the University of California has testified about how she evaluated scientific studies of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, to arrive at her conclusion that it can definitely cause cancer – in particular Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto obviously deny that there is any link between the two, and have numerous studies to back up this claim. Although early studies on glyphosate suggested that it breaks down quickly in the environment, more recent studies report the opposite, suggesting that its presence is more persistent and mobile than previously thought.

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So, what can we do to avoid this potentially fatal carcinogen?  Roundup is the most commonly used weedkiller across the globe, which therefore means that it is very difficult to avoid – particularly when you take into account the natural spread of tainted seeds, soil and water. Conventional farmers not only use Roundup as weedkiller, but also use it as a drying agent on grain and bean crops. In this common technique, farmers apply glyphosate to the crop as it is nearing maturity in order to speed the drying process up –  two weeks after a glyphosate application, the crop is dry and ready for harvest, a much quicker turnaround than waiting for the crop to dry down on its own. In November 2017, the EU also renewed the license of glyphosate for another five years, despite the potentially fatal side effects of its use, and the environmental factors. (There have been studies that suggest that the use of Roundup is extremely harmful to the bee population.)

However, glyphosate is banned for use with organic farming.  The glyphosate is most commonly found in bread – which means that even switching to an organic bread can massively reduce the amount of glyphosate that enters your body.  By sticking to a local baker or farmer, you can also ensure that the land on which the crops have been grown have never been contaminated by Roundup.

The importance of eating food that has not been contaminated by chemicals is really highlighted in cases like this.  It’s very easy to think that, because so much money and advertising is thrown at reassuring you that a product is safe, therefore it is. The truth is, that because of the reassurance that we find in branding and statistics, we’ve never actually been farther from the source of our food. For example – would you expect to be okay and healthy if you were sprayed with toxic chemicals routinely throughout your growth? If not, then why not think about the effect that these chemicals have on the genetically modified plants that are growing in contaminated soil whilst being sprayed with toxic chemicals that are designed to kill vegetation? We worry about overdoses of UV light from the sun as a carcinogen – which is something that we have evolved to need to survive. Why do we not worry about an entirely new chemical entering our bodies in large quantities, every time we eat? When thought about logically and from an entirely natural point of view, it’s a no brainer that GM free is better for your health,

So let’s break the cycle – lets reconnect with our food and the farmers that grow it. Let’s do it for the plants that work so hard to grow, and the land that needs to be nurtured naturally, and for our own health and the health of our families.