Our mini cucumbers from Wash Farm have won the Fruit & Vegetable category in the Soil Association Organic Food Awards closely followed by our pointed cabbages awarded commended. Judges called them ‘delicate, sweet, fresh and crunchy’. We couldn’t agree more!
We all know that air travel is the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions, so should the Soil Association try and discourage bringing organic vegetables to the uk by air? Or even refuse to grant anything air freighted organic status? If so, what about the African farmers just starting to make a living selling the organic green beans flown in to the UK?
At Riverford we have never air freighted anything, but we know it’s a complex issue and there’s an interesting consultation document on the Soil Association website
As Anna Bradley, Chair of the Soil Association Standards Board says: “as awareness of climate change has grown, concerns have been raised about the damage caused to the environment by air freight.
However, when reducing our impact on the world’s climate, we must carefully consider the social and economic benefits of air freight for international development and growth of the organic market as a whole.”
Reported in The Times* and The Telegraph* today are the results of a 10-year study comparing organic tomatoes with rival produce suggests they have almost double the amount of antioxidants called flavonoids that protect the heart. According to the findings, levels of quercetin and kaempferol were found to be on average 79 per cent and 97 per cent higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, is quoted in The Times, “We welcome the now rapidly growing body of evidence which shows significant differences between the nutritional composition of organic and non-organic food. As further scientific evidence emerges from new research looking at differences between organic and non-organic food, the Soil Association will be asking the FSA to keep their nutritional advice to consumers under review.”
*please note: as this is an older blog post, some of the original links in this article have been changed or removed
Sainsbury’s may have rejected organic carrots grown by the Prince of Wales and Soil Association founder Patrick Holden, but Riverford has bought them – all 25 tonnes. Riverford’s Andy Johnson said, “Our customers are very discerning people who demand tasty carrots and they absolutely loved them.” What was Sainsbury’s problem?
Some of you have already commented on the media hoo-ha over Sainsbury’s rejecting the head of the Soil Association’s carrot crop. As the eventual buyers of Patrick Holden’s carrots, we think that this saga highlights the lunacy of the supermarkets’ controlling and overly centralised approach to buying and selling food.
Sainsbury’s said they rejected the carrots because they were destroyed by rot. The fact is that we eventually bought over half Patrick Holden’s crop in grade A condition and our veg box customers loved them – rightly so because they were great.
When it comes to rejecting crops, the supermarkets like to make out that their hands are tied. The reality is that they are incredibly prescriptive in what they deem acceptable. Shape, size and minor blemishes all lead to rejection, waste and a financial squeeze for farmers.
The supermarkets demand that 75% of a crop is packable which is why the farmers that supply them are often forced to focus on appearance at the expense taste. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Veg box schemes like ours cut the supermarkets out of the distribution chain and this has to be good for both farmers and for customers. There is life beyond the supermarkets and it tastes good.
We’ve packed our wellies and are off to Glastonbury this weekend so if you are heading our way, please come and visit us in the Green Field near the Greenpeace café.
You might also spot us wandering around the site with the Soil Association band, the Grumpy Farmers and spreading the word that our veg boxes are up there with the best when it comes to eco-friendliness.
We’ll be handing out a Climate-Friendly Organic Food Guide to the festival, which includes almost 30 places at the festival where you can enjoy great organic grub. See you there!