in praise of the artichoke

Having forgotten to buy my twelve year old son a birthday present, imagine my pride and relief when he said “that’s alright dad, you can just give me six jars of your preserved artichoke hearts”. Globe artichokes came bottom in our kids’ veg challenge questionnaire this summer, with only 16% of children having eaten them. Predictably, carrots were favourite, followed by sweetcorn and broccoli. Again, not surprisingly, children of Riverford customers ate a wider range of ‘weird’ veg than those of non customers. It’s seldom cool to be weird, but most children who try artichokes love them, so I plan to persist.

After twenty years of growing globe artichokes, I think I might have finally grown a crop that will turn a profit. I planted this year’s crop on a good field right outside the Field Kitchen where they have been watered, weeded and mollycoddled every time I needed to escape from the office; the result is by far the best crop I have ever grown both in quantity and quality. We had intended to put them just on the extras list but some will go in the boxes as well.

My apologies to those of you who don’t share my enthusiasm for artichokes. Eating them is a performance (an enjoyable one I hope) and brings people together, but with three quarters of the head ending up on the compost heap this is not a rational way to eat. But then food is about much more than efficient feeding. Our chef Jane shares my love of artichokes (and has even paid me the rare compliment of saying that mine are the best) so there are lots of recipes on the website. I recommend you start with plain boiled artichokes with melted butter or vinaigrette.

organic fortnight 3rd-17th september
The Soil Association’s annual celebration of all things organic is here. This year’s theme is Choose Organic Every Day. In our latest calculations our vegboxes worked out on average 20% cheaper than supermarket organic veg (the best performing box was 44% cheaper). I hope this gives some reassurance that organic isn’t just for the wealthy: it can be an affordable everyday purchase.

Guy Watson from Riverford in Devon