Everyone should be grateful to the person who taught them to cook, and for me that person was my mother, Gillian Watson. She was fantastic both in the kitchen and garden, and drew her culinary inspiration from what grew around her. She baked her bread, made butter, cured bacon and regularly fed 15 family and farm staff for lunch. It was a huge privilege to grow up in a house where the creation and enjoyment of such wonderful wholesome food was an integral part of daily life. I’m not alone in feeling both her influence and that of my father, an inventive and progressive farmer. My four siblings have also spent their adult lives applying the values we inherited from our parents in the search for a saner way of producing, distributing and enjoying food.
Of all of us, my oldest brother Ben emerged the keenest of five keen cooks. It was he who started both the Riverford Farm Shop and our meatbox company (now known as the Riverford Butchery), and to this day he is continually and obsessively experimenting with recipes and cooking methods. His knowledge of international cuisine borders on encyclopaedic, as any customer who reads his meat newsletter will know. Over the past year or so he has turned his energy and enthusiasm to developing a range of soups with a difference, with varieties including Butternut Squash & Bacon Chowder, and Chickpea, Cauliflower & Coconut Masala as the result. I think they are exceptional and now I am not alone; three have won gold in this year’s Soil Association Organic Food Awards alongside our marmalade, homity pie, treacle tart, mini cucumbers, baby artichokes and bunched carrots. I urge you to try the soups especially.
A desire to grow good food and share it is at the heart of Riverford and all our businesses, and with luck these new additions will make eating well even easier. I think my mother would approve.