Riverford Wicked Leeks

spring greens & immortality

It appears I am going to live forever. According to researchers at University College London, up to 3 veg a day decreases mortality by 14%, 5 by 29%, 7 by 36% and 7+ by 42%. As I live and breathe the stuff I reckon I must be immortal. Maybe I should buy an annuity after all, just for the pleasure of getting one over on an insurance company. Will the actuaries now start asking how much cabbage you eat alongside how much you smoke and drink?

I am generally cynical about headline-grabbing research as scientists and university chancellors have often had PR training and become media tarts like the rest of us. That said, like most people I am always partial to research that backs up my own prejudice. Never mind wonder diets, cholesterol-busting superfoods and antioxidants; my abiding belief is that the closer our diet is to the one we evolved to eat, digest and assimilate over millennia, the healthier we will be. A varied diet including moderate quantities of animal fat and protein, minimal processed food and additives and loads of fresh fruit and veg with as little cooking as possible is a good place to start. If you can combine that with enjoying your food while not worrying about it, so much the better.

My current veg enthusiasms include spring greens, though quantities are limited due to some unplanned foraging from our cows. After a long winter the greens are small and look a little rough but are the tastiest we have ever grown. Lightly cooked they are so tender it’s almost sacrilege to add salt, butter or lemon. From the woods my children and friends are busy picking wild garlic; great in a pesto with hazelnuts, folded into an omelette or, for the hardy, raw in salads. However my absolute, liver-cleansing favourite is dandelions, blanched, lightly cooked with garlic and chilli and tossed with pasta (recipe overleaf). We have a few cultivated ones from our polytunnels for sale on extras, or pick your own.

Meanwhile for those among you with a garden of your own, we have used agricultural fleece available to keep the insects and the worst of the weather off your veg; roughly 30-40m2 for £4.99, with proceeds going to Send a Cow.

Guy Watson