Will you still shop organic?

31 07 2009

will you still?

will you still?

“The health of man, beast, plant and soil is one indivisible whole”
Founder of the Soil Association, Lady Eve Balfour, The Living Soil, 1943

The findings of the FSA literature review are causing dismay and concern.

Is the organic food industry, which we at VegBox Recipes have long been supporters of, about to be crippled by consumers responding to the reports with their wallets?

Will the study mean, as the FSA seem to hope, that more people will eat their five a day if they no longer feel compelled to eat fruit and veg only if it’s organic, which they feel [accurately or otherwise] is too expensive?

Here is a bit more detail on the FSA findings, including some clarity on whether the study addressed pesticide contamination, our run down of reasons people eat organic, and an opportunity for you to tell us and each other what your reaction is to the report.


April’s First Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Sorrel

2 03 2009
sorrel leaves

sorrel leaves

April means no more root veggies, and a big hello to sorrel (amongst many other things). We haven’t featured sorrel before, so it seemed about time, and who better to help us out than our friends over at the award-winning Warborne Organic Farm in Hampshire.

The lovely Sophie sent us the deliciously simple recipe below for Sorrel Omelette, straight from the kitchen of one of their own box scheme customers, a self declared avid fan of sorrel.

And while Sophie was chatting with us over the virtual farm-fence, we were excited to learn that the family at Warborne are once again holding an Open Day, this time an Easter-themed one.

Still reeling slightly from the resounding success of  the TV series about them (“Farm Life” on Animal Planet), the Heathcotes will be swinging the gate open from midday till 4pm on Sunday 12th April. There’s no charge for entry, and visitors can look foward to:

  • a self-guided tour and Easter Egg Hunt in their tunnels, veg fields and livestock to see where and how they grow delicious organic produce with minimal food miles and maximum taste;
  • food tastings;
  • shearing demonstrations in the barn, and
  • organic, homemade goodies and refreshments from their farm kitchen.

Address: Warborne Organic Farm, Warborne Lane, Boldre, Hants SO41 5QD

Tel: 01590 688488

URL: www.warbornefarm.co.uk

sorrel omelette recipe

sorrel omelette recipe

Recipe Spotlight: Sorrel Omelette

(Serves one hungry person)

1 good handful of sorrel
40 ml milk
3 organic eggs
Salt and pepper
Veg oil or butter


1. Whisk 3 eggs in a large bowl, along with seasoning and milk.
2. Rinse the sorrel in clean water, and drain. Roll the leaves and roughly chop or tear the leaves.
3. Heat butter or oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat.
4. Pour the mixed eggs into the frying pan.
5. Let the bottom of the omelette cook slightly before adding the sliced sorrel.
6. Using a spatula mix the leaves slightly in to the eggy mixture.
7. Finish cooking the omelette until done as preferred.
8. Serve alongside a good crusty roll.

Time From Cupboard-To-Table
20 minutes

When Can I Cook This?
Sorrel is in its prime in the UK in April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December

Fact Spotlight: More about Sorrel

Sorrel is a green leaf (very easy to grow in pots if you have limited space) that can be used raw or cooked. It is usually the young leaves, that are lemon-y and have a little kick to them, that are best in salads. Later on in the season, sorrel is better cooked, and is traditionally used in sauces for fish or in soups.

As with all other leaves, the best flavour and nutrition comes from leaves that are crisp and bright in colour. Sorrel should only be stored for a few days in the salad drawer in the fridge.

So that’s all from us on sorrel… Let us know whether you’ve used it yet, whether you try out this recipe, and, if you do head over to the Warborne Farm Open Day, let us know all about it using the comments box.

The VegBox Team

Fair Trade Fortnight

25 02 2008

Fair Trade FortnightToday sees the start of Fair Trade Fortnight.

Coordinated by the Fairtrade Foundation, it’s 2 weeks of show-casing Fair Trade products and raising public awareness of the importance of fair pricing, contracts and working conditions for producers in developing countries.

The Fairtrade Foundation expects there to be over 10,000 events over the next two weeks, ranging from coffee mornings and wine tasting to film screenings and talks with farmers. Find out if there’s an event near you.

Certified Fair Trade products carry the Fairtrade Foundation mark. Many people think this also means the product is organic – but it doesn’t. The two classifications are independent, though extra income from fairly traded products allows many producers to invest in the growing of crops in a more sustainable way, often eventually moving to organic production.

The big dilemma faced when buying is if you have to choose between Fair Trade and organic. Not many products are both.

And I was wondering what you think. If it’s a choice between Fair Trade coffee / tea / cocoa / bananas / whatever takes your fancy, or organic versions, which would you pick? And why?

Clare x

Free Range Review

6 12 2007

Free Range ReviewHot off the press!

www.FreeRangeReview.com is now live!

What’s it all about?

It’s a website where you can find out all about your local food producers, give feedback on those you’re already familiar with and read reviews of those that are new to you.

Every village, town and city has its local food stars, companies that make the extra effort to source locally or produce high quality foods for an ever more aware consumer to enjoy.
However, competition couldn’t be tougher and for the local food company, the best and sometimes the only form of promotion is through recommendation and word of mouth from their loyal customer base.
Freerangereview.com aims to put this voice of local food online. A food community where people really can shout about what’s great on their doorsteps and where they can spread the word too, either by reviewing companies that are listed or suggesting those that are not.
So how about popping along and registering – so you can have your say?



It’s Official – Organic Food Is Better For You

29 10 2007

Or is it… after all, it’s only scientific research, so can you really expect the experts to agree…???

Anyway, here’s the story:

Organic or not organic - that is the question...Researchers at the University Of Newcastle have concluded, after 4 years and £12 million of EU-wide research, that organic food contains more nutrients than intensively-farmed food.

Some of the headline-grabbing statistics are:

  • Organic milk contains 50 – 80% more antioxidants than non-organic milk
    (Antioxidants fight nasties in the body, so they’re pretty useful)
  • Organic veggies had between 20 and 40% more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts.

The government watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, has stated, in response, that the balance of current scientific evidence does not support the view that organic food is safer and more nutritious than non-organic food.

The Soil Association has said that the findings of the EU project show the FSA should change its stance on this.

I know where I stand on the discussion – what are your views…???

How Fresh Is Your Fruit & Veg?

17 10 2007

ApplesBought some supermarket apples lately? Think they’re fresh? Think again…

Did you know that some of the fruit & veg in a supermarket is already weeks, if not months, old?

Recent research has confirmed that many seasonal items are stored for months, to extend their availability.

This might sound ok in theory, but what does this mean for the fruit and veg you’re buying?

Apples are stored for up to a year in cold store and then shipped around that world. That’s why apples bought out of season, say, in June, taste woolly and flavourless.

Salad crops such as lettuce and spinach may already be a few weeks old, yet they only last a few days when picked in your garden. The advent of “pre-washed, pre-packaged” salads was great for the food retailers, because it means they can seal the leaves in a bag, filled with chemicals, to make them stay looking fresh long after the nutritional value has gone.

“Packaged in a protective environment” doesn’t mean they were careful to keep the factory clean. It means that your “no need to wash” salad is probably washed in diluted chlorine and a mixture of preservative gases. Doesn’t sound quite as appealing…

Other fruits, such as grapes and plums, rot quickly. So they’re kept in cold stores and often sprayed with anti-fungal agents, to prevent them going mouldy. So it’s really essential to wash them well before eating, or you’ll be eating the fungicides, too.

Fact: there are very few nutrients left in old fruit & veg.

You think you’re being good by buying the stuff, but flavour and nutritional content deteriorate rapidly after picking, so the older the produce, the less value there is in eating it.

Even dried fruits can be at risk.

For example, dried apricots sound like a great idea, but how do you think they get them to stay looking so fresh and orange?

Sulphur dioxide…

The natural colour for dried apricots is dark brown, but this (apparently) looks less appetising. So sulphur dioxide is used to help them keep their colour. The only snag is that sulphur dioxide can produce asthma attacks and minor allergic reactions in susceptible people (there are a lot of them out there). So if you’ve ever eaten dried fruit and found your mouth and throat felt funny afterwards, or your breathing changed, now you know why.

Yet this is a perfectly legal, permissible chemical…

What can you do?

Unfortunately buying organic from a supermarket doesn’t mean you avoid all this. Out-of-season organic food can still be stored for months, though the chemicals used will be more strictly controlled.

The only real options are:

  1. Only buy in-season, locally-produced food
    That way you know it’s not been hanging around for months.
  2. Buy direct from the grower
    Hunt out your local farm shop, farmers’ market or box scheme, so you can ask the grower how their produce has been stored
  3. Avoid pre-packed fruit & veg and brightly-coloured dried fruit
    Chances are it may have been chemically treated. Avoid it and you’ll be avoiding the nasties, too.

Only you can decide how important fresh food is to you and your family. I invite you to give it a go and notice the difference.

2007 UK Veg Box Awards

1 10 2007

2007 UK Veg Box AwardsHot off the press!

Voting is now open for the 2007 UK Veg Box Awards.

So if you get a veg box, have your say and get voting now.

You can rate your veg box provider on quality of produce, customer service and seasonality of produce, as well as telling us what they’re doing well and what they could do to improve.

This is your chance to have your say!

Vote now:

Thank you!


P.S. Full press release: