Organic Brussel Sprouts
Surely the ‘Marmite’ of the vegetable world. Dividing the nation into love it or hate it camps the humble brussel sprout seems to have the ability to divide the nation. As with many of our modern vegetables its roots can be traced back to Ancient Rome but Sprouts as we know them were possibly grown as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. Their early popularity in that region of Europe and its proximity to Brussels the city, is where the name comes from.
The earliest written reference dates 1587 and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries they gained popularity throughout Northern Europe.
Brussel Sprouts for us the in the UK have become synonymous with Christmas but actually two thirds of all our sprouts are eaten outside of this festive period. We are the largest consumers of Sprouts in Europe however export virtually none of our crop with The Netherlands and Mexico ! being two largest exporting nations.
Gone, perhaps, are the days when brussel sprouts were peeled and then boiled for hours until so soft no chewing was required. The 1990’s had everyone peeling and putting a cross cut in the base, before boiling and now we like to shred them and cook in butter with chopped chestnuts.
However you cook them (as long as not still boiling them to a mush) and which ever camp you are in there is no denying the iconic place this little cabbage has in our winter kitchens.
English Organic Apples Season
Is there anything better to eat than an English (organic – well we are bias) apple? Crisp, juicy and with that tang, that makes you smile, that you just don’t get from a Southern Hemisphere grown fruit.
From the first Discovery apples of the season with their pink tinted flesh through Worcester Pearmain, Windsor and the later season apples like Scrumptious, Blaze and Cox Royale all the varieties have something in common. Unique flavour, locally grown and the added benefit of having been grown to the strictest organic standards.
One of the most unique features of our English Organic apples is the seasonality of each variety. These means that there is an order in which the apples come and are ready to eat, some are around longer than others particularly as the season progresses, but most of the early varieties are only available for maybe as little as a week or two.
Nature and the weather has a habit of keeping us guessing particularly when it comes to farming however there is an order in which we expect the UK apples to come to market and the list below shows the main varieties in the order in which we expect to be able to offer them to our customers. As said before, some come and go quickly whilst others keep going a bit longer and cross over with other varieties. As we get into the season and by late September we expect to have maybe as many as 7 or 8 varieties available at the same time.
English Organic Apple Seasonal Order
Cox Orange Pippin
Aloe Vera for Organic Juicing
Many of us are familiar with the Aloe Vera plant, with its prickly succulent leaves, from holidays in Spain so are aware it’s not just a slightly cockney way of saying hello to your Great Aunt Vera!
For many years now drinks have been available with this plants name on them and it was widely thought that it was a great cure or aid for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) but that was about as far as it went.
Little did we know that this little plant (or not so little if you see the size of the leaves that are now being sold here) was actually a bit magical and actually has many different uses.
Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder but as a potted plant for your home or office these plants certainly do have a certain aesthetic pleasure about them. Combine that with their wonderful ability for filtering air pollutants and toxins there are plenty of reasons to make room for one of these on your windowsill. (They are pretty easy to look after as well which is always a bonus).
You could write an entire book on the medical uses of Aloe and I am sure this has already been done. The gel inside the leaf is widely known to relieve burns, sunburn or other skin irritations, as well as help heal wounds. It also has a long history of being used for a wide range of other medical purposes dating back to ancient Egypt. From relieving heartburn, lowering blood sugar and as an alternative to mouth wash the uses are certainly quite varied.
With the recent increase of green juicing Aloe Vera has found its way into being a very popular ingredient for many people’s juices. The benefits are thought to be wide and varied and include helping with Alkalinity, Liver Function, Constipation, your skin health and of course digestion.
One thing is certain the popularity of Aloe Vera has certainly seen made it one of the must have product lines for 2018 and of course it just has to be ORGANIC.
Organic Juicing Why?
If you’re looking for juicing recipes that rejuvenate, cleanse, energise, improve diet or help with recovery, then you’re doing so because you have the best intentions of putting good nutrients into your body.
Drinking homemade juice is a great way to get healthy. Here are three key reasons why:
- It’s an efficient way to absorb nutrients from fruits, vegetables and salads
- It makes it much easier to consume more fruits, vegetables and salads
- It makes it much easier to consume a wider variety of fruits, vegetables and salads.
Although consuming some juice is better than no juice at all, the BEST way of benefiting from your juicing recipes is to make them using ONLY organic ingredients and to drink them as soon after preparation as possible.
Why you should only create your juices using organic ingredients:
When you juice non-organic fresh fruits, vegetables and salads that have been grown using pesticides made with chemicals, you are not only consuming the nutrients, but also the chemicals in the pesticides. That’s why it’s always best to grow your own fruits, vegetables and salads, but when that’s not possible, you should always buy organic. Some people argue that peeling and washing non-organic produce will remove all of the pesticide chemicals – but this is not true. Many of the chemicals from pesticides are stored inside the fibres of the fruits and vegetables themselves making it impossible to remove the bulk of the chemicals, whereas organic produce is free from chemicals so you’ll only be getting the goodness from your juices.
Why you should drink your juice quickly after preparation (and avoid storing for days):
When you remove protective skins and change the composition of your fruits, vegetables and salads from solids to liquids, oxidisation begins to take place immediately. Oxidisation destroys the enzymes in juice. If you make your juices using non-organic ingredients and leave it to oxidise for too long before consuming, then oxidisation will kill some of the chemicals from the pesticides, but it will also kill the beneficial enzymes and nutrients in your juice – which is bad news if you want to reap the full health benefits of your juice. If you’re juicing using organic ingredients, then you don’t need to worry about chemicals, but we recommend that you drink your organic juice pronto once it’s made in order to fully benefit from its nutritional benefits. If you need to juice in advance then make sure you keep the juices in the fridge until you are ready to drink them.
With the latest cases of avian flu, it has been a requirement that all Chickens in the UK must be kept indoors to help prevent the spread of this devastating infection.
Organic producers have not been exempt from this, so for the last 12 weeks Andrew Jackson’s laying hens have been confined to quarters for their own protection.
As of the 1st March the restrictions have been lifted in all but the most effected regions of England, so it means that Andrew and his team can start opening the doors on the hen houses again as of tomorrow.
This has to be a very carefully managed process so as to make sure the birds are not unduly frightened and in any case Andrew expects it will take his birds a week or so to settle back into their usual routine.
It is a mixed and slightly confusing picture once away from our organic eggs. Wales and Scotland have their own rules and it would seem that the English producers are going to start putting stickers on their packaging explaining the free range hens are not free to range.
It is not entirely clear at time of writing but would seem that these stickers may even be on boxes from hens that are now free range again.
New Lorries Arrive.
Latest efficient engines.
Our new 7.5 ton lorries have been delivered this week. We now have 5 of these added to our fleet of five 3.5 t delivery vans giving us great capacity, all temperature controlled and with the latest fuel efficient engines.
With the eye catching graphics we all think these new lorries look fantastic.
With features such as fully automatic gearboxes and lane assist we hope our drivers will find them a joy to drive as well.
Our entire fleet is now also fitted with the latest satellite trackers so we always know where they are and where they have been. This benefits us in many ways including vehicle security, fuel savings and feedback to our customers regarding delivery times.
Oh how times have moved on since our first little red van nearly 25 years ago!
The Rain in Spain is meant to fall mainly on the plain how ever someone forgot to tell the rain that.
Ever since the Brexit vote in June and the devaluation of sterling against the US Dollar and the Euro, we have seen a marked increase in prices of fresh produce. In the early months, with this being close to 20%, the effect on our market was still limited due to the abundance of UK grown produce and the relatively small amount of imports from Mainland Europe.
As we head into the winter months the amount we import from countries such as France, Italy and Spain always increases to the point where we become totally reliant on them for crops such as Aubergine, Courgette, Tomatoes and all our fresh salad lines not to mention of course the obvious citrus lines. By the end of November the effect of the higher prices was already being felt due to Sterling’s relative weakness and the rain in the last two weeks in Southern Spain this is only likely to add to this upward pressure on prices as supply tightens.
Working with our growers in Spain we are doing all we can to keep prices down as much as possible and hoping that the worst of the rain has now left the area.
Who knows, with Christmas just a week away maybe it will snow in Spain!
By Mid-October it is safe to say, I think, that Autumn is here and with the weather forecast I have seen for the rest of this week soon there will be no doubt. On the up side (unless of course you like cold, wet and windy weather) there is lots of lovely produce to look forward to.
This next month is when English apples are at their best and whilst many of our vegetables lines may well improve with a bit of a frost on them apples don’t and in fact by the time any frost hits should be all off the trees and in store. With varieties such as Autumn Red, Windsor, Rajka and the ‘marmite’ of the apple world the Ergemont Russet, it is really worth taking the time to try as many of these different apple types as possible.
Squashes are the other big player at this time of the year, you don’t have to make do with just using Butternut but instead you can try varieties like Crown Prince, Harlequin, Turks Turban and Spaghetti. Pumpkins are ready now and we know are great for carving but don’t forget you can eat them as well.
A statement for our licensees from Martin Sawyer, CEO Soil Association.
Clearly the referendum result will have implications longer term in regard to the UK organic world. Be reassured that the team at Soil Association Certification will be working very hard on ensuring we represent your interests and concerns; we absolutely believe in the ongoing recovery of the market in the UK. As Chair of UKOCG, the UK Organic Certification Bodies Group, I will be co-ordinating discussions for the certification bodies with Defra to ensure we are all clear as to how organic will be properly represented in the coming months and years, both in regard to regulation and the provision of a sustainable farming model.
The Soil Association is very disappointed that the UK will be leaving the European Union. One of the Soil Association’s key charitable objectives is to preserve, conserve and protect the environment and our view is that these objectives were far more likely to be achieved as part of the EU.
UK wildlife, the environment and the organic farming sector have been major beneficiaries of EU membership, where the precautionary principle prevails in policy making. Thanks to EU policy, the UK has cleaned up its act as ‘the dirty man of Europe’ and now has cleaner beaches, rivers and better protection for wildlife, including our vital pollinators as a direct result of EU membership. It is vital that these gains are secured.
We will be working hard to ensure that the transfer is smooth and that any subsequent changes safeguard the UK’s growing organic market. As a non-member of the EU, the UK will still be required to comply with EU organic standards to maintain the flow of organic products to and from the EU, so the UK will likely also continue to be bound by the EU Organic Regulation, and any changes made to it by EU Member States.
We will be working closely with the governments in all parts of the UK to develop the best possible practical solutions and outcome for wildlife, the environment and organic farmers. Those communities who are most vulnerable such as those on low incomes and upland farmers need to be foremost in our minds as we consider what policies should be developed over the next couple of years in preparation for our exit.