The Good Life
We can boast several verified organic producers up this end. From vegetables to meat, to eggs and grains you can easily supplement your diet with an organic twist in Northumberland and Scottish Borders.
Organic food may not taste that different from conventional food in many peoples minds, but what is different is the effects organically grown produce has on the environment. Organic growing principles such as feeding the soil, encouraging wildlife and biodiversity are all ways organic produce not only benefits us but the world around us. We have a responsibility, and sometimes humans need to understand that industrial ways aren’t necessarily the best. Mother Nature is a wily mistress.
One of the most common misconceptions about organic produce is the cost. People generally believe organic produce to be a lot more expensive than conventional produce. Organic produce may be slightly pricier, but this is because of how labour intensive organic farming is. Organic certification, too, can prove expensive for many organically-minded businesses and farms. This is where shopping locally, and straight from the farm, becomes important. Getting to know who grows your food makes it easier to part with a few extra pennies, plus if there is an abundant crop you may even get extra. In this way, you know what you are getting for your money. Fresh, nutrient-dense food which makes it cheaper in the long run.
Don’t Panic It’s Organic
The Organic Squad
Generally, people try to avoid dairy and eggs or consume ‘low-fat’ options, for fear of saturated fat. However, saturated fat is not the enemy in regards to dairy and eggs, it is the diet and conditions of the animals that cause the problems e.g. hormones, medication and without access to outside spaces.
It should be a truth universally acknowledged that an animal which has a good quality of life, will, in turn, will be of a higher quality, in terms of nutrition.
The hens at Border Eggs, based near Hutton in the Scottish Borders, produce free-range organic eggs. Recently voted Egg Producer of the Year 2018 at the National Egg and Poultry Awards, for husband and wife team, James and Angela MacLean, hen welfare is a top priority.
Border Eggs supply many local outlets with their free-range organic eggs and you can really taste the difference. Organic eggs have been proven to contain more omega-3 fatty acids, higher levels of vitamin A and vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Gilchesters Organics is a family-run business in Northumberland. The farm has been certified organic since 2002. With a focus on heritage and rare-breeds, the farm is home to White Galloway beef cattle. The cattle are easily identified by their coating; rugged, thick white hair.
Gilchesters farm has acres of heritage grains and the mill was established in 2006. Heritage grains are suitable for those with gluten sensitivities. This is perhaps because they weren’t mainstream for many centuries and have by-passed the dawn of industrial agriculture. Heritage grains, although suitable for the wheat intolerant, are not gluten-free and therefore not suitable for coeliacs. The heritage grains include:
Spelt is a type of wheat and dates back over 5,000 years ago. The Romans called this grain ‘The Marching Grain’ because of its high energy content. Spelt is more common in Europe in countries such as Germany and Switzerland.
Emmer is a hybrid of Einkorn mixed with wild grass. It is a hardy grain and relatively easy to grow and maintain. In Italy, it is known as farro.
Einkorn is the oldest cultivated wheat in the world and it has been suggested that this was the grain aboard Noah’s Ark.
Andrew and Sybille Wilkinson are pioneers of this new food revolution. The revival of heritage grains back into the UK agriculture and mainstream society is becoming more popular as consumers are looking for healthy, nutritious, real foods. Campaigns such as Organic September and Real Bread Campaign have further enhanced the visibility of these ancient grains.
Organic farming is important to the Wilkinson’s’ at their farm; located just north of Hadrian’s Wall. For Gilchesters, organic farming allows them to in harmony with the beautiful surroundings of the Northumberland countryside. Farming heritage grains organically is easier than common wheat, as the heritage crops have thick husks which protect the grains.
Eating organic grains is especially important. This is because the grains are so small they absorb more pesticides. Conventionally grown grain, i.e. non-organic, which is used to make products such as bread, pasta or sold as flour for baking, are heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals, such as glyphosate, which is linked to cancer.
Next time you are looking for flour, try a bag of organic flour from the Gilchesters Organics range.
Christmas Farm near Morpeth offers a range of organic produce including meat and fruit and vegetables. This can be ordered as a grocery box, containing meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables, or as just an organic meat box, or a fruit and veg box. Christmas Farm have a large delivery area, so it is possible they can deliver straight to your door across Northumberland.
Christmas Farm is traditionally farmed; meaning it is organic and there is little to no waste. For example, cow manure is used as a soil enhancer. Manure helps to loosen soil and improve carbon levels in the soil. The chickens on the farm, as well as providing free-range organic eggs, act as pest control, picking off bugs that would feast on the fruit and veg. Essentially, each farm component helps another. So simple it seems to have eluded modern farming.
At Christmas Farm, being organically certified means a long-term sustainable practice that benefits everyone. They are certified by Organic Farmers and Growers; a leading UK organic certification control body.
Peelham Farm is a family-run farm based near Foulden in the Scottish Borders. The Peelham motto declares ‘Love the Land, Love the Animal, Love their Produce‘. A motto that sums up the intentions of organic meat farming. You can buy a meat box direct from Peelham Farm on their website, from various farmers markets and local farm shops.
As stated in their Meat Manifesto the meat from Peelham Farm is free-range, pasture-fed and free from chemicals and hormones, such as pesticides, growth hormones and petrochemical fertilisers. The livestock on the farm is free to roam the green pastures and follow their natural instincts of foraging and grazing. This creates happy animals.
The family work under tight restrictions to produce top-quality, organic meat and charcuterie products. Peelham Farm is certified by the Soil Association for both the farm and charcuterie butchery. Find out more about Peelham Farm beef on the foodful blog.
Hexhamshire Organics is a husband and wife team who aim to supply the North-East with organic fruit, veg and pork from their pedigree Tamworth pigs. Hexhamshire Organics has been certified organic by the Soil Association.
Hexhamshire Organics offer a box scheme in various sizes and allows a larger majority of the county to reap the benefits of locally grown organic produce. The majority of the organic produce, unless a customer asks for something specific that is not grown in this country, is grown on the 6-acre smallholding, just outside of Hexham.
The 2-manned team supply seasonal fruit and vegetables throughout the year. You can also spot their beautiful fruit and vegetable cart at Jesmond Farmers Market once a month.
Going for Green?
Look good, feel good they say. But perhaps it’s all about what you put into your body is what makes you feel good. We are fortunate here to be able to acquire local organic produce and in such variety. The producers mentioned here are organically certified, however, there may be more in this area as some small businesses and farms cannot afford organic certification. Support local organic producers this Organic September.