We had a good growing season in 2014 with a dry summer and autumn, giving us some good seed ready for planting this year. Meanwhile, at a political level the EU Plant Reproductive Material (seeds, cuttings and baby plants to you and me) legal shenanigans continued. The proposed regulation from the European Commission wanted to simplify the existing confused and cumbersome laws, as well as provide a platform to increase exports to outside the EU and safeguard human health. But this proposal would have further sustained the dominance of the big seed companies (like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta) and drastically reduced the number of seed varieties available for growing. The Soil Association, along with many others campaigned against these proposals.
30 January 2015 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 0 Liz Bowles:
Improving organic systems and markets is always at the forefront of our minds at the Soil Association. As part of our ongoing work we have prioritised a number of areas for special attention over the coming months and years which I wanted to update you on. However we are keenly aware that we may not always know about the challenges that you face from day to day so we really do welcome your thoughts on where you believe we should be placing emphasis.
19 January 2015 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 0 Peter Melchett:
In Oxford this week, two major farming conferences are underway. The newer, forward-looking Oxford Real Farming Conference is discussing innovations in technology that are needed for farming to face the challenges of achieving massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, tackling the horrendous problems of diet-related ill health, and restoring beauty, colour and wildlife to our farmed countryside. Meanwhile, speakers at the much older Oxford Farming Conference seem stuck in a time-warp where for decades almost the only new development in agriculture worth discussing is GM crops, and where an annual attack on organic farming seems to be obligatory.
08 January 2015 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 4 Marianne Landzettel:
"Why don’t producers who feed their animals GM soy or maize have to say so on the label?" came the question from the back. Janet Jones raises grass fed organic cattle in Cornwall and the information we got during the ‘GM threat’ workshop at the Organic Producers’ Conference left her as exasperated as the rest of the audience. GMO labelling turns out to be a complicated issue with the rules being made in Brussels. A ‘GM-free’ label however is a different matter and one that really can make a difference.
05 January 2015 | 1 Comments
| Recommended by 0 Emily Lunnon:
Your skin reflects your state of health and well-being. Every day of your life, pollution, grime, and dust attach themselves to the surface of your skin.
However, in winter, the skin is covered up and does not get the same chance to breathe. Dry heat in houses, offices and cars also means the skin gets dehydrated, leaving us and therefore our skin looking sluggish instead of bright and shining. We are prone to exercise less which does not stimulate our metabolism as well. So, as we get ready for winter it is time to think about health generally. Our skin will glow healthily when we look after our mind and body too.
18 December 2014 | 1 Comments
| Recommended by 5 Lynda Brown:
Christmas is the one time that everyone focuses on and celebrates food, both for its symbolic importance but also as one of the last bastions of the joy sharing a special meal: it really does bring out the best in us, and to bask in that after glow of conviviality is all the proof one ever needs that food is crucial to our well-being. As we are already painfully aware, the food industry goes into festive overdrive: Christmas is gigantic business, and the more festive the food looks and 'luxurious' it sounds, the more we seem prepared to pay for it.
15 December 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 0 Colleen Harte:
We all have our own aroma of Christmas, which reminds us fondly of the festive season. Let me take you on a journey of the most beautiful Christmas essential oils and their wonderful qualities. Clove bud is the ideal Christmas essential oil to keep away the colds and flus. Its fresh fruity top notes and deep, sweet spicy undertones make it a perfect choice for a room fragrance.
11 December 2014 | 1 Comments
| Recommended by 3 Susannah Taylor:
Do you ever have trouble deciding which style of wine is best to pair with each part of a Christmas meal? If so, then look no further. We have put together our top festive food and wine matching tips and paired a wine style to each Christmas course, for those looking to make their Christmas as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible…
10 December 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 0 Traci Lewis:
Food Plymouth are now a Community Interest Company (CIC). A CIC is a new type of UK company, introduced in 2005, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. Food Plymouth have been operating as an informal city-wide partnership for the last four years, with the Soil Association providing excellent administrative support. However it was time for us to take the next step, to ensure an independent and sustainable future.
08 December 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 6 Elisabeth Winkler:
Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a GM-free Christmas. So make my Christmas dinner organic, please. I don’t want to eat genetically modified (GM) food at Christmas, or anytime. In fact, I resent even having to write that sentence. Genetic modification has no place in my world. It is an outdated technology which messes with nature at its most basic 'building block' level, by inserting a gene from another species (plant, animal, bacterium and/or virus) into a plant, thus 'modifying' it.
08 December 2014 | 5 Comments
| Recommended by 10 Louise Payton:
So today is World Soil day. Why on earth do we need a day on soils? It’s no coincidence that our planet shares its name with the stuff. Soil, earth, or dirt, as it is known in the USA, is important.
05 December 2014 | 2 Comments
| Recommended by 1 Hayley Coristine:
With holiday music filling the airwaves and twinkling Santas lighting up the city streets, it’s hard to ignore the warm fuzzy feeling that bubbles up before Christmas. At the same time, while many of us try to avoid needless buying for the rest of the year, this season can sometimes feel like a bit of a moral dilemma. Let’s face it: when your kid is pushing for the sleek sophistication of the latest in touchscreen technology, a pair of argyle socks just isn’t going to cut it. To help subdue your internal conflict, here are eight tips to celebrate an ethical, environmentally-friendly Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth.
27 November 2014 | 5 Comments
| Recommended by 4 Marianne Landzettel:
Sunday supplements are brimming with recipe ideas for festive dinners, supermarket shelves are stacked high with seasonal favourites and tempting offers like 3 for 2 deals. Combine this with the steady stream of worrying news about the world economy being on the precipice of another downturn and it is clear why there’s a demand for cheap food. But while we enjoy getting more for less, maybe it’s also time to ask who ultimately pays for cheap food? The answer is: we all do, though not at the supermarket till.
24 November 2014 | 2 Comments
| Recommended by 7 Anna Louise Batchelor:
Just in time for the weekend roast, the BBC have published an in-depth article questioning "Do you know where your chicken comes from?". Against the backdrop of a visit to an intensive chicken farm, the journalist set out to question how much we know about the rearing of chickens and to challenge how much we are prepared to pay to eat one.
13 November 2014 | 6 Comments
| Recommended by 2 Marianne Landzettel:
Voters in Hawaii have said ‘yes’ to a ban of all genetically engineered seeds on the islands of Maui and Molokai. The moratorium will be in place until a public health assessment and an environmental impact study have been completed. Biotech companies are to foot the bill for both studies. The midterm election ballot measure was approved despite of companies like Monsanto and Dow AgroScience spending close to $8 million on a ‘no’ campaign. The ‘yes’ initiative won the day with just $60,000 spent on campaigning.
06 November 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 2 Traci Lewis:
Conference season is upon us - in the last month alone, I have attended the Soil Association Conference, Bristol Food Conference and DEAL in Caen, France. The theme running through all of these events has been to exchange best practice around sustainable and healthy food with other cities and regions. All in all lots of great food and inspiration, with lots of learning along the way.
04 November 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 6 Sally Morgan:
I don’t seem to have been the only farmer to have noticed more flea beetles than usual this year, and growers have reported damage to chard and beetroot as well as brassicas. So how do we deal with this common pest in organic systems, while avoiding pesticides?
29 October 2014 | 3 Comments
| Recommended by 5 Marianne Landzettel:
This month the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of the new ‘Enlist Duo’ herbicide which contains 2,4–D and glyphosate. The decision comes a month after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) registered two new 2,4-D resistant GM corn and soy varieties for use. The approval by the USDA and now the EPA have been noted in the main stream press, from the New York Times to the Huffington Post but actually this should be front page news: 2,4-D is known to be very similar to an active ingredient in the leaf stripping chemical ‘Agent Orange’ used during the Vietnam War, and environmentalists fear that spraying it during the growing season will pose an incalculable risk to all wildlife.
28 October 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 3 Maude Winkler-Reid:
Hello everyone! My name is Maude and I’ve been working as a volunteer at the Soil Association for 10 years now in the Membership Team. What I love about being a volunteer at the Soil Association is the work that I do and the people that I meet.
24 October 2014 | 7 Comments
| Recommended by 26 Marianne Landzettel:
The Soil Association, like other proponents of organic agriculture around the globe, takes a clear stand against GM ingredients in food and crops. But anyone opposed to GM agriculture often finds him or herself between the onslaught of the well-oiled and even better funded PR machine of big agrochemical companies and eminent GM supporters like the former environment minister Owen Paterson who told the Oxford Farming Conference in January that Europe would become a ‘museum of world farming’ without GM.
15 October 2014 | 0 Comments
| Recommended by 4