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Seasonal thoughts – why cheap food is costing us dearly

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 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 3

Do you know where your chicken comes from?

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

Hawaiians 1 – Big Ag 0

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

A tale of food cities

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

Dealing with flea beetle

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 3

Putting out a fire with gasoline

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 2

What I love about being a volunteer…

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 | 6 Comments | Recommended by 26

Known unknowns and unknown unknowns – a new book on GMOs helps sort things out

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 3

Devil’s Rib or Dragon Tongue Bush?

Ben Raskin: How do you decide what to grow? Which varieties will do well and which will be a waste of space. The alluring descriptions that fill the pages of most seed catalogues have been the undoing of many a grower. I always get carried away and buy more than I need. My seed container currently has a range that rivals Imelda Marcos’ famous shoe collection.

08 October 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

Much Ado About Mutton

Lynda Brown: It's very rare that a food book comes along that qualifies as a game changer, but Much Ado about Mutton, featured on Radio 4's Food Programme this coming Sunday, by Bob Kennard, is one such book, and one I hope everyone will read. Mutton has been Bob’s passion for over 20 years, and no-one understands its importance, or that of small scale sustainable meat production, better.

02 October 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

My organic hero

Janet Blikmans: Imagine a beautifully sunny day in August, not too hot, a few clouds in the sky, a slight breeze and rolling hills. I arrive on a 100 acre suckler farm in Wiltshire to spend the day with owner Miss Lydia Otter and farm manager Richard Hurford and many more people I meet throughout the day. As well as a small herd of organic Angus sucklers and their offspring (oh and the not so friendly bull Jaguar) there are chickens, donkeys, pigs, goats, dogs and a cat. When I arrive in the morning, like on any average farm, business is in full flow already.

30 September 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 3

Climate-smart agriculture or corporate greenwash?

Rob Percival: It was the sound of 500,000 alarm bells ringing in unison. On Sunday, half a million people from 166 countries took to the streets to demand action from world leaders as they gathered in New York for the UN Climate Summit. The ‘People’s Climate March’, as it was dubbed, was marked by a sense of urgency. Climate disruptions are already being felt; our carbon budget is almost spent. Climate change is not a problem for future generations, for tomorrow, for 2050. But for today.

24 September 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 3

Making good food even better

Liz Earle: The Organic Awards are such an important way to shine the spotlight of success on those committed to making good food even better. As a long-time supporter of both the Soil Association and the principles of organic, sustainable food production, helping to judge these awards has been a way for me to show my appreciation for all these brilliant farmers, growers and good-food brands.

24 September 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Is organic food better for you? Nutrition, anti-oxidants & new research

Guy Watson: Most of us like to think that our assessment of the world and the decisions we make are based on evidence, rationality and logic. However, we are emotional beings, full of prejudice and ego, with the added complication of media manipulation thrown in. Evidence-based decision making seems laudable, yet removing subjectivity from the evidence selection process itself is near impossible.

18 September 2014 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 7

The other ‘Yes’ campaign

Traci Lewis: Coming back to work this month I have been confronted with a range of new food-related initiatives and campaigns. What is it about September that creates this urge for change? In fact, whilst in this ‘back to school’ mood, I do actually find it a much better time than January to make positive lifestyle changes. And who knows? Picking up some good habits and sticking to them for a month will help them become routine, so maybe I can keep at it after September winds down.

15 September 2014 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 5

My organic beauty journey

Calgary Avansino: Although I have always been very conscious about the food that I eat, the exercise I do and the products I clean my house with, my skincare and cosmetics regime lacked serious attention for a long while. I think, like many women, I just accepted the marketing and product names for what they were, and never looked much further than the packaging – I certainly never read the ingredients label, or considered what those long, unpronounceable words meant for my body.

12 September 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Fashion as a tool for change

Safia Minney: I always eat vegetarian organic and wear organic cotton, so throughout September I’m going to pledge to get men to go organic. Each week, I’m giving organic cotton to leaders in fashion and change - Nick from ASOS, David Cameron, Russell Brand and Richard Branson. When I met with the Dalai Lama I gave him a pair of People Tree organic to wear under his saffron robes. Women always lead the way when it comes to sustainability and social change. We need more men to go green.

12 September 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 2

Five urban myths about organic beauty

Sarah Brown: Think you can't get 'perfomance' with organic or if it says 'organic' on the label it must be? Think again... Organic is now bang on-trend and my vision is that it will hit the mainstream, and big. Let’s make it happen, and take the small step to make a big difference this September.

08 September 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Organic September – what's your small change?

Helen Browning: 2014 already has been a great year for all things organic. So far we've seen the UK organic market return to growth for the first time since 2009 and the publication of a landmark scientific study, which showed nutritional differences in organic vegetables, fruit and cereals. All this stands us in good stead for our 'small changes, big difference' campaign for this Organic September.

29 August 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 0

We want our leaders to take action that is good for all of us

Amy Leech: Soil Association stand united alongside nine other organisations, and the millions of people they represent, The National Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts and many others, in calling for the next government to show the leadership we expect from those in power, for them to make much needed changes to our national food and farming policy.

21 August 2014 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 3

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