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A second green revolution?

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last month I attended a special lecture held at the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture. Entitled “Balancing food production and environmental protection” the speaker set out to overcome the thorny issue of increasing yields without increasing damage to eco-systems. The lecture was given by Poul Christensen, President of the National Federation of Young Farmers and former chair of Natural England.

30 March 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 2

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 13

Cherry Picking Organic

Anna Louise Batchelor: I have been very quiet on the Soil Association blog over the last few months as I’ve embarked on a new project. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to take on plot, of just under a hectare, in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. This might not sound particularly astonishing, especially to large-scale organic farmers, however for me as an ex-Londoner this is HUGE. Not just in spatial terms but in terms of what I am attempting to do with the land.

15 August 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 4

Organic September needs a recipe for success

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last year’s ‘Organic September’ was a great success with organic food sales in the month increasing by nearly 9%. The ‘Small Changes, Big Difference’ campaign theme also gained a great deal of publicity in both print and social media, the latter allowing people to really engage with the campaign through making personal pledges. Personally I know that Organic September 2013 has been a success because I’m already recipe writing for September 2014.

31 July 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 8

The Felfie; farmers and their smart phones are taking over Twitter!

Anna Louise Batchelor: Have heard the saying 'you learn something new every day'? Well today you are going to learn about the 'Felfie'! Last Friday I attended induction training for my role on the Soil Association's Standards Board. In one day I learnt; the detailed procedures of setting and implementing the Association's organic standards and the work of each of the individual the standards committees. What I was not expecting to learn, whilst chatting to my new colleagues, was about the 'Felfie'.

29 January 2014 | 4 Comments | Recommended by 9

Board but never boring

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last week I attended the 'away day' of the Soil Association Standards Board. As a newly appointed board member a two-day meeting loomed large on my calendar, nearly as large as the parcel of papers I received to read in advance. Armed with papers and PJ’s I travelled to Stroud, Gloucestershire to join the board at Hawkwood College.

02 December 2013 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 37

Super Supperclub in a Barn!

Anna Louise Batchelor: I’ve written before on my love of supperclubs and how fantastic it is that organic chefs are embracing them as a way of connecting diners to where their dinner comes from. So when I got the chance to eat at Sandy Lane Farm's supperclub in the farms very own barn! I jumped up the opportunity.

19 November 2013 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 5

Passing on organic knowledge, Scandinavia comes to True Food.

Anna Louise Batchelor: At the True Food Community Co-operative we take pride in being involved in the wider organic movement; from informal information sharing to speaking at conferences and even being a case study for large scale, large budget, food projects. However, there is nothing like actually meeting people who are interested in what you do.

15 August 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 4

5 Questions with... Karanjit Sondh

Anna Louise Batchelor: At the True Food Co-op (where I am the communications coordinator) we are always looking for new ways to reach out and work with our community. So we were really excited to be approached by Karanjit Sondh of the ‘Cook Curry Club’. We now work with Kran by selling raw ingredients to the Cook Curry Club, who turn them into wonderful dishes, which we then sell as takeaways at our neighbourhood markets. I interviewed Kran just after her first successful supper club held in the True Food shop to find out more.

22 July 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 5

Five questions with... Tom Baker

Anna Louise Batchelor: I met Tom at the first Soil Association conference I ever attended, in Tom’s home town of Birmingham. Tom was one of the producers catering for the event and even as a ‘rookie’ baker I was blown away by Tom’s Rye bread. Since then Tom has gone onto establish ‘Loaf’ more than just a bakery, Loaf is a social enterprise with community building objectives which I will let Tom explain in his own words.

18 June 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 6

Open Farm Sunday

Anna Louise Batchelor: What a glorious weekend the first May bank holiday was. After the long, drawn out winter, a weekend of sunshine and warmth was really welcome. I took the opportunity to visit my local organic farm Waltham Place or their annual spring walk and was treated to the sight of beautiful bluebells due to the late spring.

23 May 2013 | 8 Comments | Recommended by 6

Five Questions With... Jane Mason

Anna Louise Batchelor: I first met Jane at a cooking show where my passionate demonstration of cooking with oats was paralleled by Jane and her mission for teaching Real Bread baking. I had instant admiration for Jane and a respect of her ‘Virtuous Bread’ work since, so I jumped at the chance to interview her.

07 May 2013 | 16 Comments | Recommended by 10

Five questions with... Suzi Wintle

Anna Louise Batchelor: In the hot seat for April's 'Five Questions with…' is Suzi Wintle Head Chef at Sheepdrove Organic Farm. With responsibility for the catering of conferences, weddings and the ever famous 'Shhh Secret Supper Club' I want to know more about the challenges of sustainable catering and the benefits of cooking on an organic farm.

19 April 2013 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 5

Five questions with... Gurpareet Bains

Anna Louise Batchelor: I’m really lucky in my day job to meet fantastic people working in the world of healthy and organic food. Chefs, growers and producers all dedicated to producing wholesome food. I’ve been inspired by the people I have met and motivated to talk with them for my blog in a series of interviews I’m calling ‘Five Q’s with’. In the hot seat for the first in the series is chef, nutritionist and ‘world’s leading expert on Indian superfood’ Gurpareet Bains.

03 April 2013 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 5

Co-op-erate and bake!

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last week I blogged about a meeting being held by the True Food Co-op to vote on opening a real bread bakery. A big thank you to everyone who sent me messages of support and curiosity; “did we vote yes”? We certainly did! It’s great news and “exciting times ahead” seems to be the saying of the moment. However the story doesn’t stop there as we search for an artisan baker, get baking and actually sell enough bread to make the venture financially viable. The story doesn’t stop there on another count, as it’s a tale of co-op-eration.

11 March 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 9

Bread capitals

Anna Louise Batchelor: I’m just back from a trip to Norfolk where I enjoyed travelling and eating my way round the beautiful county. I walked along stunning coastlines, visited pretty market towns and was bowled over by bread. Yes bread! ‘Real Bread’ made with only four ingredients; flour, water, yeast (or sourdough) and salt. This is bread with crusts on, with flavour but without artificial improvers, E numbers or a whole long list of words that you can’t even pronounce.

01 March 2013 | 8 Comments | Recommended by 14

Farmhouse Breakfast Week, eat your oats for British farmers

Anna Louise Batchelor: The writer William Somerset Maugham famously said of British cuisine “To eat well in England, you should have breakfast three times a day”. We’re famed for our ‘full English’, revered for Scottish kippers and ‘glow’ with porridge, yet a recent study found that 47% of British people regularly don’t eat breakfast. In my ‘day job’ I’m know as Porridge Lady; cooking with, writing about and developing recipes and products that contain the humble oat. I’m quite obsessional about oats as I think that they are good not only for our health but also the soil too.

18 January 2013 | 315 Comments | Recommended by 34

A very British Christmas

Anna Louise Batchelor: I recently read in the Guardian Newspaper that we are increasingly forgoing British traditions for the festive season and replacing them with a more Scandinavian approach to Christmas. Now I’m a big fan of the culture that the Scandinavian countries have exported, from Nordic Noir to my ever increasing traditional woolie jumper collection. I also appreciate the very ‘clean’ approach to eating hallowed in Scandinavian culture; lots of fresh fish, great portions of vegetables and complex carbohydrates like rye bread. However when it comes to Christmas I’m not budging on my tried and tested since childhood traditional Christmas.

14 December 2012 | 98 Comments | Recommended by 8

Organic supper clubs, a feast for all seasons

Anna Louise Batchelor: The first time I visited an ‘Underground Restaurant’ was in Cuba’s capital city Havana. These eateries or ‘Paladares’ are run in people’s homes as an informal and cheap way to get a good hot meal. Eating in a Paladares not only allowed me to sample the local cuisine but it also fuelled the travels of two hungry and cash strapped 'pasty' female backpackers. Back in Britain I was pleased to see Underground Restaurants becoming fashionable and gaining notoriety. I did the rounds of London’s top spots from the poshest, held in the grand former hunting lodge home of Jo Woods, to London's most renowned - the 'Underground Restaurant' in Kilburn.

27 November 2012 | 182 Comments | Recommended by 38

Greening my passion for fashion

Anna Louise Batchelor: I recently had an MOT at the doctors and received a gold star for my good health. Not smoking, rarely drinking, eating all the right foods and exercising plenty make me healthy but also a bit of a 'goody two shoes'. On my walk home from the surgery I decided to work out just what my vice is. As I looked down at my new frock I realised that my deadly sin is gluttony of gorgeous dresses. Yes if you prise open my wardrobe you will be amazed at its Tardis like ability to hoard clothes, specifically dresses. From winter wonders to sun ready summer numbers, I have a far too extensive range of dresses. My only saving grace to this vice is People Tree the ‘Fair Trade fashion pioneers’.

19 October 2012 | 432 Comments | Recommended by 95

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