THE WHOLESOME TRUTH – WELCOME TO MY BLOG

Proprietor Sally Hayes

Hello, I'm Sally Hayes and I run Tod Almighty.  I've started this blog because I want to offer some back-story on why we sell what we do, why we think some of our suppliers are brilliant, and ideas for living more sustainably.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  You can reply to any of the posts below (but replies are moderated to avoid spam) – I look forward to hearing from you!

Sally



Organic September

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are changing. It’s September – more specifically, it’s Organic September.

All our fruit and veg at Tod Almighty is organic and this is hugely important to us. We also stock as many other organic products as possible such as dry wholefoods (nuts, grains, rice etc.), household and skincare products.




Run by the Soil Association, Organic September is a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of organic food and farming. Organic farming is a way of growing food that works in harmony with the natural world and enhances rather than damages it. That means NO pesticides, NO artificial fertilisers and NO genetic modification.

The impact that a systemic change to organic farming could have on our planet is astonishing. A recent report modelling a Europe that transitioned all farming to agroecology (an application of ecological concepts and principals in farming), found that agricultural emissions could drop by 40-50% by 2050 – with plenty to feed the growing population healthy diets.

This is subject that is core to our business values, we’ve previously written about the benefits of organic food in our previous blog post ‘Organic Food – you know it makes sense’.

While a whole system change is key it can sometimes feel overwhelming. What can you as an individual do to help make a positive impact on our planet and for your health?

The Soil Association have set up Pledge for Our Planet to help you make the small actions that can add up to a big result. Below are some focused on food and diet. As customers of Tod Almighty you may already be doing most of these but each commitment makes a difference and the more you do the better.

Eat two meals a week with seasonal food grown in the UK

 - We stock lots of organic fruit and veg grown in the UK. Our main delivery day is Wednesday with an additional topup on each Friday. We get our produce from Organic North and Organic Pantry, as well as local growers in the valley.

Grow one fruit or veg crop this season

 - Growing your own food is a surefire way to help you appreciate the food on your plate. You don’t need an allotment, just some time, space and sunshine. We’re just coming into harvest season but it’s worth planning ahead for next year. How about a few tomatoes on your windowsill, or some peppers? 

Shop at your local indie once a week

 - We can certainly help with this! And you only need to commit to doing it once a week (although we’d happily see you more often than that). The best way to show you love your town is to spend your money there!

Sign up to an organic box scheme

 - Again we’ve got this covered. We have a weekly veg box scheme which can provide you with a box full of beautiful, fresh seasonal organic fruit and veg. More information here.

For more information about these pledges visit:

https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/pledge-for-our-planet/food-and-diet/

If you purchase your fruit and veg from us, you are already doing good things for the planet. With the environment now under such enormous pressure from pollution, climate change and the destruction of the natural world, it has never been more important to support organic farming.

If you want to know more about Organic September visit: www.soilassociation.org

Remember, Organic farming systems are good for wildlife, good for the planet and good for your health.

 



Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.
Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.

Microplastics and Minimi

This month’s (July and August 2021) ‘Ethical Consumer Magazine’ was looking at refills of household detergents, etc., which of course we sell a lot of in the shop. We stock mostly ‘Miniml’ household detergents as they are environmentally friendly, vegan and kind to skin, and they are a local company with a ‘closed loop’ system whereby they collect the empty barrels and take them back to wash and refill, rather than recycle. 

I love ECM and always read it from cover to cover, as do a lot of our customers. However, this month I was horrified to read that not only was Miniml rated lower in ECM’s charts than expected, but that they said Miniml’s washing up liquid contained microplastics!! You can imagine I was straight on to Miniml to ask them if this was true. Scott from the company assured me that on this occasion ECM had made a mistake, their products DO NOT contain microplastics and ECM had changed their report on their online magazine, to which unfortunately you do need to subscribe to read in full. See https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/home-garden/shopping-guide/ethical-laundry-detergents




I’ve checked and they are right, ECM has changed the part about microplastics to… "As well as potential microplastics, there may be liquid polymers in your cleaners. Liquid polymers are not plastics, but they are also poorly biodegradable and remain for years in our ecosystem with unknown consequences…. Companies that got a best rating for [not using] microplastics and liquid polymers were: Bide, Bio-D, ecoleaf, Friendly Soap, Faith in Nature, Greenscents, Miniml, Planet Detox, SESI, Sodasan and Sonett.”

They also increased Miniml’s rating from 13 to 15, making them joint third best in the market, and above others like Ecoleaf. So, considering they are quite a bit cheaper than a lot of their competitors, and they refill rather than recycle their containers, I think that is much more acceptable. Phew! As we have been asked a few times about it by customers, I thought I would post to the blog to reassure people that Miniml is indeed pretty ethical and environmentally friendly.

 



Some of the plastic free items in the shop
Some of the plastic free items in the shop

Plastic Free July

Imagine! The world has been entirely plastic-free since whale-saviour Tim Minchin gave us all a musical aide memoire to sing before departing for the shops, and we now take the month of July to celebrate that fact and pay tribute to the dolphins who helped us to make it to our enlightened and entirely renewable times. Wouldn’t that be nice? But no, not yet, the world’s arteries remain clogged with the cellophane lids off meal deal pasta salads, and our arteries are becoming increasingly clogged with tiny particles of the same.

Plastic is one of those problems which seem so huge and unsurmountable it’s very difficult to look at them directly as it is just too depressing! But there are lots of new initiatives popping up that combined together can help us as consumers to really have an impact. You probably have heard of things like reusable coffee cups, bamboo toothbrushes, refills of washing up liquid and laundry liquid, wooden washing up brushes, jute shopping bags etc etc. We’ve been selling stuff like this for a while and we have never found so much passion and determination among our customers to use them to reduce their plastic waste. And running the shop I have been repeatedly delighted to find that suppliers are addressing the packaging issue as well, with stock items like little glass bottles of essential oil now arriving in shredded paper packaging rather than bubblewrap, and Optibac probiotics FINALLY arriving in little glass jars rather than plastic tubs (thank you thank you Optibac!). So although there are lots of feelings of despair and helplessness around the state of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, there are also reasons for hope. And Plastic Free July exists to turn that hope into action – to be, as they put it “part of the solution” and join the many millions of others reducing their plastic waste.




Started in Australia in 2011, the Plastic Free Foundation wants people to commit to new plastic-reduction techniques throughout the month of July. No straws, bringing your own mug to the cafe, refillable porridge oat dispensers – that sort of thing. The movement survived the Coronavirus pandemic and is back this year with the message that even “when things were out of our control, we could have control on something, and it was our own behaviour.” And if nobody asks for or buys the alternative, there will be no alternative. Of course there is a long way to go, but as the Plastic Free July website says: “We don't need one person doing it perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.” For more inspiring stories look on their website, www.plasticfreejuly.org

It’s tempting to not want to open our eyes and look at the state of the world, it’s tempting to feel overburdened and keep the blinkers on. But if seeing what is really happening and feeling the pain and holding the problem in our brains for a moment longer than is comfortable leads to a tiny improvement in our own personal relationship with plastic waste, then we’ve done our bit for the day.

I know how depressing it can be at times, but there is a lot we can do as individuals, while we wait for the powers that be to get their fingers out. Tod Almighty is a “reduce plastic waste” shop (please note, NOT a “zero waste shop, as I don’t think that’s really possible) where we offer a wide range of refills both of wholefoods and detergents that you can fill your own containers with, thereby bypassing packaging altogether. You can refill that washing up liquid bottle dozens of times before it falls apart,and think of the reduction of plastic in the environment just from that one little thing. And it’s cheaper. Drop in and see what else we can offer.

(Thanks to Georges for his input in this)

Everyone loves a washing up brush!
Everyone loves a washing up brush!

 



Oato photo
Oato photo

Oato Floato

Another blog post from our young Georges:

It is suspicious, isn’t it, the recycling logo on a Tetra Pak carton. How does this bizarre assemblage of densely layered paper, plastic and aluminium, once smeared with some beverage, get cleaned and reassembled into a new version of itself? Well, it doesn’t. Tetra Paks are usually disassembled into pulp and additives for roofing tiles in a highly resource and water-intensive process. Better than nothing, but still not great given the quantities of milk substitute required by the tea-drinking public.

The alternative? Disregarding the highly muslin- and drudgery-intensive process of making your own, it seems that the solution has been staring us in the face the whole time: the humble milk float. Not only a pioneer of electric four-wheeled locomotion, milkmen also provided a sustainable system of collection and recycling of the glass bottles containing the milk. Fresh milk to your door, no need for UHT, not a mote of plastic in sight, and fully recyclable; it couldn’t last, it was too perfect for this new world of supermarkets and cars. And yet here are doorstep milk deliveries making a resurgence. Intermittent house arrest, coupled with an anxiety about the ever-expanding market power of supermarkets, seems to have people yearning for a familiar face bearing goods to the door once more.




And vegans aren’t excluded from the fun. Oato is a Lancashire company who take sustainable British grown oats and make into a really good creamy barrista milk that’s great in tea and coffee and is also enhanced with calcium and vitamins. Then they improve upon the inherent planetary benefits of plant-based milk alternatives by having them delivered to your door in a recyclable glass bottle. That they have signed a deal with a variety of regional dairies to have their oat milk delivered alongside cow’s milk by established, local family businesses is an impressively win-win situation. Milk delivery companies gain by future-proofing themselves against the potential shocks of a booming plant-based sector, and Oato gain by, as well as expanding delivery options, normalising their product by offering it alongside more traditional options, thereby enticing potentially reticent customers. Doorstep milk delivery carries with it a degree of cultural romanticism – familiarity for the old and retro-value for the young. For a bit of that normalising magic to rub off on oat milk can only be a good thing for vegan consumers seeking fresher, cheaper, greener, more convenient milk, as well as for cows hoping to give their teats a rest.

Oato-on-a-floato also represents an interesting development for the intergenerational environmental mudslinging which goes on in newspapers and local Facebook groups (potentially face-to-face conversations as well – I wouldn’t know as it’s been quite a while). You know how it goes, millennial blames older generation for the climate crisis, eliciting the rejoinder:

 “Well in my day we didn’t have all this plastic – we gave our glass bottles back to the milkman or took our pop bottles back to the shop for a penny but you can’t do that any more.”

How does the conversation change now that you can do that again? Hopefully it ends in people making a mental note (or phone note, for younger people who have outsourced their notetaking faculties) to get some revolutionary ethical fresh creamy goodness delivered by a harbinger of the old ways.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get the shops’ pop bottle recycling infrastructure back, too. It works pretty well in Germany. By the way, we sell Oato in the glass bottles from the chillers in the shop (for £1.25 per pint) – just bring us back your empties for reuse. Or you can get it straight from your own milkman.

 



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