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


Posts tagged 'Organic'...



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.

 




Solar Foods – food from thin air

‘Food from thin air.’ Sounds very exciting doesn’t it? Like we’re living in some kind of Star Trek wonderland where everything’s powered by glowing blue cubes and public transport is functional. But here it is: Solar Foods’ Soylein. Originally invented by NASA and the Soviets to keep astronauts ticking along up there, and now brought to market by some clever Finns. Makes the whole ‘Spaceship Earth’ thing a whole lot more tangible. And it couldn’t have come at a better time: at the precise moment the mothership's air conditioning systems are being destroyed at record speed by loggers and cattle ranchers, some heroic scientists show up just in time to sever the sobering connection between population growth and land use. It's possible, guys! We can eat spaceman food and rewild the planet! Maybe?

Well, first of all: what is it? Soylein is a microbe found in nature, which can be fed on hydrogen, oxygen, CO2 and a few other chemical additives like ammonia to create a protein-rich, neutral-tasting foodstuff similar to soy. The great thing is that the hydrogen and oxygen particles can be created using electrolysis, leaving us with the power to effectively turn electricity into food. The environmental prospects look rosy. A recent study into the feasibility of creating Soylein using solar power found that its production uses a tenth of the land needed for the soy bean to provide the same amount of protein, and half the land needed by rice paddies to offer the same amount of calories. As these technologies improve, who knows how efficient food production could become?




But will people buy it? The fact that Soylein comes from a microbe rather than a plant might put some people off. Although people have been eating yoghurt cultures for a long time, kimchi and kombucha are gaining in popularity, and anyone who's had a bluish-green smoothie from a supermarket has probably ingested spirulina, so the normalisation of edible bacteria is well underway. And the taste? "Neutral, with a hint of umami." A blank canvas, then. And judging by the success of the Impossible Burger, This Isn't Bacon and Quorn Chicken Nuggets, the technology of turning miscellaneous protein mush into convincing meat substitutes is advancing rapidly and it probably won't be long until they can wrangle Soylein into something delicious and juicy. The only problems I can foretell are the reactionary forces of cultural meat-obsession (I can hear Jeremy Clarkson sneering at consumers of this newfangled space slime already) and the name (surely they could have picked something that doesn't sound like Soylent Green). Oh, and it won't fulfil our vitamin and micronutrient requirements, for which we'll have to keep around those boring old organic vegetable farms. Other than that... "Replicator, make me a ham sandwich!"

Of course, the law of unintended consequences is unavoidable. A lot of this cheap new protein might just be fed to more and more cows, leading to more methane production and hastening the antibiotic apocalypse. But that's where we come in, ethical consumers buying the innovative protein thing before it can find its way into a cow's mouth.

 



Insectageddon

Following on from reading young Georges’ post on organic growing, I found myself embarking on a riff about insects, which if you want you can read, below.  ;Organic growing of course is ‘sustainable’ in that it doesn’t damage or take out more from the natural world than it puts in. So the use of toxic indiscriminate insecticides are banned, for example.

For many years I was an organic veg grower and over that time I developed quite a ‘professional’ interest in insects. I put them in three camps – ones to encourage (ladybirds, bees, lacewings, hover flies), ones to tolerate (all butterflies other than cabbage white, moths, grasshoppers, most beetles, wasps etc) and ones to exterminate as soon as I saw them (aphids, slugs, snails, cabbage white caterpillars, sawfly on gooseberries, fleabeetle on brassicas etc).




That was all very well when I am just head down in my own little veg patch and don’t look up to what’s happening in the wider world. But recently I’ve become aware of the terrifying prospect of the mass extinction of the vast majority of insect life that looks like it is actually happening right here and now, out there in natural world. You may have noticed yourselves that there are far fewer insects around nowadays – rarely see a bee, the clouds of insects that used to be over a flowering meadow reduced to a handful, no insects splatted on your car windscreen at night, – I remember hearing flies ‘murmering’ in trees when I was younger, in their untold thousands.  With no insects to eat, we will watch over the disappearance of robins, blue tits, blackbirds, thrushes, swallows, most of the song birds you hear now in the woods, small mammals such as field mice, dormice, voles, and then following up the food chain to the raptors like kestrel, barn owls, sparrowhawk, all the way up to golden eagle.

And of course so many of the insects, not just bees but very importantly them, act as pollinators for the fruit and vegetables that we grow and eat. Scientists don’t seem very certain what is fuelling this mass extinction, but they suspect pollutants such as insecticides and artificial fertilisers. So, with no food, it won’t only be ‘them’ – insects, birds, animals – that are affected... it will also be ‘us’. I now look at a cloud of midges dancing over water and instead of reaching for the insect repellent I feel glad that the swallows have something to eat after their long journey from Africa. Quite a change!

 



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Organic veg

Organic Food – you know it makes sense

I’ve been growing and then selling organic fruit and veg for a long time, and I’m really pleased it’s getting more popular. I hope you enjoy the following blog post, it’s written by a young man called Georges Almond who has a passion for organic growing.

Apples in Southeast Asia are so coated in pesticides, that if you eat the skin you will become very sick. Sometimes it's good to look at extreme examples to better contextualise moderation. The poison may be in the dose, but how carefully are we moderating our dosage of pesticides? The amount of pesticides used has halved in weight since 1990, but land coverage and toxicity have increased considerably. Modern neonicotinoids, bane of bee and human alike, are ten thousand times more toxic than DDT. If it poisons the bugs, it’s probably poisoning us, too.




But with organic veg, you can dine with peace of mind. To earn the organic label, farmers are restricted to spraying their crops with nothing stronger than the likes of /organic- living/what-is -organic/ " target="_blank">citronella and clove oil. In organic agriculture, a greater emphasis is placed on the introduction of predatory insects (ladybirds to hunt aphids) and the tactical placement and rotation of crops in order to reduce the effects of weeds and pesky critters nibbling at your lettuce, whilst accepting that any attempt to completely eradicate them is foolish and unnecessarily destructive.

As a result of being kinder to the ecosystem, organic produce is also kinder to your body. Soil depletion due to over-intensive chemical agriculture means the average non -organic carrot is much less nutritious nowadays than it would have been just decades ago, with significantly reduced levels of magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Organic farmers rehabilitate their environment by switching out chemical fertilisers for compost ( -organic- improves-soil-health/" target="_blank">among other measures). Healthier soil means healthier customers.

Much has been made of claims that organic agriculture would, if scaled up to meet the needs of every household in the UK, produce more CO2 than the current system. The current system of chemical-intensive agriculture can, admittedly, produce more food to a more predictable schedule, increasing energy-efficiency and making us less dependent on overseas imports. But this is only one small part of the -organic- food-doesnt-deserve-such-bad-press/" target="_blank">whole story. The aforementioned study worked off a prediction of a 100% shift to organic, catering to current demand for vegetables. Cultural trends towards eating seasonally available produce and reducing waste are only just beginning, and as organic market share increases, improvements to efficiency are inevitable. Added to this, a highly efficient agricultural system which depletes the nutrients of the soil is only going to lead to soil degradation and desertification faster than a less efficient one. If we are headed over a cliff-edge, why would we want to go faster?

Finally, the cultural and psychological benefits of a strong organic food industry are immeasurable. Chemical-intensive agriculture is borne of a reductive and mechanistic mindset which reduces the relationship of humanity to nature to one of extraction and domination. Organic agriculture is a positive step towards understanding the complexity of nature and working with its already existing systems to create a more harmonious co-existence and ensure the continued thriving of both parties. I think that’s worth supporting.

 


Clare, Graham, Krista and Sally (waving) outside the new shop.
Clare, Graham, Krista and Sally (waving) outside the new shop.

Welcome to the Tod Almighty blog!

Hi there, and welcome to Tod Almighty's new blog! We are delighted to have our own blog at last and many thanks to my brother John Hayes of Webmaker.UK for doing such a fantastic job with setting it up. Here we're hoping to give our customers a bit more background information about our shop, our ethics, the stories behind our suppliers and stock, and about how you can reduce your plastic waste and your impact on the environment. As well as other things, like recipes etc.

Let me introduce ourselves. I'm Sally – the one with grey hair in the photo above, and I've been involved in sustainability and organic food, both as a grower,a producer, a parent and a shopkeeper for rather a long time. I work with some fantastic people in the shop – Clare, Graham, Krista, Rowan, Sayaka, and the other Clair – and in fact we are just recruiting, so if you are looking for work you could get in touch.




Our aim in the shop is to enable our customers to reduce their plastic waste by buying refills, eat a healthy vegan diet with as many organic choices as possible, to support other local businesses, and to behave responsibility and respectfully to the earth, its animals, its people and the environment. We're also keen to do our bit towards tackling climate change, which will probably be the biggest challenge we have ever had to deal with in our history. Phew!

But here on the blog we aim to be interesting – hopefully – and to have some fun!

Lots of refill cannisters for customers to fill their own containers
Lots of refill cannisters for customers to fill their own containers

We also bag-up the bulk wholefoods into compostable cellophane bags
We also bag-up the bulk wholefoods into compostable cellophane bags
 



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