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



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!

 



Organic veg
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 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 (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 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.

 



The future of cleaning
The future of cleaning

Welcome to the Future!

By now there are many of us that are really trying our best to reduce our destructive impact on the Earth, through making conscious choices as to what we buy and how we buy it. It is heartwarming to witness so many new companies and businesses with great new ideas for creating products that are aimed at serving our planet instead of taking from it.

Two of these new environmentally orientated companies on the scene are Tru Earth and Spruce, bringing a wonderfully new green and simple solution to household cleaning products...




Here comes the Liquid-less cleaning revolution... we love this, it makes so much sense!

Nearly all household cleaning products, including laundry liquid, are made up of over 90% water... This water is heavy and uses a lot of fuel to transport and distribute around the globe, not to mention it also takes up a lot of space. This is a major and unnecessary environmental problem both for transport pollution and carbon emissions.

Then there is the issue is the harsh chemicals that are used in the majority of cleaning products. Research has shown that breathing in the fumes can contribute towards many major health problems, and of course all the toxins eventually end up going down the drain and out into the environment.

Problem number three is the huge amount of plastic waste that is generated by the industry. You may say; 'but I recycle them so all is well...' No it isn't really, over 90% of all 'recycled' plastic just ends up in landfill or the great oceans of our planet. Nevertheless, please continue to recycle, that 10% is important!

So these are the problems, but the good news is that some new companies are thinking outside the box and coming up with some pretty ingenious solutions!

First we have Spruce, who make reusable aluminium bottles which you fill with water from your own tap and add a little sachet of environmentally friendly cleaner. Mix it up and give it a good shake before you get to spraying your surfaces down, works a treat. For every starter kit purchased, ocean bound plastic waste, equal to twenty-five plastic bottles, is collected by Spruce and removed from our oceans. Over 300 million single-use plastic bottles can be prevented from polluting the planet – if every UK household switched to refillable cleaning. For more details see: https://www.wearespruce.co/pages/how-it-works.

Another of these revolutionary companies is Tru Earth, which provides a clean, green and simple solution to our everyday laundry chores. Tru Earth Laundry Strips are eco friendly and hypoallergenic, making them as gentle on the skin as they are on the environment. The tiny strips contain non toxic, yet super concentrated cleaning detergent that you just pop into your washing machine along with your laundry. The strips dissolve in the water leaving no trace. They come in small slim cardboard packets, taking up hardly any room in the cupboard and in the vehicles that transport them. This means they reduce their carbon footprint by 94% compared with other leading-brand laundry detergents. Yes, 94%! See more at https://www.truearth.uk/

We CAN all make a difference. These are just two ways of many. More to come in future blogs.

We sell both these products in the shop: 

Spruce aluminium bottles £11.99, cleaning sachets £9.99 for pack of 12, so that’s 12 litres worth

Tru Earth Laundry strips £12.99, enough strips for 32 loads of washing

We also sell Miniml laundry liquid refill for £3.30/litre

We CAN all make a difference. These are just two ways of many. More to come in future blogs.

 




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