Since starting this blog, I have been invited on some great days out and trips away. This last week saw an invitation to Yeo Valley Farm, organised by the Soil Association, to learn more about Organic September and why we should all be more aware of what is in our food. Yeo Valley is set in the beautiful Mendip countryside, not too far from Bath. I hopped on a train to Bristol and waited eagerly with some other like-minded bloggers.
Yeo Valley is set on Holt Farm, which has been in the Mead family for over 50 years. They started selling their yoghurt from their Morris Minor a few years later. Fast forward to 2016 and they now make over 1900 litres of yoghurt a week, and 3 million litres of milk a year. They also offer a range of other dairy based products.
We arrived on a hot, sunny morning and were greeted with an array of breakfast goodies (including some immense gluten free macarons….mmmm). We grabbed a coffee and sat down to the first part of the day, an introduction to Organic September from the Soil Association. I have always known and supported the benefits of choosing organic produce over non-organic, but the chat really opened my eyes to some points I wasn’t aware of before (see facts further down in this post). After the talk we met with Jon Wilson, the farm manager. Jon took us on a tour of the farm, explaining how they rotate the crop and pasture land, how they balance the mineral levels in the soil to create the lushest green fields, and encouraging us to sniff the soil he had dug up! We were introduced to Yeo’s heard of Friesian cows. They were very friendly and were an incredibly healthy and happy looking bunch. It was so good to meet someone so passionate about what he does.
We concluded the tour back at the cafe, where the head chef from Yeo Valley’s organic cafe had come to give us a cooking demo. He whipped up a batch of dhal, sautéed cauliflowers (romanesco has stolen my heart recently) and of course, a yoghurt dip. We sat down and chatted about our different loves of food and food politics. It was great to catch up with some blogger friends in gorgeous surroundings.
All too soon it was time to leave (with goodie bags galore) and say our goodbyes. My head was full with ideas and a stronger passion than ever before to promote an organic lifestyle.
Soil Association are running Organic September to raise awareness and spread the word on the benefits of choosing organic. So, why should you choose organic? I could write all night about why, but here’s some points to get you started:
- There are more than 320 different pesticides used in the UK, and traces of them can be found in 75% of non-organic foods. 31,000 tonnes of manufactured chemicals are used in farming every year, to kill insets, pests and weeds. A study recently done in Europe showed that 40% of city dwellers had traces of weedkiller in their urine. Ewww!
- Glyphosate, which is heavily used in non-organic farming, is a probable carcinogen and has now been found in 30% of the bread we consume.
- Organic milk has 50% more omega-3 fatty acids in, higher concentrations of iron and Vitamin E in than non-organic milk.
- Antibiotics are given to healthy animals (namely poultry and pigs) to compensate for their low-welfare cramped conditions where outbreaks and disease are harder to control and more common. Antibiotics in animals means antibiotics in our dairy and meat. Routine use of antibiotics is banned in organic farming.
- Intensive animal farming frightens and disgusts me. Animals are kept in in-humane conditions and often barbaric conditions. Under organic farming standards, animals are allowed to roam free range on organic land. They are fed non-GM food and are only given antibiotics if they truly need them. They cannot be given hormones (as done in intensive farming) to force them to grow quicker.
- It’s nutritionally different. The British Journal of Nutrition has just published ground-breaking research with the findings that there is a significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic farming. Organic food is higher in antioxidants and lower in nasties like pesticides and toxic metals.
- Organic farming helps to create healthy soil that is resistant to floods, drought and the consequential impacts of climate charge.
- The Soil Association is one of the most rigorous certifying organic bodies in the world. It’s a not-for-profit charity that campaigns for sustainable, healthy and humane farming, food and land use. Look out for their logo on packaging when choosing organic.
So, how can you get involved? Organic September is encouraging everyone to make one small change in their purchases. In the egg isle? Opt for organic free range eggs. Choosing your veg for the week? Pick the organic carrots. Little changes make a big difference, to our bodies, to the animals and the planet. Share your swaps on Instagram and tag #organicseptember
See more accounts of the day:
All the thanks go out to Soil Association, Yeo Valley and Good Energy (who sponsor Organic September.) Big love to all the brands who donated their gorgeous products for the good bags. I was invited on this trip and not paid to write a positive post. Make a change, choose organic.