There is no doubt that unwashed roots retain their protective skins and keep better. I live a muddy life, but having cooked in some of your kitchens I am wondering if I have been excessively dogmatic about the stuff; would it be better for us to do a quick wash (as we have the last few weeks when the carrots have been very muddy)? If kept in the fridge and eaten within two weeks I think the effect on flavour will be negligible. It would also help us to reduce packaging because there would be less need to contain dirt and the boxes would stay clean(ish) for more trips. If you would like to share your views on this topic, we would be very interested to hear what you think.
In the final part of the BBC2 series, Jimmy Doherty travelled west to meet some of the region’s most innovative farmers. His final stop was here at Riverford to meet Guy Watson. We really enjoyed the programme and feel it raised some interesting issues. Did you see it? Let us know what you think.
If you missed the episode on television, it can be seen on BBC iPlayer, where it’s available until 8.59pm Tues 26th Aug.
we’ll be at the Taste the World stage where artists cook and share food from their countries – Guy Watson will be doing a few cooking sessions here. He’ll also be signing copies of The Riverford Farm Cook Book that isn’t out in the shops until September
From September we will have to feed the contents of the meals we cook for our local school into a computer which will tot up the nutrients and tell our cook if they are fit to eat. I am sure this initiative is full of good intentions, and may even help to reduce some abuses at the lower end of school catering, but it strikes me as depressingly reductionist, culturally degrading and an intrinsically unhealthy approach to food.
In a recent edition of Radio Four’s excellent Food Program, Michael Pollan author of “In Defence of Food”, gave some simple guidance on how to eat a healthy diet and enjoy it:
1. don’t eat anything your great grandmother would not recognise as food
2. don’t buy anything with more than five ingredients
3. only eat at a table; eat slowly and communally
4. distrust any food claiming health benefits
This all made so much sense that I bought the book, the gist being that your granny is a better source of dietary guidance than science and nutrition experts. Having spent five years studying natural sciences I am wary of unquestioning adulation of native wisdom but when it comes to nutrition, science has earned a bad name. Our relationship with food is far more complex than simply summing up the known,nutrients and multiplying by their known effects on our bodies – there is just too much that we do not know. Judging from a recent article in the New Scientist we are still far from understanding the relationship of appetite, diet and weight gain but this has not prevented the proliferation of highly processed functional foods marketed on their ability to fight coronary heart disease and help weight loss.
Science will not solve a cultural problem; namely a collapse in the willingness, confidence and skills needed to cook and enjoy real food. There is no one healthy diet, no silver bullet that can better the knowledge, accumulated over generations, of how to use predominantly locally sourced ingredients to sustain us through happy and healthy lives. Pollan’s advice is, that unless you suffer from a specific illness like diabetes, the best thing to do with a nutritionist’s advice is to ignore it.
Did any of you see Guy Watson on last week’s Money Programme Special: How Green is Your High Street?
Less eye catching than presenter Fiona Bruce’s eyebrows, we admit, but Guy had a good chunk in the programme and talked about Riverford’s approach to reducing packaging. We liked the bit about the outer leaves of a lettuce being “nature’s packaging”.
Packaging is at the heart of the carbon footprinting study we are conducting at the moment and we will be publishing the preliminary results in the next couple of weeks.