Organic food remains a bit of a controversial topic. Food politics is usually big news and has become more so recently. Concerns about food safety, climate change and marine pollution seem to be driving the discussions.
The early days
Our view has always been quite grounded. Many years ago when we first opened, we could see that organic farming offered an opportunity to do things differently. We liked the idea of transparency, accountability and traceability which certification ensured. Establishing a working community of like minded farmers which could help reduce widespread pesticide use, encourage biodiversity and improve animal welfare ? Well, it just seemed common sense to us.
When we first opened, customers often said that organic food was just what food used to be. Organic farming was seen by many of our shoppers as simply traditional and old fashioned approach. It offered a bit of an alternative in the face of fast forward farming and industrial food production. Nowadays it seems to take almost a degree level of education in the subject to wade through the fine details of debate on ecological issues .And to us at least, in a post-truth world, sometimes the wood can get lost for the trees.
And because we started by dealing in local organic food, we have come to quite a settled view of the value of organic food in the north east. In our early years of trading we were fortunate enough to spend time on a lot of the local organic farms, and over the years we have become more aquainted with all the farms we buy from at home and abroad. We have physically saw the difference less intensive farming can make to food quality, the eco system and animal welfare. In the early years having enough cauliflowers sometimes used to mean we would pitch in with the harvest with local growers.
Pay a visit to an organic farm ?
And we still suggest that if ever you get the chance, you can pay a visit to some of our big suppliers such as Piercebridge farm, Broomhouse farm or Newfields organics. Just going to the river at Piercebridge farm was enough to help convince us of the value of organic farming. The clear water, the wild fauna and the butterflys said it all.
Step out the car at Newfields farm shop at Fadmoor and something just feels right. The first time we visited the farm we knew in minutes we wanted them to be our first choice veg supplier. The air, the soil and the water that crossed the landed held us in an almost otherworldy spell. Newfields have been organic since the early 80’s and you just have to hold the soil in you hand to feel the richness and wealth of goodness that has been worked back into it over the years.
Organic food now
But Newfields aside, looking around Newcastle it’s clear organic food is also a workable choice in more urban environments as well. If you get the time check out some of our more local smaller growers. Visit food nation, Scotswood community garden, Gibside community farm or North East Organic Growers. These thriving small farms demonstrate how much enthusiasm for organic growing can be found at a grassroots level.
And for us it is not just about local organic food anymore. Since we started trading the national organic food supply has become much more efficient. We can now order organic fruit and veg to be picked from all round the country, and even the continent. Some of our continental farms are among the most dedicated growers in Europe and are pioneers in sustainability.
Supporting UK organic farming, and reducing air miles with seasonal continental produce is now a part of the business which we confidently take on. It’s crucial to allowing our customers to enjoy a wealth of seasonal flavours all year round. And It’s all part of working towards our zero-waste and environmental goals.
But the cost ?
One problem people still have with organic food is the cost. And part our mission is to make organic food more affordable where we can. Our organic fruit and veg is a great place to start when you first visit our shop. The price difference can be small compared the difference in quality. Good food will always cost more, the important thing to us is does the taste and the long term costs justify the price ?
No doubt the arguments will continue to endure around organic farming, and like any set of food standards organic farming needs to evolve and improve to match the challenges of the present times. But for us, the organic movement continues to offer us wide access to the best fresh foods at home and on the continent. And we have no greater ambition than to continue to enjoy our trade over the years to come. Supplying vibrant, tasty, healthy, food to our fellow residents in Heaton, and in the city at large is what we enjoy best.
The job is always easier when customers tell us our food tests better than what they get in the supermarkets. And we know from studies at Newcastle University that some of our organic food is more nutritious.
And in our experience choosing the best quality food doesn’t have to break a budget. As a social enterprise our aim is to make organic food more accessible , not more expensive. And shopping with us can be part of a lifestyle change where like many of our customers, you choose to shop a little more frequently, and cook a little more.
Why not pay us a visit and take a look at our produce. Tasting our produce is certainly more enjoyable than looking at it, and eating it is certainly a lot better than reading about it. Maybe our approach to organic food can work for you ?