Archive for the ‘Foods in News’ Category

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Carvelo farming.jpgThe following is a manifesto from the Soil Association that seeks to make government recognise the importance of prioritising the way we farm and the huge impact it has on public health, the enironment, animal wealthfare and the health of our soils. Send it to your MP, please repost so that more people are aware of the work of the Soil Association.

You can become a member for under £10 a month or a corporate sponsor click link
You can write (send this mnifesto)
to your MP here

From: Helen Browning Chief Executive  http://www.soilassociation.org

The Soil Association calls on all parties to give food and farming a higher priority than ever in their manifestos. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the next Government will have an opportunity to produce an agricultural policy for the first time in decades. This must fully recognise the importance of food and farming to public health, our environment, and the economy. 

We urge all political parties to put climate change, public health, soil protection and farm animal welfare at the centre of their food and farming vision – and to adopt the following seven policies in their 2017 manifestos. Stronger working across departments and with devolved administrations, and better resourcing of DEFRA, is also essential.

Our recommendations cover food production (farming and land use) and consumption (public health and diets). We would be very pleased to provide further information on anything contained in this document.  Some of these proposals build on a recent Soil Association report on post-CAP priorities.

  1. Invest in healthy soils – though soil stewardship payments, mandatory soil testing, incentives for more grass and clover, and agroforestry

The fundamental importance of soil health to farm productivity, food security, climate change and public health has been neglected for far too long. Protecting and restoring soil health needs to be at the very heart of agricultural policy. Current global and national soil health commitments provide a starting point but must be urgently accompanied by funding and delivery. Soil stewardship payments would incentivise farmers to increase the organic matter in the soil – including through existing farm assurance schemes such as organic and LEAF. A new well-maintained national soil database should be created with regular soil organic matter monitoring and reporting by farmers. Investment in soil health research, data collection and monitoring should be a priority.

  1. Zero carbon farming by 2050 – a commitment to ensuring the agriculture and food sector plays its part in tackling climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement

The next Government should adopt a bold approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the food and farming sector, seeking to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  It should accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change for a stronger policy framework for agriculture emissions reductions, both to 2022, as current progress is not on track, and after 2022 – moving beyond the current voluntary approach of providing information and advice. This should include a new agroforestry strategy, alongside more forest and woodland establishment on marginal land.  Livestock emissions must be tackled -including through the encouragement of dietary change. All trade deals must be designed to be fully compatible with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. Funding for farmer-led research – allocate 10% of the current R&D budget for innovative agriculture projects led by farmers themselves

The success of UK agriculture post-Brexit will depend on innovation by farmers. The UK spends around £450 million a year on agricultural research and innovation yet only a fraction of this goes to practical projects led by farmers. The next Government should announce a dedicated farmer innovation fund with a budget of at least 10% of the UK’s public agricultural research and development budget. This should be accompanied by innovation support services to help farmers apply and make the most of new funds, building on experience from other countries of doing this through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri), and of home-grown initiatives such as Innovative Farmers. The next Government should reward practical research by incentivising individual researchers and institutions to pay more attention to the impact of their research, for example, through awards schemes for researchers working on farmer-led projects; training; and involvement of farmers and practitioners in reviewing research grant applications.

  1. Stronger support for organic farming – building on the current system to increase the amount of land farmed using organic methods to benefit the environment and improve animal welfare, and to meet growing consumer demand for organic food

The public benefits delivered by organic farming have been well documented by independent research over decades. They include more wildlife and biodiversity, healthier soils and carbon storage, flood protection, clean water, lower pesticide and antibiotic use, more jobs. Whilst only 3% of UK farmland is organic, in some other countries, it accounts for up to a fifth of production – setting new norms for policy, business and the public. The next Government needs to prioritise the expansion of organic farming as a central plank of agricultural policy. This should include maintaining, improving and expanding the organic conversion and maintenance payments, ensuring agricultural colleges offer more courses in organic and agroecological farming practices alongside new organic apprenticeships, and maintaining the legal basis for organic standards – ensuring ongoing alignment with the EU organic regulation.

  1. A ‘good life’ for all farm animals within 10 years – setting a new welfare framework for all farm animals supported by the mandatory method of production labelling, stronger regulation of farm antibiotic use, and public investment to help farmers make the transition.

The next Government should commit to all farm animals leading a ‘good life’ as defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council – meaning that animals can exercise natural instincts and follow their urges to care, graze, root and play. Incentives and funding for investment in farm infrastructure should be provided to help livestock farmers make the transition and to ensure investment in extensive, low-input systems a more attractive option for investors. Extending mandatory method of production labelling to all meat and dairy, as proposed by Labelling Matters, would provide consumers with the information they deserve, level the playing field for higher welfare products and grow this important market – allowing more farmers to shift from volume to quality production. The next government must put animal welfare at the heart of policies to tackle the antibiotic crisis including a ban on the route preventative use of antibiotics and targets to cut farm antibiotic use as proposed by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.  

  1. Invest in child health – commit to creating an environment where it is normal, easy and enjoyable for children and young people to eat well.

Last year the Health Select Committee called for ‘brave and bold’ action to improve the dietary health of UK children. The subsequent Obesity Plan included a set of actions that contribute towards this goal in England. The next Government should commit to fulfilling these actions, and to building on the Plan. It should also commit to ongoing investment in school meals, including free school meals for all infants, a policy proposed by the independent School Food Plan in 2014, which received cross-party support upon its publication. The next Government should make clear that it will not tolerate the younger generation growing up with the normality of regularly consuming unhealthy food, or having no concept of where their food comes from.

  1. Better public procurement – to widen public access to healthier, higher welfare, local and organic food and to build stable markets for farmers and growers.

 Significant programmes to improve the quality of food in the public sector, such as Government Buying Standards, Defra’s Balanced Scorecard and Food for Life Served Here, have demonstrated that public sector food standards can return substantial value to farmers and consumers. Such efforts deserve public support. The next Government should implement an ambitious procurement policy that requires use of Defra’s Balanced Scorecard across the public sector. All public procurement decisions should place a weighting of at least 60% on quality, with price not to exceed a 40% weighting. Caterers’ use of the Balanced Scorecard should be independently verified via schemes such as Food for Life Served Here. This would increase uptake of assurance schemes such as Red Tractor, LEAF, Marine Stewardship Council and organic, thereby delivering more sustainable food and farming and incentivising a ‘race to the top’, with benefits for consumers, as well as British farmers and food businesses.




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The British Journal of Nutrition has published an article created by experts who tested Organic versus Non-organic. Their findings on why organic is in fact better than non-organic is very positive. It at last puts forward the case that has been argued by people who care about what they put in their bodies, the environment and animal welfare: Organic is better for you than non-organic. There are so many reasons to buy organic:

Strawberries should always be organic due to how many pesticides are used on non-organic and cannot be washed off.

Strawberries should always be organic due to how many pesticides are used on non-organic and cannot be washed off.

  1. You will know what’s in your food as it has to be approved to have the organic certification.
  2. Fraction of the pesticide use, and would not use any pesticides that harm Bees or other Wildlife
  3. Genetically Modified (GM) foods are completely banned.
  4. Combats climate change by the farming methods used.
  5. Supports ethical farming and animal welfare.

But from a Nutritional point of view organic foods:

  1. Are higher in nutrients due to quality of the soil.
  2. Do not contain the amount of toxins that no-organic foods can contain.

Organic Carvelo neroSupport the Soil Association and organic farming

Become a member of the Soil association: http://www.soilassociation.org/becomeamember
Starting at £3.50 per month or a Soil Friend member for £10 a month.
Fundraising: http://www.soilassociation.org/supportourwork/fundraiseforus

For more information on British Journal Findings see:

Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses
Marcin Barański,Dominika Średnicka-Tober,Nikolaos Volakakis,Chris Seal,Roy Sanderson,Gavin B. Stewart,Charles Benbrook,Bruno Biavati,Emilia Markellou,Charilaos Giotis,Joanna Gromadzka-Ostrowska,Ewa Rembiałkowska,Krystyna Skwarło-Sońta,Raija Tahvonen,Dagmar Janovská,Urs Niggli,Philippe Nicot and Carlo Leifert (2014).
British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 112, Issue05, September 2014, pp 794-811

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For many years we Nutritional Therapists have banged on about sugar being one of the most detrimental substances, still classed as a food, that you can put into your body.

The discussion about sugar and calls to increase taxes on sugary foods is growing. It has been all over the news today, it was discussed on many chat shows and Jamie Oliver has strongly suggested an age warning be put on high sugar drinks, which is entirely right and he should be commended. Will the goverment act?

The fact that sugar is “BAD,” is now in the public psyche. For the last few years the media have been cranking up the message, but do people believe know just how bad it is? Do you? It’s fairly obvious that nearly everybody does not believe that sugar is that bad for them or there would be an overnight drop in the sale of all things sugary.

So who is it that sugar is BAD for, if it’s not you?

There is no doubt that scientifically, medically and nutritionally, refined sugars and carbohydrates are the root cause of obesity and related diseases.

But did you know that eating sugar or refined carbs regularly can have a detrimental effect on health of your good gut bacteria (flora) and therefore digestion and immune function. Sugar feeds undesirable microbes and as these microbes feed on sugar they release toxins into the blood and affect your immune response causing widespread inflammation and your general wellbeing. The more sugar you eat the more the ‘bad’ gut bacteria, yeast and fungi thrive. Good flora thrives on plant fibre, not sugar. We need the healthy flora as it is vital for the proper breakdown of foods, and the production of many substances that keep us healthy.

Sugar also feeds cancers and tumours, it causes systemic inflammation and creates a dangerous environment in the body. It has a huge effect on our mental wellbeing afterall sugar is a drug, it acts on our opiate receptors making us feel good for a short while, it wears off once our insulin response has kicked in and then we want more sugar or refined carbs. The cycle goes on.

It also has a huge effect on hormone balance: when your doctor says that sugar does not give you spots, ask them to explain the hormonal response to sugar. It can sap our energy even though it is pure energy, our bodies cannot no use the sugar unless we are constantly active –even then there is a price to pay for all the by products of burning too much energy. Sugar cannot stay in the blood it must be stored – sugar creates more fat in the body than eating fat!

Consuming sugar can also cause nutrient deficiencies as the body uses many nutrients in it’s effort to protect itself from a sugar onslaught.

Now here’s a question: Now you know all this, will you still consume sugary foods? Will you still let your kids consume sugary foods and drinks?

The truth is, no matter how much we try to stop our children consuming sugar when we are with them, all their friends have it and they influence each other. They are marketed to and targeted by the sugary foods companies It would take a huge collective effort to reduce the amount of sugar in children’s diet and the government needs to be hard hitting about sugar and the manufacturers because that’s where action is desperately needed.

We get kids addicted using fruit juice and fruit products at an early stage of their lives, giving them a taste for sugar and it’s almost impossible to give up. It is sadly sinister the way parents are lured into buying high sugar products for their very young babies, frustose and highly concentrated fruit products are NOT the answer to the “5 aday”.

Here is a list of the high sugar foods that we consume everyday:

  1. Fruit juice
  2. Cereals – with the exception of unrefined grains like oats, millet, buckwheat and brown rice products (unless they are high refined) Many mueslis claim to be healthy but these can contain more sugar per 100g than a chocolate bar!
  3. Yogurt – even a fruity one has added sugar – choose natural organic full fat.
  4. Smoothies – many smoothies even the freshly made ones contain so much sugar, it could have more than a fizzy drink!
  5. White bread – starts to break down into simple sugars in your mouth.
  6. Ready made pancakes.
  7. Toast & Honey
  8. Toast & Jams
  9. Toast & Marmalade
  10. Sweet spreads
  11. Ready made sweet products like pastries, tarts, croissants etc.
  12. Baked Beans from a can.
  13. Sauces – ketchup, brown sauces, BBQ sauces, Salsa, salad dressing etc.
  14. Ready meals
  15. Bread
  16. Milk – milk sugars
  17. Many restaurant meals – sugar is added to affect taste and texture.
  18. Hot chocolate, sugar in tea or coffee.
  19. Canned soups and other canned foods.
  20. Some meats and deli products like ham, sausages and other.
  21. Alcoholic drinks
  22. All sweet fizzy drinks.
  23. Sushi rice – a lot of sugar and gluten.
  24. Biscuits, cake and many crackers.
  25. Gravy mixes
  26. Sauces in a jar.
  27. Pop corn
  28. Flavoured crisps and snacks.
  29. Energy bars
  30. Health bars
  31. Dark chocolate
  32. Dried fruit
  33. baby foods
  34. Baby and toddler fruit drinks.
  35. Childrens ‘fruit’ products.

And many more. It is quite incredible how much sugar is in our diet. The good news is that if you make the commitment to reduce sugar, it can be done. It will take a while and your tastes will change, you will find that your taste buds may get more sensitive to the natural flavours of healthy foods, like a carrot for example – they are actually quite sweet and can be a great substitute when you fancy something sweet.
There are now many natural sweeteners like Stevia, even using the sweeter sugars like Rapa Dura is better as you use less and it’s full of nutrients and not so ’empty’. The best way to treat sugar is as it always was treated 100s of year ago – as an occasional treat!

carrots pile smaller


Please see the link for a blog I wrote 3 years ago on the threat of sugar to health. https://goo.gl/uI7mTp

Please be aware: The information and advice provided in this website is not
a substitute for medical advice. If you are concerned about your health or
have any symptoms you should see your GP/healthcare provider.


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I am glad this has come to light (Not glad that it’s happened) as it makes my job a lot easier in persuading people to take more care about what they eat.

Cooking properly at home is 100 times better than buying convenience foods. The health benefits are so obvious: less salt, no sugar, quality ingredients and NO additives.  It is NOT more expensive than buying ready meals or large amounts of refined foods. You can make 10 burgers from one pack of £2 turky mince (500g) or £4 organic beef mince (500g) – this is much cheaper than buying 4 cheap burgers! They are easy, quick and taste much nicer and you can add healthy ingredients like onions nad herbs to increase the nutrient value. Really it’s the retailer and manufacturers that fool you into thinking that buying ready-made foods are cheaper. There’s a bit of consumer laziness involved too, if we are really honest, as far as having time is concerned – there is no other way, you have to make time if you want to be healthier.
This ‘Scandal’, has not only highlighted the problem with meat and ready-made meals, it shows that you never really know what’s in any foods that are mass-produced. Manufacturers legally don’t have to put all ingredients in, and even if you do read the ingredients list – do you even know what half the ingredients are?

Vegetarians have to be very careful, manufacturers use a lot more flavourings, additives and salt to make bland foods more palatable and some of the derived protein foods contain substances that humans (or any animal) were never meant to eat.

There is huge pressure on manufacturers to sell cheap food by the consumer, especially meat. Perhaps if we treated animal product with the respect it deserves, after all it was a life, we should be supporting farmers that treat animals well, eat less meat but higher quality and eat more plant-based foods, the costs would balance out and the nation would reap the health and environmental benefits.

Flicks bookThere is a great book written by a friend of mine called ‘Not on The Label’ by Felicity Lawrence.  It caused a big stir when first published back in 2004 and is well worth reading if you are interested in the where food comes from.


For information and keeping up to date with food news join the Soil Association, it doesn’t cost much, but you will get a great book, and regular magazines and have access to wonderful recipes and food advise, and you will be supporting the environment and organic sustainable farming.

Soil ass


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