Vegetable Values

What do you think about a major supermarket sending 12 pallets of pineapples (nearly 12,000 pineapples) to waste because they had some blemishes, where is the right in that?

Thankfully, charities such as Food Cloud exist and they stepped in to rectify the situation in this case. If they did not exist where would this food go then?

Fresh food is so devalued by supermarkets, it makes me want to cry! It does not benefit the consumer, we think it does but ultimately it does not. How can a supermarket sell onions for 49c? It is not possible to grow a kilo of onions for 49c.

It is the retailers whether it be Tesco or Amazon that hold the keys to the kingdom, they set the prices, they hold all the power, and we the consumer give it to them. They only care about the bottom line driven by profit. But when the damage is done, when the soil will no longer produce the food, what good will all the money be then?

Did you know that supermarket buying practices force the last few cents from the farmer? New supermarket buyers get targets to improve margins, they go straight to the farmer and demand better discounts. Is it really any wonder that young farmers might be disillusioned with the trade? There is a strike next week by farm workers in Spain demanding fairer working conditions and wages, all of this is driven by our cheap food system.

This practice of selling produce below its value, once unthinkable, makes cheap fresh food acceptable in the eyes of the consumers, and how would we be expected to think otherwise? It is everywhere we look, it has effectively been normalised.

On our farm this year we produced just short of a quarter of a million-euro worth of produce. We broke even, and that is with the farm team working flat out, and having crops grow well, it was a good year. If we had to sell all our produce at supermarket prices, we would have been gone a long time ago, so would the jobs and the people.

Imagine, instead of a race to the bottom, a system that allows for investment in the farms, in the people on the farms, in the biodiversity. A system that does not allow 12 pallets to be dumped because of a blemish on a few pieces, that does not require workers to strike for fair working conditions.

All we need, is to say “no more” to loss leading fresh produce.

I do feel a little better now for getting that off my chest and thank you for listening.

Thank you for your support, thank you for buying our produce, thank you for supporting local jobs, thank you for supporting local food production, thank you for supporting sustainable food production and thank you for sticking with us all year.

You make our farm possible.

Have a magical and safe Christmas.

Kenneth

Festive Food Waste

Food waste is a huge environmental problem all year round, but over Christmas, it seems we throw out about 30% more than usual. According to Stop Food Waste, here in Ireland we generate at least 1.27 million tonnes of food waste each year! Food waste is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Growing, processing, and transporting food uses significant resources. And so if food is wasted, then of course these resources are wasted too.

Globally, around 1.4 billion hectares of land is used to grown food which is then wasted. That’s a lot of land that could be returned to the wild. While some food waste is anaerobically digested to make biogas, composted, or rendered for animal food, a lot of the food waste produced is still going to landfill where it doesn’t just harmlessly break down, but it emits methane, a gas 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. According to Project Drawdown, an international group of experts, reducing food waste is the 3rd most effective action we can take to reverse climate change.

Home composting is a great solution if you have the space, but you should only compost uncooked vegetables (known as green matter) along with brown matter like tea leaves, coffee grounds, shredded card/paper, tree leaves etc – successful compost has a balance of brown and green matter and is incredibly beneficial to your soil health. Cooked food waste should not go into your home compost as typical home composters don’t get hot enough to safely break down the food and it also attracts rodents. Put your cooked food waste in a council provided food waste bin where it will be taken to a commercial compost site to be anaerobically digested. Or better yet, don’t waste the food at all! Try to use up your cooked food waste in inventive dishes and show your leftovers some love!

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started. Please ask questions and share your favourite Christmas leftover meal ideas in the comments too and have a waste-free feast! Let me know if you made these leftover-loving meals and tag us on Instagram or share your meal on our Facebook page. We love to see what you are cooking! Liz x

Festive Farinata

A farinata is a bit like a frittata but made with chickpea flour batter instead of eggs. Simply whisk together one part chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) with one part warm water (I like to thin it out with an extra splash of water too), season the batter really well with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. Then let it rest while you pre-heat the oven and prepare a roasting dish with your leftover Christmas vegetables.

Put a little olive oil into the base of the dish, then chop up whatever leftover veg you have from your roast. Potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, red cabbage, squash, sprouts… pop them into the roasting dish then pour over the chickpea flour batter.

Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the farinata and crack over some black pepper. You could also add some crumbled tofeta (I used the leftover bit from making my cranberry and tofeta cigars) or other odds and ends of Christmas cheeses. Then put the dish into a hot oven (200C) and bake it until the batter is set. The time depends on how big or deep your dish is, just keep an eye on it. It’s done when it’s golden brown on top and with minimal wobble.

Allow it to settle for a few minutes out of the oven and then ease it away from the sides of the dish with a palette knife or spatula. Slice it into portions and eat it hot or cold with salads, ferments, dips and chutneys or sauces to your liking. Enjoy!

Swedish-style Stuffing Balls

Leftover stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce? Make my Swedish style meatballs dish, it’s delicious. Swedish meatballs are typically served with boiled or mashed potatoes, a rich, creamy gravy, lingonberry jam (cranberry sauce is a brilliant substitute) and steamed greens. It’s a hearty and satisfying winter dish so I tend to make this rather than Italian style meatballs with leftover stuffing from our Sunday Roasts, or in this case Christmas Dinner, in winter.

Get some potatoes on to boil for mash and some greens ready for steaming or wilting.

Then simply squish your stuffing together into little balls (if it’s gone dry add a splash of stock, if it’s too wet add some oats or breadcrumbs) and fry them in a large pan with some melted butter and olive oil. Turn them regularly with tongs to get them browning on all sides.

Keep the stuffing balls warm in a dish in the oven while you finish making the mashed potatoes, steam some greens and heat up and enrich your leftover gravy.

Heat up your leftover gravy with a splash of water, then when it’s nice and hot enrich it with a generous splash of oat/soy cream. Gently bring it back up to heat, but don’t let it boil. Then taste it for seasoning and adjust it if needed with more salt/pepper.

Serve the stuffing balls with mashed potatoes, creamy gravy, steamed greens and a big dollop of cranberry sauce on the side.

Barleyotto, Roasted Carrots & Carrot Top Pesto

I’ve been cooking so much with the gorgeous, super-fresh carrots from the farm recently. Carrots are one of those staple vegetables that often get overlooked as ‘boring’ and sent to the side of the plate or the base of the meal. I love elevating these humble vegetables and making them the star of the show. Once you taste the difference between watery, bland supermarket carrots and the real deal from the farm, you’ll see why I bang on about showcasing each vegetable in its own right.

Root to Shoot

I’m sure most of you already know that the carrot tops are edible too. In this recipe, and in many of my recipes, I show you how to make a meal using the whole vegetable, root to shoot! I hate waste, not just because I don’t have the cash to splash, but also because of the environmental impact. Did you know that reducing food waste has been identified as one of the most effective ways to fight climate change? According to Stop Food Waste, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year. This directly contributes to food shortages, water stress, biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, more than one quarter of food produced is wasted: with food loss and waste contributing 8-10% of total emissions. So we should all do our part in reducing food waste by learning how to use the entire vegetable and putting as little as possible in the compost bin (and certainly never put food waste in the general waste heading for landfill). Apart from the environmental issues regarding food waste, it is surprising how much important dietary fibre and incredibly powerful nutrients are found in the peels and other parts of vegetables we often throw away. Good for your body, your pocket and your planet, what’s not to like?

Ingredients (to serve 4)

Method

Start by removing the leafy tops from the carrots. Roughly chop them and put them in a food processor with the blade attachment. Then slice the carrots lengthways into halves or quarters, put them in a roasting dish, dress them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a hot oven (180C) to roast while you get on with the barleyotto/risotto.

Peel and dice the onion and start sautéing it in a heavy bottomed pan with a little olive oil. You could also add a knob of dairy free butter to the pan for extra flavour at this stage.

Dice the celery and garlic. Add 3 cloves to to the pot (along with all the celery) and one garlic clove to the food processor where you’ll make the carrot top pesto.

Season the onion, celery and garlic with a little salt and allow it to cook down and soften a little. Then add the mug of barley grains, the glass of wine (you can replace this with a small splash of cider/white wine vinegar or the juice of a lemon), the stock cube/bouillon and 3 mugs of water. (If you are using risotto rice, add the liquid gradually, stir often and allow it to soak in before adding more). Add the drained butterbeans and let the barleyotto simmer until the grains are cooked through. Stir regularly and keep an eye on the liquid levels, you may need to add more.

While the carrots and the barleyotto/risotto are cooking, focus on the pesto.

Toast the sunflower seeds in a hot, dry frying pan until they are fragrant and start to pop and colour. Then add them to the food processor with the carrot tops and garlic.

Add the juice of half a lemon or a tbsp of cider or white wine vinegar, a few tbsp of nutritional yeast (this brings an irresistible, rich, cheesy flavour to the pesto), a pinch of salt, some freshly ground back pepper and enough olive oil to blend the pesto into a bright green sauce. If you don’t have very many carrot tops you can also add some chopped kale or spinach to the blender.

Pulse the pesto until it comes together into a loose green sauce. Then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with extra salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil as you like and blend again until you are happy with the flavour and consistency.

When the barley or risotto is cooked through, taste it and check the seasoning, adjusting it if necessary. Then serve in bowls topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto. Any spare pesto can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to one week. Use it in sandwiches, to top crackers or dip vegetables in, stir it through pasta or drizzle it over steamed greens or roasted vegetables.

Enjoy! 💚 Liz

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments and share it with us and your friends on your Facebook or Instagram. We love to see the recipes leave the blog. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to support your local, organic farmers here by signing up for a regular veg box delivery and adding our carefully curated groceries to your order as and when you need them. Thank you!