The True Value of Food

The traditional model of the family farm is we are told “unsustainable”. The powers that be are insistent that the best way forward for food, is large scale intensification. 

Supermarkets are putting more and more distance between the farmer and the consumer; it is now impossible to understand where our food comes from our how it was produced.

While the conventional system ignores the true cost of food, and is driven by supermarket dictated prices, the sustainable food movement aims to value food fairly, create a connection between growers and consumers and reward those involved in the production fairly according to their input.

This week we were confronted with a task that is less than pleasurable and brings me to a particular bugbear of mine: should we discount our food to sell it? Should we stop supporting other small businesses because the backdrop of cheap food makes it increasingly difficult to pay a fair price to our own farm and to the other farmers that supply us? And the answer, whenever we think about the pressures this puts on our business, is always the same, no it is not the right thing to do.

We have so much good produce now, it is literally bursting out of the ground, and we have hired so many people to cater for an upturn in demand that the end of the summer usually brings, but has not yet materialised, and I am wondering what to do with all the cabbage, broccoli, kale and carrots parsnips and so much more that we have in our fields right now. 

I know this is business and I should just get on with it and you would be right for saying that, and I totally get it. But there is a point in here that drives me a bit crazy: which is the devaluation of food by the supermarket model of selling and the inability for us as a small businesses to compete with retailers that can often sell cheap, imported produce for less than we can produce it for.

This is a fact. To give you a little example we buy cucumbers from a small organic farmer in Mayo, we pay him €1 per cucumber we collect them and the time and energy to get the cucumber to us adds another 20%, so the real cost of this cucumber is €1.20. We sell this cucumber for €1.99, that 80c needs to cover so many different things and so many different people in jobs: from customer service to packing jobs to everything in between (we now employ 45 people). So, when I see large supermarkets selling cucumbers for 49c I just can’t understand how that can be done. 

There is no getting away from the fact that value is so important, but long-term value versus short term gain is the real issue here, fresh local organic produce will always give you better nutritional value, better sustainable value, better value for our localities and communities and better value for our health. 

Of course, balancing a household budget can be very difficult too, and that we are mindful of.  To help with this we have many options to help with this: such as the build your own box that gives excellent value, we also have now the added incentive that if you set up a repeat order you get double reward points for everything you buy. Finally, if you buy a cabbage or a swede from us it can be nearly double the size of those you get in the supermarket for the same price! That is double the food for the same cost! 

But fundamentally your decision to support us is supporting not only your health; it is allowing an idea, a sector, a farm, individual’s livelihoods, biodiversity, the soil, the environment, and other sustainable businesses to flourish. You are sending a message to the powers that be that you believe there is a better way and crucially you are taking positive action for a more sustainable future.

Thank you for your support.

Kenneth

PS: Set up a repeat order (you can add extras to it whenever you need them) and collect DOUBLE POINTS on our new VIPeas loyalty scheme. This is a great way to save up for money off your big Christmas shop. Have a look at our website here for all the options. You can get a set box or pick and choose exactly what you need. We sell sustainable groceries too!

Simple, Real Food

Yesterday my daughter Ella went down the fields and harvested a big bunch of kale she wanted to make kale crisps. I was impressed, who am I to stand in the way of a child who wants to voluntarily eat kale, I thought to myself!

Mostly though it is the other way around, often getting our kids to eat more vegetables can be a struggle, why is this? Why isn’t eating an apple, (or indeed kale crisps) instead of a chocolate bar easier? Why is doing the right thing sometimes so difficult? 

Why is our food system not better, healthier, kinder to us and our planet. How did we get ourselves into this crazy retail race to the bottom and how come it is so hard to value and want to eat real food? 

Both questions are linked. I did a stent in a major pharmaceutical company in the US as a research scientist. A friend of mine at the time worked in the food division, occasionally she would bring cookies to lunch for us to try that had been engineered in her lab to within an inch of their lives. Texture, flavour, taste, and crumbliness had all been optimised in the lab to allow just the right amount of sugar fat and salt to hit our taste buds in the right way at the right time to make them irresistible.  

Many of the processed foods including health bars and vitamin drinks that line supermarket shelves are about as healthy as eating spoonful’s of sugar, generally they contain high amounts of processed apple juice or conventional cereal and sugar substitutes. They rely on wonderfully creative science and marketing to make us believe how good for us they are, and of course they taste amazing.

We are sold the idea of free choice, but the reality is that nearly all of the big brands on our shelves are made by 10 giant multinational conglomerates. An industry built on cheap commodity products wrapped and packaged and sold as healthy, driven by profit, derived from a complex unsustainable food chain produces most of our food and it is damaging our health and destroying the planet.

So how is this system fair? How is it that these processed products have taken centre stage and are often seen by us the consumer as a prized food that can be sold for maximum profit? This is the carefully constructed reality we have been fed, it is not our fault it is just the way it.

It is simple, cheap commodity ingredients are processed and packaged to be sold as healthy alternatives to real food, that achieve maximum profit for manufactures and retailers. 

Deciphering what is good for our health and the planet is next to impossible these days. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. 

There is one extremely straightforward step any one of us can take right now to revolutionise our food choices, the principle is simple: 

“EAT MORE FRESH ORGANIC PRODUCE”

We cannot eat too many vegetables and vegetables in all their guises are good for us. That’s pretty simple right?

So, choosing fresh organic locally grown food and working more fruit and veg into our daily routine is a magnificent way to improve how we feel and our long-term health, not to mention the benefits for the planet. 

So, Ella, go for it, all the kale in the world is yours!

Kenneth

Get a box of real, simple organic food delivered to your door anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland here.

Weed Control & Roundup

Over the last couple of months, I had forgotten how grounding growing food is. On a sunny day or sometimes even better on a wet and windy day walking through the crops, or sampling the fresh harvest, leaves you feelingconnected to the land and alive.  It is easy to forget all of this.  
 
These days it’s very difficult to know how the food we eat is actually produced. How could we be expected to know?  Life is so busy, and supermarkets give us a shiny happy reality that is often disconnected from the real food production processeshidden behind the scenes. 

The end of the growing season is a mad rush it always is and just when you think you are finished you discover you are not. We have finished planting, but the weeds have marched on relentlessly. This warm humid weather is ideal for cropgrowth but also for weed growth. 

This year our work apart from one or two mishaps has kept pace with the weeds. But our approach to weed control is notone of total dominance, quite frequently once you get the crops to a certain size the weeds are no longer a problem. 

In fact, they can provide a basis for a wide variety of life: flowering weeds that bees come to, the lush green undergrowth, a haven for a myriad of tiny creatures that would not be there otherwise. 

Thus, in turn providing food for the birds, and at times, the necessary predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies that feed on aphids. A natural ecosystem living below the giant shading leaves of the broccoli plants or cabbages develop. Each plant brings something different to the fray and generally none are unwelcome.

Now please do not misunderstand me, if we did not take a pragmatic approach to weed control and utilise all the tools at our disposal there would be no crops, no food, and no farm. We have worked extremely hard to ensure the crops are healthy and weed control is part of the process. No, our approach is just different, less harsh and embraces the idea that yes, we can work with these other plants, and they too have a place on our farm. 

Conversely conventional farming relies on the iron fist of chemicals to control weeds, there is no room for negotiation here, the chemicals are designed to disrupt metabolic pathways in plants, they are generally systemic in nature (get absorbed into the plant and reside there after application, all the way up the food chain onto our plates), the weeds are removed, and the residues of the chemicals remain in and on the food. Just look at the side of any road sprayed with roundup, it is ugly and yellow and dead. 
 
Using chemicals to fight nature will never work. In the short term it may give a temporary reprieve from a certain disease or pest, but that pest will come back stronger and more resistant next time. It is in a way a self-perpetuating industry.It is not the way and IT IS CERTAINLY NOT OUR WAY.

Organic agriculture is much more than saying no to the use of chemicals, it represents a holistic approach to working with nature, to our land and to our food. It means no chemicals, but it also means no artificial fertiliser, it means tree planting, it means hedge planting, it means allowing nature its place to thrive while also producing food. It means taking care of the soil and it means producing food that tastes fresh and good and crucially is good for us and for the environment.

Here’s to fresh organic food!

Kenneth

PS: It is a strange time, normality is creeping back into our lives, kids are going back to school as are ours, routines if there are ones will be re-established. It has been a strange year, some things are certainly outside of our control, but we can control what we eat. Keeping good healthy fresh food in our fridge, means we are more likely to use it, and this means we will eat healthier and feel better, as we head into autumnaldays this is one sure positive step we can take.

Bang Bang Broccoli & Black Beans

We are harvesting so much broccoli from our fields at the moment! Expect lots in your set boxes or add some to the ‘build your own’ box for a special reduced price. Broccoli is brilliant! Broccoli is a good source of fibre and protein, and contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, C, E, K and a good array of B vitamins including folic acid. A real Irish super-food! I’ll be steaming some batches to put in boxes in the freezer to add to loads of different meals. Here’s one of our favourite family meals that uses a lot of broccoli.

Bang bang chicken is a traditional Sichuan dish of poached chicken which is then ‘banged’ to shred it and dressed in a spicy sauce. It’s a refreshing dish served with julienned cucumber. This is my plant-based nod to that classic. Definitely not authentic, but delicious none-the-less. It’s really simple. Nutritious broccoli and black beans are drenched in a spicy sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds and then roasted. You can serve it with rice or noodles, or it’s delicious as a warm salad with spiralized courgette.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 tins of black beans
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp lime juice (or vinegar)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari if you need gluten free)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • a big thumb of ginger
  • fresh red chillies to taste
  • 6 tbsp sesame seeds
  • scallions, fresh coriander and extra chillies to serve
  • rice or noodles to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C and find a large roasting tray, or two trays if you don’t have a very large one. You want to be able to spread the ingredients into a single layer.
  2. Trim as little as possible off the stalks of the broccoli. Just a sliver off the end is usually enough – those bits can go in the compost bin. Then cut the whole stalk away from the florets, slice it in half lengthways and then slice each half into long, thin strips. Put them in the roasting dish. Then cut the heads of the broccoli into bites sized florets and add them to the roasting tray too.
  3. Drain the tins of black beans and add them to the tray. Then make the dressing.
  4. Mix the soy sauce, oil, lime juice/vinegar and maple syrup in a bowl. Finely dice the chilli, garlic and ginger and add them to the bowl. Mix well and then pour the dressing over the broccoli and black beans.
  5. Use your hands to mix the sauce into the broccoli and beans, then spread the ingredients out into a single layer. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and put the tray into the oven to roast for just 20 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  6. Meanwhile cook your rice or noodles and prepare the toppings. Slice scallions, coriander and extra red chillies.
  7. Serve in bowls and enjoy hot or cold. We like to make an extra batch of the dressing with toasted sesame oil but without the raw garlic and ginger to drizzle over the finished dish too to make it extra juicy and spicy.

Bounty of the Land

For the bounty of the land, we need to be thankful. My mam used to insist on us all saying a thank you for the food before we ate any meals, especially the special meals at Christmas and Easter. She had the right idea; to stop and think and appreciate our food is something that we rarely do in these busy times but taking stock can be a very good thing to do. 

Our food decisions have such massive implications for our health and our planet, there probably isn’t anything more fundamental we can do that is within our control than make good food choices. I guess you could argue that “good food choices” are subjective. I would argue that maybe they arenot, we all know the difference between eating processed junkfood and a healthy apple, that is not subjective, but it goes so much further.

The questions around food choices are many. Do we reduce our meat intake, or do we choose not to eat meat at all? Will we choose local or imported? Organic or conventional?Fairtrade or not? I guess at this stage we know a thing or two about food, we have been growing it for 15 years commercially, and this is my grandad’s farm and he also used to grow his vegetables organically.

We choose, plants, organic, sustainable, Fairtrade and local (where possible), we choose life (To paraphrase a very famous film!) 

My take is simple, and it is the cornerstone of our farm and business: do what is right, don’t use chemicals, work with nature, plant trees, keep bees, grow only vegetables, use natural fertiliser and green manures, rest the land and grow and harvest healthy sustainable food.

It is ultimately a no brainer, fresh organic food, is more nutrient dense, is tastier and you only get what you see, no hidden chemicals. People often ask why some conventional vegetables keep for so long? Well, if you take citrus fruit for example, they are coated in a chemical wax to preserve them they can last for ages, you will not find any hidden unseen chemicals in or on our food. 

Right now, we are slap bang in the middle of the best local IRISH harvest season, it is the time of local vegetable plenty.This is the culmination of our year’s work, and we are rolling in produce so much so that we don’t have enough homes for all our broccoli and courgettes. But we have come up with some great ways to move it on and to say thank you too for supporting us, next week all set boxes will get a free extra portion of courgettes, so enjoy!

Right now, we are harvesting: Kale green, Cavelo nero,cabbage, broccoli, Romanesco, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, lettuce, salad, carrots, fennel, beetroot, spinach, radish. We also have IRISH scallions, onions, new potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, leeks, yellow courgettes, it’s a long list. 

My absolute favourite thing to do right now is to go to our polytunnels and pick my own tomatoes for lunch, they taste amazing, they are grown right here in Galway, and you will not get better. They are in all the boxes next week, and a little trick to bring out the flavour is to eat them at room temperature not straight from the fridge.

So yes, we are thankful for the bounty, and we are also thankful for your support to make a real sustainable commercial organic vegetable growing enterprise a reality right here in Sunny Galway.

Kenneth

Have a look at our range here.

Quick Pickled Courgettes

Got a glut of courgettes? We’ve got the recipes. As well as this classic quick pickle, a delicious solution for many excess veg, I’ve shared a fair few other courgette recipes. Just pop ‘courgette’ in the search bar and they’ll come up.

Quick pickles do what they say on the tin. They are quick and simple to put together and they are ready to eat in just a couple of days. You can definitely eat them earlier too, I just think the flavours develop better after a couple of days in the fridge. They last a long time too, especially if you sterilise the jar and close it while the vinegar solution is still hot. Keep the pickles in the fridge and don’t double dip and they should last for 2 months, if you don’t eat them up in that time… don’t store these pickles at room temperature unless you can them, which is a whole other process.

Pickled courgettes are so delicious in a sandwich or burger, with cheese and crackers or as a tangy, crunchy part of a salad. You can also flavour them however you like. Go herby with dill, spicy with chilli, use classic pickling spices, bay leaves, garlic, ginger…whatever you like! Enjoy! Liz x

Ingredients (makes 2 medium jars, around a litre volume)

  • 300ml apple cider vinegar (we LOVE Clashganny Farm’s organic ACV)
  • 300ml water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar (optional but really nice)
  • flavourings of your choice – I used: 3 sliced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 1/2 a white onion

Method

  1. Start by finding 2 small jars (or 1 big one? – it all depends on how much pickle you’re making or the size of your courgettes) and giving them a really good clean and hot rinse. Or you can sterilise them to be extra safe. Put the washed and rinsed jars in a clean sink then fill them with freshly boiled water from the kettle. Wait a minute then carefully empty the jars (use oven gloves or a folded tea towel so you don’t burn your hands). Let them air dry while you get on with chopping and heating up your vinegar solution.
  2. Measure the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a small pan and heat it up while you quickly add the flavourings to the jars and chop the vegetables.
  3. Divide your flavourings between your jars. Then thinly slice the courgette and onion and divide them between the jars too. Lightly press the vegetables down into the jars to pack them in neatly, but don’t crush them. You should leave a couple of cm of room in the jar.
  4. As the vinegar solution comes to the boil, take it off the heat and pour it into the jars over the vegetables and flavourings. The solution should cover the vegetables. Give the jars a light tap on the work surface to remove any air bubbles that may be trapped between the layers of vegetables. Then screw on the lids whilst the jars are still hot. You may not use all the vinegar solution, or you may need to make a bit more.
  5. Allow them to cool then refrigerate. The pickles will be ready to eat in two days and will last in the fridge for 2 months.

A Plea

Last year at the end of June I asked for your help, and I was humbled by the level of support we received. It is always with a great sense of irony that we head into July. It is the official end of the hungry gap. We are catapulted from a frenzy of farming activity and a dearth of harvest in early June to a level of activity bordering on the insane and an overflowing harvest basket. July is the time when we have a plentiful harvest, and it is the very same time that many of you break your routine with cooking. The last year has been difficult for all, and we all need a break, a break from the routine and lockdowns. 

This summer is proving to be the biggest challenge yet. We have increased our planting rates; we have developed relationships with other local organic farms and now when the time of Irish plenty arrives we find that you our customers are leaving us for all the usual reasons, holidays, not cooking, routines out the window and we understand completely. But the downturn this summer for us has been sharp and severe over the space of three weeks we have seen the level of ordering drop off dramatically, this is leaving us with so much surplus harvest with nowhere to go but back into the ground. 

This time of every year we also see a large increase in labour costs as we are now up to 11 people on the farm (all local lads this year which is amazing) and we have also hired many new packing staff to cover the extra work over the last few months and to cover holidays. It is a double downturn for us, as our costs go up dramatically and our sales go down dramatically. Anybody will tell you this is not a good way to run a business. The initial start of this growing season on our organic farm, seeds, plants, fertiliser (organic), compost, contractors and labour are very high, before you harvest even one bean. All of this is necessary to make the food in the fields happen.

Growing food at the best of times is not a money-making enterprise, far from it, we only ever expect the farm to break even and most years this is a stretch to achieve. We grow the food, because we love to do it, because sustainable agriculture is something we strongly believe in. We have PV cells generating our electricity, we have just invested in our first zero emission electric van, we collect our rainwater, we plant trees, and hedgerows, we use only plastic free packaging. We educate people on how important biodiversity is, and to get everybody involved in thinking about the planet and the environment, where our food comes and how it is produced is our critical philosophy.

All of this takes time and energy, it all costs money and at the end of the day although everybody wants to enjoy their job and although nearly everybody that works with us believes in our values and our mission, they still need to get paid.

So this is a plea, a plea to ask you to order next week, to find a way (if you can at all) to continue supporting us over the summer, to tell your friends and family to order from us, or if you can’t to pay your box forward to our Charity (Foodshare Kerry), just order a charity box online that we top-up with extra produce from the farm.

The boxes this week are loaded with the most amazing fresh local Irish organic produce, including, spinach, salad, lettuce, romanesco, cucumbers, kale, scallions, some even have new IRISH organic potatoes. The weather is meant to be hot so we figured a good helping of salad would be very much appreciated. So please if you can at all do order. Your support as always is very much appreciated.

Thank you!

Kenneth

PLACE YOUR ORDER HERE

Waterlogged but Never Wavering

When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.

Oscar Wilde

I came out of my office last week, I had no inspiration, I didn’t have anything to write about, I definitely wasn’t in the right space and I was getting frustrated.

I decided to see what was going on out on the farm and I bumped into Emmanuel and shared my woes. Write about “Muck and rain, and mud, and clay and rain, and water because that about sums up the week just past” he said.

That was it, he had hit the nail on the head, it was wet.

Some places in the fields the water is a foot deep. The beds we planted on in the summer are submerged, the plants with waterlogged roots struggle to breath. It is ok for a few days but if there is prolonged water, then they die.

Walking up a sticky, muddy field with a bag of kale on your back must be one of the very best work outs you can get. If you have ever had a young child wrap themselves around your foot and not let you go, well that is what the field does.

I got the impression last week that even our poor tractor was not happy.

The ruts from the tractor wheeling’s are deep and although Joe (My seven year old son loves them, in fact he would actually disappear into some of them) it does not make for easy navigation when it comes to driving with a tonne of parsnips on the front of the tractor.

In the cold wet weather, you often find yourself with three or four layers of clothes on and waterproofs and wellies and sweating even though it is freezing and wet. This I think is one of my least favourite ways to pass the time.

But the sun is always there, we may not always be able to see it, but it is always up there over the clouds. It is only because of the clouds and the rain that you see the most beautiful skylines, the most stunning sunrises, and the most fantastic evening sunsets. These skyscapes are more striking at this time of the year that in high summer by a long way.

Then of course there is the food.

We are doing, I think, our bit for the planet. We are growing sustainable food on a scale that supports thousands of people each week. When I first wrote this, I thought it could not be true, but then I did the maths. If we do an average of 1500 deliveries per week and each household has an average of 3 people then that is 4500 people, that is a lot of mouths to feed, that is a large responsibility to do things right. That is a lot of trust put in us by you.

I shocked myself with that revelation, a far cry from the first 26 deliveries we did in May 2006.

So, we will get stuck in again on Monday, harvest more food, deal with the mud and the rain, do our bit for sustainable food, do our bit for climate change, because we have to.

Can you sustain a path such as this without being either clinically insane (and that could be the case) or having a belief in something bigger? For us I like to think it is the latter (but who is to say really). Our big “WHY” is the planet, nature, biodiversity, and every living creature we share this earth with deserving a chance. This is what drives us on. Have a look at our 5 Pledges for the Planet to see our promises as a business.

As always thanks for your support, it’s what keeps us going.

Kenneth

PS Don’t forget to place your order for next week here.

Cornish Pasty

The best thing you can do with a swede!

These hand held pies are so good, I’m confident that even a local Cornish person would accept my plant-based knock-offs as the real deal. According to the Cornish Pasty Association, which champions and protects the authenticity and distinctiveness of the genuine Cornish pasty, the pastry should be shortcrust (traditionally they use a mix of lard and butter, I use a quality plant based butter) and the filling should be diced beef, potato, swede and onion. I simply replace the beef with gorgeous umami chestnut mushrooms and add some deep, dark miso to bring out those mouthwatering savoury notes (if you don’t have miso, substitute it with a little splash of soy sauce). November is the perfect time to make these delicious pies. Most of the ingredients can usually be found in my weekly veg box from the farm at this time of year, but of course feel free to substitute ingredients as you like. Any root veg or squash would work well, you could even up the protein with a drained tin of beans or chickpeas.

The photos below are from my instagram stories where I often take my followers through a simple step-by-step as I’m making dinner. Don’t forget to tag @greenearthorganics1 on Instagram or share your photos on the Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating facebook page if you make this recipe. We love to see your creations!

For the pastry:

  • 500g strong flour (I like to use a 400g of white and 100g of brown)
  • 250g butter
  • a big pinch of salt
  • enough cold water to bring the dough together (usually only a couple of tbsp)

Method

Either use the tips of your fingers to crumble the butter into the flour and salt, or pop all the pastry ingredients (except the water) into a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse it together, until it resembles wet beach sand. Then add a small splash of cold water and blend if using a food processor, or gently knead the dough, just until it comes together into a ball. Be careful not to add too much water, be patient with it. Don’t overwork the dough, you want it to be tender, not hard. Then wrap the pastry with a damp tea towel and let it rest while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven on to 175C.

For the filling:

Method

One of the many beauties of buying organic is that there is rarely a need to peel your vegetables. Just give them a thorough scrub and you’re good to go. As is the way with many of my recipes, no need for exact measurements for the filling. I like an equal balance of swede, potato, mushroom and onion in my pasties. Once you have your veg all diced up fairly small (around a cm squared is good) into a large mixing bowl, season it generously with salt and black pepper. If you have miso, stir a tbsp of that through the mix, if not, either add a touch more salt or a splash of soy sauce.

Then you need to sort out the pastry. Tip it out onto a clean work surface and slice it into 8 equal pieces.

Then roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc with your hand. If you need to, you can lightly flour your work surface to stop sticking and roll each ball into a thin circle. Aim to get the pastry around 4mm thick.

Then pile a generous amount of filling onto each piece of pastry, carefully gather up the sides and seal and crimp as best as you can.

Pop the pasties onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through and steaming.

I always encourage creativity and this recipe is no exception. Although this is as close to a traditional Cornish pasty as you can get making it plant based, feel free to let your tastebuds run free. Why not try a curried pasty? Add some turmeric and black pepper to the pastry and some curry powder to the veg. And while you’re at it switch the veg for diced potato, cauliflower and onion with a drained tin of chickpeas. Or go mediterranean in the summer? Switch the veg for peppers, aubergine, tomato and courgette and add some basil, pop a sprinkle of fennel seeds through the pastry. What combinations will you try? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to see your creations.

Liz x

Gift Guide

The Irish Ethical Consumers Gift Guide 2020

“When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance!”

There’s no denying how quick and convenient it is to do your gift buying on Amazon. Getting everything and anything you can think of sent to your door at the click of a button is incredibly convenient. But I think we can all agree that lining the pockets of billionaires is killing small businesses and stealing the soul from our communities. As well as giving our local economy a well needed boost, when we shop local we are generally supporting people who actually care. Small business owners are passionate people. Unlike in huge corporations, small businesses owners care about providing you with really brilliant things, they care about their staff and they care about the environment. They also pay their taxes properly, which benefits everyone! 


Of course Amazon isn’t the only problem, just the best example of the type of business we need to avoid. There are countless big clothes shops, electronics shops, toy shops and cosmetic shops, all trying to get our attention with the cheapest, most convenient, shiny new thing. I love that saying, that every cent spent is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. As people aiming to be ethical consumers, we look at all the issues surrounding our purchasing. We no longer simply ask ourselves, ‘what do I want and how much does it cost’, but, ‘Where does it come from? Who made it? How was it made? How were they paid? What materials were used? Where did they come from? How long will it last? What will happen when it breaks or wears out? Where will it end up? Why do I want this?’ and perhaps most importantly, ‘Do I actually need this?’

I’m new to this beautiful part of the world, and moving here during a pandemic has meant we can’t go to lovely markets and fairs and meet local makers and growers in the way we would like to. So I’ve been researching some alternative, online, local options for the festive season and put together this little gift guide that I’d love to share with you. I would also love to know your recommendations too please. Let me know in the comments about your best ethical finds online, your local artist or crafts person, your favourite gift you’ve received or given. If you’re reading this on Facebook or Instagram then please also tag them in the comments so we can all support small, ethical, local people and businesses who care.

Shop Small, Shop Local, Shop Sustainable, Shop Secondhand and share the love by tagging brilliant gift givers and small businesses in the comments section!

Happy gift giving! Liz 

For Children

Well this time of year is all about them isn’t it? Have a look at Lottie Dolls for a diverse range of Irish made, inspiring dolls based on real children. Their key brand drivers are diversity and inclusion, body image, childhood, STEM education, sustainability and empowerment.

Or for a wider range of children toys, try Jiminy. This is a brilliantly curated Irish online shop for eco toys. They are also offering a gift wrapping service with a handwritten note so you can send something a bit more personal to a special someone who you may not get to see this festive season. The ‘gift wrapping with a note’ service is doubly great because it saves the item being posted twice which cuts down on transport emissions.

For the Zero Waste Hero

Although we have a good range of essential low impact products in our shop that are very convenient to add to your weekly veg delivery as and when you need them (see here and here), head to Reuzi for a large range of all things reusable, zero waste and plastic free. It’s a one stop shop for sustainable living. From silicone freezer bags to shampoo bars for dogs, this shop has everything you need to live a zero waste life, stylishly. There are loads of luxury items and gift ideas as well as all the staples.

If you’re looking for something luxurious for the ethical beauty in your life try White Witch. Their organic, vegan, plastic free luxury beauty products are handmade in small batches in the west of Ireland. Have a look at their carefully chosen ingredients, beautifully designed packaging and skilfully made products on their website. I love that they also do refills through the post to further save on the environmental (and financial) cost of packaging.

Second Hand is Sustainable

As ethical consumers we can no longer look down on secondhand. If we are not filling up our landfills we are shipping our recycling across the planet and have no idea what happens to it once it reaches its destination. Buying secondhand is probably the most sustainable way of shopping for what you need. And not only is it cheaper for you and kinder for the planet, it’s fun! 

Check your favourite charity shop. Many of them have moved online and set up an eBay account to get through this lockdown. Why not see if they have that winter coat or wooly hat you were needing before buying new? 

For the Book Worm

For a huge selection of secondhand books at really good prices try The Book Shop

For a mix of secondhand and new books try Galway’s favourite bookshop, Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. When lockdown is over, this quirky shop is well worth a visit too. 

For the Fashionable

For secondhand fashion try Thriftify (which is not just secondhand clothes but also books, dvds, cds, pc and video games and more). Snag yourself a bargain and help keep clothes out of the landfills. This site is easy to navigate and has really helpful search options.

For the Gadget Geek

For secondhand Electronics head to CEX where you’ll find everything from phones, games and consoles to tablets, laptops, DVDs and more. Not only are secondhand electronics much kinder on your wallet, but keeping electronics out of landfill is vital to stop harmful chemicals seeping into the environment. Millions of phones, computers, printers, routers, modems and other electronic equipment get thrown away every year. By buying secondhand, you are not putting a new device into circulation. Think of all the energy and raw materials that go into creating each new device. The more you can use secondhand, the better.

For the Foodie

Look no further than us at Green Earth Organics for your foodie friends and family. We have all the raw ingredients in our veg boxes that the foodie in your life could possibly need to create brilliant meals, plus some treats to keep the chef happy, and we deliver all over Ireland! Why not introduce them to us with a gift voucher or a veg box? How about buying them a fruit and veg delivery with some extra treats – our carefully curated range of teas or coffee and some organic chocolate or biscuits? A really great bottle of wine and some olives, crackers and cheeses – including these amazing vegan cheeses? Check out our new X-mas shop where we’ve put together some brilliant hampers.

My recipe book ‘Cook Draw Feed’ has been added to the shop at Green Earth Organics. An illustrated, plant based cookbook with over 100 inspiring recipes from my 12 years of running a veggie cafe. It’s a unique, hand drawn recipe book which makes a lovely, useful gift. I think it goes perfectly with a box of veg from the farm! I’ll be posting weekly recipes here on the blog so look out for those too.

Local Artists

There are too many brilliant local artists to list here but may we suggest you have a look at our very own Jenny Keavey’s incredible artwork? Her online shop, Into The Woods has a gorgeous collection of fabric and thread wild animal portraits, landscapes and floral hoops which would be gorgeous adorning your walls all year round. She also has a really beautiful collection of Christmas cards which we have added to the Green Earth Organics shop here.