Column: Janey Lee Grace keeps it natural
PUBLISHED: 14:09 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:06 20 February 2013
Hertfordshire Life columnist Janey Lee Grace extols the virtues of Farmers' Markets and going organic
WITH my third book 'Imperfectly Natural Home' coming out in May I've been on a 'food' thing for months now, researching all manner of foods and farming as well as a mission to educate the kids on where our food actually comes from. I do bang on a lot about 'organics' but one thing that showed up in all my book research was that the word 'organic' has been hijacked somewhat and perhaps a better aim should be to look for '100 per cent natural' - which means it will have been farmed organically anyway.
In our parents' time people ate seasonal organic food often grown in their own back garden and it was organic, not because they were trendy 'yummy mummy' types but because they simply didn't have the pesticides available. Other provisions were sourced and mostly produced locally and it was the norm to cycle down to the local shop with a basket to pick up freshly baked bread and some local cheese.
That does sound rather idyllic compared to my frantic dash to the supermarket in the car at the 11th hour because I've forgotten some 'packaged to within an inch of its life' imported exotic fruit that we just can't live without, but surely it's time to have a rethink. Our bodies were designed to eat seasonally, so why not forget strawberries in winter and opt for some locally grown celeriac mash instead of potato?
Having said that, I'm not averse to the odd mango or kiwi fruit, mainly because the lovely Juicemaster himself, Jason Vale sent me one of those juicers that take the fruit whole - well a whole apple anyway. It's the best way to get those enzymes straight to where they're needed! My top tip though is to clean the juicer out as soon as you've downed your glass. Coming back to a festering machine isn't conducive to concocting another blend.
On that note, buy the juicer that is easiest to clean and use - I'm so highly un-tech that even kitchen equipment leaves me wondering. Steve Wright from Radio 2 offered me his state-of-the-art mobile phone last month and I'm still trying to switch it on! (Anyone got instructions for a Vodafone palm?)
But to steal someone else's phrase, 'you are what you eat', and if you're a keen gardener a big-up to you right now, as the time is nigh to get planting out those veggies. When it comes to green credentials in the finger department, sadly I have none, but yet again my imperfection found a way of still growing organic fresh fruit and veg. I cheat - a bit - by buying an instant organic vegetable garden from www.rocketgardens.co.uk
Last year they delivered to me a huge box of already established organic plants in little biodegradable pots that the kids and I planted straight into the prepared earth with a bit of their rich wormcast and lo and behold, weeks later we were picking and eating a veritable array of lettuces, courgettes, tomatoes, herbs and even tiny strawberries.
Of course if you really want to go back to nature and really do the 'think global, act local' thing on a big scale then get interested in wild food. Yes, foraging has become fashionable and I know you're thinking 'Don't be so ridiculous - I am not going clawing through hedgerows for my supper', but don't dismiss the idea until you've done your homework. You'll be amazed how many edible plants abound and I'm not talking about only blackberries and nettles.
If that sounds too much like hard work, visit one of the many excellent farmers' markets around Hertfordshire - there's a list at www.enjoyhertfordshire.com- and at the very least get fresh produce delivered to your door by ordering a weekly organic fruit and veg box from the truly fab Riverford Organics. The lovely Andrew trucks down from Herts to the organic farm in Devon every week and brings back freshly picked goodies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
All this talk of food has left me hungry so I'm off to forage for our evening meal whilst trying to get this mobile phone to work - how's that for a veritable imperfect juxtaposition of nature and technology?