Organic Veg

Hi All

What does one think of when someone says organic veg? For me it’s allotments, The Mamma’s and Pappa’s, duffel coats and sandals and that probably says more about my age than anything else. For the younger ones it’s that selection of veg in small packaging that greets you as you enter the Waitrose vegetable section. Or maybe that once-a-week delivery as part of an organic veg box scheme. The smart bio degradable box is delivered by a liveried person in a smart new van. The sign-written van invariably extols the virtue that this vehicle is running on the latest environmentally friendly fuel system. Taste is the most important thing for me and purchasing produce in season that hasn’t travelled thousands of miles. I’ve just come back from the supermarket and seen lemons from Argentina, ARGENTINA! Why can’t we stock those huge wonderful lemons from Sicily or their poor relatives from Spain (if we must deal with a Spanish speaking nation). They are both at least EU members.

When it comes to organic meat I have to say I don’t know anybody who claims to buy organic meat. I am unaware of butchers proclaiming and flag-waving their organic credentials. Instead we put our faith in the butcher that we buy from. Butchers will now inform us of the breed, the region, how long the meat has hung. Farmers’ names such as Richard Vaughan, Jody Scheckter and Jimmy’s will roll off the tongue. Place names such Cairgorm, Castlebridge, Duchy of Cornwall, Buccleuch will be dropped into conversation. Although many of these have rock-solid organic credentials, sshh, it’s a secret; no-one wants to bring the subject up. It’s as if blood and organics don’t mix.

That brings me to organics and fish and there is a debate as to whether fish-farming should have ever gained organic status. Resignations at the soil association followed for those who thought this a step too far. I have to come clean, it’s a fair cop, we do buy some organic farmed salmon from several sources. Our preferred supplier comes from the only salmon farm in Northern Island; Glenarm. About fives years ago the farm was wiped out by a freak invasion of jellyfish which killed its entire stock of fish (honestly you can’t make these stories up). Now under new ownership and fresh backing the company is back on its feet. The Glenarm fishery is located well off-shore and is renowned for its clean water and unusually strong tides. They do not use any chemicals or antibiotics. Similar to the meat trade we do not label this product as organic as we are confident that the quality of the product speaks for itself. We have however recently gained MSC accreditation and shall shortly be using this ethical kite-mark on a number of products. We are starting off with MSC herrings, so anyone after MSC kippers, bloaters or bucklings do not hesitate to give me a call. More products to follow.

Now for the local fishing report. Big spring tides due this week and in two weeks’ time, so expecting plenty of wild salmon off the River Severn. Dave, our local elver fisherman, came in with a 4.8kg zander last week which found its way immediately up to one of our London customers (what a specimen). Anyone interested in a fishing trip, either fly-fishing or long-line bass fishing, on one of our sea-fishing boats do not hesitate to give me a call (it gets me out of the office).

Alternatively why not try your hand at netting. We have just been granted by the environment agency one of the last salmon seine net licences. Somebody found a 100-yard old net which has now been lovingly restored, so volunteers required. A word of caution. Nobody here has done this before and Richard only has memories of seeing it done when he was a boy. So, no health and safety manual but life jackets available. Remember fishing isn’t compulsory and visitors are welcome anytime.

More news soon.

Dai Francis