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Get glyphosate out of our bread

Vanessa Kimbell: As a baker, the fact that I find most disturbing is that glyphosate is found in the bread we eat. A study in 2013 by Pan UK revealed that 63% of the loaves analysed contained traces of at least one pesticide, and this year tests by the Defra committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) have reported that up to 30% of UK bread contains glyphosate. If this chemical was being added to our food by a foreign force, and not our farmers, we’d universally agree that we were under attack. Our most basic food, bread, contains traces of a potentially carcinogenic weedkiller. Suddenly a slice of toast has a 1 in 3 chance of being a contributory factor to a devastating disease that, according to Cancer Research UK, causes more than one in four of all deaths in the UK. So this year I will not be picking blackberries. Instead I wander through the field with the feeling that there is something seriously wrong with our food system.

09 October 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Catching up with Future Growers apprentices

Rachel Harries: This weekend I’m off to Abbey Home Farm, an 800 hectare organic oasis in the Cotswolds. I’ll be meeting up with nine of our Future Growers, who are learning some of the techniques and approaches needed to produce fruit and veg for the growing organic market. We’ve been running this programme now for eight years and have seen over 50 new organic growers dip their hands in the soil and step onto their own organic journey, so I thought it might be a good time to look back at what some of them have gone on to.

02 October 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

The Journey of a Certified Organic Beauty Brand

Abi Weeds: Twelve years ago, we started out on a road that has undeniably shaped our brand’s history. We became one of the first brands certified under the Soil Association’s organic health and beauty standards, and also launched the very first certified shampoo. This blog looks back on that ultimately rewarding journey.

18 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

The Pursuit of Clarity

Jayne Russell: Organic Beauty Week starts 14th September as part of the Soil Association’s Organic September initiative and this year the focus is the Campaign for Clarity. Nom Nom pregnancy and baby skincare will be supporting its efforts to encourage greater understanding of natural and organic claims for skin care to prevent consumers being misled.

18 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

How session Makeup Artist Khandiz Joni switched to using only natural & organic beauty brands

Khandiz Joni: I have been a session hair & make-up artist for the fashion, beauty & advertising industry for the past 15 years. I started becoming acutely aware of how my job was impacting the environment and decided to start making BIG changes several years ago. It wasn't until about 2 years ago that I was exposed to the truth about this buzz word “organic beauty,” and my entire life changed. It was as if the light had gone on for the first time! I have made it my personal mission to work exclusively with natural and organic cosmetics, without compromising on high-end results expected in my field.

17 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Justine's story

Justine Jenkins: Organic beauty is very important to me, both personally and as a make-up artist. I incorporate as many organic products as I can into my kit, not only for clients with sensitive skin and allergies, but for all my clients to enjoy. My own bathroom cabinet is packed with organic beauty. Up to 60% of what you put onto your skin absorbs into your system, so it makes perfect sense to me to use products containing healthy, natural ingredients as opposed to products containing harsh chemicals which can disrupt our bodies’ natural functions.

16 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Hemsley + Hemsley's story

Hemsley + Hemsley: Our approach to beauty is all-encompassing and holistic. As soon as you tune into one part of looking after yourself, the rest naturally follows. We take care of ourselves from the inside out by eating nutrient-dense, whole foods, getting ample amounts of exercise and sleep, keeping well hydrated and pampering our skin with chemical-free and environmentally responsible beauty and skincare products.

14 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Wendy's story

Wendy Stirling: Back in 2002, my nine year old daughter (who is now 21), had an alarming reaction to a shampoo that claimed to be natural. Like most consumers, I trusted, at face value, what was printed on the label. The shampoo had ‘herbal’ in the name and clearly stated that it contained ‘herbal ingredients grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals’. However, because of the severity of my daughter’s reaction, I tasked myself with finding out what she had reacted to. I read the back of the label and did lots of research on the ingredients listed. I soon realised that, whilst the shampoo’s herbal ingredients may well have been grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals, the shampoo itself was full of them. The more research I did, the more astonished I became at what brand owners can include on their packaging. By using clever wording, they can make blatantly misleading claims without falling foul of trading standards or advertising standards. We now call this ‘greenwashing’.

07 September 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

A long organic heritage - celebrating 70 years with the Soil Association

Henry Chevallier Guild: Whenever I asked my Grandmother about the early days of The Soil Association, conversation would often turn to Lady Eve Balfour, an inspiring character whom Granny would often describe as a “true warrior”. It’s interesting to read The Living Soil now and see just how ahead of her time Lady Eve was. Many of her opinions on nutrition, the food we eat and the effect it has on us, whilst cutting edge in the 1940’s, are accepted wisdom today.

25 August 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Farming on empty – California in the 4th drought year

Marianne Landzettel: Californians are taking shorter showers, rip out the front lawn to plant cacti while in the nearby mountains numerous forest fires feed on tinder-dry brush. Leave the Pacific behind, cross the Coastal Range and you’ll get to the Central Valley. Over 700 km long, flat as a pancake, with rich soils, mild winters and an average of 300 days of sunshine, the Central Valley is the most productive and profitable agricultural region in the United States: California produces 97% of all kiwis, 95% of all celery, 89% of all spinach, consumed in the US. With roughly 1.8 million cows California is the nations biggest dairy producer. But by far the most valuable crops are nuts, pistachios, cashews, walnuts and of course almonds.

25 August 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 4

Out to Lunch… Where does our food come from?

Natasha Collins Daniel: “You’re getting served a sneezer” my husband said as our waitress trudged off to the kitchen a third time. We were visiting Wagamama, researching for the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign - improving children’s food in popular UK restaurants. The campaign is putting pressure on restaurants, cafès and family-friendly pubs across the country to cook fresh, interesting meals, use quality ingredients, make healthy eating easy, and provide families with a warm welcome.

17 August 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Pamela Schiele – 1918-2015

Mark Measures: Last month Pamela Schiele died peacefully at home in Oxford at the age of 97. Pamela, a long-time member of the Soil Association, was a tremendous force for good - a force for nature and for sustainable mixed agriculture.

16 August 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Government lifts ban on bee harming pesticides

Louise Payton: The Government’s recent decision to overturn a ban on bee damaging insecticides is outrageous. It goes against the explicit wishes of half a million people who told the government not to give in to pressure from the NFU and agrochemical companies, and it goes against science.

03 August 2015 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 1

Toxic chemicals in our daily bread: ban glyphosate now

Natasha Collins Daniel: Spraying a probable carcinogen on food crops to kill them so they can be harvested faster – it sounds ridiculous – but it’s happening all across the UK on the wheat that makes our bread, flour and other things like biscuits. It gets worse. The weed killer in question, glyphosate, was recently classified by the World Health Organisation’s IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as a probable carcinogen for humans – and new data analysis shows it’s appearing more and more frequently in our bread.

23 July 2015 | 8 Comments | Recommended by 0

Why I choose organic meat

Danny Lidgate: We have been buying and selling organic produce for some decades and have seen many changes in the food industry and consumer habits. The biggest trend seems to be, not surprisingly, an interest in where the food comes from and what might be in it. In a stressful and fast-moving city lifestyle a balanced and healthy diet can help detoxify and improve physical and mental well being. This can sometimes mean eating a little less but eating better, and of course this is as important for vegetables as for meat.

22 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Divest and invest – in renewables!

Juliet Davenport: In the UK, the energy sector is the biggest culprit when it comes to carbon emissions, so it’s not surprising that there have been calls for organisations like big business, pension funds, universities and religious bodies to make a stand against climate change and divest from fossil fuels. But what are the alternative targets for ethical and commercially viable investment, once you’ve taken your cash out of fossil fuel businesses?

21 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

More poison in the fields and our food – and never mind the warnings

Marianne Landzettel: Earlier this year the IARC, the World Health Organisation’s cancer research agency, classified glyphosate, the most widely used weed killer in the world (best know as the Roundup brand), as ‘probably carcinogenic’. This month they put another weed killer, 2,4-D, in the ‘possibly carcinogenic’ category. Why that matters becomes clear when you realise that 2,4-D is known to be very similar to an active ingredient in the leaf stripping chemical ‘Agent Orange’ used during the Vietnam War.

14 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 5

The ‘root’ to improving your health

Jo Scamell: Before my work involved human health, I was employed as a cattle nutritionist working alongside vets, trying to improve the quality of life of beef and dairy cattle. Historically this involved the laboratory analysis of the feeds they were eating - the grass, silage, hay and then the cereals and things like soya. We felt this gave us all the information we needed to ensure these animals had a balanced diet. 10 years into my career, whilst working on poor farming areas in Australia, I began to see the limitations of this approach. The penny dropped - it all starts under our feet - in the soil we so often just take for granted.

09 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Celebrating 25 years at the Soil Association!

Francis Blake: I recently found out, much to my surprise, that I have just passed my 25th anniversary working for the Soil Association. Comments flowed like, wow that’s quite a feat, and, how on earth have you survived that, and, you must write a blog of your experience! It’s actually worse (or better!) than that as, whilst my employment began in April 1990, I started working as self-employed four years before that, in 1986. And in fact for five years before that, I was a trustee on the Council. But perhaps I should start even earlier, when I got hooked on organic farming.

07 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 3

The harrowing business of being a buttercup farmer

Upper Pant Farm: I’ve been chain harrowing all our grass fields today, which involves pulling a carpet of metal spikes up and down each field with my David Brown tractor. The spikes pull out the dead grass from last year and freshen the ground, allowing new grass and clover space to grow. Clover is especially important to us, as it takes nitrogen from the air and puts it in the soil, increasing the fertility of the soil which in turn increases our crop yields. Encouraging clover means we don’t need fossil fuel derived artificial nitrate fertilizer, which is better for soil life and means a smaller carbon footprint!

01 July 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

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