Why I’m taking the Cancer Research UK headlines with a pinch of organic salt

Amy Leech: I’m surprised to see a reputable and well-respected charity like Cancer Research UK grabbing headlines based on emerging and uncertain evidence. The headline Cancer Research UK went for was ’organic food doesn’t lower overall cancer risk’, while playing down the equally significant finding of the study, which found a ‘21% decrease in risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer, among women who reported usually or always eating organic food’.

28 March 2014 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 9

Out to Lunch with Wahaca

Amy Leech: It's fair to say that children aren't always the easiest customers, but when we investigated the standard of food and service on offer for them on the high street last year, we were surprised to find how many restaurant chains weren’t getting even the basics right. Thankfully some restaurants on the block are showing others how it's done. We'd heard from parents that Wahaca, the London-based chain of Mexican street food restaurants, was a hit with kids. Thomasina Miers, cook, campaigner and founder of Wahaca, shares with us her thoughts on catering for the needs of young diners.

20 January 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

We can't choose to stop eating sugar

Amy Leech: The launch of the Action on Sugar campaign last week had everybody up in arms. The public health community cheered from the side lines. The food industry pointed fingers, rallying in defence of their very responsible labelling. Some people were angry, how dare these doctors tell me how to take my tea? We don't like being told what to do. We're happy, and are led, to think that the food we eat is our responsibility, our choice. This simply isn't true.

13 January 2014 | 12 Comments | Recommended by 11

Out to Lunch with River Cottage

Amy Leech: Fed up with the usual suspects and chips dominating kid’s menus? We definitely are. That's why we're campaigning in partnership with Organix to improve the food and service high street restaurants offer their young guests. Perhaps our chains could learn a thing or two from the independents on the block? In the coming months I’ll be talking to the chefs behind the meals on the kids' menu at restaurants and cafes around the country, to find out their views on catering for families. This month I had the pleasure of catching up with Mark Stavrakakis, Head Chef at River Cottage Canteen in Bristol. Founded by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Canteen believes strongly in providing nutritious and delicious meals for their youngest critics.

06 December 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

A breath of life for bees

Amy Leech: Today’s news that Waitrose are suspending the use of the three neonicotinoids in their supply chain is a ray of hope for the bees amidst predictably grey skies and gloomy headlines.

12 April 2013 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 9

What came first? Organic chicken or egg?

Amy Leech: Years before horsemeat made a joke of our food system, I made a resolution to eat less but better quality meat - making it affordable to buy food I can trust. But despite the string of supermarkets that I’ll pedal past, I’ll be hard pushed to find organic meat on the shelves. If I can’t choose it, I can’t buy it.

20 March 2013 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 6

Good hospital food doesn't sell papers, it saves lives

Amy Leech: In the last 10 years, no fewer than 20 initiatives have been put in place to improve hospital food. And yet, the bad news stories are still rolling in. Last week's was another to add to the long list of headlines. Of course, good news rarely turns heads, or newspaper pages for that matter. The Soil Association welcomes the Government's renewed efforts to improve hospital food. But it's not just policy changes that will improve hospital food's bad image or the food that ends up on patient's plates. Change begins in the kitchens and wards that care for patients - with the people in hospitals around the country who are serving thousands of meals three times a day.

23 November 2012 | 72 Comments | Recommended by 31

A witch in my wardrobe

Amy Leech: The contents of my wardrobe don’t change much - you’re more likely to find Narnia in there than this season’s print or cut of jeans. When I do go clothes shopping, the way the fabric has been produced doesn’t influence whether I’ll take it home or not. But having spent the last few months digging deeper into the impacts of cotton production, I have learnt that my attitude to clothes and how they are produced is in need of makeover.

04 October 2012 | 67 Comments | Recommended by 6

The Gates Foundation puts a new spin on altruism

Amy Leech: It didn’t come as a surprise to hear that billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates had decided to throw £6.4 million at a problem that doesn’t need solving. Bill’s spent all his life looking for quick technical fixes - why change the habit of a lifetime for the sake of a bit of common sense? No seriously, thanks Bill. On behalf of the UK Government and the GM companies - thank you. Because our cash strapped researchers (who are already getting just £42m from the UK taxpayers) and 'our short of just about everything' Government, really need your support. We’re desperate to lead in scientific research you see, it’ll help us get out of the recession. And as for the GM companies, they can’t afford to do their own research, so it’s great that you’re paying for it for them.

19 July 2012 | 193 Comments | Recommended by 11

The birds and the bees - a fact of life?

Amy Leech: The birds and the bees...that’s life, or so we say – as we try to explain the ways of nature in a way that saves our blushes, and our children’s ears from hearing the facts of life too early. They’ll soon learn of course. But when will we?

18 June 2012 | 9 Comments | Recommended by 6

Will your university’s food take you to the top of the table?

Amy Leech: When I chose my University, I used my own lens of good practice to sort through the pile of well-produced prospectuses. My criteria? Nearest city, nightlife, length of the swimming pool, course content, campus location. I didn’t take a moment to consider what food my catered halls, the uni café and other campus food outlets were going to serve me. Having grown up on a pretty good diet of local, free range and fresh food, in the quiet confines of Cornwall, I landed at University a naïve being (in many ways!) with no reason to think my catered meals would be any different. How wrong I was! From the first evening at university my diet and eating habits took a turn for the worse.

30 May 2012 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 2

Pigs might fly

Amy Leech: The news that Jim Paice, our Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, was in China last week sealing a £50 million pork export deal was enough to make anyone with knowledge of the UK pork market squeal. Six UK plants have been approved to export quality pork cuts and 'fifth quarter' meat (offal, ears and tripe) to China. The market for exporting live breeding pigs to China is also expanding.

24 May 2012 | 70 Comments | Recommended by 18

Sunny side up please

Amy Leech: The first law of thermodynamics, and probably the only one I can ever remember, says that energy cannot be created or destroyed - it may be transformed or moved – but it definitely does not appear from thin air. Plants use a lot of energy. Every day they busy themselves converting all sorts of energy, gases and matter into the elements and nutrients they need to grow. The energy they have converted is then passed on to us via these nutrients – they make up the food we eat.

26 April 2012 | 12 Comments | Recommended by 11

Asking the wrong questions

Amy Leech: In the debate on food security, there’s a lot to play for, finding the right answers is the key to our existence. But any good scientist will tell you that the answer you give is only as good as the question you’re asked. Pictures of people starving, and projections of a rocketing world population certainly make you gulp, and wonder, how on earth are we going to feed everyone? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that we just need to produce more. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

16 April 2012 | 26 Comments | Recommended by 13

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