East Lothian Council buys local, organic flour
As part of changes brought in to upgrade their Food for Life Served Here Bronze award to the prestigious Silver award, East Lothian Council are now sourcing local, organic flour from a supplier based in Drem. Alongside purchasing Scottish organic milk and dairy products, the swap to organic flour will contribute to the 5% organic spend needed to achieve the Silver award.
As the climate crisis continues, the importance of buying from sustainable producers is increasingly important. At the same time, the cost-of-living crisis has increased pressure on catering teams to balance costs. Through analysing and adapting menus it is possible to fulfil both sets of priorities.
We spoke to East Lothian Council about the practicalities of making this change, and to Mungoswells, the producer in East Lothian who will now be supplying local schools with organic flour to bake with on site. School chefs will be rustling up a selection of dishes using the flour, from seasonal crumbles to fruit sponges.
East Lothian Council chooses organic
Tracey McConnachie, Assistant Area Officer, East Lothian Council said, “The Menu and Catering Skills team at Food for Life Scotland suggested sourcing Mungoswells flour as part of East Lothian’s journey towards achieving the Silver award.
“Our supplier, George Anderson, helped to get everything in place and the transition was very smooth. The price was slightly higher, but it was agreed this was the right thing to do in order to support a local business and to align with East Lothian Council’s environmental goals.
“Food for Life Scotland helped us to work on the menu so we could make savings in other areas to balance the extra cost of the organic flour. We switched from using branded bouillon to own brand bouillon and changed from chicken breast to thigh meat. The darker meat is healthier and more flavoursome, so this was a positive change for us to make anyway. We’ve also started having meat free days once a week and trying recipes using alternative sources of protein. These are all quite small and easy changes to make, but when applied at scale they make a big difference.
“The benefit of learning about where our produce is coming from has been huge. Not only is the food we’re now serving healthier for pupils and better for the environment, the process has also really engaged and inspired our school cooks. It’s satisfying to know produce is being sourced locally and energising to think creatively about new seasonal recipes. The idea of provenance is now embedded in our day-to-day thinking. As well as the move to organic, we’re also sourcing potatoes from The Borders, strawberries from Fife and leeks from East Lothian. It’s great to know the money the council is spending is going back into the local community.”
Mungoswells supplying local organic flour for schools
Mungoswells farm is situated in the heart of East Lothian where they produce organic flour with total traceability. They first started converting to organic in 1999, focusing on one field at a time. Over the years, this has been built up to 235 organic acres. The farm is now supplying flour to schools in three Food for Life Served Here councils, North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire through Locavore, and East Lothian through George Anderson.
Angus McDowall from Mungoswells said, “A lot of additives are added to baked products nowadays. Buying organic is the only way you 100% know what you’re getting. With organic you know what’s gone into something and there’s nothing in there that isn’t on the label.
"It’s a big positive that organic produce is now being served at schools. We should all want the best and healthiest option for young ones. It should be a priority for all ages really, but especially for children as they are developing.”
Food for Life Scotland are celebrating organic suppliers working with our award holders as part of Organic September. If you are a Scottish organic supplier and would love to see your product on the plates of school children across the country, or a local authority that wants to take advantage of the top-quality Scottish food available in your area, contact Lucie Wardle, Supply Chain Development Manager, for an informal chat: LWardle@soilassociation.org