PPP Catch-up 18/08/15

PPP Catch-up 18/08/15

Things have been really busy in the vegetable garden and we are getting back on top of things at last – see the photos below. At the moment we are harvesting kale, chard, lettuce, carrots, beetroots, onions, basil, rhubarb, mini curcurbits called Melothrie from Real Seeds (which are running riot – see picture above) and cucumbers. Tomatoes are ripening nicely. We tried two varieties this year (also from Real Seeds), Red Zebra and Dr Carolyn (which apparently has an exceptional flavour) and look forward to trying them. Cabbages are growing well and we have also planted some oriental greens and cauliflowers too.

We have also been using the nettle tea (see photo below) that I made a while ago on the leafy greens and heavy feeder vegetables such as courgettes and squash. We have tried this in previous years and it is a great way to use nettles (other than in cooking of course). You could use comfrey or seaweed instead. Be warned – this stuff smells bad (and our dogs have a weird fascination for it). We dilute it 10:1.

Had some fantastic beef again from John and Patsy at Bryn Belted Galloway. See their new Facebook page here and check out the recent addition to their herd called Bryn Bella. We love the slow cooked brisket that just melts in the mouth. We can’t recommend their meat enough.

Also tried some 100% pasture-fed hogget from Sarah and Nick at Black Welsh Lamb, at Pen y Wyrlod Farm in Monmouthshire. We cooked chops first (very simply) to get the true taste of the meat and the flavour was fantastic. We then cooked a hoggett, shallot and date tagine with the shoulder. The meat was incredibly tender and held up its taste against the spices. We look forward to trying other cuts. Like John and Patsy, Sarah and Nick are great ambassadors for the 100% pasture-fed movement.

Tried some beetroot and courgette crisps this week when cooking for Paleo friends. Complete success – they were delicious although it was hilarious how much they shrink (see the photo below). We ran out of time to do any more so they were quite precious! So much better than those steeped in vegetable oil that you buy from the shop and we will definitely be making these again.

 

Around the web

In light of the ongoing debate around the issue of fat in the media, is it any wonder that people are so confused and fed up with mainstream dietary advice that apparently flips from one position to another? Why follow any advice at all if the experts are likely to do another u-turn in a few years – or even a few days – time? After the headlines announcing that it is fine to eat saturated fat, we see a BBC News article declaring that ‘Low-fat diets ‘better than cutting carbs’ for weight loss’ even though the original paper declares: ‘reducing dietary carbohydrate from the RC (reduced carbohydrate) diet (with a corresponding addition of fat to maintain calories) was predicted to decrease body fat to a greater extent than the experimental RC diet.’ This is just plain confusing…

In addition to this, an article in the Quarterly Review of Biology which argued that carbohydrates was ‘critical for the accelerated expansion of the human brain over the last million years’ caused quite a stir. Cue the headlines that the Paleo diet is plain wrong and is all about eating meat and zero carbs etc. Norah Gedgaudas wrote an excellent reply to this, reminding us of the importance of the consumption of fat to human health and in particular to brain development, as well as questioning the motives behind the continued insistence that carbohydrates should make up a large percentage of the human diet. A really great read.

‘Innumerable corporate interests stand to profit handsomely by investing in the promotion of carbohydrate-based diets for every man, woman and child on planet Earth. They are enormously cheap to produce, highly profitable and they keep everyone perpetually hungry.’ Norah Gedgaudas

Diabetes Warrior Steve Cooksey also posted an excellent response to the paper relating his own experience and experimentation in managing his diabetes through lifestyle changes:

‘Ultimately it makes absolutely no difference to me how our ancestor’s ate.  I have eaten high, moderate and low carbohydrate diets in numerous experiments;  I am thriving on the meal plan that works best for me, a very low-carb, high fat,  paleo style meal plan.’ Steve Cooksey

A reminder that if it works for you – don’t be put off by the headlines.

The news that Diabetes cases have soared by 60% in the past decade and that Diabetes accounts for 10% of the NHS drug bill provides a reminder that when it comes to health in the UK, things are looking bleak. I had a quick look at Diabetes on the NHS Choices website which – in the case of Type 2 Diabetes – advises:

‘It’s therefore important to take preventative measures by making any necessary lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthily, losing weight (if you’re overweight) and becoming more physically active.’

Clicking on the links regarding healthy eating take us to pages which recommend ‘Plenty of potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods’, as well as suggestions for breakfast that includes cereals such as porridge and wholegrains with added fruit (bananas), wholemeal or granary bread and sugar-free jams and marmalades (presumably with added sweeteners). Recommendations for snacks include ‘lower-sugar (and lower-fat) versions of your favourite snacks’.

I just don’t see anything changing unless there is a fundamental, root and branch rethink on dietary advice in this country.

 

On to brighter things!

Update on Polyfaces: The Film produced by Lisa Heenan and Isaebella Doherty of Regrarians (Australia). This is a documentary film about Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia and is about to preview at film festivals. I was lucky enough to see Darren Doherty and Lisa Heenan of Regrarians, as well as Joel Salatin speak (twice!) at the Savory Institute Conference in 2014 and was totally blown away by the work that they do, so I can’t wait to see this film.

‘Regrarians Ltd. is an Australian-based non-profit organisation whose primary objective is to the regenerative enhancement of the biosphere’s ecosystem processes. It does so through delivering world-class education, media, advocacy & extension to farmers & consumers across the world, having had nearly 15,000 people attend its events since 2007.’

We Love Paleo, a documentary film about the Paleo lifestyle is due to premiere in London on August 31st 2015, 9pm at The Gate Cinema, Notting Hill, W11 3JZ. Directed by Caroleen Moise Reimann and produced by Tjard Reimann, this documentary film will feature people whose lives have been changed through adopting a Paleo lifestyle. Hopefully it will raise awareness of the movement and encourage people to look beyond the increasingly silly headlines and articles about Paleo in the news recently. Can’t catch it in London but look forward to hearing all about it and watching the video when available.

A Probiotic Life is currently in production and you can view the trailer here. Film makers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford are the team behind Microbirth (which I have yet to see). The documentary features interviews with doctors, nutritionists and families on the importance of the microbiome to health and looks at the cutting edge research taking place in this fast-moving area of science. 

 

Videos and podcasts

Lovely short video from Rebecca Hosking and Tim Green from Village Farm in Devon on ‘Building Soil with Regenerative Agriculture’.

Found this video from Stacey Murphy of Backyard Farmyards5 Tips for New Growers: Save Time Energy & Money. Definitely worth a watch – particularly the tips about increasing your growing area by plotting shade throughout the year and also how to prioritise jobs in the garden. Stacey produces between 25 and 80lb of produce weekly on a 450 square foot site!

Great podcast from Robb Wolf with Dr. Charles Sydnor on Grass Fed Cattle and The Future of Sustainability

Very interesting talk by Dr Ron Rosedale on cancer from the 2013 Annual International IPT (Insulin Potentiation Therapy) /IPTLE conference via Me and My Diabetes website. Dr Rosedale features in the excellent Keto Clarity book and advocates a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate real food approach and in particular is an advocate of lowering protein to around 1g or less per lean (ideal) bodyweight. This is an extremely fascinating talk concerning the role of insulin, leptin and the mTOR pathway in disease. Dr Rosedale leaves us with this warning:

‘Your health and lifespan will mostly be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar you burn over a lifetime.  I’ve said that for 20 years.  I’ve not found anything to contradict it.  All the evidence that has occurred in the last 20 years has supported that one statement. Everything there is to know about health, and aging, can be summarized right there.  Your health and lifespan will be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar that you burn over a lifetime.’ Dr Rosedale

Let’s be clear – when Dr Rosedale says ‘sugar’ he includes non-fiber starch such as potatoes, bread (including wholemeal), rice, pasta, cereal, corn and all grains that eventually get turned to sugar by the body. 

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For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

Grazing For Change

Grazing For Change

The videos from the Grazing For Change conference have recently been released and I have been working my way through them over the weekend. There is so much amazing content and I thoroughly recommend them. The conference was organised by the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, the Savory Hub for Northern California and the Western Great Basin. There is a particularly lovely talk by Spencer and Abbey Swift from Springs Ranch; the Hub’s learning centre in Fort Bidwell, California. Their Hub partner Dr. Cyndi Daley also hosts workshops on the Guidici Ranch in Oroville, California.

Grazing For Change brought together some truly fantastic speakers including of course Allan Savory, Tre Cates, Christine Jones (great talk on soil), Dr Jason Rowntree, Robb Wolf (advisor to the Jefferson Center) just to name a few. Speakers highlighted the importance of holistic land management to regenerating the soil and supporting the ecological, social, environmental and health needs of communities. However, as well as the theory behind the practice these talks emphasised the passion and devotion with which people are embracing this method of livestock management and the positive results they are seeing each day. In some cases, they have broken away from generations of farming practices and gone against the advice of family, neighbours and community to follow holistic management principles. They are pioneering spirits.

Read more about the work of the Savory Institute here and see my review of the Savory Institute Conference 2014 here. There are currently 30 Savory Hubs and a number of special projects across the world. These dedicated people are spreading the message that intelligently managed livestock can be a tool for environmental regeneration. The UK has it’s first Savory Hub at Vitality Farm, so it will be interesting to see that develop.

The work of the Savory Institute is ground breaking and this must be a very exciting time to be involved in the field of holistic management. There are now a number of online courses available via their newly-redesigned website here.

The forthcoming Artisans of the Grasslands Conference (great name!) in San Francisco looks amazing and speakers will include Allan Savory, Nicolette Niman Environmental Lawyer and author of Defending Beef, Fred Provenza from Behave, Jared Stone Author of Year of the Cow, Bryan Welch Publisher at Mother Earth News, Robb Wolf, Sally Fallon Founder of Weston A Price Foundation and hopefully some of the impressive speakers from Grazing for Change.

Ancestral health, holistic management and 100% pasture-fed producers are inextricably linked. Let’s hope that we can help to spread the message far and wide…

 

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay.

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For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

PPP Round-Up 23/04/15

PPP Round-Up 23/04/15

Mega-busy time in the vegetable garden at the moment with seeds progressing nicely Space is limited so seeds and seedlings have taken over the house!

Enjoying lamb breasts roasted with garlic and herbs (above) – economical and taste superb. 

First sauerkraut experiment a massive success (below),

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Using half minced beef and half minced beef heart for dishes like burgers and bolognese sauce is a great way to get heart into the diet.

Paid a visit to John and Patsy Price to get some fantastic 100% pasture raised beef.

Currently eating the last of 2014’s swiss chard and kale before pulling them up. Also we have the first rhubarb of the year appearing. Stewed with cinnamon and mixed spice and served with coconut cream and vanilla.

 

News

It’s that time of the year again – the awesome Paleo f(x) is here! Running Friday, April 24th to Sunday, April 26th this is the biggest event in Paleo with a stellar line-up of speakers. There are some fantastic talks, in particular Travis Christofferson of Single Cause Single Cure and author of Tripping Over the Truth: a metabolic theory of cancer talking about The Metabolic Theory of Cancer: The Evidence, Consequences and Treatments. Really happy to also see Chris Kerston of the Savory Institute talking on Eating Healthy Meat to Save the Planet! Emily Dean’s talk on The Microbiome and Mental Health looks great. Dr Michael Ruscio’s talk The Gut Microbiota; Clinical Pearls Vs. Marketing Ploys & Regaining Your Ancestral Gut will be interesting to get a balanced view on the latest research into microbes and the gut. I listened to the first couple of Dr Ruscio’s podcasts here and they are very good. Josh Whiton’s talk The Best Meat is Illegal to Buy: Ending the Ban on Wild Hunted Meat would also be one to attend. I had no idea that most of the venison consumed in America is shipped from New Zealand and it would be good to get a US perspective on hunting. Wish I was going to Austin this year but hopefully back again next year and until then, look forward to catching up with all the videos when they become available.

Very excited to hear that Human Food Project is planning to spend some time with the Reindeer Herders of northern Mongolia – look forward to hearing more about that. Robb Wolf had also posted a link to this article: Mongolia’s Meat Diet: An Inconvenient Truth for Veganism which is a great read. Check out some amazing pictures of Mongolian Reindeer tribes here.

Grass-fed meat vital for a healthy diet, MPs are told – via Farm2Fork Great to see the health benefits of 100% pasture-fed meat being promoted by Professor Robert Pickard, of Cardiff University at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on beef and lamb.

 

 

Website articles

My favourite article of the month has to be Toby Hemenway’s Permaculture: The Design Arm of a Paradigm Shift. I first heard about Tony from an interview called Liberation Permaculture he gave on the Survival Podcast (which I found via a fermentation website). I was fascinated by what he has to say and felt that his philosophy chimes perfectly with Paleo and with the holistic management approach of organisations such as the Savory Institute. I have been listening to Toby a lot in the last few days.

‘After your world changes, there’s plenty of work to be done. That work is permaculture.’

Antibody against ?-gliadin 33-mer peptide: Is the key initiating factor for development of multiple sclerosis during gluten sensitivity? via Robb Wolf – a ‘must-read’. The forthcoming research has the potential to be hugely important for the study of autoimmune conditions.

Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base – check out this important article from quite a team.

Worth mentioning the following points in full:

‘Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They are proposed as the most well-established, least controversial results. It is not known who decides what constitutes evidence-based medicine but we feel that these points are sufficiently strong that the burden of proof rests on critics…

Whatever the extent to which the correlation between carbohydrate consumption and diabetes is causal, the lack of association between the levels of dietary fat and diabetes in humans is of real significance. A lack of association is generally considered strong evidence for a lack of causality…

In practice, reduced-carbohydrate diets are not generally high-protein diets except in comparison with low levels recommended in high-carbohydrate diets. It is also generally recommended that carbohydrate is replaced by fat…

Several large and expensive clinical studies have been carried out since the so-called diet–heart hypothesis was framed in the middle of the 20th century [40,41]. From the original Framingham study [42] to the WHI [26], as well as more than a dozen additional studies, have failed to show an association between dietary lipids and risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD)…

There is now a large volume of literature of both scientific papers [43–47] and popular books [48–51] documenting the failure of attempts to support the diet–heart hypothesis. Few rebuttals have been offered [52]. The very strong recommendations from health agencies predicted that none of these trials should fail. In fact, almost all of them have failed…

Dietary SFA does not correlate with CVD. On the other hand, it is increasingly understood that plasma SFAs are associated with increased risk for CVD and insulin resistance [59]. in humans, plasma SFAs do not correlate with dietary saturated fat but, rather, are more dependent on dietary carbohydrates [5,60–62]…

Total and/or LDL cholesterol are the most commonly assessed lipid markers for CVD risk despite the general recognition that they are not good predictors. Several other parameters have been shown to provide stronger evidence of risk and these tend to be reliably improved by dietary carbohydrate restriction. These include apolipoprotein (apo) B [71], ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, higher populations of the smaller dense LDL known as pattern B [72,73], as well as the ratio of apoB to apoA1. The ratio of TG to HDL, which is also improved more by carbohydrate restriction is taken as a correlate of the smaller dense LDL, which is not routinely measured…

Dietary carbohydrate restriction, because of its increased effectiveness in glycemic control, frequently leads to reduction and often complete elimination of medication in type 2 diabetes…

Finally, it should be recognized that the use of low carbohydrate diets is not a recent experiment and may well approximate the diet used by much of humanity for tens of thousands of years before the rise of agriculture…

Replacement of carbohydrate with fat or, in some cases, with protein, is beneficial in both types of diabetes leading to better glycemic control, weight loss, cardiovascular risk markers, and reduction in medication. This is what we know…

Both the scientific [92,93] and popular literature [94] have been unrestrained in attributing harm to fructose. Generally, fructose is known to have unique effects compared with glucose, although most of these are seen on a high-carbohydrate diet [95] and there may be little difference as carbohydrate is lowered. It is likely that on a low-carbohydrate diet, most fructose that is consumed will be converted to glucose. We have provided a perspective on the metabolism of fructose [96] where we emphasize its integration into general carbohydrate metabolism. The fact that up to 60% of ingested fructose can be converted to glucose makes the analysis of which sugar does what very difficult…

Given the current state of research funding and the palpable bias against low carbohydrate approaches [4], it is unlikely that an RCT can be performed that will satisfy everybody. The seriousness of diabetes suggests that we have enough evidence of different types to reevaluate our current recommendations for treatment…

We would recommend that government or private health agencies hold open hearings on these issues in which researchers in carbohydrate restriction can make their case. We think that traditional features of the analysis of evidence such as vigorous cross-examination should be part of the process…

How Networks Bring Down Experts (The Paleo Example) – hat-tip to Mr Wolf. I really loved this article:

 ‘…leadership is earned not by sitting atop an institutional hierarchy with the plumage of a PhD, but by contributing, experimenting, communicating and learning with the rest of a far bigger hive mind.’

Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes – abstract (full article behind pay wall):

‘Even short-term consumption of a Paleolithic-type diet improved glucose control and lipid profiles in people with type 2 diabetes compared with a conventional diet containing moderate salt intake, low-fat dairy, whole grains and legumes.’

Neuroscience: an epileptic target: Interesting abstract (full article behind pay wall) regarding the development of drugs to treat epilepsy that mimic the metabolic effects of a ketogenic diet via LDH inhibition: ‘…the first anti-epileptic drug known to act on a metabolic pathway.’

Scientists identify novel mechanism by which ketogenic diet could delay effects of aging

‘Dr. Verdin and colleagues found that at lower concentrations, BOHB helps protect cells from “oxidative stress”-which occurs as certain molecules build to toxic levels in the body and contributes to the aging process.’

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the primary ketone body in the blood.

One of the many criticisms of the Paleo diet is that it is potentially low in calcium. Check out this excellent article from Chris Kresser: How To Keep Your Bones Healthy On A Paleo Diet. There are some lovely foods in the top ten sources of calcium, including sesame seeds (wiz up tahini, garlic, olive oil, a little water and lemon juice and parsley to make a creamy salad dressing), tinned salmon and sardines, spinach…

New Research Shows Poorly Understood “Leaky Gut Syndrome” Is Real, May Be the Cause of Several Diseases via Ethical Omnivore Movement

Bring in the cows: grazing may be the best hope for a threatened butterfly – via Savory Institute. Really lovely article highlighting the importance of intelligently managed ruminants to biodiversity:

‘One of his goals was to dispel the widespread impression that cows are always bad for conservation. While ill-controlled herds have damaged landscapes across the West, Weiss says, well-managed herds can help preserve native ecosystems, including these flowery grasslands.’

Vegan Zealots And ‘Meat Kills The Planet’ Nonsense – Tom fights the fight yet again in this great article! An excellent argument for the important role that ruminants play in creating a healthy and sustainable biosystem.

World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya

‘…tool making apparently began before the birth of our genus.’

The FDA’s phony nutrition science: How Big Food and Agriculture trumps real science — and why the government allows it

How the recommended low levels of salt in your diet might actually be dangerous – Interesting article on salt – time for a rethink on guidelines? Heard that one before!

 

 

Videos and Podcasts

A lovely video here about Conygree Farm, based in the Cotswolds who keep rare breed Cotswold and pedigree Lleyn sheep, Traditional Hereford (as opposed to crossed Hereford) cattle and native breed pigs, producing lamb, hogget, mutton, beef and pork. I first heard about this farm via the PFLA, so if you are looking for a supplier of pasture fed beef and lamb (and hogget!) in the Cotswolds area – check them out. 

 

Books

Really enjoying reading Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets by Joanna Blythman. Check out my article on Joanna’s recent radio interview here.

‘These days cooking is a powerful political statement, a small daily act of resistance that gives us significantly more control of our lives…

The prevailing sentiment amongst food manufacturers is that the less we have a mental picture of how our food is made, the better.’

Joanna explains that when questioned about their methodologies, the implication from the food industry is that ‘…anyone who is suspicious of processed food is an irrational, confused hysteric.’

The description of some of the things on offer at the Food Ingredients trade show is mind-boggling.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. Would really like to read this after listening to Toby’s presentations online – looks hugely interesting.

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health (available to pre-order from Random House Publishers).

 

Websites

The Conygree Farm video above was posted on Grow Eat Gather – a really nice new website that promotes locally grown, real food in the UK.

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For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

In the garden

In the garden

If there is anything that makes us appreciate and reflect upon the passing of time it has to be gardening. When we garden, things are governed by the days, weeks, months, seasons and years in a way that is often forgotten in our everyday lives. We are acutely aware of just how quickly time passes as a myriad of jobs lie waiting for us in the garden and as weeds creep up in the blink of an eye and seeds wait to be planted. Yet at the same time we can talk of a newly-planted shrub and think ‘perhaps it will take a few years to flower properly’ as if a few years were a few days.

One would think that gardening would be a battle against time and the elements; a frantic attempt to keep on top of things and complete a list of jobs according to a strict timetable. It is of course and sometimes that can get on top of us but the strange thing is that despite this profound awareness of the passing hours and days, gardening is simultaneously about losing ourselves in time. When we garden, as all gardeners will no doubt agree, we are at once acutely aware of time and yet strangely outside of it as we immerse ourselves in the task at hand.  It is a way  of focusing the mind that for many is seemingly impossible in day to day life just as painting is or indeed any other skill or craft that requires sustained and complete absorption.

When we think of the garden, we also automatically relate its progress (or lack of) to points of time in our own lives and this gives it an added poignancy.  I think that is why gardens are so loved – they stand as reflections of our own lives and the time that has passed yet they also look to the future and represent a kind of hope. They appeal to us as temporal beings; as beings that exist with past, present and future combined simultaneously. There is a brilliant quote from Roy Strong about gardens and hope (maybe in his lovely book The Laskett).

Being out in the garden yesterday made me think about this and reflect on the connection with the natural world that we have lost. The Japanese practice of ‘Shinrinyoku’ or ‘forest bathing’ seeks to restore this equilibrium with some excellent results on moods, stress levels and the immune system (see here), but perhaps we need only go out to the garden  (if we are lucky enough to have one) rather than find a forest  to achieve similar results.

Apart from the physicality of gardening, there is an added bonus that if we are able to grow a few vegetables we are also benefitting our health by avoiding the ever-present chemicals that are used in the soil or sprayed on the produce (and even added with the packaging process – see my article on the interview with Joanna Blythman, author of Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets).

Within the ancestral health scene, there is a huge emphasis placed on the providence of our food (especially meat and other animal products) and although I was concerned about these things before, I am doubly aware of them now. Growing vegetables gives us an element of control over the quality of our food. Buying organic produce in the supermarket is expensive. We do have a monthly farmers market and we are also very lucky to have a superb organic garden shop relatively near to us but these options are not always practical. Hence our heroic efforts each year to tackle weeds and keep our vegetable garden going.

We have recently acquired a huge amount of woodchip to go around the beds and so Easter weekend was spent putting weed control fabric down and woodchipping over it and cleaning the greenhouses. Of course these are jobs that should have been done months ago but we can only do what we can when we can. I think that’s a good way to go – not only with gardens but with everything else –  otherwise it all becomes too much. In the wonderful weather that we have had, shovelling woodchip with the robins hopping around us, and watching the vegetable garden take shape has been a joy.

An essential piece of kit for the garden has been our Vitapod propagator. Unfortunately its power socket was damaged and so we have just received a replacement for it. The previous model had a power socket that could not be detached from the main body of the propagator and the company has rectified this design fault and replaced the damaged power socket for a small fee. The Vitapod was an invaluable purchase  and I cannot recommend it highly enough. We start many of our seedlings off in there before transferring to the greenhouse.

We used to have two large polytunnels (cheap ones – not the amazingly sturdy professional polytunnels that I covet) and after particularly windy days these were often found strewn across the surrounding area – accompanied by upturned pots of tomatoes and basil – despite anchoring them down with enormous stones and planks of wood. In the end we had to get rid of them as the wind had bent the metal structure so much that we could not put them back together. I think that until we can get a robust model we will stick to the greenhouses.

We hope to grow a modest crop this year (as last year). The usual courgettes, a few tomatoes, spring onions, chard and kale, cabbages, parsley, chives, basil, cucumbers, beets and lettuces. I didn’t bother trying with chillies, peppers or aubergines after the first couple of years as we just don’t seem to get a long enough season (waiting until we make that move to somewhere warmer!) but April is the last chance to plant chilli seedlings so I may give them another go. Our garlic came out ridiculously small last year, so we took a break but will plant again in the winter this year. I have bought a few different seeds this year – some oriental salad crops and different types of tomato and cucumbers.  I always go to The Real Seed Catalogue (in Wales) to buy vegetable seeds. I find them excellent and they have some really unusual varieties. They are also really helpful and are always ready to give advice on the telephone too.

I am very keen to begin fermenting some of the vegetables we grow. My initial foray into sauerkraut is still bubbling away in the cupboard and fingers crossed it will taste good. I have read lots of fermenting disaster stories where the whole lot has to be thrown away, so I am hoping that ours survives. Eating fermented foods brings enormous benefits to our gut microbes and so I want to increase the amount of these foods in our diet. Also, preserving food is an important consideration after so much effort goes into growing it. I made chutneys, jams, jellies and marmalades for many years but stopped (apart from a few Christmas presents) as we no longer eat them. As a result I have amassed an enormous collection of jars that are unused.

Click here for pictures of the vegetable garden and its highs and lows.

With thanks to my darling R, who has worked like a trooper over Easter.

I have just purchased The Art of Fermentation by fermenter extraordinaire Sandor Katz. There is a short documentary that has been made about him called Sandorkraut, so look forward to seeing that. Just listened to a great interview with Sandor at the Food as Medicine Summit (online).

Check out this great article The Politics of Fermentation by fermenter and potter Jeremy Ogusky. Jeremy makes beautiful fermentation crocks, olive oil jugs and other assorted products and is also founder of the Boston Fermentation Festival. I found a lovely article by Jeremy on Alex Lewin’s Feed Me Like You Mean It blog (Alex has also written a book on fermentation called Real Food Fermentation).

And finally…

‘The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.’
Joel Salatin: Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

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For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.