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Spud Saviours

by | May 4, 2023 | Food Facts

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This week’s good guy in veg award has to go to Riverford. I regularly get one of their boxes so I am a big fan of Guy Singh-Watson’s ethical stance on commercial agriculture and his views on sustainability. This week, he spoke of how the company stepped in to rescue a supplier’s potato harvest after it had been rejected by a major supermarket. Not for quality purposes, but because after requesting this particular variety of the farmer, they discontinued the line without actually telling him. Not only was the produce worth £30–£40k, it could’ve ended up on the scrap heap.

Are your tinned tomatoes picked by slave labour?

I came across this article via Rachel Roddy a few years ago and a second (very long form) one on the subject of slave labour in agriculture, in this case, in southern Italy. It’s uncomfortable reading but does give alarming insight into how organised crime outfits, having invested heavily in agricultural land, have engineered access to a steady flow of ultra-cheap labour via the immigrant reception centres they manage.

And we’re not just talking tomatoes, but oranges too- to the point where Fanta (Coca-Cola) stopped sourcing them from Calabria as far back as 2012.

That’s why you’ll find Mr.Organic tomatoes in your bags next week- they come out top in the Ethical Consumer tinned tomato league table (with Prince, Heinz and Napolina trailing at the bottom with virtually no ethical credentials).

Ethical Trade is also a good resource to help with buying decisions and covers everything from food to fashion and beyond.

3 Ingredient Spaghetti in Rich Tomato Sauce

Ok, it sounds a bit Jamie Oliver, but you’ll be amazed at how this simple sauce tastes. The secret to sweet-tasting tomatoes is time.

2 tins of tomatoes (preferabley whole)

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

An abundance of olive oil

In a deepish frying pan, warm 3 or 4 tbsp of olive oil (perhaps more) add the garlic and cook for a minute or less until soft, don’t let it brown. Have your tomatoes ready to go and pour them in. Refill the empty tin with water and add that to the pan. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and leave to cook, breaking down the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon and adding a little more water as needed. I probably use 1 1/2 to 2 tins water. Allow the tomato to reduce until it’s thick and sweet for at least half an hour. 45 mins probably better. It may not even need salt and pepper.

Mix through cooked spaghetti and serve with crusty bread and chianti.

The lowly swede is one of the hardiest root veg to harvest (which is why it’s so cheap) and is so much more than a side dish for a Sunday Roast. And if Yotam Ottolenghi’s all over it, who are we to argue?

Why is it important in our diet?

Immunity: Full of Vitamins and minerals (100g gives you 41% of daily vitamin C dose- so perfect for winter).

Gut Health: Full of fibre

Weight Loss & Diabetes: The Keto dieters favourite root, less starch than potatoes, take longer to digest while boosting metabolism.

Cardiovascular Health & Blood Pressure: Full of potassium which helps to regulate stress and mitigate the effects of sodium.

Prevents Premature Ageing: vitamin C also boosts collagen production, improves eyesight and stimulates the regeneration of cells in your cells and tissues.

A few of my favourite swede recipes…

Anna Jones Mushroom & Swede Rosti

Ottolenghi’s Stuffed Peppers with Fondant swede

Riverford’s Swede & Potato Boulangere

Meera Sodha’s Swede and Mushroom Tacos