This summer I’ve been working on a fantastic project-British Organic carrots. I’ve driven over two thousand miles, all over the UK, to visit organic carrot farmers from Inverness to Cambridgeshire, via Norfolk, Aberdeenshire and Shropshire.
I’ve learnt about the dedication and hard work it takes to be a farmer. I’ve met some great characters and enjoyed beautiful British countryside. I’ve also realised how bloody sexy farmers are. They all exude health and strength. Conventional farmers have an average age of 55, but organic farmers tend to be younger and more innovative. Farmers are the backbone of this country, they are custodians of the land.
Organic carrots are worth paying for, they simply taste better. All carrots are good for you, but in my experience, organic carrots are sweeter. Grown organically, each carrot has more space to grow in. Butterflies, ladybirds and other insects control diseases, rather than spraying with pesticides. Organic carrots are rotated, usually on a seven year schedule, to different fields, avoiding the need for synthetic fertilisers. Fields are hand weeded which is also a factor in pushing up the cost. But when we are talking about paying more, it’s merely pennies: if conventional carrots cost 50p, then organic carrots will cost a quid. Organic carrots are a cheap luxury: gourmet produce for very little extra.
One of my favourite things is to take an ingredient and go wild with it, pushing it as far as I can take it.
Last week I held an organic carrot supper club at my home featuring an 11 course organic carrot menu for buyers, farmers, supermarkets and press. Food people can often be blasé about invitations to meals, they’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the postcard. So it was a particular pleasure to have some of the growers attend. They brought their humour and their appetite!
I also got through 25 kilos of organic carrots, mostly orange, but also some purple and yellow. My eyesight is now Xray vision. The recipes I’ve created range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but are all very very tasty.