Crossing Over with Tideford Organics


I’m often asked to review products on one of my blogs or give an opinion. I turn down most companies, mainly because I believe in clean, healthy food. It’s the kind of food we planted and harvested on the farm in West Virginia where I grew up, and the kind of food I prepare for my own family still. I could never be bothered to review products that don’t fit into that profile, and sadly, many do not. Enter Tideford Organics. A most unusual company. Unusual in all the best ways.

If you haven’t yet heard of Tideford Organics, they have been around since 1996 and were built on a commitment to organic food and the environment. They are now in a purpose built factory in Devon and designing food that tastes like you made it at home. If you haven’t already read it, here is my review of the products I was sent.

Back in October, one of my friends/readers saw that Tideford was looking for food bloggers to review their new line. Normally, I would pass the link on to another blogger, but I found Tideford intriguing. I’d seen their products while perusing the gluten-free tag on the Ocado website. I always look at the ingredients lists of products if they are available and was impressed by the fact that their soups and sauces seemed to be all prepared from fresh organic ingredients. So I agreed to review all the gluten-free vegetarian items that they’d like to send my way.

A few weeks after my review went live, you can imagine my surprise when I got another email from Tideford saying they were sending me a second batch of goodies that had been “tweaked in response to your comments on your blog.” What? I was stunned. Where was the normal “thank you for your review, we’ll take your comments into consideration” or the dreaded “like us on facebook you could win in a £250 voucher!”  I told you they were unusual! I was also amazed at how much they’d accomplished with just a few lines of suggestion. For that is what it was, only suggestion, I had no idea that after a 3rd batch tasting and discussions with the managing director that we’d be in negotiations for my consulting on next season’s line.

So there it is. I’ve now crossed over from independent reviewer to consultant. I thought you should know, and I’m hoping to be able to share as much of the experience as possible in the coming months. I’m headed down to Devon on Thursday next and cannot wait to meet up with the team. I’m so pleased at the prospect of working with a company that holds the same ideals about food that I do. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

UK Organic Box Delivery vs. Grocery Store Delivery

How many of you have tried an organic box delivery? What’s your perception? Here in the UK, they are marketed as a bit of a luxury and in the USA, people who use CSA vegetable share schemes are usually seen as hippies or tree-huggers. If you’ve never seen one before-they consist of a variety of vegetables, or fruit and vegetables, often from local farms utilising what is in season at the time. Each scheme is slightly different, but most will let you regulate or substitute items that you don’t like or will not eat. You can also add other things, bread, milk, eggs and more in the case of Abel and Cole and Riverford…much much more! I have always thought my weekly box delivery to be something of a luxury so  I have to say that I was quite surprised by the results of my research.  Here’s to debunking the myths! Please read on.

Last year we moved to Birmingham from London. We wanted a bit of a change of pace, and to get out from under London’s crippling rent and travel costs, not to mention the time we spent on public transport! One of the things I’d never thought about before the move was my organic box delivery that I’d been receiving for 2 years. I was with a company called Riverford…whom I LOVED. I’d had a couple of different driver/franchise owners whilst in London and both were brilliant. The North London one in particular. My veg was always perfectly put together and the medium box was an excellent value.

When I moved to Birmingham I was able to stay with Riverford, but the quantity and quality seemed vastly reduced. At this point I switched to Abel and Cole whom I’d had for several months when living on a Dutch barge in central London. The medium box didn’t seem to be as carefully prepared or have nearly the variety. But I’ve since switched to the large box I’ve been very happy indeed, with the exception of the driver coming at 6am and having to leave the box on my doorstep. That I don’t mind, it’s the neighbourhood cats that like to “claim” the veg as their own! Eww. Anyway, I digress. Let’s get comparing!


My Recent Abel and Cole Large Box Contents

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Leeks
  • Milva New Potatoes
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Red Oak Leaf Lettuce this is ony my dislike list so they exchanged it for onions
  • Red Pepper
  • Savoy Cabbage this is on my dislike list so they exchanged it for Chicory
  • LargeTomatoes
  • Turnips

£18.50 + £1 delivery= £19.50


Sainsbury’s

  • turnips: 1
  • endive/chicory: 2.40
  • Carrots:  1.15
  • potatoes 1.75
  • portabello mushrooms 1.50
  • onions 1
  • red pepper .80
  • tenderstream broccoli 2
  • squash 1.80
  • leeks: 2
  • tomatoes  1.80
  • cucumber: 1.25

18.45 + 5.95 delivery= £24.35/ (£40 min required for delivery) 6 items not organic


Ocado

  • turnips: 1.15
  • chicory: 3.00
  • carrots: 1.69
  • potatoes: 2.99
  • portabello mushroom: 2.19
  • squash: 1.99
  • red pepper: 2
  • onions:  1
  • tenderstem broccoli:  1.99
  • leeks: 2.35
  • tomatoes: 1.80
  • cucumber: 1.38

£23.53 / +  6.99 delivery /total: £30.52/ £40 min delivery  (2 items not organic)
This is the time to mention that Ocado do their own organic box which I’ve purchased a few times. You get a LOT of produce. But for me the flavour just isn’t there. It’s the reason why I rarely buy produce and fruit from Ocado. It looks nice, but there’s something lacking.


Waitrose

  • turnips: 1.99
  • chicory: 1.50
  • carrots: 1.69
  • potatoes: 1.69
  • portabello mushroom: 1.59
  • squash: 1.99
  • red pepper: 1.5
  • onions:  1.07
  • tenderstem broccoli:  1.99
  • leeks: 4.99
  • tomatoes: 2.29
  • cucumber: 1.38

21.98 +(free delivery over £50) = £21.98/ (£50 min required for delivery) (4 items not organic)


Tescos and Asda do not carry enough organic produce in order to do a comparison but I feel quite sure that  they’d not be cheaper.

As for other box schemes that I’ve tried, there’s also Farm Fresh Organics. Whilst I loved the produce…I found the website rather difficult to use (in MAJOR need of a redesign) and almost no communication once I had ordered. I have a feeling if the website were sorted and there was more of an online presence and communication about them that they could get a lot more business here in the West Midlands. I’d love to see that happen and would be the first in line to order on a regular basis!
So there you go! Sainsbury’s came in under cost for the actual produce but went over with the delivery charge and a whopping 6 items were not organic. Again I was genuinely surprised by my findings! I always thought that my organic box was something that I splurged for each week because tasty organic fruits and veggies were something on which I wasn’t willing to compromise. Well, here’s to not compromising and getting the best for less! Please support local farms, and companies that make box deliveries like this possible!

I’d love to hear from all of you. Do you have an experience with organic box deliveries? What do you think of them? What made you consider an organic box delivery?

Many thanks to Sarah Braun for the lovely photo at the top of this posting. It is licensed though creative commons. Please click on the photo for more from her on her flickr page!

 

 

A Song for Donna

Hi there! It’s been a long long long long time since I posted on this blog. There’s lots of reasons I could give…one being the little man that I gave birth to in Nov. 09, another was me thinking that I could could stop taking my meeds and still function. I started to wonder when I could no longer focus my eyes or think straight though a very very foggy brain. I hadn’t realized over the last 14 months how affected I was until I started feeling better. So now that I am, it’s time to get onto more important things! Let’s talk about my lovely friend Donna DeLorme!

Donna was diagnosed with MS in 1996, after a few bouts with optic neuritis. She was told that her MS was relapsing-remitting and that she would not likely have many problems. This wasn’t to be so, and just two years later she started having tingling and numbness in her right hand, a foot that dragged when she was tired, and blurred vision. As with anyone with a busy life, (I’ve been guilty of this for the entirety of my life so far) she ignored her body and symptoms and continued to work, even taking a very stressful job ’99. Within two weeks, she was blind in one eye, could barely walk and could not move the right side of her body.

Donna is one of the bravest people I know. She managed to keep her independence for many years by setting up a business and working from home. She eschewed the MS injections as they were not helping and making her feel horribly ill. She’s managed all this time with supplements and exercises, diet modifications and lots and lots of water…but unfortunately MS has her firmly in it’s grip and last year after quite a long stint in a care facility, she truly thought that she wouldn’t be able to come home again and would have to give up her beloved kittehs, Pita and Pepper. I’m sure it was through sheer force of will that Donna did come home, she managed to get things sorted with the help of friends and family and move into an apartment better suited to her needs and arrange just enough home care to get by.

Last July Donna went to Costa Rica to undergo Angioplasty treatment (read about CCSVI here) but was under-treated according to her latest diagnostics. Angioplasty for CCSVI is a hot topic, and is quite controversial, and many countries, including Canada do not allow the procedure. Here in Britain, the first treatments were done at a private clinic in Ediburgh in October of last year. So though you can have the procedure in the UK, it is not something available under the NHS.

We all had such great hopes for her treatment in Costa Rica, and to anyone who knows Donna, just the dramatic change in the way she looked after treatment was enough to make us believers. Unfortunately, her symptoms didn’t improve enough to give her the life-changing results that we were all hoping for. She needs further treatment and perhaps stents to keep the veins open and the blood flowing and that means a second treatment in America. Family and a few friends paid for the last procedure, and cannot afford to do so a second time.

Here’s where you come in! This is your chance to make a real change in the life of someone wonderful….someone who is a huge supporter of great music, a fighter, a lover, a loyal friend, someone who doesn’t take life for granted. So many of us never think about getting out of bed in the morning, being able to take ourselves to the bathroom, or make ourselves and our loved ones a meal. I can’t imagine not being able to reach out an pick up my son, to throw him up in the air while he squeals with delight…so many things
that I do without thinking on a day to day basis that are a struggle or just plain impossible for Donna. we’re putting together a wonderful compilation of great music…songs donated by some of the best musicians that can be found. All proceeds will go to help pay for Donna’s procedure. In the meantime, read her story, peruse her blog, and give a little something to help her out. Just a quid if you’ve not got much…believe me, it’ll help. We’ll let you know when we get the comp underway! Thanks for listening and for your help! Much love, Lo.

Buy Nothing New. My Year is Almost Up!

So lovelies, it’s been a while! I’m back to talk about my Buy Nothing New for a Year Project. Next month, it will have been one year since I started. It hardly seems possible! For those of you who are not familiar with this challenge. Here’s what I’ve restricted myself from doing…

No new stuff! This includes,

  • Clothes
  • Gadgets
  • Makeup
  • Erroneous bath and shower products (can only buy what you NEED)
  • No going to the hairdressers
  • No furniture
  • No housewares
  • No new crap!

Here’s what I allowed myself to buy if I needed

  • Food (of course)
  • Secondhand goods from Charity Shops if I needed them
  • Stuff from Freecycle if I needed it
  • Items for my trades, (strings, gems, beads, ect)
  • Things you can’t buy used (lightbulbs, panties, ect)

So I did pretty well. Did I actually go an entire year without buying anything new? Not really. Here’s what I cheated on:

  • I bought a new lappy before I came over to the UK to live. Truly that falls under the needed for work thing, but I could have bought a used one again but I didn’t.
  • I bought some lipstick because I ran out.
  • Some of the things we needed after the move were bought by Steve
  • I had my hair cut before I left the US, but I didn’t know back then that it wasn’t allowed (since then it’s been cut by Steve)

I’m sure there have been various other infractions over time…but these are the ones I can think of at present.  It’s been a good year,  I think that I will try to continue as best I can and certainly to buy nothing new, wisely.  I’ve learned a lot in this past year and really wish I could have back all that money I’ve spent over time on shit I just don’t need!  Makes me a little sick to my stomach to think of things I’ve bought in the past and then contributed to the landfill a few short years later.  I’m sure the thousands of dollars could have been much better employed somewhere else.  As the song by one of my fave solo bass players says….You Can’t Throw It Away (There’s No Such Thing as Away)

So since I feel I’ve vastly improved the quality of my life by this little challenge, I’ve now started thinking about what’s next.  One of the things I’ve been proudest of in my life was how books have steered me, changed me, molded me, inspired me.  I used to be one of the most prolific readers that I knew.  The time that I used to spend reading books, I now mostly spend on the Internet.  There’s got to be some balance between these two things no?  So my next challenge is to join a library (too bad London doesn’t have any good ones 😉 to read one book per week and write about it.  I’ve also joined LibraryThing at the suggestion of the lovely @secretlondon  So have a look, send me a suggestion for a nice read and I’ll let you know how it goes in the coming months.  I’ll probably start in January this time as I’ll be on tour for most of November and December but who knows, maybe I’ll get a head start! 🙂  Much love and thanks for all the love and support lots have you have given me this last year.  You know who you are! xoxox

 

Part One: Body Image and Physical Attractiveness…. Are We Fighting a Losing Battle Against Ourselves??

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a column on a love/advice blog. His general theme was how women blame men for placing unrealistic expectations on them so that they are struggling the rest of their lives to appear young and perfect whilst men are allowed to become paunchy, grey and bald as part of the normal aging process. His consensus was that we give men too much credit. That men aren’t intelligent enough to mastermind such a skillful plan and although they are happy to encourage such “ongoing maintenance”, are not the perpetrators of pristine. He goes on to name women as the ones who place unrealistic expectations on themselves; through a competitiveness of spirit. So ladies, what do you think? Are we fighting a losing battle against ourselves?

I of course disagree with some of Kev’s article. I think men do place a lot of importance on looks. Almost all the women with serious body issues I know were told by a male figure in their young lives that there was something wrong with their physicality. My biological father told me when I was young that I was “fat” and would never get a boyfriend until I lost weight. Another friend of mine had a male family member tell her that she had “fat legs”. We’ve carried these emotional weights with us throughout the entirety of our lives and believe me, they weigh in a lot heavier than what it tells me on the scale. While it’s not the fault of the whole of the male race…I’m sorry boys but I don’t think we can totally exonerate you.

I do agree with Kev that women are competitive. REALLLY competitive at times. No one has ever been harder on me than I’ve been on myself, and I’ve rarely seen a man be CRUEL in the same way I see women be to one another on a daily basis, myself included. Why do we feel the need to do this? Why must we constantly critique the style and body type of other women? I can only speak for myself here and say that I do it because I feel inadequate. I feel some weird sense of guilt that I’m not doing more to make myself look perfect. When I see someone truly lovey, I feel the need to pick at something. It’s a type of feminine psychosis really.

In another way, I feel that we’re just continuing a trend that been going on since the beginning of civilised society. Women as the so-called weaker sex, have been expected to conform throughout history to be the embodiment of whatever trend was meant to personify femininity at that particular time. It’s all very political. What about bound feet? This was considered extremely erotic in the Qing dynasty…but beyond eroticism it limited a woman’s mobility and cause her to be dependent on her family for the rest of her life. In the 1800’s it was whalebone corsets, causing some women to actually have ribs removed in order to cinch their waists a bit tighter. All this in order to compete for a more desirable husband. Today it’s liposuction, breast implants and plastic surgery. We no longer need someone else to take care of us, so why do we still allow ourselves to compete for an ideal that is unattainable?

Because beneath the surface of our society, the perception of physical attractiveness still has a hand in dictating our place in it. I think sometimes people forget that women had to fight for that place (relatively recently I might add), that we’re still fighting. We’ve allowed society to sell us a fantasy that says if we look a certain way that our lives will be fulfilled; while we totally ignore the problems that exist beneath our skin. We’re depicted in the media as sex-objects; yet expected to be chaste according to our religion. We’ve got a lot of issues, and rightly so. Perhaps we could all take a lesson from the following anonymous declaration of self-esteem….

I am me.

In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. There are persons who have some parts like me, but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore, everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone chose it.

I own everything about me – my body, including everything it does; my mind, including all its thoughts and ideas; my eyes, including the images of all they behold; my feelings, whatever they may be – anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement; my mouth, and all the words that come out of it, polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice, loud or soft; and all my actions, whether they be to others or to myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.

I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.

Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts. I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests.

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at that moment in time.

When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did, and how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that which is unfitting, and keep that which proved fitting, and invent something new for that which discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me, and therefore I can engineer me.

I am me and I am okay.