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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Field to Fork Event - Helen Browning's Organic Farm

A couple of weeks ago I visited a place that made me very homesick.  It was Helen Browning's Organic Farm in the gorgeous Wiltshire countryside surrounded by rolling paddocks and stunning views of rural scenery.  It reminded me of where we used to live in Auckland as our home was on the edge of a gorgeous rural area and we looked out over paddocks and open spaces, a far cry from the inner city terraced house and the end of a cul-de-sac where we currently live.

It was a brilliant day!  I left the busy and hectic Paddington Station in London behind and had a quiet train journey to Swindon, gazing out the window at the lovely countryside that was a taste of things to come.  It was a short taxi ride to Eastbrook, Helen's farm, and we were treated to a welcome cuppa at their pub The Royal Oak on arrival and a chat with Helen herself who happily answered all of our organic and farming questions and we had a lively discussion about organic food and trying to get government support for organic farming methods. 

Eastbrook Farm is completely organic and is run by Helen Browning OBE who leases it from the Church of England, the owners of the land.  Eastbrook farm spans 1,337 acres in the Wiltshire Downs and comprises of pigs, dairy, beef, veal, sheep and arable on 525 acres. Helen first converted the farm to organic in 1986 and soon after that developed the Helen Browning’s Organic brand in order to create a market for her meat products.  You can find out about all of Helen's products here.  They are delicious, especially the bacon.  Her Speedy Sausages are a fab option for when a quick dinner option is needed.  Helen converted her farm to organic when organic was barely heard of and her neighbours thought, and some still do, that she was rather bonkers. lol Helen is also Director of the Soil Association and Chair of the Food Ethics Council. 

We were treated to a tour of the farm, on a trailer pulled by a tractor, and were able to see for ourselves how well the animals were looked after and now contented they were. 



We were also treated to a delicous lunch featuring organic meat from Helen's farm and organic vegetables from a local farm. 


And of course we had pudding!  Not that food bloggers are at all gluttons *cough*



Before you all stop reading and start muttering that Organic equals expensive, you probably have a point.  Organic products quite often are more expensive than other products, mainly due to the more labour intensive farming methods.   However, non-organic cheaper products are far more expensive to the environment through the use of pesticides and chemicals leeching into the water table.   

Organic farming is pesticide and chemical free, increases biodiversity and the animals are farmed using high welfare standards.  There has been much debate about whether Organic food is better for us or not.  What I have found is, organic food - especially meat, tastes much better than non-organic versions.  As a family we try to buy organic meat when we can, and also grow our own organic fruit and vegetables, buying them at the supermarket when they are on offer and our budget allows.

I wish that we could afford to eat a totally organic diet, alas we cannot.  We do try, as much as we can, to include as much organic food in our diet as possible.  If supermarkets put a much effort into the development and publicity of their organic ranges as they do into their value ranges then many more people could afford to eat organic produce. 

What we try to do as a family is to limit the amount of meat we eat and when we do eat meat we buy high quality and high welfare meat.  When we do this the flavour and quality of the meat enables it to be stretched over several meals which means that it works out to be about the same price per meal as cheaper meat of poorer quality.  Our family philosophy is that if we are going to consume animal protein we make sure it is good quality, from high welfare sources that are sustainable, and not too expensive for the environment or our pockets.

To find out more about Organic food and farming methods please visit the Organic UK website, Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter.

A MASSIVE thank you to Organic UK for a fabulous day, delicious lunch and for paying my travel expenses for the day.  It was brilliant and I can't wait to take my 3 daughters to Helen's farm for a visit, I know they will have a fab time.

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