posted by Georgia Catt

low-carbon lunch-off

Georgia Catt of the Soil Association provide a stinging (and tasty) riposte to 10:10's own low-carbon lunch

The Soil Association's organic low-carbon lunch

Here at Soil Association, we like to think we do food pretty well.

When we’re not helping people understand where their food comes from, we’re working with farmers to help them grow produce in the most sustainable way. When we’re not doing that, we’re busy campaigning for everyone to have access to food that is better for their health and the environment. And when we’re not doing that, we’ll probably be eating. 

With 30% of an individual's carbon footprint made up by their food choices, food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact. So it’s important to get it right.

Which is why we were a bit surprised to see that switching to an organic diet hadn’t been included in the 10:10 low-carbon lunch tip sheet.

As it doesn’t use inorganic nitrogen fertiliser, which is produced from petro-chemicals, organic farming is generally a more energy efficient system of food production. So much so that if all UK farmland was converted to organic farming, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year - the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road. 

In light of this, there was only one thing for it – we’d have to show 10:10 why organic can’t be left off the low-carbon lunch menu.

Low-carbon lunch – Soil Association style

It wasn’t hard to find volunteers, and on Friday 8 October (two days before 10:10:10) we had a feast on our hands. The veg came from our local farmers' market and organic box schemes – as well as some grown in the gardens of our more green-fingered staff. Squash, leeks and kale are all at their best at the moment and are easy to bulk out with couscous and salad. We’ve had bumper crops of fruit and veg this year, but there are plenty of ways to make them last.  Our press office manager Clio Turton made a tasty marrow chutney (which worked a treat with the organic sourdough).  The Preserving Book by Lynda Brown has some great recipes – have a look in the Soil Association shop for more ideas.

We avoided meat, which kept down the cost and our carbon footprint, and what little dairy we used came from organic, grass-fed cows. Food was also brought across from our local community farm – part of the Community Supported Agriculture scheme. Such projects keep emissions down, providing communities with access to fresh, local produce bought directly in bulk from the farmer or supplier.

But perhaps the low-carbon Michelin star went to Bonnie Hewson, our CSA manager. Her delicious apple and plum muffins focused on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients while two of her other recipes were based around the idea that reducing waste is an important low-carbon step - she used stale bread and sour milk that would otherwise have been chucked out.  The result - a fantastic batch of scones and a chocolate bread and butter pudding – was perfect for a Friday afternoon. The recipes are below – let us know what you think!

Waste not want not scones

Sour (gone off) organic milk and cream that would have been chucked out
Organic butter
Phil Stocker's eggs (Soil Association director of farmer grower relations) 
Organic plain flour - from Shipton Mill , our closest mill, using stone ground methods
More recipes available from

Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding (from Gino D'Acampo's Buonissimo!)

1 loaf of white bread that the baker down the street was going to chuck (crusts made into breadcrumbs and frozen for future recipes!)
Organic milk from Ayreshire cows
Organic and Fairtrade Brazilian Rapadura cane sugar - this is the most ethical sweetner, it's full of minerals as its from evaporated raw sugar juice and doesn't involve burning the sugar cane (available from Essential bulk buying. We have a staff ordering group with deliveries to the office)
Organic eggs - from Phil Stocker’s farm
Dark fairtrade chocolate (from Divine, also available through Essential buying group)
Organic butter

Apple plum muffinsApple Plum Muffins

Local apples (Avon Organic Group's gardens and allotments) and plums (from the farmer's market)
Organic plain flour - from Shipton Mill
Organic and Fairtrade Brazilian Rapadura cane sugar
Organic yoghurt from Yeo Valley
Organic oats
Organic walnuts
Organic butter
Organic eggs - from Phil Stocker’s farm