Proof that organic food is good for you

FROM organic vegetables and fruit to home-cooked cuisine, the North-East is full of culinary gems.

FROM organic vegetables and fruit to home-cooked cuisine, the North-East is full of culinary gems. More and more people are turning to farm shops, organic food outlets, farmers’ markets and high-quality food shops.

North Country Organics is a family-run business situated in the shadow of Tesco at Kingston Park which provides an organic fruit and vegetable box scheme to its growing number of customers.

The business began when owner Tracy Holland became very despondent with the fresh organic produce that was available to consumers within supermarkets. She began to seek out local organic producers and discovered that there was a fantastic array of organic produce right on her doorstep.

Determined to share her findings Tracy started an organic fruit and vegetable box scheme which also offers organic meat, milk, bread and dairy.

One of its main suppliers is Nafferton Farm, which is owned and run by Newcastle University who are just coming to the end of a four-year study between organic and non-organic produce. Their findings have proven that organic produce is actually better for you than non organic.

Tracy said: “These results are fantastic as they mean that the FSA are now going to have acknowledge this, something that they have been very sceptical about in the past.”

North Country Organics, which is registered with the Soil Association and The North-East Organic programme, has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months and is now providing a wholesale service to shops, restaurants and other box schemes throughout the North-East.

From next year it will become a primary producer, growing and providing its own produce.

North Country Organics has just secured a lease on a 2.5 acre Victorian walled garden in Northumberland, which it will put into organic conversion.

This will enable it to provide its box scheme with produce from no more than 10 miles away.

Tracy said: “This is a very exciting time for us. We have worked so hard to get where we are now, and to finally have our own land and to be able to start growing and producing our own vegetables is just amazing.”

To become a part of the scheme call (0191) 214-5900 or log onto www.northcountryorganics.co.uk.

Vicky and Peter Moffitt run Vallum Farm Shop and Cafe, near Stamfordham, Northumberland. About 50% of the stock on their shelves is from producers who trade at Hexham Farmers’ Market.

The pair use as many products from Northumberland as possible: vegetables when they are available, local jams, chutneys, oats and flour from Heatherslaw, Chainbridge Honey, salmon and bacon from the Bywell Smokery, cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company, sausages from Ian Byatt, of Stannington, and Doddington ice cream.

“Low on mileage but high on taste” has always been the ethos at Blagdon Farm shop, off the A1 north of Newcastle. Here you’ll find free-range and rare-breed meat including pork, chicken, guinea fowl and duck plus fresh seasonal vegetables.

Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Rooms is in picturesque Northumberland surroundings, just 30 minutes’ drive from the centre of Newcastle on the A69. The fundamental policy of Brocksbushes is to provide freshness, quality and choice in every department. It’s the ideal place to buy your Christmas trees, hampers and poultry, all of which have been reared “welfare friendly”.

Chirton Fisheries specialises in fresh fish and shellfish caught locally and off Scotland. The family business, run by Paul Robinson, recently moved from the Greenmarket, after 31 years, to the Grainger Market.

Hexham farmers’ market, which was named best in the country by the National Farmers Union, is held every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9am until 1.30pm in the Market Place.

All stallholders come from within a 50-mile radius of Hexham.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer