Newsletter May 2014

THE QUINOA QUESTION

Joanna Blythman  explained the unpalatable truth about quinoa in The Guardian at the beginning of last year: ‘ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.’

Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood outlets like Fareshares, but now Whole Foods Market® is the brand name of an expensive US supermarket chain that has a London store in Kensington High Street.  And they bloody love quinoa!

‘Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the “miracle grain of the Andes”, a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and “royal” types commanding particularly handsome premiums.’

Not only does the wholesale price of organic quinoa creep up every other month, as our suppliers update their catalogues, but often we can’t get any type of organic quinoa for love nor money. Every week, we are asked for quinoa, which sells swiftly, but when one volunteer ordered non-organic quinoa from the wholesaler, another returned it for not being organic. Because Fareshares is strictly organic.

Ms Blythman’s article concluded, ‘There are promising initiatives: one enterprising Norfolk company, for instance, has just started marketing UK-grown fava beans (the sort used to make falafel) as a protein-rich alternative to meat.’ This company is Hodmedod’s and, guess what, they now market British-grown quinoa!  But it’s not organic. Not yet. Although this article (page 3) might indicate that it’s in transition .

So, Fareshares friends, the question is, should Fareshares make an exception to its strict policy and stock Hodmedod’s British-grown quinoa even though it’s not yet organic? This topic shall be raised at our meeting on May 15 at the Pullens Centre, where Hodmedods British-grown quinoa will be served for your evaluation. Please join us and let us know your views via our Facebook page.

#HOWDOWEDOIT? : Soya Mayo

Summer’s in the offing and salads with it and, with them, mayo. Not the emulsion of egg yolk and oil invented by a chef in the Napoleonic navy for his Admiral, Mahon, while anchored in the world’s second largest natural harbour, in the Balearics, also called Mahon. No, Vegans don’t do eggs, remember, nor eggy sauces, so we are obviously not talking about traditional Mayonnaise, or aïoli. We are mostly talking Plamil Egg Free Mayonnaise.  We are also talking to a lesser extent about Infinity’s more expensive & less popular own brand vegan Mayo.

Plamil EFM comes in six varieties, of which Fareshares regularly stocks two; which two could may change in response to consumer demand! You may also note that its price on their web site is £2.26, but Fareshares shelf price is £1.76, a full fifty pence cheaper than the manufacturer’s recommended retail price! #HOWDOWEDOIT?

#HOWITSDONE: Soya Mayo

Better than shop bought is home made. The ease of making your own vegan mayo depends upon having the correct apparatus: it really needs a blender or a food processor that enables one to add the oil in a slow steady stream as the machine is running. That said, I’ve made it using a stick mixer in a pint glass.

You’ll need twice as much oil as soya milk, so make sure you’ve enough and don’t use good olive oil, for instance, except perhaps at the end, to give your ‘mayo’ some class. The recipe below was adapted from much larger quantities and incorporates mustard powder and apple juice concentrate as a sweetener. You might use Dijon, or any mustard, but it is worth getting conc. AJ, which adds a certain je ne sais quoi.

Soya milk                                60ml
Mustard Powder                    half teaspoon
Vinegar                                   10ml
Salt                                          big pinch
Apple juice concentrate        3/4g
Vegetable Oil                        125ml

*      Mix all the ingredients, except for the oil in a blender or food processor, or in a bowl if you intend to whisk.
*      Add the oil very slowly to the other ingredients, blending continuously, until it has a mayonnaise consistency.
*      Pour it over new potatoes, mix it with shredded cabbage & carrot to make coleslaw, or chopped celery, apple & hazelnuts to make Waldorf salad.

FARESHARES VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES & MAY MEETING

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about joining Fareshares’ pool of volunteers, but even if you can’t do shifts in the shop- that’s-not, perhaps you have a special skill that you could donate? Accountancy, for example, or graphic design.

Although it’s nobody’s business, Fareshares does occupy the same consensus reality as Marks&Spencer and is obliged to follow many of the same procedures. So, if you think you can tell us why we ‘re perpetually on the brink of insolvency, or how to make better signs, we’d be glad to hear from you.

Why not come along to Fareshares May meeting,  to be be held on Friday 16th at The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, SE17!

Hot food will be served at 6:30pm, upstairs, before the meeting takes place, downstairs, at 7:30pm. All prospective and past members of Fareshares are welcome to eat with us, but only present members of the collective may participate in its business meeting. Others may hang out upstairs until the meeting is done and we finish the evening with cake. Please bring cake!

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