Newsletter Summer Solstice 2015

Summer recipe: Hummus

hummus1From time to time, especially in the Summer months, some bright spark will suggest that tubs of ready made hummus be kept in Fareshares fridge, so that they may snack like Potentates, but that is not what how we go. Mistake not Fareshares for a convenience store! We sell chickpeas, both tinned (400g, 80p) and dried in bulk (250g=50p); we sell organic light tahini (280g, £2.80); and sell oil, both good quality olive oil (500ml, £3.68) and organic sunflower oil (500ml, £3). Freshares usually sells garlic & lemons,  too.

Do not, however, use tinned chickpeas to make hummus, if you can avoid it, as they are far too farty. This undesirable fartiness becomes enhanced by the canning process, which traps the potentially flatulent gasses. Although there is no scientific evidence for this, it is non the less true that, for a chickpea pedant, such as Yotam Ottolenghi, the rules are respectfully time-honoured and perfectly clear: ‘The chickpeas must be dried and soaked overnight with some bicarbonate of soda: the texture of hummus should be utterly smooth and soft and this is the way to prepare the peas before they are cooked.’ Yes, Fareshares sells bicarbonate of soda, of the poshest kind: Dove, 200g (200g, £1.40)..

Online, Ottolenghi’s basic hummus recipe gives quantities:- 250g chickpeas; 1 tsp bicarb; 270g light tahini paste; 4 tbsp lemon juice; 4 cloves o’ crushed garlic; 100ml ice cold water; salt – but, for the method, you are directed to Yotam’s offline ‘Jerusalem’ cookbook, which costs £27! Eh? If you can’t imagine what happens next, Julia Moskin spelled it out in the NYT. Pay special attention to the cooking instructions and the roll played by the bicarb in making smooth hummus, if not ameliorating its fartiiness.

BBQ Season: #vegeburger

BBQ season is never an easy time – boozy carnis gnawing charred chunks o’ flesh – but vegeburgers may be the way to go. Myriad permutations are possible and burger recipes are regularly re-posted on Fareshares Food Co-op Facebook page, using the hashtag #vegeburger. Search Facebook & you’ll find our ever-growing portfolio of meat free bun fillings as well as some delightful surprises such as this fellows #vegeburger.

tofuburgerOasis Organic Tofuburgers cost two quid, which is £1 per burger, and offer a swift tasty and portable meal/snack solution when served in a bun stuffed with salad. Keep a supply of these little darlings and you won’t have to go hungry at tedious BBQs this Summer!  Fareshares offers a random-izised and revolving selection of the following organic Tofuburger varieties:

  •     Beetroot & Walnut – commended in the Organic Food Awards
  •     Chick Pea – a little extra ‘crunch’ without the addition of nuts
  •     Chilli – including red kidney beans and ‘hot’ stuff!
  •     Celery – very distinctive fresh celery flavour
  •     Leek – super tasting leeks
  •     Garlic mushroom – if you like them you’ll love these burgers
  •     Apple & Raisin – a little sweetness under your grill
  •     Tomato – yes real tomatoes in this one
  •     Peppers – both the red and green varieties!

Also in the ‘fridge, you will see Oasis Marinated and Deep-Fried Tofu (200g, £2.25) which requires no further cooking to add instant plant protein to salads and sandwiches.

Potluck on Saturday August 15th @ Pullens Cemtre

The reason why Fareshares can afford its low prices is that nobody gets paid. Everyone involved with our project donates their time and expertise for free. Fareshares depends upon its volunteers, who are always needed and welcome. We hold monthly meetings on the 15th and we invite you to join us at the Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, on the 15th of August – Saturday – from 6pm to share some hearty vegan fare and talk about Fareshares!

If you’re thinking you may volunteer with Fareshares, or you used to be involved, this is an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, or to catch up with old friends. There’s currently about a score of people associated with our collective – not just those ones you see behind the counter – and new volunteers are always welcome & needed to manage all the various facets of our project. Please let us know in advance if you plan to attend, so we have an idea of numbers. Join the event via Facebook, or e-mail,

After supper, Fareshares’ monthly meeting takes place from 7pm. 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.

Newsletter Imbolc 2015

FareShares Nut Roast – Official!

FareShares dabbled with Suma’s new Nut Roast mix when it first came out, but the sweetened cranberries in its contents list was swiftly spotted by vigilant volunteers. FareShares doesn’t sell sugar as a point of principle, because it is neither necessary nor healthy, end of. Suma pointed out that they do also stock Artisan Grains Nut Roast – a ready-made nut roast that doesn’t have sugary ingredients – and also, handily, comes in its own tin,  and further suggested, ‘you could also try our veggie sausage mix, which would make a mean nut roast with some chopped nuts added’.

You may care to explore that option – anyone can order anything from Suma’s catalogue via FareShares, for which service we charge only 10% premium – but ready made meal mixes is not really what we do. The best nut roast is the one you make yourself from scratch and one of the abiding beauties of FareShares is that one can buy as little or as much of any of the ingredients as one requires to make this, FareShares Officially-Costed* Nut Loaf Recipe:

To feed/cost*:                                                         90p*/p/p   3/£2.05*   6/£3.90*   12/£8.22*

Mixed chopped nuts                 av. price  £11.00kg   40g             120g           250g         500g
Oat flakes &/or breadcrumbs                    £1.32kg    40g             120g          250g          500g
Veg stock/Marigold bouillon, 150ml tub £1.60     25ml           75ml         250ml        500ml
Yeast extract                              340g jar    £3.40       1tsp              2tsp            1tbs          2tbs
Olive oil                                                                        1.5tsp           1tbs            2tbs          4tbs
Diced onion & celery                                                   h/cup         2/3cup         cup          2cup
Shredded carrot                                                          small         medium        large        2large
Cumin                                                                           pinch          1/2tsp          1tsp          2tsp
Mixed herbs; salt & pepper                                       to taste.

*prices, Feb. 2015

  1. Make up the bouillon stock and mix in the yest extract. If you’re using dried herbs, add them now.
  2. Put the oat flakes and/or breadcrumbs in a bowl with the mixed nuts, pour over the stock and leave to stand for 20 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan, sauté the diced onion & celery in olive oil until transparent, then add the grated carrots and fry for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add chopped nuts, breadcrumbs, and stock mix, combining all the ingredients. It should have a moist consistency, not too wet. Add more stock or water if necessary.
  5. Put the mixture into a greased loaf tin. Fairly shallow trays are best to ensure the loaf gets properly cooked all the way through.
  6. Cook for about half an hour at 200 deg.C in a fan-assisted oven; precise cooking times will vary, according to how deep the loaf is and how efficient the oven.
  7. Check regularly that the loaf does not dry out & cover with it foil if necessary. You can check if it’s cooked all the way through by inserting a knife for a minute before holding the blade to your lips to see it it’s hot. If not, it needs a few minutes more in the oven innit.
Not roast with roast roots and gravy shall be served!
Not roast with roast roots and gravy shall be served!

FareShares’ Sunday Lunches

FareShares Official Nut Roast shall be served up in all its glory, with onion gravy & roasted root vaggies, at FareShares’ Sunday Lunches, to be held at the Pullens Centre on the 15th of February and March. FareShares’ monthly meetings are regularly held on the 15th and, since that date falls on Sunday for the next couple of months, we’re taking the opportunity to invite you to join us to share some hearty vegan fare and chat about FareShares.

If you’re thinking you may volunteer with FareShares, or you used to be involved, this is an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, or to catch up with old friends. There are currently about a score of people associated with our collective – not only those who you see behind the counter –  and new volunteers are always welcome and needed to take responsibility for all the various facets of managing our project.

FareShares is not a shop, but an experiment in community and it is in that spirit that you are invited to join us for a late Sunday lunch, served upstairs at the Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, SE17 from 4pm, where the door will be open an hour earlier if you’d care to come along to help set up. Bring the kids, if you like, but if you please let us know in advance that you’re coming, so we have an idea of numbers. Join the event via Facebook, or e-mail:

After lunch, FareShares’ monthly meeting takes place downstairs from 5pm. 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 are welcome to hang out upstairs until the meeting finishes, especially if some kindly bring puddings!

All Hail to the Kale!

We probably shan’t serve kale at Fareshares’ Sunday Lunches, as it usually sells out on Thursday afternoons, such is the popularity of this curly leaved brassica acephala. Flat leaved kale is also grown, but tends to be tougher and used mainly for animal feed. Not only is eating kale extremely beneficial for one’s health, but it’s one of the few green vegetables that’s abundant and full of flavour during the coldest months of the year. It can be substituted for cabbage or spinach and makes a fine side dish when blanched and sautéed with garlic (a little soy and a sprinkling of chopped, roasted nuts is a lovely addition).

Kale makes an excellent ingredient in hearty, warming soups such as Scotch Broth and the traditional Portuguese dish, Caldo Verde. If you can overlook its meatier numbers, The Guardian’s 10 best kale recipes includes classic kale crisps; fermented kale and kohlrabi kimchi; a salad with sweet potato & hazelnut; a stir-fry with other greens, plus ginger ‘n’ garlic; and a ‘sabzi,’ with fiery chillies, onion & ginger and ‘the earthy tones of mustard and poppy seeds’.  Veritably, this brassica is the most versatile of winter greens!


marmaladeIt’s marmalade season and oranges are available to order for the next couple of weeks (probably not longer though last year they ran through until 1st week of March) for £2.49/kg. Please order and pre-pay in the shop for delivery, not the following week, but the week after (we need to order on Thursday for delivery on Tues/Weds).
If you do get your hands on some oranges, you can make thick-cut marmalade like so:

  1. Use equal quantities of marmalade oranges and sugar by weight (ordinary granulated is fine).
  2. Wash the oranges. Cut them in half over a bowl or pan (to catch the juice), and remove the pips. Place the pips in a muslin bag. Cut the oranges into pieces the size you like in your marmalade (e.g.: around 5-6 mm wide). You may want to wear gloves while you do this, as the juice really stings if you have any cuts on your hands.
  3. Put the oranges in a (very) large pan and cover with water. Soak them overnight, with the pips in the muslin bag. Sterilise some jam jars by rinsing them with boiling water.
  4. The next day, bring the oranges to the boil, still with the pips in the bag, and boil until they are very soft (when a wooden spoon can cut through the skin). Remove the bag of pips, and add the sugar. Continue to boil – but be careful! The mixture will splash and spit, and it’s good to have it in a very large pan so it doesn’t keep spitting over the edge.
  5. Put a saucer in the fridge to chill. To check whether the marmalade is ready, drip a small teaspoonful onto the saucer, and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Then push the edge of the drop with a finger – if it wrinkles up, the marmalade is ready to set. If it’s still runny, continue boiling for a few minutes and try again.
  6. Pour into jam jars and seal. This marmalade is best left at least three months to mature. It will be quite bitter – if you prefer a sweeter marmalade, add more sugar to taste.

In The Fridge: Tofutti Cream Cheese

other varieties will be available!FareShares’ relationship with our suppliers is a process of give & take: sometimes, they send us stuff we didn’t order, but we take it anyway and see if it sells. That’s what happened with the Taifun Tofu Weiners and now it’s happened again with Tofutti Dairy Free Cream Cheese.

Well, it’s can’t be called , ‘cream cheese’ in the EU, precisely because it’s been nowhere near a dairy. That’s what it’s called in the USA, where New York restaurateur, David Mintz, started selling an ice cream substitute in the 1980s. Here, it’s called, ‘Tofutti Creamy Smooth – the delicious soya alternative to cream cheese.’

Tofutti CS comes in: plain Original; Garlic & Herbs; Herb & Chives; and Country Vegetable varieties & is ideal in soups, dressings, pates & spreads, in sandwiches, or slathered upon jacket potatoes; or one might add fruit, or purées and use it in cheesecakes & smoothies.  FareShares shall stock a selection of these over the coming months, in the fridge, at £2.46 per 225g tub.

Fareshares Food Co-op on Facebook

FareShares Food Co-op is the most popular page on the internet (about FareShares) with more than 330 likes! What people ‘like’ most about FareShares’ Facebook page, mostly, is recipes re-posted from Finding Vegan and One Green Planet. Our most popular post of recent times was this Iranian aubergine & chickpeas stew with coconut-almond sauce, although the ‘cheesy’ whole-roasted cauliflower – the role of cheese in this production played by Engevita yeast flakes – is probably the recipe that more people actually cooked. And delish it was, too.

lionAside from the recipe feed (sic), there’s news from our suppliers, such as fresh product info; eating-out recommendations; that kind of thing. We do vegan lifestyle tips & we don’t do cute animal pics, much. There was that one of the bears dancing in the woods; who could resist that? But it’s mostly recipes. And the odd cartoon.

Some people refuse Facebook and that’s their prerogative, but if you do Facebook and you shop at FareShares, then you might as well ‘like’ FaresharesCoOp on Facebook and kindly add your review, with a star rating. Scroll down to the ‘reviews’ box on the right hand side, click the star rating and add a few well-chosen words to tell the world wide web and our land lord that FareShares is not a shop, but a vitally-needed and highly-appreciated experiment in community that also serves up relevant recipes and so on.

Newsletter Samhain 2014

Pumpkin It Up

pumpkinPumpkin season is in full swing and all sorts of squashes will cross  FareShares’ veg. rack over coming weeks, grown in East Anglia by a consortium that includes Breckland Organics, from the Norfolk village of Shropham, whose production of roots, brassicas – esp. broccoli – and squash complements our principal supplier’s, Hughes, salad and leaf crops. Hughes Organic is as a family business, run by Lizzie & Grahame with their son Josh, who usually delivers to London on Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings.

Lizzie Hughes reports the ‘squash are safely gathered and are in high demand. Most varieties have done well except the Crown Prince from Wakelyn’s Farm in Suffolk, which for some reason has not. A great shame as this beautiful variety, which is pale green with a gold interior, serves well in late winter. Celebration, Harlequin  & Delicata lead the way; coming in later are Kabocha & Kuri,  which are like little red pumpkins with a nutty flavour that’s preferred by Alice Waters  for her classic pumpkin soup. Despite slight differences of flavour and texture, however, most squash do same thing when cooked and so can be substituted in any butternut squash recipe.

There are those who will tell you that the skin of most squash is edible, but what they mean is that it’s digestible, not desirable. So, you first consideration is, are you going to peel it before or after cooking? Serving pumpkin soup – or even, risotto! – in a hollowed out gourd is, BTW, passé and to commit such a faux pass risks exposure to social ridicule. Therefore, you won’t be retaining the skin. Either remove it with a peeler before cutting the squash, or lightly bake and cool it before peeling. Baking intensifies the flavour and makes it sweeter, which is a great tip for making soups & rissotti, such as this one,

The second consideration when dealing with a squash is, can you be bothered with the seeds? Pumpkin seeds can be delicious if properly prepared, but it is a bit of a faff. If you choose to discard the seeds, however, don’t get rid of the pulp! One tip is to put pulp and seeds in a pan with boiling water and scoop the seeds out with a spoon as the mixture cooks down. You can add sugar, or molasses, to make the sweet base of your pumpkin pie filling
or, perhaps, add chopped Scotch Bonnet chillies to make the fiery flavour base of a Jamiacan-style pumpkin soup.

Cost Of Living

FareShares is not a shop & it is nobody’s business. Nobody gets paid and we don’t make a profit. We exist to provide unadulterated basic foodstuffs as cheaply as possible and so we charge as small a mark-up as possible on the wholesale prices of the foodstuffs we sell. Which, until now, has been 10%. We put 15% on the fresh veggies to cover wastage and 0% on Zaytoun products, to show solidarity with the Palestinian farmers, and on Moonscups, to encourage that holistic approach to menstrual management.

We turn over around two grand on a good week and so should expect about £800 monthly excess. That should be more than enough to cover rent and utility bills for the building, but it hasn’t been. We’ve struggled with our deficit and the situation has stabilised, but it is never going to improve without putting up our prices. As it goes, we carefully manage our financial relationships with our lovely suppliers, to whom we owe hundreds. Without catching up the slack in its finances, FareShares can’t afford to hold a lot of stock on its shelves, never mind improve the premises.

From November 1st, for six months, we’ve agreed to increase our profit margin on all products sold in the FareShares store to 15%. Pre-paid orders from the Suma & Infinity catalogues shall incur a surcharge of 10%. We expect this will generate about £1800, which will considerably ease our deficit. We’ll review the situation next Spring and if we’re rolling in cash, may revert to the lowest mark-up possible, as per FareShares mission statement.

Future FareShares Collaborators

Back in Spring, Fareshares decided to stock Hodmedod’s British-grown quinoa from the fields of Essex, even if it wasn’t organic, but we need to be more financially stable before taking on new suppliers. In the meantime, Peter Fairs, the farmer who has grown quinoa since 1985 has been acclaimed by an article in The Guardian’s Food & Drink section as ‘the seeder of the pack!’ “I’m not an approved, registered organic grower,” he says, “but we don’t use any chemicals.” Look for Hodmedod quinoa in Fareshares soon.

Regular shoppers will have seen the posters advertising Sutton Community Farm, with which FareShares hopes to collaborate as a designated pick-up point for their weekly VegBox scheme, so that you can collect your weekly veggies from us without joining the scrum on Thursdays. To do this, we need at least a dozen people to commit to taking a box every week in order for Sutton Farm to justify a separate delivery to FareShares on Fridays. In the meantime, Jamyang, in Renfrew Road, SE11, already acts as a pick-up point and has a delightful courtyard café.

Agave Syrup Controversy

FareShares doesn’t sell refined sugar because, any fool knows, sugar is bad; in fact, it is as as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco. Sugar sure is sweet, though, and many of us are fatally addicted to that sweetiness. Perhaps the hardest drug for any true Brit to is kick is hot, sweet tea in Tony Benn-sized mugs! Honey may be a more acceptable sweetener to some, but its not vegan. However, we need not reach for the white granulated, as there are at least ten natural alternatives.

Conspicuous by its absence from this list, despite being the most popular sweetener supplied by FareShares, is agave syrup. We usually stock bottles of Suma’s agave syrup
in two sizes. Agave is a Mexican succulent plant that contains a lot of fructose – plant sugar – that may be fermented to make an alcoholic beverage called pulque and then distilled to make tequila. Ay Caramba! In recent years, however, the ‘agua miel,’ which is up to 90% fructose, has been processed for use as a sweetener. But there is no evidence to suggest that refined agave syrups are inherently healthier than refined sugar.

In fact, some say that commercially-available agave syrup is no better for one’s health than  corn syrup. This is not what we wanted!

While glucose is vital to life and can be metabolised by every cell in the human body, the  only organ that can metabolise fructose in significant amounts is the liver, which might get overloaded and start turning the fructose into fat! As Suma acknowledge, ‘according to some experts, if fructose is consumed after eating a large meal that overly raises the blood sugar, or with high glycemic foods, it no longer has a low glycemic value. Strangely enough, it will take on the value of the higher glycemic food. So exercise restraint.’

In the context of a high-carb, high-calorie Western diet, eating a lot of added fructose can wreak havoc on metabolic health. FareShres shoppers, who usually eat more consciously, will not need to be told to go easy, even with this wonderful sweetener. It is a good policy to eat fructose-based desserts on an empty stomach, in between meals or with other low-glycemic foods. Use it for an occasional sweet treat or to lighten up your mighty mug o’ Rosie Lea.

We Need Help

FareShares is a volunteer-run project and new volunteers are always needed and welcomed. They volunteer for a regular two-hour shift behind the counter, to unpack & display on Wednesday afternoons, or to help manage the ordering and finances.

Currently, we need help with two specific problems:

1) THE FRIDGE needs servicing, but we can’t afford to pay a commercial refrigeration engineer. Perhaps you are one, or you know one, who can help?

2) THE TILL is kaput! We experimented with a till, which did have its benefits, but now it’s beyond repair. If you have a working till to donate, or a more imaginative solution to FareShares’ POS conundrum, please help!


nottescoWe need you not only to ‘like’ FaresharesCoOp on Facebook, but to add your review of Fareshares’ service, with a star rating. Scroll down to the ‘reviews’ box on the right hand side, click the star rating and add a few well-chosen words. Becky Buchanan said: ‘A philosophical inspiration & a practical blessing, you provide a focus for alternative living vital for a healthy community & future.’

Such testimonials show the world wide web and our land lord that FareShares is nobody’s business and not merely a shop, but a much appreciated experiment in comm

Newsletter August 2014

Get Freekeh

zay006Before the most recent round of atrocities in Gaza, the Evening Standard declared that freekeh had begun to ‘elbow out quinoa from the super-grain spotlight,’ appearing on the most modiish menus. Yotam Ottolenghi uses it for making pilafs and in salads, accompanied by feta, mint, leaves, roasted lemon, cherry tomatoes and toasted almonds. M&S has incorporated freekeh into three salads as part of its Summer Food range.

Freekeh – pronounced ‘free-kuh’ or ‘free-kah’ –  is a young, green wheat grain that is harvested early, then dried, burnt and rubbed or thrashed, causing it to crack. It’s easy to cook with and has a nutty flavour and smoky aroma. Because it is harvested young, freekeh retains its high protein and vitamin content, plus it has a low GI index. “It’s an amazing grain, really. It’s a very nutritional grain too. It’s got a lovely earthy, robust taste to it. It’s hardy. It’s hard to overcook it. It’s always al dente. It’s multi-purpose too,” explains James Walters, director and executive chef at The Arabica Food and Spice Company.

FareShares stocks freekeh from Palestine, via Zaytoun, and, in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians, we don’t put any mark-up on the wholesale price.

#WTF? Vegan Hot Dogs!

Sometimes, happy accidents occur, such as the time the wholesaler delivered a case of Taifun organic tofu wieners, which we hadn’t ordered. We put ’em in the ‘fridge anyway and they sold out, like, immediately. “They are just like real frankurters,” one recent Fareshares volunteer remarked, ingenuously, while another said she can’t see the point of mock meat. Well, yes, but it is BBQ season and sometimes it’s nice to mingle with meat eaters on their terms. Not that barbecuing these critters is recommended, necessarily.Their German manufacturer recommends, ‘simply heat in a hot water bath for three to four minutes. Excellent also in soups and stews. Enjoy them hot or cold!’

fatgayveganFat Gay Vegan, flushed with the success of his beer festival, recently asked Facebook friends to ‘share photos of your latest vegan hot dog accomplishments in this thread. I wanna see them all!’ He provoked quite a response, including self-proclaimed ‘Vegan hot dog queen,’ Laura Stevens, who admitted, ‘My obsession with sauerkraut on vegan hot dogs is slightly out of hand.’ She sounds like our kind of gal!

Recreate the classic hot dog by griddling the sausage and serving it in a toasted bun, with mustard + sauerkraut. Because it is incredibly good for you, Fareshares stocks at least two types of ‘kraut, one of which is kept in the ‘fridge and is overtly raw ‘n’ healthful. You’d probably be better with a jar of  Biona ‘kraut off the blue shelf if you plan to warm it up before serving it with your hot dog.

No doubt the craze for tofu wieners will wane with the Summer. Anyway, we probably won’t stock them much longer now it’s been pointed out that they are cheaper at Waitrose!

Broad Bean Pod Soup recipe

When you’ve enjoyed your broad beans, don’t throw away the pods! Use them to make a tasty soup:

1 onion, chopped
pods from at least 8oz broad beans
1 litre vegetable stock
1 bayleaf
large sprig of rosemary

Sauté the onion in a little oil. Remove as many strings as you can from the pods, and chop them roughly, discarding any bits that are really black. Add them to the pan, sauté for a few minutes, then add the stock, bayleaf and rosemary (other herbs are also nice e.g. thyme, sage). Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Blend and pass the soup through a sieve, or ideally a Mouli. This is essential to get rid of all the remaining bean pod strings. Reheat and serve, stirring in a dollop of oat cream if you fancy it.

Sutton Farm’s VegBoxes

A reminder about the Sutton Community Farm’s VegBox scheme.

If about a dozen FareShares shoppers can commit to collecting their VegBox from us every week, FareShares may become a designated pick-up point. If you want to subscribe, please let us know in the comments under this post on our web site, or in person when you come to shop.

If you want to try their service, Jamyang, the Buddhist centre in Renfrew Road, which is close by, across Kennington Park Road, already acts as a pick-up point and they also have a wonderful courtyard café, if you haven’t tried it.

FareShares August Meeting

FareShares’ regular monthly meeting will be held on Friday 15th August at The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, SE17. As several new volunteers have recently joined us, it will be nice to meet you all.

If you are thinking about becoming involved with FareShares, or you used to be, this is an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, or to catch up with old friends.

A pot luck supper is served at 6:30pm before the meeting at 7:30pm. Please bring food to share. Last time, Zoé brought these  Black Bean Brownies with an extra sprinkle of oven-roasted grated coconut on top!

All prospective and past members of Fareshares are welcome to eat with us, but only current members of the collective may participate in its business meeting.

See You In Cyberspace

LAVENDER_LABIf you haven’t already liked our Facebook page, you may want to review your priorities! If you do FB then you need to like us. And, reciprocally, we need you to review us and say how much you appreciate the service we provide. That way, FareShares can persuade our landlord, Southwark Council, that we are nobody’s business and don’t need to pay business rates, because FareShares is not a shop, but an experiment in community.


Newsletter June 2014

Sutton Farm’s VegBox scheme

FareShares tends to sell out of fresh vegetables pretty quickly most weeks. Leave your shopping until Friday and you may well be disappointed! Taking advance orders would too much hassle, but you could be sure of getting your fresh veg from FareShares every week if we were to become a pick-up point for Sutton Farm’s VegBoxes.

Sutton Community Farm is a not-for-profit social enterprise growing fresh vegetables using organic principles that offers a range of boxes, or bags, of seasonally fresh vegetables each week. One orders online in advance for an organic produce delivery the following week and collects from a designated pick-up point.

If you are interested in collecting Sutton Foods VegBoxes from Fareshares on Fridays or Saturdays, please let us know by e-mail or in person when you come to shop. If you want to try their service, Jamyang, the Buddhist centre in Renfrew Road, which is close by, across Kennington Park Road, already acts as a pick-up point and they also have a wonderful courtyard café, if you haven’t tried it.

Palm Oil in Kingfisher Toothpaste?

A FareShares shopper pointed out that it said on the box that Kingfisher toothpaste contains palm oil, which is vegan but its production does affect animals. Kingfisher dropped off PETA’s list of non animal tested brands, possibly because of the orangutans in Sumatra that are endangered by rainforest being cleared to grow palm.

Kingfisher has in the past contained sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (SLS) derived from palm oil. The company ‘have written assurances that the Sumatran palm oil that we use comes from sustainable managed estates. The growers are working closely with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on a Palm Roundtable initiative and are founder members of this organising committee.’

SLS is a ‘dispersant’ commonly used in toothpaste to make it foam, but may also cause mouth cancer! Consequently, since Autumn 2012, Kingfisher toothpastes have been made to an SLS-free formula.

However, it takes a while for stock to work its way through wholesalers and there are still SLS tubes in the supply system. The boxes and tubes clearly state which type they are in the list of ingredients, so do check ingredients on the box before you buy if this is important to you.

#HOWDEWEDOIT: Non-Dairy Milk

FareShares is almost certainly the cheapest place to buy organic soya milk, at £1.05 per litre of Sojade which has become so popular that now we also stock six packs (£6.30) to last you all week.

Among the alternative milks, the most popular must be Hazelnut Almond flavour Rice Dream. ‘Praliné’ usually refers to nuts that have been caramelised, but despite the deployment of this term on its packaging, the nutty rice milk contains no added sugars, yet it’s subtly sweet! It is really good in coffee and ‘at MDFD HQ we love it poured on our cereal for a morning pick me up!’ Allowing that MDFD HQ  – ‘My Dairy Free Dream’ – is likely a dismal corner of an ad agency, a good point is well made: try making porridge with Hazelnut Almond Rice Milk and then drizzle maple syrup over it!

Sometimes, we stock Lima Hazelnut Almond rather than Rice Dream, which some connoisseurs prefer, claiming it’s flavour to be ‘more hazelnutty’. The RRP of the Lima brand is higher than Rice Dream, but FareShares charges £1.64 for a litre of either, which is cheaper than any price you will find on the internet. How do we do it?

FareShares’ June Meeting

Fareshares’ June meeting will be held on Sunday 15th at The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, SE17 & you are invited! If you think you might like to get involved with Fareshares, or you used to be, this is an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, or to catch up with old friends.

A pot luck supper is served at 18:30, upstairs, before the meeting takes place downstairs at 7:30pm. Please bring food to share. 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.

Volunteers’ Box

We have some fresh signage on FareShares’ facade – so everybody should now know what our opening times are! – and we also have this lovely handmade box for new volunteers to signal their interest. Here it is:




Newsletter May 2014


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.


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?


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.


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!

Newsletter April 2014

An invitation to share your recipes

We volunteers learn so much from you, especially about inventive and healthy new ways of using the food you find at fareshares. We’d like to invite you to contribute any special recipes or preparation advice you’ve got for using FS products. Here’s the place to do it on our website:  Recipes. If you’d rather just write it down please put it in the feedback at the desk and we’ll upload it for you!

Coconut Oil Pulling

The ancient Ayurvedic technique – or is it – that involves swooshing oil around one’s mouth for 20 minutes became a contemorary fad thanks largely to this post by Erica Stolman on her Fashionlush blog .  That this news comes from an American fashionista indicates that it is likely to be (a) bullshit or (b) shinola: a sophisticated hype, perhaps intended to promote raw coconut oil?

The rather simplistic notion behind oil pulling is that the sticky oil attracts toxins, which are pulled out of one’s system and expelled when one spits it out. Deepak Chopra, who advocates the practice in his book, Perfect Health, says that some of the oil is absorbed through the tongue & makes its way through the body. There’s an internet meme that claims a doctor named F. Karach (or, sometimes, Karachi)used oil pulling to cure his own blood cancer, but found no evidence that he even existed.

Sceptics think detoxification is a myth and point out that the evidence for the efficacy of oil pulling is only anecdotal, but Dr. Bruce Fife of the Coconut Research Center
makes extravagant claims for it in his book, Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing. Dr Bruce believes coconut to be the king of saturated fats and his book The Coconut Oil Miracle is now in its fifth edition.

Huff Post, last year, declared 3 Reasons You Should Try Oil Pulling:
1    Whitens teeth, improves gum health, eliminates bad breath & makes a prettier smile.
2    Clears up acne & reduces the appearance of skin blemishes.
3    Leads to a healthy, glowing complexion.

Given that the perceived health benefits of pursuing this practice are entirely subjective, I experimented with a 200mg jar of Biona organic raw virgin coconut oil from FareShares, slooshing a teaspoon of it around my mouth for twenty minutes every morning for about three weeks. The oil, solid in the jar, slowly melts in the mouth as one swooshes & swirls it around. It is not unpleasant.

After 20mins, do not spit oil down the sink or toilet, because the fat will solidify in the pipes and clog the plumbing. Spit in bin! Having spat, rinse your mouth thoroughly, preferably with salty water. Failure to do so will result in toxins being re-absorded and leave your tongue and palate coated with an oily film. Which is a film no-one wants to watch.

So, I reckon there WAS a detectable difference in all three areas: my smile, complexion & general sense of well-being all improved as we passed the equinox and the days began to get longer. I WAS more conscious of my teeth and gums for spending 20mins swooshing  every morning. It tastes OK & swooshing time wasn’t wasted ‘cos I could do Facebook, or whatever, although spitting the oil out did seem a bit wasteful.

My conclusion is that oil pulling is harmless, if not massively beneficial, and I may carry on with it if I feel that way inclined, definitively.


Have you ‘liked’ our Facebook page? If you really like us, consider adding a review with a star rating of FareShares’ service. This will make us to feel appreciated, but more importantly it helps demonstrate to our landlord, Southwark Council, that FareShares is not a shop but an experiment in community.

Scroll down to the ‘reviews’ box on the right hand side, click the star rating and add a few words. Maisie Collins gave us 5 stars and wrote, ‘I love Fareshares! I do the lion-share of my food shopping here and everyone’s always super helpful and friendly. Lovely produce and lovely people.’ Thanks, Maisie!

#HOWDOWEDOIT: Zaytoun’s Palestinian olive oil

Zaytoun was founded ten years ago to assist Palestinian farmers market their products, starting with oil from some of the world’s oldest olive groves, and was initially funded by hundreds of people willing to put up their money well in advance of receiving their oil. In 2009, Zaytoun launched the world’s first ever Fairtrade olive oil, a tribute to the hard work of its Palestinian producers and processors.

Palestine is the home of the olive tree, whose fruit supports over half the population. Gnarly olive trees predominate in the agricultural landscape. The Mediterranean climate, rich fertile soil and use of organic traditional farming methods disionguishes Zaytoun’s Palestinian olive oil. You’ll find it in the far corner of Fareshares, atop the pasta cabinet, on the Solidarity Shelf. In solidarity with Zaytoun’s mission, Fareshares adds no mark up to the price we pay for its wonderful products.

Zaytoun organises annual trips to the olive harvest and this year’s tour runs, 2nd – 8th November. It’s a rare chance to visit the communities who supply Zaytoun products: not only the olive farmers in Jenin, but also those who make the maftoul (couscous) & za’atar (spice mix), dates & almonds, not forgetting the soap-makers of Nablus. Numbers are limited to a bakers’ dozen, so get in touch early if you think you can afford the frontline gastronomic holiday of a lifetime this winter!.

For further details and enquiries please contact or call 0207 832 1351.

Newsletter March 2014

FareShares meeting, Saturday March 15.

FareShares meets on the 15th of each month. This month, we shall meet in the Pullens Centre at 184 Crampton Street, where food will be served from 6:30pm. All prospective volunteers and former comrades are welcome to join us.

If you’d like to become involved with FareShares, or you used to be involved, this is an opportunity to meet the committed members of our co-operative and/or catch up with old friends over a bowl of hot food. Please bring salads & breads, puddings & cake to share.

On that afternoon, Saturday 15th, there will be a training session for recent volunteers, who will close the shop at 5pm. They will cash up and clean down – don’t forget to leave the Infinty boxes out for their driver to collect! – before coming to join us, upstairs at the Pullens Centre.

FareShares monthly business meeting –  which is open to current members of the collective only – will take place separately, in the downstairs room, from 7:30pm. Non-members and those members who do not wish to participate in the meeting, or sit through all of it, are welcome to hang out upstairs.

Spring Vegetables

As we approach the equinox, we enter the ‘hungry gap’ time, when we’re between winter and new spring crops. New season’s carrots should be in soon and we hope that purple sprouting broccoli will keep going for a couple more weeks.

No vegetable is more evocative of springtime in Britain than squeaky-leaved Spring cabbage, which is great when combined with mashed potato, aka ‘bubble’. Bubble ‘n’ squeak is typically a dish of refried leftovers whereas Colcannon is traditionally made from shredded kale, or cabbage, and mashed potatoes. This Spring, why not  add another dimension by making  your mash with celeriac?

Celeriac mash is best made by mixing the root half & half with potato. A good tip for making unlumpy mash is to use a ricer like this one. If you can suggest other variations, do let us know.

How do we do it?

Yeast & Gluten Free, Marigold Liquid Aminos is a versatile and all purpose seasoning. A natural enhancer of soups, dressings, stews, casseroles, it is ideal for stir fries and marinades. Liquid Aminos is a perfect substitute for soya sauce & a good source of vegetarian protein. Fareshares sells 250ml bottles for £2.70, a full 70p cheaper than its Recommended Retail Price!

FareShares Finances

FareShares finances continue to be precarious and our overheads are now around £350 each month. Sooner than increase our slender profit margins and put prices up, we ask supporters of FareShares’ project to provide healthful & unadulterated food at minimal cost to set up a regular standing order. If a hundred people gave £3.50 each month, we’d be sorted!

Not only will standing orders ensure regular income, which will reassure our banker, but they also demonstrate FareShares users’ committment to the project, which may impress our landlord, Southwark Council. If you receive a regular wage and have a bank account, please consider donating just a few quid each month, or quarterly, to:
FareShares Food Co-operative,
Unity Trust Bank a/c no: 20151434
Sort code: 08-60-01

Old Bags!

Fareshares encourages its users to use their own bags to cart home their groceries, but we also supply recycled bags that you bring in. Standard-sized carriers and clean smaller bags, such as those dispensed in the fresh produce sections of supermarkets, are useful and welcome.

However, some people bring us big bags of bags, stuffed inside one another, and even bits of old food packaging, which are of no use. We can’t take the time to sort them out, so tend to dump these unwanted bags in the re-cycling skips across Crampton Street.

It has been suggested that FareShares should stop accepting, or providing, polythene bags. Before we go that far, let us beseech you good people to work with us. Please sort your bags out and don’t bring us bags that are not either (a) regular carriers or (b) smaller food bags that may be used for beans and grains, etc. Thanks!

Newsletter February 2014


FareShares celebrates the 10th anniversary of Facebook by starting our own page! Like us at FB/FaresharesCoOp

We also plan to improve with more frequently updated content. In particular we’re keen to collect FareShares users’ vegan recipes. Send us your favourites!

New Types o’ Tofu

Changes to tofu prices mean that FareShares ‘fridge now offers new varieties of plain & smoked tofu from Oasis, Cauldron & Clear Spot and hazelnut tofu from Viana that you just have to try. Please let us know what you think!

The Mooncup

Designed by women and made in the UK by a multi-award winning ethical business, the Mooncup is the original silicone menstrual cup. Safer, greener and cheaper than the conventional alternatives, Mooncup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.

These issues are explored rhythmically in the Tampon vs. Mooncup Rap Battle

One woman uses up to 22 items of sanitary protection every period, but regardless of your flow, you will only need one Mooncup and FareShares will be happy to sell you one for only £13 (in other shops they’ll cost up to £25!). With proper care, it will last up to 10 years, making Mooncup the most economical sanitary product you can buy!

Fartrade Fortnight 24 February – 9 March 2014

banana-suitThis year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is going bananas! Foncho a banana farmer from Cienaga in Colombia is coming to the UK on a mission to transform the banana industry so that all banana farmers and workers get a  fair deal.

We all must act now to make bananas fair! Your kids can get involved with free campaign stickers & whatnot, or you might want to demonstrate true commitment, while showing what a fun guy you truly are, by investing thirty quid in this sturdy Fairtrade banana suit. Please consider dressing as a Fairtrade banana for the whole fortnight.


In these times of Governmental austerity, the UK’s 500 worker co-operatives now enjoy a combined annual turnover of £10bn. Suma, established in 1977, is now the UK’s largest independent wholefoods distributor. As a business run on ethical lines that places as much emphasis on people and the planet as upon profit, Suma is an inspiration and, as such, was recently profiled in The Independent.

Suma purveys a range of over 6,000 of the best ethical, fairtrade, organic and natural products. FareShares can’t possibly stock them all, but we’ll happily order anything you want for delivery the following week, charging only the tiniest mark-up to cover our overheads. Peruse Suma’s online wholesale catalogue and make a careful note of the product code of any item you wish to order before coming into the shop (where we have a paper catalogue, if you prefer) to place your order.


Ask not what FareShares can do for you, but how can you contribute to running the project? FareShares depends on people like you who donate their time to work in the shop, or behind the scenes. You might get involved by pledging to a regular two-hour shift, f’rinstance, or helping to re-stock the shelves on Wednesdays. In return, you’ll get the warm ‘n’ fuzzy feeling of doing something altruistic that will also look good on your CV, plus the opportunity to buy fresh veg. ahead of Thursdays’ ravening hordes. To volunteer, please speak to a shift worker in the shop and leave your details in the day book.

Not a shop. An experiment in Community! An all-volunteer project.