debating our response to covid-19

The volunteers who work together to bring you Fareshares are currently discussing what we should do in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

On the one hand Fareshares provides good food and other essentials at affordable prices, and people depend on that. It’s not a luxury.

On the other hand there are many practical considerations and concerns which could make closing the shop the more responsible choice for us all.

Some of our volunteers have already said that reluctantly they have will have to stop working shifts for a variety of very good reasons.

Others, though, are keen to try to continue providing the service in one way or another, in the short term at least.

So to avoid a wasted journey please check back here for the latest position before you travel to Fareshares.

Eat the rainbow

If your cupboard is looking a bit bare, get yourself to Crampton Street and fill your containers with a colourful array of pulses, seeds, grains, nuts and all the other good things to be found at Fareshares.

Gorgeous grains, beautiful beans, pulchritudinous pulses, stunning seeds and so much more

Hungry gap?

Dusting off our website with a quick post to say:

  • We’re alive! Sorry for the three-year radio silence, but we are very much still here. If you’ve not visited us yet, or haven’t been for a while, do drop by on Thursdays 2-8pm, Fridays 4-7pm, Saturdays 3-5pm to stock up on organic wholefood and other good stuff at unbeatable prices.
  • Our Infinity order isn’t arriving until next week (start of September 2019) so we’re short of various products this week. It’s not like the shop is empty. We’re just out of some things (e.g. nuts).
  • Also spread rather thin at the moment are our volunteers. Please join our collective and help keep this unique (in London) experiment in community going strong.

Newsletter Spring 2016

Everyone’s Gone Vegan!

When Ioan Marc Jones went vegan for January – to appease his veggie girlfriend & to show her it’s no big deal – little did he realise that he was embarking upon a journey from which he may not return. ‘I was dreading giving up meat – now I can’t find a reason to eat it,’ he eventually reported in The Independent. ‘To those people who love meat the way I love meat, I offer some advice: refrain from accepting the Veganuary challenge, or any similar campaign. It might just work,’ he says, before concluding with a quip about kale and quinoa.

Jones’ article comes with the obligatory mainstream media list of two dozen ‘celebrities’ – some of whom you will definitely have heard of – who have embraced the vegan lifestyle, for various reasons: ex-President of the USA, Bill Clinton, quit meat for the good of his health while his former VP is no doubt motivated by the claimed effects of animal husbandry upon climate change. An emerging cohort of celebrated vegans is the roster of first class athletes who have emulated Venus and Serena Williams, both of whom adopted a raw vegan diet in the new year of 2012. Since then, Serena has won the US Open three times!

A surprising subset of this athletic cohort is the Vegan Hard Men, led by ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, who went vegan in 2010 at the age of 43 as a key part of a wider lifestyle detox. England’s own David Haye renounced animal protein early in 2014 and, two years later, regained his heavyweight boxing championship with a first round knockout. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans will be aware that Nate Diaz, a vegan of twelve years standing, caused a recent upset when he beat a previously undefeated champ.  That’s not to mention the increasingly numerous vegan body builders and NFL (American Football) players.

The budget cookery writer, Jack Monroe, also went vegan for January as a challenge and is also not going back. ‘My meat addiction is over,’ she announced in The Guardian. ‘I’ve gone vegan, and it’s brilliant.’ To Facebook followers, Jack explained, ‘I feel I am going to stay vegan, although I prefer ‘herbivore’ but as ever, call me what you like as long as it’s polite… you’ll all be seeing a lot more curry from now on. And a world with more curry in can only be a very good thing.’ Since Jack’s mushroom rogan josh was the most popular recipe re-posted on Fareshares’ Facebook page all Veganuary, we concur .

In A Broken Rice Dream

As everyone goes vegan and their markets expand, pioneers of popular vegan products may be obliged by market forces to compromise. In order to ramp up production and provide access to weighty distribution & savvy marketing, they take on bigger corporate partners whose priorities may not match.

A case in point is Rice Dream, of which Fareshares sells gallons. Naturally lactose, dairy, gluten and soy-free with no added sugars and low in fat, Rice Dream dairy-free milk was invented by Robert Nissenbaum, co-founder of Imagine Foods, as told in this charming video:

Twenty years later, in 2002, Imagine was acquired and now declares itself,  ‘proud to be part of The Hain Celestial Group’s family of brands that provide delicious “better for you” foods loved by people of all ages.’ In this interview from around the time of the deal, Nissenbaum said, Though the company has grown tremendously… we still adhere to those same quality standards. It is very challenging in today’s marketplace, but we have a dedicated group of people who still strive towards that goal.’

It did not take long for the online rumour mill to start turning. As far back as 2004, a phrase began to appear that has been cut & pasted all over the internet: ‘According to research by Paul Glover and Carole Resnick of the Greenstar Food Co-op in Ithaca, N.Y., Hain’s largest investors include Philip Morris, Monsanto, Citigroup, Exxon-Mobil, Wal-Mart and Lockheed Martin.’

This is not strictly true and not much research is actually necessary, because The Hain Celestial Group – trademark, ‘A Healthier Way of Life’ – is a publicly listed company whose stock is traded on NASDAQ®. Its investor profile is around 90% Institutional & Mutual Fund Owners, who may also have holdings in other companies that trade in less wholesome products. In an article from 2011, Barbara H. Peterson pointed out that Vanguard, which is now the largest stockholder of Hain,  ‘is unusual among mutual-fund companies since it is owned by the funds themselves.’

‘What does this mean? It means that the people/institutions that invest in the long list of shares from companies such as Monsanto, Halliburton, Coca Cola, McDonalds, JP Morgan Chase, Phillip Morris, Pepsico, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and who knows how many other ne’er do wells listed on the 190 page NASDAQ report (now 200 pages), actually own Vanguard.’

This does not mean that Monsanto – say – indirectly owns Rice Dream, or can influence its commercial decisions, although rumours to that effect may have prompted its ‘Commitment to Our Customers: DREAM™ Supports NON-GMO.’ It means that people who invest in Hain Celestial via Vanguard – the largest provider of mutual funds in the world – are also investing in a  current total of 4,200 other companies, which you may assume to include not only Monsanto but also all the other Big Nasties.

On Farmwars, Barbara Peterson concluded that Hain Celestial, ‘is one of the many conglomerates that promote organics while behind the scenes, is partially owned by people who support some of the worst enemies of organics. It is a money-making enterprise with organic lipstick. Can we spell SELLOUT? Betcha they are betting we can’t.’

The case against Rice Dream is that the brand is owned by a corporate behemoth which is inevitably compromised, ethically, despite its Mission Statement. That is to say, despite the best intentions of its founder – who hasn’t been heard from for years – there is something wrong with Rice Dream and Fareshares should take it off our shelves (as others are doing).

What do say you, friend and Fareshares shopper? Can you live without Hazelnut Almond Praliné Rice Dream? Have you got your own recipe that replicates its creamy deliciousness? Or do you think we should give Rice Dream the benefit of the doubt, at least until we can source a satisfactory replacement?


#aquafaba is the buzz word of the year and no mistake. In its announcement of 2016 as the International Year of the Pulse, the San.Fran. Chronicle reported:

‘The most exciting new ways to use pulses are in baking, pastry and even cocktails. In black bean brownies — the new gluten-free vegan potluck standby — or Chocolate Lentil Cake, cooked and pureed pulses add a surprisingly un-beany complexity. Garbanzo bean cooking water, dubbed “aquafaba” by its vegan devotees, can be whipped up into something almost identical to a meringue, an incredibly stable stand-in for egg whites in everything from macarons to Pisco sours. Eggless lemon meringue pie, anyone?’

You may be thinking, ‘Garbanzo?’ Chick Peas, by another name. ‘Aquafaba’ is the liquid that comes in the can, which has the right balance of proteins to do a lot of the things that eggs do in a recipe, from  mayonnaise to meringue via omelettes. To make aquafaba from scratch,  soak & cook chickpeas and leave them to sit in their cooking water overnight. (A pressure cooker, BTW, comes in v.handy.) You might use the peas to make hummus, but with their aquafaba you can do practically anything!

#‎heartysoup‬: Top Six

Recipe categories marked by hashtags on our Facebook page, including #vegeburger & #tempehtempeh, appear to expire and others may also use them, as you’ll see if you search #heartysoup. At the Spring equinox, however, let us review the past Winter soup season and its six most salient successes (wot, neither cauliflower nor celeriac?) In reverse order:

6= (Combined score = 56): Squash Apple Soup or Apple Pumpkin Soup With Caramelized Onions – ‘A perfect autumnal blend for when it suddenly gets a colder out. The sweetness of the squash, highlighted by apple, goes so well with the sage.’

5 (Score = 95): Slow-Cooked Split Pea Soup With Homemade Croutons and Coconut Bacon – Mmm… pig free bacon!

4 (Score = 97): Robin Robertson’s Global Vegan Kitchen’s Crockpot Callaloo Soup – R.R. substitutes spinach for callaloo and suggests chard as an alternative. It also includes thyme, but you might use za’atar

3 (Score = 103): Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder – Robin Robertson, again, using frozen whole kernel corn with some more exotic ingredients – liquid smoke; chipotle chile in adobo sauce – that one might have fun finding substitutes for. See also Smoky Potato Corn Chowder.

2 (Score = 130): Roasted Garlic-Ginger Carrot Soup With a Miso Cashew Cream –  A classic ‪#‎heartysoup‬ given a twist with Miso Cashew Cream (blend soaked cashews with miso, lemon juice and water).

1 (Score = 192) – Chickpea Soup with Cabbage,Tomatoes & Basil – Simply the best.

Urban Leg Ends

Fareshares first Pickling Workshop on the final day of February was a great success on a number of levels. Of the 15 enthusiasts who learned and practised the art of salt fermentation, only two were regular Fareshares shoppers, so its nice to meet some new people! Everyone had a great time and we’re keen to hold more workshops on a regular basis. The next salt fermentation pickling workshop will take place towards the end of April, and there’ll be a Herbal medicine and another pickling workshop in May, so everyone gets a chance to learn and play!

Keep an eye out for posters in the shop and on our Facebook page for dates/times/locations, or e-mail Zoe at to get straight onto the workshops mailing list.

There are plans to turn this into a series of monthly skills-sharing. So far we’re thinking: more pickling/preserving techniques, vegan cheese-making, and craft workshops for eco-friendly plastic-free food bags. If you have ideas of things you’d like to learn, or skills you could share, Zoé would love to hear from you!


Following a year or more of talk about adding more shelving in the corner of the shop, one of Fareshares oldest – not to say, elderly – regulars caught wind of it and sorted us out without further ado. He refuses to be photographed for this newsletter, indeed wants no publicity, but big thanks are due to Billy. We probably are not going to paint your shevles in Evertonian colours in your honour though, mate. It may be a while before we get around to painting them at all.


Myths & legends of who started Fareshares, back in the days when Pullens was heavily squatted, usually come back to a free-spirited character known simply as, ‘Martin Oddsocks’ or, as he was legally known in 2010, OddsocksmcweirdoeltuttifruttiMrfartohellohippotamusbumIthinkwecanallliveincooperationasfreeindividualswithouthurtingourfellowsentientbeingsbutwewillhavetoworkon­ittheworldisforsharing:

Fareshares Food Co-Op: Liked by 550 on Facebook! Join us!

Newsletter Yule 2015

Xmas Opening Hours

During the holidays, Fareshares shall open to supply your festive needs* at the following times:

Weds 23rd: 2pm to 6pm
Thurs 24th: 2pm to 5pm
Weds 30th: 2pm to 4pm

*Festive requisites include:
Infinity Foods organic vegan Christmas puddings (454g, £5.64)
Artisan Grains Nut Roast with Cashew & Cranberry (gluten free) (200g, £2.23)
Old Post Office Bakery Mince Pies (gluten free)

Zaytoun Festive Selection

However Christ-orientated you are, artisanal produce of the original Holy Land makes an appropriate gift at this time of year, especially when its fairly-traded with farmers in Palestine, giving them a lifeline to the wider world and a glimmer of hope that they may one day be left in peace.  “If Christmas is about giving and about receiving, then you can give two or three times over by choosing a product from a social enterprise,” said Cathi Pawson of Zaytoun CIC, which on 26 November won the prize for International Impact at the UK Social Enterprise Awards.

PrintWe are talking about fairly-traded olive oil (1L/£11.54; 500ml/£7.29; 250ml/£3.94), za’atar (never mind the price as it is  sold out, but you can buy it online) and maftoul (250, £1.54). All are supplied by the Palestine Fair Trade Association, based in Jenin, and sold by Fareshares at wholesale prices. As a gesture of solidarity, we do not put a mark-up on Zaytoun products.

The Zaytoun folks recommend this unusual festive stuffing, made with their Palestinian freekeh (250g, £1.69), the ancient grain that is now recognized as a superfood, packing twice the fibre of quinoa! Freekeh is essentially roasted green wheat, but one might think of and cook with it like green rice. Roasted on an open fire before being rubbed to remove its husk and reveal the aromatic grain, its taste has a subtle smokiness to it that’s typically complimented with onion, garlic and herbs. But this recipe incorporates cranberries and apples & is finished with scallions, parsley, and walnuts!

‘OK,’ you say,’ enough already!’ ‘Sympathetic as I am to the plight of the Palestinian farmers, I can’t be sending foodstuffs through the Christmas post.’ Never mind, Zaytoun has a gift solution for you: support an olive tree planting project. £20.88 pays for five, three year old olive tree saplings (25 trees = £100.88). The 88p is the postage cost of the commemorative certificate that they send your loved one.

Seasonal Alternatives

If we sell out of Zaytoun Palestinian olive oil, or anyway, you might consider the Lesbian Donkey Olive Oil (1L/£8.82) produced by a small family owned business with a social orientation on the largest island of the north-east Aegean, which has been bearing the brunt of the refugee exodus.

If you don’t fancy sponsoring olive tree planting in Palestine, or as well, please consider a seasonal donation to the Refugee Community Kitchen in the Calais Jungle, where they serve hundreds of nutritious meals every day to those who have fled war zones, crossed a continent and have next to nothing left, except their humanity.

Festive Veggies

ThBrusselse perennial Christmas question generally focuses on the availability and quality of the Brussels sprouts. As it has been unseasonably warm, Autumnal growth has been too vigorous, making large and squashy sprouts that quickly rot. However, our sprouts this Christmas are the smaller, more compact and favoursome Suffolk version from Home Farm, Nacton, on the stalk (try roasting a whole one!)

We shall also have organic parsnips from Lincolnshire; Chinese Clementines and a selection of nuts – chestnuts, walnuts, almonds – in their shells. Fareshares’ veg is always in great demand and likely to be especially popular at Christmas, so do try and visit the shop on Wednesday 23rd if possible, as they are liable to be sold out by Chrsitmas Eve.

In The Fridge: #tempehtempeh & Fridge Cakes

oasis_tempehDue to canny wheeling and dealing, prices of some of your favourite items from Fareshares’ magic fridge have plunged, with your favourite Oasis Organic Original tempeh slices, marinated in tamari & ginger and deep fried, so you can eat them from the packet or just reheat, at the new lower price of only £1.75!

We will also have strictly limited supplies of Natural (240g, £1.95) and Oak Smoked Tempeh (200g, £2.20) for those who might like to stuff a Tofucken this Xmas, or experiment with the recipes collected at Fareshares Facebook under the hashtag, #tempehtempeh. Please note that these products are supplied to us frozen, i.e.: they are slowly defrosting in our fridge. Therefore, the six month ‘use by’ date on the packaging is invalidated and the defrosted tempeh should not be refrozen. It will, however, keep in your fridge at home for a week from purchase, although it may start to look a bit sweaty.

We’ve laid in a good supply of Ploughshares Organic Fridge Cakes, which make great stocking stuffers, missus, and we’ve got all seven varieties at the lower price of only 90p each. Not only that, but we are gratified to announce the return of three varieties of gluten-free Organic Raw fruit/nut slices for a mere £1 each. Verily, it must be Christmas!

Fareshares on Facebook

Over at the Fareshares Food Co-op Facebook page, the big question is, will we reach 500 ‘likes’ this year? This time last year, we were celebrating our 400th ‘like’, so it would be gratifying to have gained a hundred new Likers in a calendar year, without resorting to buying ‘likes,’ even though we could reach 220,000 people nearby, starting for only £13.00, if we had the budget and requisite insane mentality. Of course, FS doesn’t care that much about FB, but our page IS curated and a good source of vegan news and recipes. This winter, we’re collecting hearty soup recipes under the hastag, #heartysoup, and the one for Thai Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup is possibly the most popular item ever posted on our page!

Newsletter Samhain 2015


Éire was the first country to introduce a plastic bag fee – ‘PlasTax’ – in 2002. Its primary purpose was to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags by influencing consumer behaviour and its effect was immediate, their use plummeting by 90% overnight! The average Irish person used an estimated 328 bags each year, but now they are down to 21.

It took a decade to catch up in the North, where the carrier bag levy was first introduced in April 2013. At first, the levy applied to single use carrier bags, but since January 2015, the 5p levy now applies to all new carrier bags with a retail price below 20p, whether they are single use or reusable and regardless of the material they are made from.

Wales introduced a 5p charge in 2011 and Scotland followed suit just one year ago, in October 2014. Now, finally, England is making the big supermarkets charge 5p for carrier bags. However, unlike the straightforward schemes in Wales and the Irish Republic, small businesses are exempt, so some of us will no doubt continue to accumulate those utilitarian blue ones and the dinky black ones that carry the beers home from the nearest ‘convenience’ store.

Still, to extrapolate the results from N.Ireland and Scotland, where plastic bag usage dropped by 80%, we are going to be seeing a lot less ‘London bunting,’ as Danny Baker used to refer to bags blown into trees. In some parts of Wales, allegedly, the number of bags being used has been reduced by 96% and so – according to some – has the number of shopping baskets available at larger supermarkets!

What this means for Fareshares is that people may be less willing to donate carrier bags; indeed, they will have fewer of the bloomin’ things lying around. This is a Good Thing, but it may be too much to hope that those Fareshares users who persist in giving us useless bits of old food packaging, or doing their recycling by proxy, might desist. Seriously. We regularly complain about people dumping their rubbish on us, yet on it goes…

Never mind the PlasTax, Fareshares is proud to announce two radical initiatives:

Branded tote bags & a DIY bag-making workshop!

Fareshares fine & sturdy tote bags, crafted from canvas and emblazoned with our logo, shall be available soon, very soon. Look, it’s in the newsletter now, so before Cristmas, anyway. Their cost to you, dear shopper, shall be £3.50 and funds raised used to plug our trading deficit, repair the building and, perhaps, supply paper bags for folks to weigh stuff into…

What’s more, three Faresharees volunteers are pledged to organisize an exciting bag-making workshop, one Saturday lunch time early in December. See our Facebook page for details, as they develop. There are also plans for a pickling workshop, watch this space.

#howedoit – Nākd Bars, 75p each


Standing behind Fareshares’ counter, one does hear some dark rumours, but the one about the people behind Nākd having sold out and incorporated GMOs into their hitherto organic, gluten-free wholefood bars never had the ring of truth. If you have, virtually single-handedly, created a new category within the retail snack market – as Californian-born, Oxfordshire-based brothers, Jamie and Greg Combs, have since they started Natural Balance Foods in 2005 – why would you compromise your USP?

In fact, what happened was that they got Nākd Bars into supermarkets and sales grew by over 70%, from £7.5m to £13.2m, in the year ending 31.03.14. Having made it so far in 10 years, some early Natural Balance Foods shareholders chose to retire and, therefore, the company hired specialist advisers to seek new investors to take its brands to the next level. They attracted interest from bidders including Burtons Biscuits (maker of Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels), Kelloggs, and Hain Celestial (owner of New Covent Garden & Linda McCartney).

In the end, though, Natural Balance sold 67% of its stock for £60 million to Lotus Bakeries, the Belgian company that makes those frightfully more-ish caramelised biscuits. A statement said both parties see the transaction as long term and “there is a clear agreement that the DNA of the brands will be kept unchanged… The Natural Balance Foods mission steadfastly remains to pioneer and champion the Wholefood Revolution around the globe and the team continues to be passionately committed to the business.” Fat Gay Vegan, for one, was chuffed.

At Fareshares, we stock a changing selection of Nākd Bars that we sell for 75p each, but we tend to stay with the classic varieties: Cashew Cookie; Berry Delight; Ginger Bread Bar. Some folks, however, order their Nākd Bars by the box of 18, paying only a 10% surcharge over the wholesale price, which means they can try the more unusual flavours, like Cocoa & Orange; Coffee Mocha or the new Bakewell Tart.

Don’t forget about new Nākd Nibbles, either! Made from raw fruits and nuts lovingly ‘smooshed’ together in sweet shop favourite flavours, with no added sugars or syrups, these nibbles are also wheat, dairy and gluten free. With a soft, chewy texture they fill you up till your next meal and most count towards 1 of your 5 a day too. With trick or treat season approaching, you might want to lay in a supply.

Volunteer Opportunities

Fareshares is entirely run by volunteers, who are always welcome and needed.

Shiftworkers work two hour shifts; three of those on Thursdays, when we most need help on the closing shift, 6-8pm. If you’ve turned up to Fareshares after 7pm one Thursday recently and found the shop shut, it’s because we really need you to volunteer as a shiftworker! If not on Thursdays, then perhaps you can join the Wednesday afternoon crew who unpack and display our weekly deliveries?

If you can’t commit to a regular shift in the shop, perhaps there’s another way in which you can help Fareshares,  by contributing a more specialised skill? For example, we have put out a call in the past and are still waiting to hear from a Refrigeration Engineer who is qualified to service our Graf commercial ‘fridge.

Now, there are several carpentry jobs that we need someone with the skills and tools to do for the Collective:
1.    Remake the disabled access ramp so it’s not so steep.
2.    Construct shelving under the window, behind the counter, for customer orders.
3.    Construct a shelving unit to display Zaytoun products.

If you think you might be able to take on any one of these tasks, please contact us by e-mail – – or come into the shop and have a word with the shiftworker. Why not join us for a late Sunday lunch (see below) where you can meet some of us?

November 15 Meeting – Sunday Lunch @ Pullens Centre

When the Pullens Centre is free on the 15th, Fareshares has held it monthly meetings there, preceded by a vegan potluck meal, to which all who might want to be and those who used to be as well, as those who are actively involved with running Fareshares are warmly invited.

Sunday the 15th November is our final get together of 2015 and you are welcome to join us, upstairs at 184 Crampton Street, where a fabulous nut roast shall be served in all its glory, accompanied by lashings of with onion gravy & roasties at 3pm. Please bring salads & puddings.

The door will be open from midday, if you’d care to peel spuds or help get set up. Please let us know if you’re coming, if possible, so we have an idea of numbers, but come anyway. Join the event via Facebook, or by e-mail to Or just turn up.

Fareshares’ monthly meeting will start at 4pm. 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.

Bio-D: return your empties!

19536-BIO-D LAUNDRY-LIQUID-1LOne of the least popular chores among Fareshares volunteers is refilling the recycled washing up and laundry liquid bottles – we lack one of these – but that isn’t currently an issue, because we haven’t got any empty laundry liquid bottles to refill! By retuning your empty bottles, you save the environment (see plastic bags, above) AND  money, because we buy 15L drums, which works out cheaper (currently, £3.80/L).

As you probably do not need to be reminded, domestic pollution causes more damage to the environment than industrial pollution. At least, that was the state of play back in 1980, when A.M.Gower produced ‘Water Quality in Catchment Ecosystems’, which The Bio-D Company continues to quote on its web site page devoted to ‘Our Philosophy‘. Over the intervening 35 years, British industry has shut up shop and environmental awareness has increased exponentially, but still.

Michael Barwell, the man who started Bio-D in 1988, knows all about the social trends of the past decades. From Hull, he used to clean ships before realising that household cleaning products contained the same petrochemicals, phosphates, preservatives, enzymes and synthetic perfumes as the stuff he wore industrial protective clothing and a respirator to use in his job. ‘We’re proud of our funky (recycled and recyclable) packaging,’ say Bio-D, ‘but overall it’s about what’s NOT on the inside that counts!’

Fareshares on Facebook

Fareshares Facebook page is the place to keep up with the day-to-day goings on within our collective and key suppliers, such as Suma and Infinity, and smaller suppliers such as Zaytoun and BioD. We don’t (often) post mawkish animal-related stuff, give or take the odd skipping rhino, but we do seasonally appropriate recipes. Fareshares currently boasts 14 reviews and a perfect score of five stars on Facebook, but we could score more, maybe, if you were to like and rate us too.

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