The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

new potato salad with rocket, lemon and mint pesto

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Whilst the eyes of many environmentalists have been focused on the “marriage made in hell” that will result from the takeover of notorious agrochemical giant Monsanto by Bayer, two other equally alarming acts of corporate consolidation are in train.

The state owned Chinese chemical company ChemChina is in the process of swallowing up Syngenta in a $43 million deal. Last week, the proposed deal received both EU and US antitrust conditional approval.

ChemChina is a huge producer of agrochemicals (pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers etc.), as well as other non-agricultural products. Syngenta is a major manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been identified as contributing to declining bee populations. It also produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is the world’s largest crop chemical producer. The company is currently defending several thousand lawsuits in the USA over the introduction of a genetically modified variety of corn destined for the Chinese market before it had received approval for import to China.

In addition to this takeover and the Bayer takeover of Monsanto, a third act of corporate consolidation is taking place through the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont, respectively the world’s third and fourth largest agrochemical manufacturers. Both companies are also major producers of genetically modified crop seeds, and both have a background in the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons.

If all three mergers and takeovers go ahead it will leave control of most of the world’s seed market and agrochemicals market in the hands of three enormous private companies. This in turn is likely to lead to higher prices and, more worryingly, reduced choice for farmers and other crop growers. Species diversity in crops provides an important natural mechanism for combatting disease. Artificially restricting the available species still further makes it more likely that a future crop failure would have a catastrophic impact.

Between them these six – soon to become three – companies already use their considerable resources to lobby governments into passing favourable legislation to enable them to dominate markets, suppress farmers’ rights and even outlaw natural seeds. They are also big employers making a huge contribution to the economies of the countries in which they are based, making it very unlikely that any of the governments in those countries would have the courage act to restrict or rein in their activities.

As a result we can expect future legislation – as well as the actual process of food production –  to be embedded still deeper within a corrupt and unsustainable system of industrial agriculture.

Whilst each of these mergers is no doubt great news for shareholders, they are extremely bad news for democracy, for organic and small scale farmers and growers and for consumers.

The days are getting longer and warmer, and now the glorious new potato season is upon us. The rightly celebrated Jersey Royal potato has been available here in the UK for the past two or three weeks. The name has Protected Designation status, but in fact the same potato can be grown successfully and easily here in the UK where it goes by the slightly less territorial name International Kidney.

I’m using Jersey Royals in this recipe because I love their distinctive flavour, but feel free to use any variety of new potato in their place.

Rocket (known as aragula in the USA) is an early season salad crop with a distinctive, peppery and slightly bitter flavour. It adds bite to the lovely pesto accompanying this simple salad.

new potato salad with rocket, lemon and mint pesto

500 g organic new potatoes, washed and scrubbed
6 organic spring onions, white and green parts, sliced
45 g organic rocket
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp maple syrup

1. Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Remove from the heat, drain, and set to one side to cool.

2. Place the olive oil, rocket, mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, pine nuts, sea salt and maple syrup in a blender and pulse until you have a paste which is fairly smooth but still retaining some texture.

3. Halve or quarter the new potatoes, depending on size, and place in a bowl with the chopped spring onion. Add four tablespoons of the rocket, lemon and mint pesto (the rest will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days and can be added to pasta or risotto). Toss all of the ingredients together before serving.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan

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19 replies

  1. thank you for interesting and useful info, And this recipe- amazing green 🙂 so watermouthing!!

  2. The mergers are most worrying, but the potato salad looks great.

  3. The Chinese have kept their soil fertile for thousands of years by clever use of compost and manure. It is a great pity that they are now turning to chemicals. Is this the end of the world as we knew it?

    • Not just the Chinese. Much of the world changed to the industrialised chemical-driven model during the latter half of the last century. Up until that point farmers had used traditional, organic and sustainable methods of soil enrichment and plant husbandry. What has followed is soil depletion and soil erosion on a truly alarming scale.

      Is is the end of the world as we know it? Well, according to the United Nations, on current trends the world has just sixty years of top soil left…

  4. That is a terrifying prospect, another reason to support our organic farmers, grow our own crops organically in our gardens and allotments and shout from the roof tops what is happening to our beautiful world.
    Your recipe looks amazing, thankyou for posting.

  5. Delicious, so easy to make and so tasty!

  6. Sounds like a tasty blast!

  7. I just discovered your blog through the SUMA website. THANK YOU for putting out such important information! I am a journalist who is trying to cover these topics, but unfortunately there is little demand in mainstream media. We can only hope that this changes soon, but until then, it is up to the bloggers to spread the word…

    • Hi Nicole and thank you for commenting. I hope you get a breakthrough in your efforts to raise mainstream media interest in these important issues. It’s a vast subject area: the system is so broken but most of us are living in ignorance or denial. Steve

  8. Great recipe. I made it for myself and it was delicious. I never would have thought of using lemon with potatoes 🙂

  9. Looks so delicious, and the pictures are beautiful!

  10. It is sad to know that there are people in the world who’s objective in life is to make as much profit from controlling a basic human need, ie. food production in any form. It should be a crime to pursue such a thing. However, it makes me even more determined to share any and all the knowledge I have and still learning to our children, so that they will at least have some knowledge and freedom in choosing what they eat, and how they can feed their family. Without forced to choose between the increasingly manipulated Frankenstein brands of “food” marched onto our supermarket shelves.

    On that note…
    Lovely recipe, thanks very much indeed. It’s given me loads of ideas for the spuds I’m harvesting at the mo’. So glad I found your blog. 👨‍🌾💚🌱🥗

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