The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

olive oil and poppy seed sourdough crackers


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As the climate emergency facing the world deepens, leaders of the so-called G7 (“Group of Seven”, representing the world’s richest countries), will be meeting next month in Cornwall, UK.

Failure to agree on major changes in our relationship to the world around us will mean that our decline towards climate-driven chaos will gather momentum.

Climate change already poses a direct threat to our food security, through soil erosion, crop failures and changes to patterns of pests and diseases. Extreme weather events associated with climate change are already becoming more frequent. These are likely to lead to reductions in agricultural productivity, and some of these reductions will be sudden.

Countries such as Russia and Australia have experienced crop losses or reduced yields in recent years as a result of extreme weather patterns, as have areas around the Mediterranean and the key US agricultural regions of California and the Midwest.

The prognosis is not good for agriculture as a whole, and if left unchecked the climate emergency will certainly lead to widespread reduced food production and therefore increased food prices.

Climate-induced drought will create scarcity of water for food production in some regions, and it is not too fanciful to imagine conflicts arising over arable land or water access as the soil in some regions becomes degraded or desertified. We can also expect to see growing numbers of migrants fleeing the countries worst affected.

Ironically, despite being so at risk, agriculture is itself the single biggest contributor to climate change. That fact, of course, also means that agriculture could also be a significant part of the solution to the climate crisis.

The Cornwall G7 summit needs to agree tough measures to bring about a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and to sequester carbon. At their heart must be a drive to force global agriculture to embrace sustainable practices. Over time, a sustainable system of agriculture would not only help tackle greenhouse gas emissions but would also help establish improved food security.

Heavy penalties for practices which create environmental degradation, such as deforestation, use of agrochemicals, pollution of waterways and overgrazing should be introduced, hand-in-hand with incentives to switch to alternative sustainable practices.

CO2 emissions can be massively reduced by bringing a halt to deforestation (now the biggest single cause of greenhouse gas emissions), enforcing more efficient management of livestock waste (the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions), adopting organic soil management, improved water management, better land management through sustainable integration of crops, grazing lands and trees, crop rotation and reduced tilling.

The Covid pandemic has given us just a taste of the kind of austere and uncertain future we will all soon experience through climate change unless our leaders – and we ourselves – change course.


Some time ago I posted a recipe for creating a sourdough starter. One thing I hate about replenishing my sourdough starter is that it can mean some of the starter is discarded to make way for more flour and water, but rather than throw it away there are any number of ways to use it. This recipe represents but one solution.

These delicious savoury biscuits will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container.

olive oil and poppy seed sourdough crackers

  • Servings: makes approx 48
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Ingredients
for the cracker dough

120 g ‘00’ grade flour
200 g sourdough starter
40 ml extra virgin olive oil
10 g poppy seeds
½ tsp sea salt

for the topping
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
½ tsp sea salt

Method
1. Mix the sourdough starter with the olive oil in a bowl until combined. Add the flour, poppy seeds and sea salt and knead for five minutes or until you have a smooth and pliable ball of dough. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove for two hours (you can leave it for longer, even overnight, if you prefer).

2. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into a flat, rectangle, either using a rolling pin or a pasta making machine, ending up with the dough at a thickness of setting 2.

3. Cut the dough into long roughly rectangular or triangular shapes and lay them out on a lightly oiled baking tray, leaving a gap between them. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter if you’d prefer neatly shaped biscuits. Brush lightly with olive oil then sprinkle with a little sea salt and poppy seeds.

4. Place the crackers in the pre-heated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden. Leave them to cool on a wire rack.

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Categories: dairy free, vegan, vegetarian

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8 replies

  1. Australia’s federal government continues to be an embarrassment when it comes to genuine efforts to combat climate change. The recipe looks amazing.

    • Hi Peggy. I agree, the Australian government has been woefully unimaginative, and even seems to be going backwards, over addressing climate change. It is one of very few countries to have refused to sign up to the zero emissions target by 2050, and was recently identified by the United Nations as the worst of the world’s 50 richest countries in terms of measure to promote green recovery post pandemic. Let’s hope pressure from within and without will force a change of direction. Steve x

  2. Adding to the above – It is not just the government in Australia – average Joe Blow largely feels that in such a huge country with a small population we cannot possibly be doing the world any harm whatever our habits !! There are already big conflicts over water availability/usage here . . . and deforestation is laying a huge part in the developing problems.. I so very much wish I could have more hopes for the Summit – largely ;hot air’ and vague promises in my book . . . *smile* If I was wise enough to have a starter I would go into the kitchen . . .

    • Hi Eha. I am sure most “Joe Blow”s in developed countries around the globe remain indifferent to the challenges of the climate emergency. This is partly because it hasn’t (yet) directly affected them and partly because of a crisis of leadership, which has left a vacuum of inaction when decisive measures are urgently required, leaving most citizens unaware of the seriousness of the challenge we face. Steve x

  3. Delicious crackers! Love anything with Sourdough 🙂

  4. Nice blog to follow while preparing recipes.Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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