The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side helping of food politics

Moroccan butternut and lentil soup with sweet chermoula oil

I know that in this blog I do tend to go on a bit about Monsanto, the giant chemical company which, alongside Bayer and Syngenta, now owns the “patents” to around two thirds of the world’s vegetable seeds. But I’m not alone in my antipathy – the company was recently voted the “most evil corporation” of 2013 in a poll of 16,000 readers of the US website Natural News. In […]

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apple kringle

It is the fruit that inspired one of Britain’s greatest ever scientists, Isaac Newton, to formulate his “theory of gravitation”, and many of us would regard the apple as a quintessentially British fruit. A generation or two back it truly was, but over the past 40 years nearly two thirds of all UK apple orchards have been lost, and more and more traditional varieties of this fruit face extinction. Nowadays […]

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chard and Parmesan tart

Is it right – morally, never mind environmentally – that we fill our shopping trollies with asparagus from Peru or Mexico, green beans from Senegal or Kenya, mangetout from Zimbabwe and peas from Guatemala, when we know that these are countries that face problems of food shortages and poverty? Farms in these countries holding contracts with UK companies are high tech, commercialised operations that are required to produce food to […]

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carrot, cashew and coriander fritters

Originating from Afghanistan the carrot was originally grown for its leaves and seeds rather than for its root. Back then carrots were either purple or yellow in colour. The orange carrot didn’t appear until the 17th century, in the Netherlands, where it was bred as a tribute to William of Orange (who later became William III of England) – an early example, one might say, of politics interfering with food. […]

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sous vide pear with hazelnut and cinnamon crumble

In a few days time the European Parliament is expected to vote to accept proposals for reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which accounts for a staggering 40% of the EU’s entire annual budget. Amongst the many problems with the CAP is that for many years it has been, in effect, subsidising environmentally harmful activities such as intensive farming, chemical pollution and the draining of wetlands. By taxing […]

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Thai pumpkin and coconut soup

Pesticides have been developed specifically to help prevent our crops being attacked, so are they necessarily a bad thing? Well, yes they are. Pesticides are designed with one purpose in mind: to kill. They are poisonous. That is why there are legally prescribed “safe” levels for their human consumption. The use of pesticides in agriculture is a recent one, in relative terms, which means that, despite a growing body of […]

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artichoke and taleggio pizza fritta

This winter the Red Cross will begin to distribute food parcels to the poor in Britain for the first time since end of the Second World War. The number of food banks in Britain, and the demands placed upon them have escalated in the past couple of years as families struggle with the effects of benefit cuts, food and fuel inflation and wage cuts. Before the austerity programme of the […]

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leek, mushroom and tarragon filo tartlets

The French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once famously declared, “all property is theft”. In the case of land ownership in the UK there is a substantial amount of truth in that proclamation. The concept of private land ownership in the UK can be traced back to the 13th century when King Henry III legalised the appropriation by the nobility of open fields, pastureland and other areas that previously had been deemed […]

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winter squash and bean chilli with guacamole

Cargill may not mean a great deal to most of us. But it should. Just as Monsanto has a growing stranglehold over the seeds and chemicals used for growing our food, so Cargill looms large at the other end of the global food business conveyor belt. As the company boasted in a corporate brochure a few years back: ‘We are the flour in your bread, the wheat in your noodles, […]

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golden beetroot, saffron and fennel soup

There is a very simple philosophy underpinning the organic approach to gardening – feed the soil. Plants need soil, along with sunlight and water, to synthesize the amino acids on which all we humans ultimately depend. Take away any one of these three elements and that process cannot take place. Organic growers use sources such as compost and rotted horse manure to replace nutrients and enrich the soil in which […]

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