Helen Browning: Organic farmer
Get a veg box
If you’re time poor like me, veg boxes are an affordable and accessible way to get fresh, local organic produce delivered straight to your door. There are many options available, and some can include meat, dairy and eggs, as well as fruit and vegetables. Choose the scheme to suit you and your pocket. UK veg boxes are also a great way of getting to know the seasons. As well as widening the selection of vegetables you might usually eat, your cooking repertoire will expand as well. The Soil Association has a local retailer search tool on the website to help you find your nearest supplier.
Grow your own
Like most farmers, I’m a lousy gardener, but I can stretch to growing a few herbs. You definitely don’t need an allotment or big garden to do this. From window-boxes to growing tomatoes in a tub, you can transform a small space into a mini-kitchen garden. Organically grown herbs are hard to find, so it’s great (and easy) to have a few pots at home so they are immediately at hand.
■ Helen Browning OBE is Chief Executive at the Soil Association, soilassociation.org
Lily Simpson: Kitchen detoxer
Clear out your cupboards
You’d be surprised at how many food items in your kitchen are overloaded with processed ingredients, chemicals and preservatives. My top five offenders that need swapping for organic produce are:
1. Nut butters that contain E numbers and palm oil.
2. Ketchup is full of salt and sugar.
3. Pasteurised fruit juice doesn’t contain any vitamins from the natural fruit, hardly any fibre and causes sugar highs.
4. Margarine — organic butter contains healthier fats.
5. Flavoured yogurt can contain more sugar then some ice creams. Opt for good-quality organic yogurt and drizzle honey for natural sweetness.
Prevent waste by planning ahead
You are much more likely to waste food if you do a big weekly shop without planning your meals.
Buying organic basics weekly or every other week, and then topping up with fresh ingredients every few days mean you use up what’s in your fridge before needing to buy more.
If you have lots of vegetables at the end of the week, have a good recipe up your sleeve for left over bits and bobs. I always make a big lentil stew or soup on Sunday evenings, or a vegetable frittata.
■ Detox Kitchen Vegetables, by Lily Simpson, is out now (Bloomsbury, £26)
Jack Stein: Restaurateur
Source home grown
I’m not so good at growing veg myself — we use an ex-chef who runs Padstow Kitchen garden to grow things for our restaurants so we know exactly where all our ingredients come from. If you don’t grow your own, try heading to your local allotment — people may be prepared to do you a deal on some home-grown veggies.
Use farmers’ markets
Avoid wasteful packaging by getting one of those old-school shopping trolleys on wheels — they are brilliant! My gran had one and now I know why — go down to the farmers’ market and throw it all in. Organic can be pricey, but the more people switch to using farmers’ markets, the lower prices will get.
■ Jack Stein’s World On A Plate is out now (Absolute, £16)
Jeannette Hyde: The nutritional therapist
Organic fruit and veg can be costly — so how do we eat organically without breaking the bank? The Environmental Working Group has compiled two lists. The first is the Dirty Dozen, those that contain the most amount of pesticides: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, bell peppers. So best to invest in organic here.
Second is the Clean Fifteen, which contain the least: avocados, corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, aubergines, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli. If you’re on a budget, go non-organic on these items, but wash well before you eat.
Beware the pitfalls
Investing in organic produce may not support our health if we’re drinking half a bottle of wine (full of grapes containing pesticides) every night and having takeaway lattes made from factory farmed milk containing antibiotics. These are often blind spots.
To decrease your pesticide and antibiotic burden, have a tablespoon of organic ground flax seeds daily in your porridge, muesli or green shake. Flax seeds keep everything moving, and lessen the chances of constipation.
■ Jeannette Hyde is the author of The Gut Makeover. Follow her on Instagram @jeannettehydenutrition
Jennifer Joyce: Cookery writer and food stylist
Less meat, more quality
My philosophy is to eat less meat but buy organic, free range or grass-fed when I decide to indulge. These products taste superior, and equally ensure the animals are treated more humanely. And organic meat doesn’t always have to blow your budget. Whole organic chickens are often the best value, and cost much less than individual packs of breasts or thighs. Supermarkets and online suppliers (such as Ocado) run regular promotions on their own-label organic ranges. If a rack of lamb is out of the question, go for cheaper cuts, such as lamb shoulder, pork leg or beef ribs. Slow cookers can transform them into meltingly-tender meals
Waste not, want not
Pickling is one of my favourite ways of squeezing value out of my unused veggies. Boil up equal parts (250ml) vinegar and water with a tbsp of salt and sugar and pour over the peeled chopped vegetables. Cucumbers, white radish, courgettes and onions require a few hours in sprinkled salt to draw out the water, but most hard vegetables (like carrots) can be pickled straight away. White or cider vinegar works best. Add spices like celery seeds, chilli flakes or coriander seeds for flavour.
■ Jennifer Joyce’s My Asian Kitchen is out on Sept 6, (Murdoch Books, £20)