Guest blog from Tim Keates and the Great British Food Cycle

Tim Keates is a fan of BigBarn and used our local food map to find great food and drink producers for his epic journeys:

Tim's food

Tim’s food

The Great British Food Cycle (GBFC) is a light-hearted celebration of local & artisan food within the British Isles.

Simply put, the Great British Food Cycle shines a light on fine foods and food makers to their surrounding communities and the wider British market through the event. We create a daisy chain, designed to pay food forward. Joining one food producer to the next.

No-one is excluded: butcher’s, growers, bakers and box scheme makers. A broad spectrum of producers, who in-turn enlist other interested parties to join the fun, like dinner ladies, chefs, mums & dads, slow food devotees, policy makers & visionaries.
This is the recipe that makes the GBFC an exciting and inspiring journey for anyone who cares what is on their plate.

The way it works is that a food parcel is picked up from the food producer and transported forward to the next artisan producer and a swop is done. Sometimes there is one parcel, sometimes multiple packages, many adventures and experiences are had as the GBFC moves it’s delicious journey, celebrating great British food at its best.

Tim Keates and Betsy the butcher’s bike began in 2009 cycling coast to coast, from Western-Super-Mare to Lowestoft. In 2011 Tim & Betsy ventured from John O’Groats to Land’s End. This year, 2013 will throw a spotlight across Wales.

Having cycled more than 2000 miles and visited more than a 100 producers Tim has been given an amazing opportunity to discover great flavours, wonderful foods & fascinating people. Cycling to them in country, down leafy lanes, rural estates and in cottage industries. Tim continues his journey to becoming an authority on specialist products, emerging trends & flavours.

To find our more click here to visit the website or here to see our local food map.


Seasonal Super Food: Sweet corn

Really fresh sweet corn

Really fresh sweet corn

Every year we promote sweet corn and how important it is to get really fresh corn on the cob with leaves, rather than the ready skinned, 4 day old, plastic packed, supermarket offer.

According to ‘Organic Facts’, corn aids in reducing the risk of digestive issues such as constipation. It provides necessary minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper, and helps alleviate anaemia with its B12 and folic acid content. It also helps you become beautiful! Corn is found in many cosmetic products and can aid in alleviating rashes or irritations of the skin.

So don’t delay use our local food map to find your local farm shop and ask when the corn was picked. You will probably find, like many other products, that it is cheaper than the supermarket, fresher and by buying locally you will be boosting your local economy.

Dessert Recipes with Beetroot

Here is a fantastic guest blog from Kate at Veggie desserts

Beetroot & chocolate, yum?

Beetroot & chocolate, yum?

With beetroot season in full swing, I seem to have a steady supply of these nutritious and delicious vegetables. My local farm shop, Maxey’s Farm Shop in Nottinghamshire, has such a gorgeous selection that I just can’t help myself from buying more. So versatile, I can cook beetroot for weeks and never tire of them, but along with soups, salads and stews, I’ve been making them into vegetable desserts.

I have a bit of an obsession with adding veg to desserts. For my son’s first birthday cake I made beetroot and chocolate and since then I’ve been hooked. Beetroot adds a wonderful moistness and texture to cakes and makes them last for ages without drying out, as well as a very subtle flavour and richness.

Beetroot and chocolate go together marvellously, so I’ve turned these purple beauties into cupcake and truffle recipes to share with you.

Beet Chocolate cupcakes

Beet Chocolate cupcakes

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Cardamom Icing
Makes 12
300g beetroot, cooked
125g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line muffin cups.

Puree the drained beetroot in a food processor.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Add the beetroot and vanilla and mix well.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the beetroot mixture, in thirds, and mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tins for ten minutes and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

For the Chocolate Cardamom Icing:
80g butter
150g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
5 cardamom pods, seeds ground in a pestle and mortar

Beat together the butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Add in the milk, cocoa powder and ground cardamom seeds. Blend well and ice the cooled cupcakes.

Beetroot chocolate truffles

Beetroot chocolate truffles

Beetroot Chocolate Truffles

100g beetroot, cooked
200g dark chocolate, chopped
200ml double cream
1 tablespoon sugar
50g cocoa powder

Puree the cooked beetroot.

Put the beetroot into a saucepan and gently heat it to remove some of the moisture and concentrate the flavour. Set aside.

Wonder veg for pudding?

Wonder veg for pudding?

Put the chopped chocolate pieces into a bowl.

In another saucepan, gently heat the cream and sugar until it is just reaching the point of boiling.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for one minute.

Stir the cream and chocolate, starting in the centre and working your way out, until it is smooth. Stir in the beetroot puree. Put the bowl into the fridge to chill and firm up. This should take about three hours.

Put the cocoa powder onto a plate. Pat a little cocoa onto your palms to prevent the truffles sticking.

Roll teaspoons of the firm truffle into balls with your hands and roll in the cocoa to coat.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Seasonal Super Food: Courgette

Eat the flowers or fruit

Eat the flowers or fruit

According to Natural-Home Remedies, zucchini is full of nutrients, good for the heart, prevents an enlarged prostate and has anti-inflammatory properties to help with pain. The copper in this fruit also aids in treating arthritis issues. As an added bonus, this fruit can be consumed entirely: the fruit, the plant and the flowers.

So if your courgettes are starting to take over the veggie patch don’t give them away get healthy with a bit of creative cookery! You can fry with garlic, roast, slice for the BBQ, chutney, boil, make in to ratatouille, use in soup, or a stew. And if pleased with you efforts please film your culinary expertise and add your video to our KIS Cookery section.

Are stem cell burgers such a bad idea?

What's in that burger?

What’s in that burger?

Are stem cell burgers such a bad idea when we already have GM food, animals factory farmed in appalling conditions, and consumers who don’t really care where their food comes from as long as it is cheap and convenient?

Surely governments will make sure the food is safe and the marketeers will make the burgers look delicious.

And what about feeding the world? If current trends continue by 2050 there will be enough grain fed to animals to produce meat, that could instead feed half the world’s population?

Small profitable farm?

Small profitable farm?

I suppose it boils down to choice. I will certainly avoid stem cell burgers, factory farmed meat and milk and opt instead for local suppliers where I can find out how my food has been produced.

Extraordinarily enough not only will I find, and enjoy better food, I will also save money by buying direct and cutting out retailer, marketeer and middlemen margins. Your thoughts are welcome below.

Guest Blog from our partner, Hidden Britain

How getting tourists to go native can help local food producers

To help more people find local food we have supplied our local food map and MarketPlace to Hidden Britain. Here is their view on tourists enjoying local food;

In the UK domestic tourists spend around £56 for each night away from home. This expenditure includes souvenirs, hotel rooms and obviously food. Travelling often leads to a rumbling tummy, and there can be no better cure than some fresh local produce. HIDDEN BRITAIN logo

Tourists have access to all aspects of the local produce supply chain. To reap the rewards you need to make sure visitors know they have a local produce option whenever they need one. Hidden Britain has been working with rural communities to help them share what they love about where they live, and we know food is something everyone can enjoy.

Consider what it is to be a visitor; even someone simply stopping off to fill up at the pump, or waiting on the train platform could be tempted to go local if the right temptations are available. So what is suitable as a locally produced grab-able snack? A flap jack, a bottle of freshly pressed juice, fruit, sweets, the list is only limited by what people can produce. The key is making sure it’s available at the point of need.

Family Farm Shop

Family Farm Shop

That is just one opportunity, and because tourists are actively seeking out the experiences on offer, they are easy to target. Serving local food with a story on restaurant menus is another fantastic way to encourage tourists to engage with your destination. Better still, if tourists are interested, tell them where they can go and get more, it might just turn out to be their new favourite ingredient.

Some of the locations we have worked with have done the full Monty on their local produce, offering tours of the vineyards, tasting sessions and even developing a local cookery book.

From a visitor’s perspective this is an easy and exciting day out, they can be guided through the process and feel involved in the local produce cycle. The producer has a chance to educate the tourist about their goods, and you can finish up with a try before you buy session – this goes down very well where local wines, ciders or brews are involved!

Focussing some of your promotional efforts on tourism doesn’t exclude your local community. They will also benefit from having easier access to local food options. So here is a little summary of our top tips for getting tourists to buy local:

mrs-jane-kallaway-and-lambs-one Make sure a local option is readily available
Provide interesting information about the produce and where else it can be sought
Turn your produce into an experience by thinking about all the aspects of its production

Hidden Britain is a charity dedicated to uncovering the fascinating wealth of landscapes, history and culture within Britain’s countryside for everyone to enjoy. We do this by bringing together businesses, residents, community groups and local authorities who want to establish themselves as great visitor destinations and enjoy the social and economic rewards that rural tourism can create.

Rip off food industry will continue until consumers reconnect with producers?

I noticed fresh onions in the supermarket yesterday priced at the equivalent of £2,000/ton, yet my cousin only got £130/ton for his crop of onions. This is fantastic example of how the modern food industry favours the middle men and retailers, not the farmer, or, in these austere times, consumer.

In the case above; are consumers and farmers being ripped off? Are english onions not in season yet, (or do not store until July)? Or is there a world shortage? If I, as a farmer, don’t know, what chance does the average consumer have?

The modern, national, food industry, does not want us to know. They simply provide us with all kinds of foods all the time, via imports and slick supply chains then charge us as much as possible. Some might ask what am I complaining about? I could still buy fresh onions and the price was clearly labelled.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

My problem is that the national food industry is paying UK farmers very little and consumers are paying too much. We are offered a massive selection and one stop shop, but completely separated from where our food comes from, what is in season, and good value. And with continual marketing telling us we are too busy to cook, more consumers are buying fast food and ready meals and have no interest in cooking healthy seasonal vegetables.

Once I had priced the supermarket produce I dropped in to my local grower and bought a bag of beetroot, spinach, broad beans and lettuce for £1.80

So, to save money, eat well and be healthy, use the BigBarn map to reconnect with your local food producers, ask questions to get ‘the knowledge’ and celebrate the season’s bounty.