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Fed by Water, food review

Today I visited Fed by Water after happening upon it on my way back from my first visit to the pop-up Bulk Market on the Kingsland Road.

As part of their healthy outlook all customers are offered complimentary purified water

The idea of healthy, mindful plant-based Italian cuisine struck me as innovative. I’m accustomed to the concept of vegan curries: Thai, Indian and Vietnamese, as well as vegan junk food, such as American style burgers and have tried plant-based hot-dogs. But, this was the first time I discovered vegan Italian food. It sounded comforting and when I looked at their Instagram account, the dishes pictured looked so tempting we went there for lunch today.

Italian food has long been a staple in the UK and often referenced as the UK’s ‘favourite’ cuisine-and I get why, it’s very homely and moorish. Giving up dairy, one can sometimes feel a bit cut-off from this form of cooking: creamy and rich dishes such as risotto or tagliatelle (NB: I’m a terrible cook so cannot stretch to creamy vegan pasta sauces, yet). The buttery richness makes it the ideal comfort food. That’s why, when I noticed Fed by Water I thought, “will it fill this longing for creamy comfort food I have been craving…?”

Well, we were not disappointed!Read on to find out more…

The menu was quite extensive, a double sided A3, with more specials on the boards. Initially, I felt a little overwhelmed by the repetition of tofu on seemingly all their dishes. I’m not a massive fan of tofu unless it’s be deep fried (#nomnom), then I like it. The starters were largely bread based, which I felt would be too heavy to start as we were planning try one pizza and one risotto or pizza main, so opted just for two mains.

I wonder what method of purification they use ?

The Pizza: PC Sempre Verde (rocket, capers,  black olives, cashew mozzarella and tomatoe base on activated charcoal dough).

The pizza base was BLACK  as it was made with activated charcoal which is known for its detoxifying properties. It looked and tasted just stunning- I am not exaggerating when I say it is possibly the best pizza I have ever had, this includes the time before I cut out dairy. The combination of flavours was awesome and apart from a hefty scattering of smoked tofu (I would have preferred more olives and capers) the pizza was truly delicious. The cashew based mozzarella was unlike any vegan cheese I’ve had before in the BEST way possible and the tomatoe base was rich with lots and lots and flavour. I reserve all the praise for this amazing black pizza.

I am not exaggerating when I say it is possibly the best pizza I have ever had

The Risotto: Risotto di mare (super garluc charged rissotto with sampire and pistachios)

Again, the risotto was black and came with a samphire  garnish. The rice was al dente and the overall flavour was intensly garlicy, so if you’re no lover of garlic, then perhaps avoid ordering the rissotto. Luckily we love garlic. Again this dish was everything I anticipated: it was creamy, comforting and just really tasty.

The portions are really generous, which meant we actually ended up bringing the left overs home. And luckily Fed with Water use compostable packaging ✌.

Desert: Raw Tiramisu

We finished off the meal with the classic Italian desert,  tiramisu.  Unfortunately it just lacked depth of flavour  and had the cream had a peculiar texture.  It’s a pity as the rest of the meal was EPIC.

Drinks: Freshly pressed juice

To drink we had freshly pressed  orange juice as we have been feeling the Autumn vibes around here at the moment. It was delicious and came with an air-dried slice of orange!

Free H20: Fed offer all their patrons complimentary & purified still or SPARKLING (woop woop) water, which is a bonus!

Would I return? Yup in a FLASH! Next time I think I’ll try their cabonara or lasagna or… so many tempting options…

One thing I will say though is, it is a bit on the pricey side, at last for me and for a Monday lunch! It is not a cheap lunch destination, so perhaps save it for special occasion. For example, a main is £12+ and there’s a service charge of £4.75 which I thought was quite high- luckily it’s optional, so you can choose to leave your own tip. ? That said, sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra for amazing plant-based food such as this.

Final word: I would happily take a vegan food cynic to Fed by Water as the food is as delicious as any Italian restaurant around.

 

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Holiday Cottages

Life can go on standstill when we go on holiday. You might be inclined to switch off the wifi, disconnect yourself from everyday life and retreat into the simple things life has to offer for the duration, especially if you’re immersed in the countryside. And this much I get and wholeheartedly encourage as surely holidays are all about switching off…but: that doesn’t mean we should forget about the environment in the process!

This year I have stayed in three rural cottages and NONE have provided the facilities to recycle our packaging or food waste- the latter I found  especially shocking as all three holiday cottages had large gardens, which would have made composting food waste really simple.

I am currently in another such cottage where there is only a general waste bin. We live in an age that has surely taught us that there isn’t anything such as general waste anymore. Waste is categorized and disposed of responsibly these days, and while I am not trying to shift the burden of responsibility to the rural folk, I would have expected those living in the rural areas would have EVEN more inclination to protect our beautiful green spaces that those of us who might be more inclined to live in denial in the concrete jungles.

Either way, the principles of recycling cannot be denied by or to holidaymakers and therefore, the facilities need to be extended to holidaymakers so they can practically dispose of waste.

We are holidaymakers relaxing, disconnecting etc etc, but we aren’t disconnecting from our determination to keep our planet in good nick, and do our level best. As a result, we’ve had to find local recycle bins a short walk down the road, and this is great that it’s there, but I do wonder:

  1. how many other holidaymakers staying in this cottage would do this?
  2. Why the holiday cottage industry cannot create a mandate to follow that requires all holiday makers to holiday responsibly?

Just because w’re on holiday doesn’t mean we enter a state of denial- we are relaxing while recycling! IN fact, recycling makes me feel better- not being able to would really interrupt my holiday!!

 

I wrote to Organic Cottages UK to see what their stance was on this matter, here’s what they replied:

Linda Moss response:-

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Carbon Neutral Leggings & Slow Fashion

I recently purchased two pairs of leggings from the UK’s best known ethical brand, People Tree. The leggings are made from organic cotton. Organic cotton has an incredibly positive impact on the planet: the farmers, their land, and consequently the environment and eco-system and ultimately the clothes that they become, simply because the soils traps more CO2 and the lack of #chemicals used.

In the case of these leggings, they are carbon neutral as a result, as organic farming ‘holds 1.5 tons of CO2 in the soil each year.

People Tree Tag
People Tree and Assisi garment tag

Organic Farming Facts: 

  • -Avoids harmful pesticides
  • -Avoids fertilisers
  • -Better for the soil and subsequent usage as well as the current eco-system and local environment
  • -Prevents the spread of even more harmful chemicals in the environment

Why is organic farming so important?

According to this article #organic cotton doesn’t just:

1. require less water as it

2. Uses no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides which account for an estimated 20,000 deaths annually in Asia

3. Protects eco-systems as a result of not using the above

Sadly, less than 1% of the cotton produced is organic 🙁

4. Organic cotton is better for us as well, as we won’t end up wearing clothes full of harmful chemicals and the

5. Farmers, cotton factory workers and garment makers  (the supply chain) are exposed to harmful chemicals each working day-this doesn’t seem necessary or fair

6. As it is estimated that 10,000 cotton farmers in the USA dies from cancers associated with farming fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides

Read the article here

The FULL package:

In fact the entire bundle I received in the post from People Tree was pretty environmentally friendly: 

  • The outer packaging was made from recycled sources
  • The ‘plastic’ the leggings were in was biodegradable
  • The label was held on with a ribbon instead of plastic
  • The information about the garment was minimal and printed onto paper
  • There wasn’t any additional marketing like flyers or a catalogue

People Tree was founded by Safia Minney over 25-years ago. It has since earned itself an international reputation, recognised as an affordable and ethical brand on our high street today (although they don’t have physical shops, they are in smaller boutiques but still largely mail order).

Fair trade is a citizen’s response to correcting the social injustice in a international trading system that is largely dysfunctional, where workers and farmers are not paid a living wage, and where the environment is not considered at all…” 

People Tree has surely been a driver of the ethical fashion movement and has helped highlight the need to bring much needed awareness to the way in which the clothes we wear are made. And thankfully more and more small fashion houses are popping up with a clear message of transparency in fashion and consideration towards the environment.

In fact in 2017 and more prominently in the preceding years, the ethics of how exactly the fast fashion we all invest in (and all too regularly) is made, has become a burning issue for many high profile individuals such as  Safia Minney, Vivienne Westwood and Livia Firth to name just a few; as well as everyday consumers and fashion bloggers who are all making their own contribution nu holding fashion brands to account, and adopting  the hashtag #whomademyclothes, in an attempt to find out more about the item of clothing: what were the conditions of the garment worker, their name, their locations. The hashtag also has the capacity to act as push towards more transparency in an already very shadowy industry.

The plight of garment workers, most of whom are women, has been documented in ‘The True Cost’, a poignant documentary that tells the truth about the people who make our clothes.

The True Cost is directed and was conceptualised by Andrew Morgan, who uncovers a lot of what most consumers already have some idea about (but the lure of fast fashion is too tempting to resist).

As viewers of the The True Cost we can only be affected by the information and it could quite possibly be  powerful enough to make us change our shopping habits for good.

One of the participants, a garment worker in Bangladesh, relays her own poignant story of how her work in Dhaka means she’ll be separated from her daughter Nadia for up to one year. Due to the long hours and working environment, her daughter is safer and better cared for in the village with her grandparents, while her mother Sheema earns a living in the city.

It’s hard for us to comprehend not seeing our own child for a year because of poverty and entrapmen. Yet this IS the reality for so many parents working in the garment industry, all over the world. When you hear this story that new dress or those new trainers don’t quite have the same allure anymore, do they?

What would happen if The True Cost was played on loop in every high street store in the UK, the world even, everyday? Wouldn’t the outcome be able to tell us to depth of the problem, which ever way it swung?

People Tree have demonstrated that fashion can be ethical and kind to the environment while functioning as a successful business. They’re international, popular, appeal to a wide demographic, support their workers and are thoughtful in their choice of packaging (see below- the leggings were wrapped in bio plastic)

People Tree packaging
People Tree packaging

It’s a shame the reality is there are so few like them, and so few current high street shops seem unwilling to change their ways. For example, I took a walk through the high street in Bristol were there are probably 100 high street shops, and not a single-one can claim the credentials of People Tree. It’s sad that even with so much enlightenment and transparency thanks to telling documentaries like The True Cost, more retailers aren’t responsive in bringing about change quicker.

You can visit the Ethical Fashion Forum to find a long lost of ethical outlets and visit the Soil Association by clicking here, where you’ll find a number of brands that use certified organic cotton.

Instead of centralised action, tokenism is rife and unsurprisingly quite common these days. Consider H&M’s Conscious Collection or the LOVE range at Monsoon, all of which aren’t making any huge amount of difference to the majority of their employees, and ironically such lines are merely demonstrating garment industries inequalities louder.

It’s effectively saying, “Hi, welcome to {insert shop name here} on this side of the store you have the garments made by garment employees we don’t give much of a damn about, and over here in this corner is our organic cotton range, where we paid a handful of people a little bit extra to show the world we are doing as much as we can and that deep down, way, way beneath our profit margins, we really do care.”

POWER to the consumer:

As consumers we are able to use our voice, our vote, by choosing where we to spend our money, which can transpire to be meaningfully or meaninglessly. To this end, we do have the consumer power to affect positive change. And we can do this by buying less but buying better from retailers who are making a difference.

Ethical Fashion is already a reality…

This is not a Utopian ideal for the fashion industry, because People Tree are proof that it is a sustainable business model. Perhaps current high street leaders will make less overall profits, which are generally staggering by the way) but perhaps this is at the heart of the change we need address: simple greed, and with that, **perhaps** those CEO bonuses need to be a little less generous too.

Documentaries that portray the realities of the garment industry, such as The True Cost are only likely to increase as the world of capitalism and its ugly creation : fashion fashion  is pitted against individuals and companies who are using the internet, their blogs, their social media accounts to expose the ugliness its ugliness and question its exploitative traits, all of which are the direct result of 21st century consumer capitalism: supply and demand.

Ask yourself this: would you sacrifice rearing your own child for an unknown period of time? No! Then why should mother’s like Sheema? 

You and I know fast fashion SUCKS the life out of its workers, produces soulless clothes AND ironically makes us poorer because we simply buy more…so STOP SUPPORTING FAST FASHION TODAY and buy ethical brands that use Organic cotton for a healthier, happier world.

References:

Soil Association

Global Organic Textile Standard 

Huffington Post 

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Compostable picnic sets

These days, there’s no shortage of ‘eco-friendly’ alternatives to plastic, and I truly believe that in time this will become the new normal. Just consider how commonplace plastic is at the moment (although thankfully it is very fast becoming the most demonised material in use today) I hold out hope for plastic alternatives to become the new go-to. And rightly so.

You may have noticed an increasing number of products entering the market that are made from a waste products such as sugarcane bagasse, rice husk, wheat straw and so on, all of which  are being turned into single-use or reusable ecological alternatives to plastic. All have required human ingenuity and passion to produce. Yet, what if there’s an even less interventionist solution out there that requires just some really strong palm leaves, a mould and a pair of scissors?

Well, this product already exists, and it really is the most natural approach to single-use; it’s eating from or drink from a leaf after all.

Areca leaves are huge and very strong. They fall naturally to the ground where they are then collected by the employees of the areca dinnerware factory. In the factory they’re moulded into cups, dipping pots, plates and bowls, to become a thing of use and beauty, before they can be returned back into the ground to be devoured by microbes only too happy to help it biodegrade.

Additionally, you can compliment the dinnerware set with bamboo straws (see above) or rye or wheat straws. I will be socking these in my shop ingreens.co.uk but in the meantime, they’ll be available from  my etsy shop.

 

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Solid soaps and dishes

I think refills are brilliant. In fact, I actually get a little bit excited when my Eco Leaf washing up liquid is running low because it means I can take my bottle and meander down to my local Better Foods to refill it. When I am there I generally get some treats too :). It’s a good opportunity to check out any interesting new lines and the seasonal local produce as well.

That said, and as much as I love Eco Leaf washing up liquids, if my search for a solid dish soap finally returned fruitful (I’ve tried to find a natural one) I would definitely switch to a solid one, no questions asked, as long as it worked effectively, I’d make the switch because it’d require less packaging = better for our waste foot print.

A bar or a rope of soap 

I have been using solid soap instead of liquid for sometime. I felt like a teenager on discovering LUSH, exploring the different options for solid soaps. I love essential oils and those that have strong citrus or warming aromas generally get my vote. Although, unlike my teenage self, my objective isn’t to buy bright or neon coloured, glittery soaps; instead this time around I’m seeking out natural, handmade, colour-free, organic and above all package free solid soaps. And luckily, within one mile radius of my front door I have about several options to choose from.

…Don’t forget that solid soaps need a home

If you have or are planning to switch from liquid to solid soap you’ll also need a soap dish or three to house your soap. I didn’t carry out any research before buying mine, the ones I now own and use came about through spontaneous purchases. But through observations I can include how effectively the soaps each fair in their own dishes. For example, I have considered how effective they are at keeping their  soap free from excess moisture and water to avoid squidgy soap scenarios. Below you will find my reviews.

Kitchen:
SOAP: Faith in nature solid grapefruit unpackaged soap from La Lune, Gloucester Road

DISH: Hemu soap dish with narrow grooves from Living Naturally

I really like Faith in Nature products but decided to stop refilling our hand soaps with their lavender hand soap as I felt the bulk quality wasn’t ask good, and the scent not as strong. But their solid grapefruit and aloe-vera soap has a great smell, and was  purchased loose from a local shop.

The hemu soap dish with narrow grooves retains a lot of soap residue which then keeps that side of the soap soggy. I do rinse and dry the dish as often as I can throughout the day, which doesn’t take very long. Possibly because it’s in constant use, this isn’t the best option. We benefit from direct sunlight in the kitchen through out the day as it’s an attic flat, which does help the soap dry out, though. I wonder it it didn’t get the opportunity to dry out, then perhaps it would be even less effective.

Bathroom x 2:

1. Sink-

SOAP: Suma coop Tea Tree and Eucapluptus

I LOVE this soap! It has made the bathroom smell fresh and energised. It was perfectly formed (I just love a well-formed soap) and it has managed to stay really dry?! But perhaps this is also due to the magical soap dish we have it in.

DISH:  Platanesoap dish ladder from Living Naturally

The soap dish is as describe, just like a ladder, meaning the gaps allow the water and soap residue to slip out,  and the soap has he opportunity to dry. This is why  I think I will opt for this design in the future. And it looks pretty snazzy as well.

2. Shower-

SOAP: Charcoal soap from Living Naturally

I really enjoy washing with this soap and although I am planning to try out a different body soaps  once this one is finished, I will be ordering more of this in the future. It’s detoxifying with a great smell. If like me, you’ll wear face masks, exfoliate your face etc but forget about the rest of you, then this soap ensures your whole body can get a bit of detoxifying lathering!This soap is basically a good all rounder- it’s warming and lasts ages!

DISH: Ceramic soap dish from Seven Seas, Cheltenham Road

I love the aesthetics of this dish. It’s from a local independent shop that stocks products made by local artists.  The soap dish has 3 holes in the center where the excess water and soap residue is meant to drain through, but I feel it isn’t doing the  job effectively.

I switched it to look after my charcoal body soap instead, meaning it will only be used once/twice per day max. Of course now it’s fine and the charcoal soap is another that seems self-drying! is this a thing with good soaps? As for constant use, this soap dish doesn’t cut it

Overall favourites:

Bathroom SINK! The Suma and the ladder combo- it just works: it’s look stylish, smells amazing, works effectively and it’s super anti-bacterial. Only downside it, this Suma soap came in a paper box. Apart from that I’m really in love with this combo and it might just become a staple…

 

To end I’ll proffer this top top: drying your soap on its side a few times seems to extend its life and last longer which is what we want right?

 

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Produce bags and scoop shops

Shopping with produce bags is actually really satisfying and it gives one a sense of being proactive and making their own tiny but highly valued contribution to combat plastic pollution and the negative impact it is having on our planet, specifically but not limited to by any means, marine life and marine birds.

It’s also pretty fun if you’ve made the bags yourself or managed to pick some funky designs up on etsy -the cheerful and bright patterns beats brown paper any day.

Furthermore, produce bags are practical, and fundamentally avoid the need for single use packaging. If you are finding it difficult to remember to take yours along, hang in there and set yourself little reminders and you’ll eventually get into the swing of having them ready for any given shopping opportunity that might arise, even the spontaneous ones.

Plus, you might, like myself, fall in love with scoop shops and actively shop in these more than mainstream supermarkets that fail to offer scoop option. In doing so you’ll be supporting your local independent shops and the local economy so it’s a win for localism and a win for plastic reduction.

What is a scoop shop?

Scoop or bulk shops are shops that provide loose unpackaged produce allowing the customer to take as much or as little as they need and want.

I discovered the concept of scoop shops when I moved to Bristol nearly 4-years ago. As a customer you have the option to try an abundance of food options from seeds, lentils, grains, dried fruits, teas, coffees, sweets, flours and cereals.  It can feel like a tempting invitation to get excited by the prospect of experimenting with foods we seldom or have yet to taste! It also offers you the option to buy healthy produce while sticking to a fixed budget. 

This morning I paid a visit to my closest and favourite scoop shop, the aptly named , Scoop Away on the Gloucester road, Bristol.

At the time of my visit I seemed to be the only customer with produce bags. The other shoppers were making use of the abundance  of plastic bags available.

Granted there are paper ones too, but these are small and if shoppers intend to stock up then they’ll have to opt for the plastic ones as they’re much bigger.

What amazes me is that scoop away don’t sell produce bags. This makes me think that unlike Unpackaged or other package-free stores we are still patronising scoop and bulk shops for primarily economic and health reasons rather than an opportunity to avoid packaging. Yet I think it’s high time we marry these elements together to enable us to tick all the boxes that means we eat well, manage our budget while refusing destructive plastic. 

Health+economics+package free= happy earth

Instagram photos:-

By simply documenting your scoop shop visit you are actively alerting others to the importance of refusing single-use packaging while demonstrating others forms of packaging are available.  With this in mind I have included a few tips for shoppers on how to shop in bulk shops without relying on plastic or paper bags.  

TOP TIPS to avoid single-use packaging when shopping at scoop shops (and loose products in mainstream shops):

  • Take your own jars but weigh them empty before you go and write the weight down on the jar
  • Take tupperware or take-away pots that have been gathering dust, these are  light and easy to carry
  • Make or buy about 10-20 produce bags. Why so many? I think if you commit to owning a lot of produce bags you are more likely to use them, and also you will have surplus when the others are in the wash.  Etsy is a good place for this. I made mine and it took me about 30 minutes.

How to take care of your produce bags:

Produce bags need to be clean to store and transport your produce. I keep mine clen by generally ashing about once per week.

  1. Turn your produce bag inside out and soak in warm water with 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water, a sprinkle of salt, sodium bicarb and just a few drops of essential oils.
  2. You can add a couple of soap nuts too. I leave mine soak for about 20minutes and then give them a really good rinse.
  3. Dry in the sun if this is possible or air until completely dry before using.

Go forth and shop happily without single-use packaging!