Food thoughts

The BOOMs are back (+ interview with Rosie Birkett)

Last year isthisfood was shortlisted in the best blog category of the Best of Organic Market (BOOM) Awards and I was delighted. Now I’m super excited that the BOOM Awards are back (and not just because I got to gorge on bread with the very lovely Martha from bakeoff as part of the judging process). And there’s still time for you to have your say. Nominate your favourite organic product by 31 May 2017 and be in with a chance of winning a hamper chock-full of yummy organic goodness.

To celebrate the triumphant return of the Awards, I caught up with this year’s BOOMbassador, cook, food journalist and food stylist, Rosie Birkett, to find out why she’s into organic.

As 2017’s BOOMbassador what are you most looking forward to about this year’s awards? 

Aside from giving us a great excuse to make a lot of noise about the benefits of organic, I’m really looking forward to trying some of the newer and more innovative organic products that are out there. I’m judging the pantry category and am looking forward to finding some new store cupboard staples.

There are lots of reasons why somebody might choose to buy organic produce (to better protect the environment; to reduce chemicals in their diets, or to support higher standards of animal welfare to name a few). Why do you support the organic movement? 

For all of the above – and because food is one of my main priorities, and I feel I’m in a position to make a more positive impact through my food choices. As someone who lives and breathes food for work and pleasure, I’m obsessed with ingredients and provenance and to know that something is organic is a real reassurance for me when it comes to environmental implications, knowing that the agriculture is supporting and boosting, rather than depleting soil, animal welfare and in terms of working in harmony with nature. I really think we can learn by following nature’s lead and organic is dependent on this, which really resonates with me.

Organic, local, fair trade, biodynamic, sustainably sourced, free range. The plethora of issues connected with food production has resulted in a variety of labels and standards which can be applied to our food. Which of these principles is most important to you and how do you deal with conflicts (e.g. organic produce from Spain or non-organic from down the road?) when they arise?

For the majority of my ingredients, I’ll aim to be as seasonal, local and organic as possible. I think biodynamic is great and makes a lot of sense, but don’t often have access to the produce. In the main I try to find ingredients that for the most part reflect the season and locality of where I am – but I’m not all or nothing and there are exceptions – i.e I love citrus and sometimes fancy a coconut-based curry. Plus I couldn’t function without coffee! I don’t think it’s all or nothing, I think the fact we are having conversations about provenance is important, and labels help people to make more informed decisions about where their food is coming from.

If someone was to commit to buying just one organic food product what should it be and why?

I wouldn’t want to tell someone how to shop as it all comes down to personal circumstance and what’s important to them, but I think organic dairy is a good place to start.

Finally, food! The BOOM awards ceremony is taking place in early July. What seasonal ingredients should we all be getting our hands on at this time of year? 

There is so much incredible produce to choose from at this time of year – I’ll certainly be making the most of fennel – one of my favourite veg, broad beans and the last of the Jersey royals.

Rosie’s delicious new book A lot on her plate is available now.

BOOM Award (and hamper!) winners will be announced at a ceremony on 5 July 2017.

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