A deconstructivist, food-ster, peasant…

For reasons I can’t tell you about yet, but soon will, we’ve been spending a certain amount of time gazing at our navels trying to work out what we are. Yes, we’re a farm shop selling organic and/or local food but why?

What makes us, or more accurately me, want to do that. Because I’m a deconstructivist, food-ster, peasant was what I came up with.

Deconstructivist – I like stripping food back to the basics. For the most part food technology has been for the industry’s rather than the publics benefit.

Food-ster – a bit of a hipster. Not wacky or cutting edge but always interested and willing to try new things.

Peasant – our roots are on the farm. There’s room for the small-timer as well as the mega-farm. Above all, I hate waste. We have an obligation to use what is grown.

So there you have it – they can put it on my gravestone.

Much the same could be said about ‘Mr Golden Potato’, William Chase, but he’s a lot richer. He started and sold Tyrrells Chips. He’s now moved on to the Chase Distillery and vodka and gin. I find it rather ironic that all these micro artisan distilleries are fuelled by base, 100% abv, grain spirit, purchased from Russia for next to nothing. I expect you could run your car on it.

Chase Distillery do things differently. They call their product single estate because they grow the apples and vodka, ferment them into a beer and cider and then distil that into spirits. I don’t suppose there’s much heed paid to the French concept of terroir but they really are from one place – and taste amazing, as their many awards testify.

Price-wise they’re in the same ballpark as other artisan spirits which does rather beg the question, why the others are so expensive? The spirit costs 60p a litre, add 50% water, bottle it and sell it for £40 a litre.

Obviously the Chancellor takes a nice slice but it still sounds like good business model to me.

Party Time; we will be having a bit of a tasting day at the Staverton shop on Saturday, 23rd July. Actually, it’s a little more than that in that it will also be celebrating the opening of Barnaby’s Brewhouse. Located over the hill from the Staverton shop at Hole Farm, next to our kitchen, it’s been in the offing for so long that we’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and force his hand. He’s opening and that’s that! Lagers are Barnaby’s speciality and he’ll have a barrel of his finest on tap. As well as the pilsner style beer we all know, he’s also doing dark and red/amber versions. I’m no expert but they tasted pretty good to me.

We will also be doing a Chase Gin and Vodka tasting and having a BBQ in aid of local ‘Luck of Birth’ refugee charity for whom we have been raising money through our Labneh and Muhammara dips, soups and the sale of vegetables contributed by my father (at Yealmpton only). Let’s hope for good weather and a good time will be had by all. So put it in your diary and watch out on Facebook for more news.

Speaking of Yealmpton, it’s good to see the café thriving.  Emma ‘who must be obeyed’ and the rest of her team are doing a job and a half down there – keeping the offer interesting but bringing a bit of professionalism where needed. It’s never going to be a contender for Michelin stars but that’s not the idea; it’s just an easy place to get a good lunch or breakfast, with, or without, a bit of shopping. And it will get even better.

Earlier in the year, sister business, Riverford Organics, posed the question ‘how much meat should we be eating?’ It’s a good question to ask – particularly if you’re a vegetable box company. Like them we sell more vegetables than meat but the butchers counter has always been a big part of the shops. It’s a statement of who we are and what we believe in (see above).

We’re a fairly mature business in a small fixed catchment area with loads of competition and I’d be lying if I denied that our meat sales weren’t falling off a little. Despite, personally, eating dramatically less meat (daughter at university going vegan on me – that sort of thing), it pains me, a/ because that’s how we started, b/ because the butchers counter is still such an integral part of the business and c/livestock farming is what the South West’s all about. I’m not hearing any alarm bells or anything like that but I’d be genuinely interested to hear what you think, and want.

Email me please at ben@riverfordfarmshop.co.uk or comment on our Facebook page.  Are you eating less meat? Would you like more, quality, additive free meat products? Or are you buying elsewhere? Would you rather our meat was 100% organic? Just say what you think.