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Journal

An eye-opening farm trip to the salad fields of East Anglia

1.8.2017

On a dull grey morning in July, nine chefs and one photographer embarked on a very muddy adventure to G’s farm in Ely. We were off to learn about the farming and harvesting of the salad produce we use in our kitchens every day.

G’s is a family run business launched by Guy Shropshire in the 1950s and the legacy continues through his three sons, one of whom is based on their farm in Spain.

Here in the U.K, they take advantage of the varying climates and soil types on many farms in Cambridgeshire, East Anglia and the West Midlands. Modern farming methods and integrated transport means that within 12 hours their produce can travel from field to fork.

With our ongoing food waste awareness campaign Waste Not on our minds we were shocked to see fields strewn with celery hearts and tops, deemed unacceptable by food retailers for being too long.

With a deluge just before we arrived, the chefs were relieved to find wellington boots on offer at G’s and they certainly came in handy in the celery field.

There were acres and acres of celery including Fenland celery, a heritage variety that was extremely popular in Victorian times and which now carries the desirable Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, much like Parma ham and Champagne.

With our ongoing food waste awareness campaign Waste Not on our minds we were shocked to see fields strewn with celery hearts and tops, deemed unacceptable by food retailers for being too long. With 70% of the celery grown not even making it to the shops, our chefs got busy thinking of ways to use up every single bit of the celery that comes into their kitchens. The resulting soups, blitzes and salads were demonstrated at Chef & Chat a couple of weeks later.

There was more wastage in the gem lettuce fields where many of the outer leaves are unusable due to ‘fen blow’ and ‘mud splash’. The gem is hand-picked, cleaned and the rejected leaves are removed to get the gem to the correct size for the package. It was a sobering sight and one that inspired our chefs to really make the most of the products they buy.

Thank you to the team at G’s for making us welcome and for letting us see first-hand the realities of food wastage that we all need to tackle.