Britain’s Got (Organic) Talent!

Move over Simon! The Hemsley babes are in the judges' seats to find the Susan Boyle of organic food

The Soil Association, established in 1946, is the U.K.’s organic certification body and a leading organic food and farming charity. They believe, as we do, that good food is a right not a privilege and have been awarding their stamp of approval to the finest organic products for the last 27 years. This year, we were invited to spend a sunny afternoon at The Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington as guest judges for the 2013 awards.

The wonderful and pioneering Geetie Singh, a trustee of The Soil Association, opened The Duke of Cambridge (Britain’s only certified organic pub) in 1998. The menu changes twice daily and 90% of the fruit and vegetables served are from organic farms in the southeast, while 100% of the menu is of the best quality organic. Geetie and her pub have hosted the Soil Association Awards every summer since 2008.

Jasmine was part of the egg judging team and Melissa was with the cheese panel—Nick floated between teams, taking photos and tasting the best of both worlds. (Look out for a rare glimpse of Nick in the pictures.) We were in the company of some of the big “cheeses” of the British food world—Graham Harvey (agricultural editor of The Archers and food pioneer), Anna Colquhoun (author of Eat Slow Britain and culinary anthropologist), Cheryl Cohen (director of London farmer’s markets), and Fabio Diu (of the Real Food festival).

Five egg entries (three rounds of them, impeccably soft-boiled) and 18 varieties of British cheese (cheddars, stiltons, cheshires, goats, sheeps, camembert-esques) were scrutinized under a blind taste test. We debated their merits and struggled to choose the best. After much discussion, smelling, tasting, and admiring, we were pleased to award the gold stars to the winners before cooling down and cleansing our palates with some peppermint tea.

The winners are to be announced on September 19th. Look out for our September recipe for the Soil Association and a future SS post with the charming Geetie Singh!