Shipton Mill is the home of organic flour in the UK. From more bees and hedgerows to ensuring shorter, traceable more sustainable food chains, by choosing organic we can all support a kinder, greener and better environment.
The promotion of organic food is set deep within the ethos that drives Shipton Mill. We source grain as locally as possible from certified organic producers.
Using organic flour not only helps to contribute to biodiversity by maintaining varieties of wheat/cereals but also to the general wildlife populations where organic production methods encourage a greater variety and number of species.
The definition of “better” is an area hotly debated and argued about by “conventional” producers and supporters of organic. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) believes that there is not enough evidence to support any claim that food produced organically is better for you nutritionally than food produced using conventional methods.
However, recent research has indicated that many organically grown products and crops that are not as intensively farmed are richer in many micro-nutrients. Whilst such findings continue to be the subject of review and debate, it is encouraging to see such positive and increasingly scientifically supported data that reinforce the benefits of organic methods.
In addition, the work of the Rodale institute in projects looking at the effects of organic farming in countries where pesticides and fertilizers are too expensive is also very encouraging, if only for the potential positive impacts on world food supplies.
Environmentally, the case is just as strong. Aside from the implied (but not necessarily well understood) impact of fertilizers and pesticides on the human food chain, in conventional farming there are in the region of 350 “allowed” pesticides. There are relatively strict laws governing the levels of pesticides present in food, but there are growing concerns about the long-term effects of such residues and the “cocktail” effect. This is where each individual residue may be below the permitted level but add all the residues together and the combined effect is unknown, and may be far worse than each individual element.
Recent research illustrates that organic farming models use less energy than their conventional counterparts. This is largely due to the high levels of energy used in the production of fertilizers, which are not permitted in organic methods.
The cost of organic is also hotly debated, and the question of whether organic can feed the world. Value cannot be considered in purely commercial terms – there is huge value to society as a whole to have a healthy agricultural community.
The jury is out on whether organic food tastes better. We would argue that it is actually a matter of personal engagement with our farmers and loving their work.
Organic certification does give a guarantee that food has been responsibly produced with consideration for the environment, the highest animal welfare standards and careful crop management. Buying locally produced food with a minimum of packaging, through a box scheme or farmers' market should give you the reassurance that you are supporting more sustainable agriculture and a future for generations to come.
We aim to provide value to our customers beyond the best price through our philosophy and aims.
Shipton Mill is defined not just by what we do and how we do it – it is also by our relationships with the rest of the world.
We strongly believe that the farming practices informed by the agro-ecological principles that we support will maintain and improve the soil fertility, so that our descendants will inherit a fertile earth.
We see the sustainability of agricultural systems as encompassing social, ecological and environmental spheres.
The provenance of the product and the quality of the grain are as important to us as the production method.
We source our grains from local farms for a number of our blends, where practicable. Over the years, we have also built relationships with suppliers across the world who share our values. It is from these suppliers, for example, that we source some of the rare and old varieties of grain that we cannot easily obtain from British shores to make a number of our speciality flours.
We value these networks of interesting and dynamic people immensely, who all help to create and add something to the finished product beyond taste alone.
Preserving and maintaining our earth is at the forefront of our ethos. We are investigating the development of a small hydroelectric power unit to run off the waterwheel. We have also installed a system to return excess heat from the milling process back into the offices to provide space heating in winter and hot water all the year round.
“We need for instance, to remember that the traditional ways of doing things may not always be the most “efficient”, but they may produce the finest end product and be in the greatest harmony with nature. The making of quality cheeses simply cannot be rushed. Good beef must be hung for weeks, not a few days. Good bread needs time to rise…. That’s what we need – slower food, not faster. We are already seriously out of time with the rhythms of Nature and are beginning to pay for the discord this creates…”
From a speech by the Prince of Wales for The Taste of The West Food and Drink Awards Ceremony – Highgrove – Friday 16th September 2005.
Respect for the eco-system and a desire to work in combination with it is the underlying philosophy of modern organic farming. More important still is the need to have a receptive approach to life and to appreciate your impact on the environment and immediate surroundings.
We actively promote the cultivation of rare and old varieties of wheat. This is not a commercial decision as the returns are far too small. We believe in the need to preserve and retain varieties that are not readily available, and to promote the genetic diversity that such crops, and their sympathetic farming methods, engender.
It is now recognised that growing such crops along agro-ecological principles also has a positive effect on nutrition. Simply by being less intensively farmed, the plants have larger and more robust root systems, are more drought resistant, and have greater micro-nutrient and mineral content as there are less plants per square meter and therefore less competition for available resources.
There is also the reduced requirement for extra fertilisers and weed killers that are energy inefficient and environmentally damaging.
We love to see what you've been baking, but are just updating this section at the moment - we will be able to accept new community recipes in the near future, please don't try to upload in the meantime as we won't be able to accept the photo or send a voucher yet.
If you add one of your own baking recipes with a photo to the Shipton Mill website, we will send you a voucher for 5% off your next order from the Flour Direct shop.
It's very easy, just click here to visit your " My Shipton Mill" page to get started.