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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Organic Eleven Plus

Most of us like to think that the argument for organic farming is very strong. The premise is that we should farm with nature rather than against it. Some organic farmers will opt to maintain the fertility of the soil through recycling manures, mulches and composts. Crop rotation is used to rest the soil and restore necessary nitrogen and minerals.

Crop rotation was introduced in England during the Middle Ages. This was the open field system with a different crop in two fields while the third field was fallow. This last field lay empty – and nothing grew these.

Organic farming reduces the need for fields to lie fallow. Farmers look for specific combinations of crops that will enhance productivity. Some farmers also argue that small labour intensive farms help to revive rural communities and curb rural depopulation.

A mother, today, related how her child was able to start working through Eleven Plus papers – but soon tired. She explained how her son had always struggled to maintain a balanced diet. On the occasions she could encourage her child to eat some of the `Five a Day’, she deemed it preferable to try to make sure that the food was wholesome, nutritious and organic.

Summer is approaching. Perhaps the mum can encourage her child to eat a wider selection of food if they work together in the kitchen. Breakfast could be a boiled egg and soldiers. Hens reared in the old fashioned way roam around all finding food. Free range hens lay between 180 and 300 eggs a year. Hens lay a lot more in the summer. Perhaps the family can find a local farm so that the `breakfast egg’ can come from an organic farm – with organic eggs.

I am no great cook – but I do know that if the egg has been kept in the refrigerator it has to be warmed up. Many cooks like to place the egg into cold water and then bring the egg to the boil. The Eleven Plus boy can easily time the egg for the regulatory four minutes – for a runny egg made especially for dipping soldiers. A hard boiled egg needs around seven minutes.

The soldier is made by putting the organic bread into the toaster – and cooking until a golden brown. Soldiers are traditionally made by cutting the bread into four long strips.

Scrambled and poached eggs can follow.

Then can come the culinary adventures with omelettes.

Perhaps the family can even follow some form of `Egg Rotation’. This could be a different egg on two days – with the third day offered as an `egg fallow’ day.

Back in the 1950s the catchy phrase: “Go to work on an egg” was used to promote the idea that it was sensible to eat an egg for breakfast.

Half a century on, we may need to develop an Eleven Plus slogan for picky eaters:

“Go to work on a free range, organic egg.”

This is not particularly catchy – so any suggestions?

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