New Organic Beer Review Site Now Live

November 9, 2011

There’s a new website which reviews organic beers. Called Organic Beer Blog it’s a video website offering short reviews of organic beers from around the world and also short written reviews about bottle openers – hey, it’s quirky.

I’ve embedded a taster below, but check it out for yourself.

Why Are Organic Products So Expensive?

January 24, 2011

With the best intentions in the world as a green consumer, it’s easy to get put off when you compare the price of organic food with regular mass-produced products. People who are on a limited budget may have the inclination to buy their groceries ethically, but when we stand in the store and check out the prices of our ethically-produced food, it can be tough to make a decision to stay green and add on an extra twenty percent to our weekly grocery bill.

Just as free-range foods cost more than battery-farmed produce, or Fairtrade products can cost up to thirty percent more than other types of foods, so organic produce tends to be significantly more expensive than other forms. There are a number of reasons for this, and understanding the rationale behind it can make it much easier to make an informed purchasing decision and reduce the sting of the increased cost.

Compensating for reduced crop yields
On average, an organic crop yields approximately twenty percent less than a conventional crop, due to the fact that the growers do not rely upon pesticides and chemicals to enhance the return on what has been planted. This means that agricultural methods are less rewarding when it comes to gaining value for money through the farming process. Some crops such as potatoes can yield as much as forty percent less when farmed organically, and this cost has to be recouped from the sale of the produce.

Accommodating higher production costs
It costs more to grow organically than it does to rely on chemicals, and this cost is incurred through the labour taken to produce a decent crop. Factors such as weeding add to the overall time and effort taken to produce a great organic crop, and labour-intensive farming needs to be funded. Onions and carrots need to be carefully looked after when they are grown to organic standards, taking up much more resource than conventional mechanisms.

Mitigating the cost by balancing it with environmental risk
This said, the cost to the environment is significantly higher when it comes to traditional famring methods. Pesticides and fertilizers can make our living expenses shoot up through increased medical treatment needs, and experts suggest that using agrochemicals such as methyl-bromide can deplete the ozone by up to twenty percent. This in turn leads to higher risks from skin cancers, so the price overall is balanced by going organic. When we look at the cost of producing a crop such as strawberries using chemicals, people do not factor in the expense of treating people who have adverse medical reactions, so the true weighing up of organic versus traditional methods of farming is not currently an accurate figure.

When all the hidden costs to the environment and our health are taken in to consideration, buying organic suddenly doesn’t seem so expensive, does it? It’s an established fact that buying organic produce is better for the environment, and better for us in the long term, so it’s worth stretching the budget a little in order to buy green, ethically-produced and healthier foods.

Montezuma’s Organic Chocolate Eco Product Review

January 5, 2011

The first I’d heard of Montezuma’s was when I wandered past a new shop and was intrigued by the display in the window. And when I went in I wasn’t disappointed, there’s a lot of nice, unusual and interesting chocolate creations in there. And I’m not really a big fan of chocolate.

On that first visit I didn’t take much notice of whether they had any organic chocolate but when I was sent some beer to review by Organic Roots, they send me a nice little free gift of Montezuma’s 54% Coca: Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Organic Chocolate.

Butterscotch Organic chocolate

Just a 30g bar of it but that’s all you need really, it’s a heavy, rich chocolate that hits you with flavour as soon as you take a bite. Despite it being milk chocolate, the concentration of cocoa makes it more like a dark chocolate. In fact I found the strength of the cocoa a little overpowering so the actual taste of the butterscotch gets a little lost.

Still it’s an interesting blend and something a little different from the other chocolate out there. Montezuma’s has other organic chocolate in its collection such as Orange & Geranium Dark Chocolate, Very Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Chilli, and its 54% Milk Chocolate – all organic.

Montezuma’s 54% Coca: Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Organic Chocolate costs around 75p for a 30g bar and available instore or online.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic India Pale Ale Product Review

December 1, 2010

I recently reviewed Santa Cruz’s Mountain Brewing’s Organic Amber Ale and liked it – after I got used to it. So another trip to Bev Mo! and I bought the brewery’s India Pale Ale, or IPA, which is also organic.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing inscribes the phrase ‘Think Organic, Drink Organic’ on its labels and serves its beers in a big 22oz glass bottles.

This India Pale Ale is a whopping 7.5% abv so I was expecting a hefty taste but it was surprisingly subtle. It was hoppy, but again not as much as I expected and actually found it smoother and more drinkable than the Amber Ale. It’s a little lighter in colour too, still quite cloudy though. Looking back at that review it’s probably hard to decide which I liked best, both are easy drinking and I think if you decide to go with an organic ale you can’t go far wrong with choosing one of these two.

Certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers, nothing in its Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery is automated.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic India Pale Ale costs $4.59 from Bev Mo!.

Santa Cruz IPA

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale Product Review

November 24, 2010

With the phrase, ‘Think Organic, Drink Organic’, this Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale was impossible to resit at BevMov! So I didn’t.

In a large bottle (a pint in the UK or a pint and six fluid ounces in the US), it pours with a slight head and is a dark, cloudy brown.

Santa Cruz Amber Ale

As with a lot of American handcrafted beers, it has a taste which takes a little getting used to, the first sip hits you in the back of the throat but then the flavour comes through and it settles down.

I like to drink my beers cold but you shouldn’t have this too cold, I found the flavours, hoppy and slightly fruity, came through much better when it warmed up and I’d got used to it. In fact I found it really easy drinking and was pleased it came in such a big bottle, but disappointed I’d opted to only buy one.

Brewed by Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing in California, the company calls it “the official Party Beer of the brewery”. Certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers, nothing in its brewery is automated, and the beer is a blend of organic malts with a primary base of Gambrinus pale malt.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale costs $4.59 from BevMov!

Bison Organic India Pale Ale Eco Product Review

November 10, 2010

Trying organic ales from around the world brings some exciting flavours to the tastebuds. I often approach them with excitement but also trepidation – will this Bison Organic India Pale Ale from California delight or disappoint?

Bison IPA

Bison Brewing is not a brewery I’d heard of before, but I was intrigued after reading the bottle. Certified organic, this IPA is part of its Single Hop Series, which means each time they brew it they try it with different hops, seeing which one they like the most and drinkers favour.

This one was made with Willamette hops, which is “a mid alpha hop bred decades ago from Fuggles”. It has “woody or grassy tones and a smooth bitterness”.

And it certainly is smooth. There’s not real sharp flavour or bitternesss to it which makes it very drinkable and a nice beer if you’re just starting with bitter or IPA. It has a nice head once poured and remains cloudy even when settled.

I liked the smoothness and subtle flavours, but at 6% alc/vol the only concern is drinking too much of it!

Bison Organic India Pale Ale is available from BevMo! costing around $3.99 for a 650ml (one pint, six fl. oz.) bottle.

Organic And Ethical Lingerie

November 5, 2010

Organic and ethical retailer By Nature has started selling a range of lingerie by Enamore. The clothes are made from fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and natural silk.

Enamore’s clothes are produced within the UK and also donates old fabrics to schools and community groups. The range seems to be a mixture of the modern and the retro. Check out the Bunny Camisole (below left) made from 57% soybean, 37% organic cotton and 6% Spandex which costs £60, or the Bedrock Bamboo Camisole (below right) which as the names suggests, is made from bamboo and costs £62.

Enamore camisoles

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