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LIVING IN A MOTOR HOME: FAQ's

We always seem to get asked the same questions about living somewhat off grid in a motor home, to which the answers seem to spark a dozen more questions! So (to give our voices a rest!) here's the answers to our most frequently asked questions...

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UK Organic Supermarkets & Suppliers list

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhen we chose to go Organic a couple of years ago, it was tough going! Not so much in terms of flavour (in fact we've found most Organic food to be twice as tasty as the other stuff!) but instead tough due to the unavailability of some Organic products. Many supermarkets advertise a large organic range on their websites but when it comes to finding the items in store, they're sadly nowhere to be found so we'd have no choice but to either buy chemical or continue hunting elsewhere.

Organic bread has been the hardest to find for us, Gluten-free is now very easy to find but is often filled with other similarly digestive-irritating chemicals, gums and high sugar to enable it to behave like wheat bread. Personally I find that Organic wheat does not cause the kind of inflammatory response in me that non-organic wheat always does, so I feel I don't need to go 'Gluten free'! Waitrose & Ocado seem to be leading the way and already have quite a large range of Organic bread to choose from, including pittas, rolls and sliced wholemeal loaves. I've found Organic bread listed on the Sainsbury website but was unable to find it on the shelf in store upon several visits, and similarly I've not had any luck finding it on a Tesco shelf either! :( Due to the high price tag, unreliable availability and the traditionally short shelf-life, I now make all of our bread, rolls and wraps at home myself using Organic flour which is much easier to source, even in Tesco! :)

The trouble is that every store holds different stock depending on their local demographic, so what is available in one store may not be in another. This can become frustrating, especially when first starting out on your Organic quest, but you'll soon remember where the good stuff was and once a chain starts to see demand for a product they really do react quickly to stock it for future sales. I often find myself buying anything Organic I find, even if I don't need it quite yet, as a way of confirming to the retailers that there is indeed a demand for it. Our local stores have now massively increased the amount of Organic options in their ranges in response, giving us more options to shop around with and save on, but most importantly giving us some hope for the future!

 

Below is a list of UK retailers who stock and champion Organic products, some of which we use ourselves. We'd love for this to be a helpful resource for other people attempting the Organic switch, if you have any recommendations to add to these suggestions please get in touch or leave a comment below:

 

Veg & Meat box delivery companies:

For fantastic tasty veg, good quality meat & some essential groceries - get it delivered! Box and grocery deliveries are an extremely convenient way to purchase Organic food instead of scouring every shelf in the supermarket!

Abel & Cole – the company we originally began our Organic switch with and are still loyal to! Free boxes and other goodies usually available for signing up. We like that you can tailor your box online if there's certain things you don't like, meaning I never have to set eyes on a brussel sprout if I don't want to - which is never! ;)

Riverford – a fast growing company with a wide range of products sourced from their very own farms where possible. Free cookbooks offered for signing up.

Hello Fresh - Weekly recipe boxes complete with pre-measured ingredients and the instructions for convenient, healthy and exciting meals. Perfect for busy people who might otherwise be tempted to order naughty fast food!

Primal Meats - A promising company championing extremely high welfare meats and wild game, though not one we've tried ourselves as of yet. Check out their 'pasture for life' promise!

 

Supermarkets:

Which supermarkets stock the most Organic products. Many offer big savings for home deliveries helping you to buy more on your budget, and save time!

Waitrose – seem to be leading the way in Organic and high welfare produce through their ever growing Duchy range and aren't as expensive as you might think, especially with their Pick Your Own offers scheme. Every time I shop I'm pleased to find yet another new Organic product in stock. We like their baked beans, cream cheese, and ice cream, but the best find yet has to be their frozen oven chips! I still make my own chips from scratch most of the time but it's so nice to have the option of convenience ready and waiting for me again!

Ocado – Technically more of a distributor than a supermarket, although they do offer their own range of organic and free range foods. Ocado stocks a frankly massive range of high quality products including Waitrose labelled items delivered to your door (or table as they advertise!). They really do go above and beyond other companies with their customer service, and if anything at all goes wrong with your order they're quick to send a compensatory voucher for next time. They also buy back whatever plastic bags were used on your previous delivery though I would prefer they gave you the option of not using any at all like Waitrose. Currently offering a cool £20 off of your first online order!

Tesco – they stock a fair range of Organic staples and condiments though as I mentioned bread is still hard to find. We like their organic mayo, rice, and they sell Clearspring organic cold pressed sunflower oil at a reasonable price compared to other sources (when it's in stock...).

Sainsbury – Like I mentioned above, the website shows a lot more available than what I've been able to find in our local store which can be extremely frustrating, and feels a little misleading. It should hopefully change for the better as demand grows locally. We really like their So Organic chocolate chip cookies!

Lidl – our local store stocks organic garlic, carrots, and semi skimmed milk though unfortunately not much else certified as such. It seems to vary from store to store and even week by week so aren't all that reliable. We usually buy their free range chickens which are the cheapest I've found in a supermarket (albeit not Organic) at around £5 each, which I then process myself into individual cuts and stock. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11433919/Organic-goes-budget-as-sales-surge-thanks-to-Lidl-and-Aldi.html

Aldi – They advertise a range of organic products but admittedly we've not been to one in a while since we don't have a store in our usual haunts. However, I've heard good things about them recently like their pledge to the NFU http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/14/aldi-leads-backing-of-uk-farmer-friendly-fruit-and-veg-pledge so they're definitely one to check out again.

 

Other online suppliers:

Buywholefoodsonline.co.uk – The best place I've found to source the more unusual whole foods in both bulk and more manageable quantities. They stock a wide range of organic nuts, seeds, butters and dried fruit, and even specialist sugars, dairy and gluten free options, chocolate and baking goods.

Ethical superstore – This place is a treasure trove of cool stuff! You can find natural cleaning products, fair trade rubber gloves and even gorgeous organic clothing here (I still love my bamboo shirt & it's still loving me!).

 

Markets, farm shops, road side stalls & butchers:

There are far too many in the UK and by their nature too difficult to list so we'll share some advice instead, we hope you understand!

The humble farm shop comes across as the simplest ways to buying fresh organic produce, it certainly cuts down the amount of plastic wrapping you end up with however be aware that the produce itself may not be Organic! The quaint countryside surroundings can lull us into a false sense of security and I've sadly seen caged eggs for sale on a farm shop counter. To be sure, ask where the food is from and how it was produced or look for the Soil Association logo if they're certified. It's something of a passion for the majority of Organic growers, and they're more than happy to tell you all about their good practices and how it's helping the wildlife in their area so don't be afraid to ask! Of course, pesticides aside, there is the fact that even the non-organic produce from a farm shop is likely to be a lot fresher than what you'll find in the supermarket and at least you know that all of your money is going directly to the farmer, rather than the tiny percentage supermarkets pay, so I wouldn't sweat it too much if a non-organic farm shop is all you've found near you.

Butchers are not all as traditional as they once were either so beware the 'special offer' butchers shops (you know the ones offering five trays of chicken for £10...) many nowadays are as bad as the supermarkets and sell pre-packaged intensively farmed meat filled with water and preservatives. We're lucky to have several good rural butchers in our local area that sell extremely high quality meat - again not many sell meat certified Organic but is at the very least local and free range. At first we considered Butchers meat to be an expensive luxury, but we've come to realise that it's simply sold at the correct price and that most supermarket 'budget' meat is massively overpriced for the poor quality, and quantity, that they offer. Try it for yourself and you won't wish to go back to the stinky vacuum packed stuff again! See our tips to make the most of the meat you buy.

 

Eating out:

There are unfortunately a huge gap the fast food and restaurant market for Organic eats at this moment in time. Here and there more and more small businesses are launching Organic food outlets all over the country and pubs that champion wholesome home made dishes and source local meat and produce. 

We intend to compile something of a database for Organic eateries throughout the UK to help people find them when on holiday etc though it's going to be a long job so you'll have to bear with us! For starters check out the winners of the Soil Associations Boom Awards 2016

 

You!

Probably the most overlooked way to source your very own organic produce, but by far the cheapest option available to us all, is to grow it yourself! YOU choose what goes in the ground, or containers, and exactly when you harvest so it will always be to your liking. A packet of carrot seeds costs less than £2 for 1000, compare that to £1 for a bag of five-ish 'chemical' carrots from a supermarket and you get the idea of how much money you could save by growing your own produce. Plus you can get your goods from pot to plate in mere minutes, and I'd choose a stroll down the garden path over a supermarket aisle any day! Much more relaxing... ;)

Of course it can take a bit of practice and some trial and error to see what grows best for you but it's worth it in the end. Even if you only have a windowsill, you can grow your own lettuce and herbs or how about trying sprouting your own seeds for an ultra nutritious (and similarly wallet friendly!) addition to salads, potatoes, and stir fries?

 

If you have any tips or recommendations of your own to add to this list please get in touch or leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you!

 

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About us:

My name is Sarah and in 2011 my husband Ryan and I decided to buy and re-fit an old motor home - we named it Waki and now live in it full time in the UK!

We live neither on or off-grid, rather somewhere in between, and are not the first and I dare say not the last to choose this way of life... read more>> 

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