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Locally grown & organically produced in Amsterdam

Locally grown & organically produced in Amsterdam

This is Andres, founder of roots, rice & beans, farming the future by enabling circular farming models. In other words,  bringing the carbon accumulated in the air back to the soil to regenerate agriculture.

During our webinar on the 9th of December 2020 on the topic of organic, locally grown food we learned more about how we can give back to nature by regenerating farm land, where to shop organic produce in Amsterdam and how to best cope with a crisis like Covid-19.

When there was a 150 kg produce of mushroom that nobody could use, Andres took action and turned it into a ragout that is now being sold at the Little Plant Pantry.

Vegan mushroom ragout

Read the full interview and know more about locally grown & organically produced fruits & vegetables in Amsterdam:

Q: How can we regenerate soil organically ?

A: Regenerating soil is actually very easy.

When you plant something in the ground, that specific plant needs specific nutrients. What we do is that with the following crop add back those nutrients that were absorbed by the previous plants. For this reason, the soil is always in perfect balance.

A balanced soil is a mixture of well-balanced minerals, high organic matter, humus, humic, fulvic and carbonic acids, good aeration and bountiful soil life. Not just extracting but actually bringing back nutrients to the soil in a natural way.

What is healthy soil ?

A: Healthy soil is difficult to measure and describe, but to know if we have a healthy soil, we need to understand organic matter. The addition and accumulation, enhanced nutrient cycling with fewer nutrient losses from soil. As a result, we need to increase soil microbial community function, formation of soil aggregates (larger pieces of soil) and large soil pores, and decrease its compaction.

You can achieve this with conservation practices including

  • + conservation tillage (reduced tillage or no-till)
  • + reducing soil compaction by minimizing passes over a field
  • + extending rotations by growing a variety of crops
  • + planting cover crops between growing seasons
  • + growing perennial vegetation and mulching

Sometimes it is difficult to implement, but a combination of these conservation practices can help increase a soil's health.

Q: How can you increase a soil’s health in your local neighbourhood ?

A: Soil supplies nutrients and water, which are vital for plants, and are home to organisms that interact with plants, for better or worse. In the natural environment, plants form relationships with soil microbes to obtain water, nutrients and protection against some pathogens. In return, the plants provide food.

In short, regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm.

Q: Where can I find organic local vegetables in Amsterdam ?

There are plenty of options when it comes to finding organic local vegetables in Amsterdam. In order to support farmers and therefore regenerate soil, you can visit local markets like Noorder Market or Haarlemmerplein Market or support community supported agriculture like:

Check it out and help to regenerate agriculture hand in hand with farmers.

Q: How can we make the most out of a crisis like Covid-19 ?

A: This time is a call for us to open our eyes and realize that the system that society has created needs to be adjusted. We need to understand that not everything is available all year around and that by supporting local farmers. Therefore, it is importat to adjust to natural cycles. There are seasons and within this season specific crops grow. If you would like to eat something from off season you need to preserve it and consume it whenever you feel like it. .

Fortunately people are being more conscious about this topics and want to make a change but unfortunately they don't know where or how. This is why Roots Rice and Beans was born. In order to give you the option to eat as seasonal local and sustainable as possible. By buying our products you support small farms that implement regenerative agricultural methods.

Click here to know more about their products:

Andres Jara organic Amsterdam

Q: How can you measure the impact of locally grown food ?

A: Your food travels less because almost all our ingredients are from the Netherlands. The ingredients from out of the country are European (oil, salt,etc). Batches are smaller so we do our products paying attention to the whole production, plus we don't add any preservative or artificial conservants to our products.

In order for you to enjoying a great meal with a low Carbon footprint and that are sustainably sourced, we do the most difficult job. Now is the time for a change and creating impact. Our focus is on giving you the option to choose a more responsible way of eating. We are out there, we just need to meet! :).

What else is there to say from our side ?  Andres you are a hero and we are excited to follow your journey on further expanding your locally grown & organically produced products in Amsterdam.

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What is Organic Hyper-Artisanal Pasta?

Everyone loves pasta! Especially organic Italian pasta that, above all, is made in a hyper-artisanal way. But what does that mean exactly?

For Federico & Christina, pasta is an agricultural product that reflects a way of living. According to them, the mode of its production tells a much bigger story. During our webinar they explained how they started UnEttaro and what they mean when they talk about food created in a hyper-artisanal way. Unettaro is their small family farm in Italy that produces a micro harvest of durum wheat, Saragolla Turchesco, and the highest quality of pasta every year. This ancient unhybridized wheat is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides on their one hectare of land.

Craving pasta already? Check out their products here:

At Little Plant Pantry, we had the pleasure of interviewing Christina & Federico to learn more about the origins of their farm and products. Read the full Q & A to know more about how organic hyper-artisanal pasta is planted, grown, produced, and sold to stores like ours.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of producing pasta?

F & C: Four years ago, we decided to start cultivating one hectare of abandoned land next to our house in the hills of Offagna in Italy. We wanted to prove the value behind a small piece of land and produce our own food from it.

So we decided to grow wheat and transform it into pasta. We were not expert farmers or pasta makers. But we were, and still are, curious about the food that we eat. We thought that the best way to discover pasta was to make our own. This was the beginning of UnEttaro.

Q: Why is organic pasta important?

F & C: Pasta is a very simple product. It is only made with two ingredients: wheat and water. So if there are any chemicals used to grow wheat, they will automatically end up in the finished product, the pasta we eat. For us, it was crucial to make a pure product that will not be harmful to the body and to the soil. Not only do we refuse to use chemicals but we also allow our field to rest after each harvest. Thus, the soil has the time to regenerate.

Eating organic pasta is not only good for our body, but also for the environment. Organic agriculture starts from the idea that we are all part of the same ecosystem. Therefore, every action we take towards the environment will have a direct consequence for us and for all the other parts of the system. Polluting the soil is like polluting the mother that feeds you. It’s crazy, but that seems to be a widely adopted practice presently.

Our goal is to fight that, one hectare at a time.

Q: How does artisanal pasta make a difference to a healthy diet?

First of all, what does artisanal pasta mean?

We asked Federico and Christina to describe their production process and have summarized the artisanal pasta making practice in these three points:

  1. Slow drying process: 72-96 hours (depending on the type of pasta). What artisanal pasta makers dry in 3 days, the industrial process speeds up to 3 hours.
  2. Low drying temperature: under 50 degrees in rooms with natural air flow. The industrial production process implies drying pasta over 100 degrees under industrial fans. The high drying temperature leads to the destruction of nutrients in the final product.
  3. Extrusion of the dough through bronze dies.

And why is organic pasta good for a healthy diet?

  1. Better raw materials. Adopting the artisanal procedure means that you must use good quality, high-protein wheat, otherwise the pasta will not keep its shape and will fall apart. In other words, because this pasta isn’t highly processed, you can’t hide the defects of raw materials. The industrial process allows companies to use low quality wheat that can be made into any shape under high temperatures. But this comes at a cost.
  2. Pasta is easier to digest. Starch doesn’t crystallize during the drying process as it happens during the industrial production. Hence, artisanal pasta is much easier to digest.
  3. Richer in nutrients. The delicate transformation process preserves the nutrients contained in the wheat, such as Lysine, an amino acid that is good for our diet.
  4. Tasty and always “al dente”. The slow transformation process and low temperature preserve the natural taste and aroma of wheat. The pasta can be cooked  “al dente” and eaten with nothing more than good olive oil.

Q: What's the connection between delicious organic pasta and sustainable agriculture?

F & C: In its essence, pasta is an agricultural product. And it has memory. At each stage of its transformation from the seed to a cooked dish, every person in the chain gives a new interpretation to what has been done before.

Naturally, the quality creation starts in the field. Like good wine and cheese, pasta also carries the signature of its makers. As consumers, we should be aware of how, where and when it was made and by whom.

But good quality durum wheat isn’t enough alone to make a good pasta. It is the responsibility of all the transformers (the miller, the pasta maker, the chef) to protect the work done by the farmer and express its maximum potential in their respective craft.

Therefore, we believe that only by recognizing the crucial role of the farmer, we’ll be able to achieve a virtuous model. A model that is sustainable for the environment and for all those who play a part in the quality production chain.

In conclusion, only if consumers are truly aware of the whole production chain, they will be able to fully experience the joy of a delicious pasta dish.

We hope you got a glance into sustainable agriculture practices and will be able to appreciate the full value of Christina & Federico's amazing pasta. Now that you know more about how and why they produce their organic hyper-artisanal pasta on their micro farm in Italy, you can try their products and see if you can tell the difference for yourself!