founder of daylesford organic
What sparked your passion for healthy food and living?
I’ve always believed in eating to be healthy – enjoying simple, seasonal food that nurtures the mind and the body. For me this means eating organic.
I became interested in organic farming around 40 years ago, when we were living and farming in Staffordshire. I was in the garden with my daughter Alice one day and noticed that my freshly planted roses were beginning to wilt. It turned out the farmers were spraying Roundup on the fields and the toxins had been carried through the air and affected the roses. As a new mother I was horrified.
Then a little later I was at an agricultural show and walked in to The Soil Association’s tent. I met the most inspiring man and ended up talking to him about organic farming for 1½ hours. It was a real light-bulb moment and that night I said to my husband: we can’t carry on farming as we are.
What do you believe are the cornerstones of a healthy, balanced diet?
For me, a healthy, balanced diet is about local, seasonal and sustainable food – free from chemicals and pesticides; nothing processed and nothing artificial. What I don’t agree with is food that is labelled organic but has been picked at the wrong time of year and flown into a supermarket from 3000 miles away.
What I don’t agree with is food that is labelled organic but has been picked at the wrong time of year and flown into a supermarket from 3000 miles away.
Do you follow any specific way of eating?
I don’t believe in faddy diets but I do try and follow an alkaline way of eating: lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses, which keep you healthy, energised and well balanced. I eat organic meat once or twice a week, lots of fish and also enjoy the odd glass of wine and square of dark chocolate.
What foods or groups of foods (if any) do you avoid?
Anything processed, artificial and containing refined sugar. I also avoid anything that doesn’t look like real food. My view is that if you can’t identify the ingredients then you shouldn’t be eating it.
I avoid anything that doesn’t look like real food… if you can’t identify the ingredients then you shouldn’t be eating it.
Are you a breakfast ‘lover’? If so, what is your ideal way to start the day?
I always start the day off with a hot water and lemon, followed by a green juice and usually avocado on rye bread.
What supplements do you take, if any?
I take Omega 3 and 6 and also magnesium, but for me, food is the best medicine and I try to get all my vitamins and minerals from eating well.
Food is the best medicine; I try to get all my vitamins and minerals from eating well.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for people looking to kick-start a healthier diet?
My advice would be to buy fresh, seasonal, local food, and if possible, buy organic. This needn’t mean a complete overhaul of your shopping habits – you can start by substituting a few items in your normal shopping bag for organic, and eating a little less (but better quality) meat. A few more organic vegetables and pulses will make a noticeable difference – not just to your health but also to farming, biodiversity and the environment.
How do you stay on track when you travel?
Travel is an important part of my life and so it’s essential for me to stay on track and keep hydrated, gets lots of sleep and eat healthily. I always try to stick to foods that are local to the country that I’m in – be it lentils in India or prosciutto in Italy.
Tell us about how your interest in leading a healthier lifestyle crosses over into other parts of your life?
I’ve always believed that what goes on your body is as important as what you put inside it, which is why we launched our own collection of natural, organic Bamford bath and body products. The same goes for your home: conventional cleaning products are highly toxic and not only bad for your health but extremely damaging for the environment. Our Daylesford home cleaning products are made from entirely natural, environmentally-kind ingredients and are one of our best-selling ranges in store.
What do you believe is the best way to instill a love of healthy food in children?
I think that one of the best ways to get children interested in healthy food is to involve them in the growing process. I love planting seeds with my grandchildren and for us to walk around the kitchen garden watching everything grow. I don’t think I’ve met a child who would refuse fresh peas from the pod or freshly-picked Alpine strawberries.
I think that one of the best ways to get children interested in healthy food is to involve them in the growing process. I love planting seeds with my grandchildren and for us to walk around the kitchen garden watching everything grow.
Do you have any advice on ways to hide healthy food in meals that your child would otherwise refuse to eat?
Soups and smoothies are a good way of getting children to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, but I also think food education is key: children are more likely to eat unfamiliar food if they know where it’s come from, so we always talk about food as a family and try out lots of different things together.
How do you navigate children’s birthday parties? Do you relax the rules or do you have a go-to list of healthy alternatives that you whip up or purchase?
I love Donna Hay’s approach to children’s parties, which is good old-fashioned, home-made party food like organic mini sausages, fish goujons dipped in Daylesford ketchup and home-made potato wedges. I try to balance this out with a healthy selection of crudités, gluten-free brownies, fruit jelly and fresh fruit sticks.
What is your go-to meal when you’ve had a busy day but still want to prepare something wholesome quickly?
Seasonal soups and home-made bone broth, which is low in sugar, high in good fats and proteins and a great, sustainable way to use up the bones of an animal.
Which ingredient was your greatest discovery and how did it transform your cooking?
Turmeric is an ingredient that I find myself using more and more – it’s packed with antioxidants, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is a good source of iron, B6 and potassium. It’s great added to salad dressings and vegetable dishes.
Fresh ginger is another ingredient I always like to have to hand. It’s good for digestion and something I enjoy throughout the day with hot water and lemon.