Monday, 16 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Days XIV & XV

On Sunday Lucy finally made it! In 15 days she's cycled 900 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats - one corner of Britain to the other! It was a tough journey but she arrived at the finish line in glorious sunshine with some (well-deserved) sparkling wine close at hand.

John  O'Groats - The Finish Line!

Lucy would like to thank everyone that supported her through the journey and donated to her cause. Remember, everything she raises goes to FareShare North West, which helps those in food poverty by diverting perfectly edible food away from the waste chain. And the story's not over yet - Lucy and EMERGE are planning various events over the next few months to raise further money for FareShare. Please continue your support here and watch this space!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day XIII

Only 120 miles to go now! Lucy and co did a 50 mile leg yesterday - less than usual - in order to get a bit of rest before the final push this weekend. Unfortunately, Inverness YHA didn't turn out to be the most restful place; a host of teens were also calling it home for the night. Oh dear!

Lucy is going onwards and North Eastwards to Helmsdale today before finally reaching John O'Groats tomorrow, so tomorrow's blog will be the last in the series (sob!). I'm hoping to put up a fancy map to show you just how far Lucy has gone in support of FareShare.

On to today's topic- how to feed a human population that is growing like a colony of particularly frisky rabbits. Try this fact for size: by 2050 we'll have around 2 billion extra humans to feed. Scary, huh? We'll have less available land to grow food on as well, and farming itself could get more difficult with that big elephant in the room, climate change, having an increasingly noticeable impact as the century progresses. Funnily enough (you have to laugh to stop from crying), there's not much being done to address the problem at the moment. With that in mind, perhaps it would be better to compare humans with lemmings rather than rabbits.

So what can we do? As the article linked above admits, it will take more than just technological innovation and more efficient farming practices to improve the situation. One of the biggest issues is trying to increase food production without causing further damage to the environment. That means choosing what we eat more carefully. The easiest change we can make now is buying local. It makes complete sense: reduce your environmental impact, support your local farmer and local economy, increase the nation's self-sufficiency. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is currently asking for people to take the 30:30 Pledge by sourcing 30% of your food from within 30 miles of where you live. That sounds like a good way to start! Watch this space.

It's not too late to support Lucy and FareShare North West! Please donate here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Friday, 13 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day XII

Yesterday Lucy and co reached the Scottish Highlands after a 74 mile slog. She spent the night at Newtonmore with the knowledge that she's only got a couple of days left on the trip! Her legs must surely be looking forward to a nice sit down!

There's still time to support Lucy! She's putting in an absolutely amazing amount of effort so let's see her home with a final fundraising push! If you haven't donated already, please please please do so now. FareShare North West and EMERGE thank you!

Now, on to our food-related subject for the day. According to reports, it seems that food waste isn't just a behaviour issue, it's also an appetite issue. Apparently, the wet weather is putting us off traditional Summer foods, leaving fruits and salads alone and wilting on supermarket shelves. Farmers are losing out, with many under threat of going out of business, and lots of Summery food is going to waste! Come on guys, let's forget about the weather and eat those lovely strawberries anyway! They taste just as good!

Once again, it's not too late to support Lucy and FareShare North West! Please donate here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day XI

Yesterday's leg of  the trip took Lucy to Comrie Croft in Perthshire. She's now only got around 250 miles to go!

Now Lucy's deep into Scotland it's a perfect time to mention an inspirational little girl from Argyll who started blogging about her school lunches, bringing a local council to its knees and making a ridiculous amount of money for a food poverty charity in the process!

Martha Payne, 9, was so unsatisfied with her school lunches that she started a blog called NeverSeconds, taking a photo of each meal and providing the vital statistics for readers, including mouthful count, health rating and number of hairs. The meals were less than appetising at times and Martha won support from fellow school lunch revolutionary Jamie Oliver and her school agreed to provide unlimited fruit and veg at lunchtimes. The local council even had the audacity to ban this 9 year old girl from taking pictures of her lunches but were then forced to back down due to Martha's overwhelming fanbase.

Martha still blogs and other children from all over the world are sending her pictures of their school lunches with their very own stats and scores. It's a wonderful, funny read and the best bit is she's raising money for the international food poverty charity Mary's Meals. With all her press attention and public support, so far she's raised over £100,000!!! You can help her too by clicking here.

PS- One of Lucy's cycling partners, Carol Bradshaw, is celebrating her birthday today! Happy Birthday Carol! She's raising money for Simply Cycling and Francis House Children's Hospice, so take a look at her own blog here.

It's not too late to support Lucy and FareShare North West! Please donate here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day X

Lucy has now cycled 640 miles so she's over two thirds of the way to John O'Groats! Yesterday she cycled from Dumfries & Galloway to Lanarkshire in Central Scootland and unfortunately the weather has been horrible. While we've all barricaded ourselves inside against the wrath of constant rain over the past few days, Lucy has been struggling through it. This is perhaps a good time to thank The North Face store at the Trafford Centre for sorting Lucy out with a  nice waterproof cycling jacket for the trip! But how is this terrible weather affecting UK farming? Potatoes, carrots and apples aren't so lucky - waterproof jackets only come in certain sizes.

The recent relentless rain will spark fear into farmers across the land because it means more bad harvests. Recently, Jersey Royal potato growers have announced this to be the worst growing season in 20 years, with one farmer admitting that his last good crop was way back in 2008. Despite more being planted, the weather means that there will be thousands of tonnes of potatoes missing on the market this year. The rain has also affected fruit crops, with the moisture overload causing soft fruits to split, risking outbreaks of disease.

This is bad for the economy but also for UK food security. We currently import around 40% of our food and the constant bad weather is making farmers think twice about growing a wide range of crops, which means risking even more dependence on importing fruits and vegetables. For example, when farmers can't provide supermarkets with their full quota due to poor harvests, it's them that take the hit as they are forced to purchase the shortfall. This leads to many considering growing less perishable and more secure crops in bulk- such as winter wheat. You can't blame farmers for changing what they grow in order to put food on the table for their families... but nobody's winning if all we can put on the table each day is Weetabix. Let's give our farmers support and help make the UK more self-sufficient by making sure we buy British fruit and veg whenever possible!

"Mooooooake sure you buy local!"

Please continue to support Lucy and FareShare North West by donating here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day IX

Day 9 saw Lucy cross the border into bonnie Scotland after a wee 70 miles of cycling from Kendal. She's now covered over 500 miles and is still going strong!

Before we kick on with more food-related news, it's time to say some thank you's to those who made Lucy's adventure possible on two wheels.

BikeRight! helped Lucy with her bike and the route plans for the cycle. They're a thriving cycle training company based in Manchester. Every year they train around 20,000 people to cycle in variety of environments. They are also currently offering free adult training sessions (worth £60) which aim to help people to get on the road and deal with traffic. If you're thinking of cycling to work but are worried about dealing with busy roads, look no further! BikeRight! also run sessions in Merseyside and Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Simply Cycling is a Manchester charity and cycling club which aims to make cycling an accessible and enjoyable activity for those with disabilities. They have over 170 specially-adapted bikes - the most extensive fleet in the country. They were the first club with a focus on cyclists with disabilities to gain British Cycling's Go-Ride accreditation and have received a Community MBE from The Queen in recognition of their good work.

Team Glow is a Mancester-based cycling network for women offering weekly graded rides and charitable cycling tours. Cyclists from Team Glow make up Lucy's other team members on the LEJOG trip and they are raising money for Simply Cycling! You can support them here.

Thanks very much guys!

Please continue to support Lucy and FareShare North West by donating here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Monday, 9 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day VIII

Like any good Sunday, Day 8 saw Lucy take a day of rest in Kendal in glorious weather. She definitely deserves it, and what better place to relax than the Lake District!

Here's Lucy on the left (not sure if that's a grimace of effort or a smile...)

While Lucy takes some time to chill out, let's take some time to revisit why Lucy went on her cycle in the first place. FareShare North West bucks the trend of our wasteful society by redistributing food rejected by the food industry to those in need of a good meal. So far FareShare NW has provided over 2 million meals to 60 local organisations, supporting around 2000 people.

Charitable food redistribution is becoming more and more recognised as a vital part of the food waste chain in the UK. The role is summed up perfectly in this article in The Guardian by food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart:

"Food redistribution is one of the best win-win solutions for food waste avoidance. Food companies can often save money by donating food rather than paying the £80 or so per tonne in landfill tax and disposal costs. Charities such as FareShare redistribute industry surpluses to organisations around the country, helping to feed the 5.6 million people in this country who don't have access to a decent diet."

A recent DEFRA meeting incorporating major UK retailers and food charities took place to discuss opportunities to improve the redistribution of surplus food from supermarkets, with FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell admitting that FareShare's efforts are still being hampered by a lack of food donations. You can read the full article about these talks here.

Please continue to support Lucy and FareShare North West by donating here. There are also long-term PR packages available to corporate sponsors, so get in touch with Lucy at

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day VII

Yesterday Lucy cycled a ridiculous 81 miles, meaning she's now over half way there! Day 7 saw Lucy cycle from Warrington to Kendal, passing Manchester along the way. Both Lucy and EMERGE are proud to call Manchester their home. It's a city with a wonderful history of innovation and leadership during the Industrial Revolution and is surely set to be one of the UK's leading 'green lights' (works on two levels, brownie points for me!) in the future.

Manchester is a hotbed of all sorts of green events and groups, and a particularly good one is coming up in the very near future. Envirolution is a Manchester-based community cooperative which aims to "create a catalyst for environmental and social change". Their free annual event will take place on 21st July at Platt Fields Park in Manchester, and it's a must for all you Manchester-based readers! Have a look at their video from last year's event:

This year there'll be stalls from lots of different organisations, including Greenpeace UK, Feeding Manchester and Stitched Up. And of course, EMERGE will be there too! It's free to attend and will be great fun, so we hope to see you there!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day VI

Yesterday Lucy rode nearly 80 miles from Shrewsbury to Warrington, the biggest day so far! Oh, how your legs must hurt Lucy! She looks pretty happy here though, doesn't she?

Anyway, we've spoken a lot about farms in the last few posts and it seems fitting to mention what could potentially be a major change for the UK farming industry in the near future: Super Farms. Now I know that sounds really cool and of course your mind is already filling with images of caped dairy cows and vegetables that bring about world peace, but in reality super farms are quite different. 

The UK farming industry is in a spot of bother because, in case you haven't noticed, we now have over 60 million people living on our small island, with less and less space left to farm on. To keep food prices stable and levels of production in line with our population, National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall recently stated we need to move away from traditional animal farming and into super massive animal farming. The average cattle farm in the UK has between 100 and 150 cattle, whereas in the US - where super farms are commonplace - thousands of cattle can be found on a single farm. It would definitely help drive food prices down... but is it right?

There's a whole host of environmental issues to consider. Having thousands of animals together in one area causes huge water and land pollution problems, how would local ecosystems cope? What happens to the small-hold local farmer? Is that job going out the window? And what about animal welfare? Being pressed into a small place with thousands of others is no way to live, be you human, cow or pig. What do you think?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day V

Lucy is now a third of the way into her epic cycle across Britain, having pumped her legs up and down 300 miles of the beautiful South West region.

On Day 4 Lucy cycled past Bristol, often regarded as one of the UK's greenest cities, and one particular event that took place there last month is worthy of a mention.

In May, FareShare South West and friends helped host a terrific 'Feeding The 5000' event. Using perfectly edible fresh food that would otherwise be wastefully thrown away, they managed to provide 4,187 people with a delicious free lunch in just 4 hours! Hundreds of volunteers - including celebrity chefs like Tom Herbert from the Fabulous Baker Brothers - worked together to show that veggies rejected for being wonky or too small taste just as good as the ones seen fit to grace our supermarket shelves. Yes, you did read that correctly: many vegetables are wasted because they are too wonky. Seriously.

The event was a huge success. Turns out you don't have to be The Messiah to make food out of nothing!

You can learn more about the whole event here. FareShare North West are also currently planning to host a Feeding the 5000 event in Manchester in September; so watch this space Mancunians!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day IV

Today Lucy cycled 65 miles through Somerset to Gloucestershire and has now clocked up a whopping 240 miles in just 4 days! She's been through some fantastic countryside along the way, passing farm after farm - a fitting route to raise money for a food-related cause. Lucy even saw a sign advertising pig racing! It's almost like a different world out there - here we were thinking pigs were reared purely to feed us and it turns out they also make great athletes.

This piglet is quite literally bringing home the bacon. (picture courtesy of

It's all too easy to become out of touch with 'the real world' of food beyond the confines of a modern city like Manchester. Nowadays you can go into the local supermarket and pick up a bag of potatoes without giving any thought to where they came from, how they got there or how you even grow a potato in the first place. Another thing that always amazes me is that there are city slickers out there (we all know one or two) who love meat but go pale at the thought of animals being slaughtered for said meat.

It's far too easy to be ignorant of the story behind your food and it's a dangerous thing to take for granted. Next time you're in the supermarket buying some sausages, take a moment to think about where they came from. And how many racing medals the donor won.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Lucy's Big Ride, Day III

Today Lucy cycled from beautiful Devon to luverrrly Somerrrset.

As well as the charming country bumpkin accents and delicious cider, the South West is well known for its farming, with food production playing a vital role in the local economy. Lucy herself actually has family connections in the industry at Charlton Musgrove. For 300 years or so the Kimbers have called the lush pastures of Blackmore Vale their home. One of the products they sell is 'Welfare Friendly Veal'.

Blackmore Vale, courtesy of Marilyn Peddle

This, like the fishy goings on we mentioned yesterday, is quite a contentious issue in the food waste arena. Many people are still blissfully unaware (myself included until recently!) that male dairy calves are often shot at birth in the UK due to being unwanted; with the female calves being kept and raised as milking cows. As well as being very inhumane, this is a big environmental issue. A large amount of resources go towards the growing of the calves, only for everything to be wasted at birth. The Kimbers are part of a gradually growing network of farms that rear male calves humanely and slaughter them for rose veal, i.e. making good use of good food.

To learn more about this topic, have a gander here. The Kimbers also have an online shop, so take a peek!

PS- Due to technical issues, we're still without a photo of Lucy on her journey... but watch this space!

Lucy's Big Ride, Day II

Morning all! Were you tired and achey yesterday after a long day at the office? Have sympathy for Lucy, who, only the second day into her 15 day cycle for FareShare North West, yesterday completed one of the longest legs of the trip - talk about a baptism of fire! Over the beautiful Cornwall and Devon countryside she went, covering a whopping 70 miles and climbing a full 6000 feet! Unfortunately, with her along the way was the Great British Summer weather... lashing rain from start to finish. Typical.

As Lucy passes through Devon, we should take some time out to mention a recent major food waste win that has some of its roots sown in the rich Devonshire turf. A couple of weeks ago Europe decided to stop the fishing industry's terribly wasteful practice of killing and then discarding more than one million perfectly edible fish at sea every year just to meet EU quotas and maximise profits. With more and more mouths to feed and various fish species swimming closer and closer to extinction, this is a vital environmental victory; not least for Devon-based TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose Fish Fight campaign provided - and still provides - much of the necessary PR pressure.

PS. We'll have some action shots of Lucy on her bike for you tomorrow!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

And She's Off!

This year's Summer is set to be a great season for sport. Wimbledon is now in full flow, London is making its final adjustments for next month's Olympics and just this evening Spain have won another jewell in their glittering football crown.

But we’ve missed someone out in that list. A true hero from our very own Manchester has just entered the 2012 sporting arena. Lucy Danger has today set off on her epic 900 mile cycle - from Land’s End in Cornwall to John  O’Groats in the far reaches of Scotland - in aid of FareShare Manchester.

Having beaten off a cold with a pointy stick just last week, a determined Lucy today pushed off with lovely weather greeting her in Cornwall. Over the next 14 days we’ll be giving you a daily update of Lucy’s whereabouts, energy levels and thoughts. We’ll also be giving you a few local environmental stories from the regions she passes through.

You can support Lucy here. Every penny goes towards moving good food away from the rubbish bin and into hungry mouths. A very worthwhile cause!