Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

It's time for garden vegetable patches to undergo a revival amid fears over the rising cost of food and global warming, according to experts.

Researchers from have revealed eight reasons Brits should consider starting a veg patch in their backyard today, just like their grandparents generation used to.

As food prices rise and environmental concerns increase, experts are calling for the humble garden vegetable patch to make a swift comeback.

Outdoor specialists have called for their return, revealing eight reasons Brits should summon the World War One spirit and start their own veg patch today.

Garden vegetable patches were a cheap and easy source of food for grandparents’ generations, particularly in times of crisis.

Now with food prices skyrocketing, experts say they are the perfect way to reduce the cost of weekly supermarket shops for British families.

The team have repurposed Lord Kitchener’s 1914 call to arms and encouraged households to wield their garden spades in support of sustainable food.

Straightforward to set up and an interesting outdoor hobby once established, a backyard veg plot could also lead to healthier diets in UK homes.

Researchers have additionally claimed that organising a source of fresh vegetables in the garden may reduce green-fingered Brits’ carbon footprint.

A spokesman from said: “Glorious garden vegetable patches seem to have gone out of fashion in recent decades, but there are so many reasons they should be making a comeback as soon as possible.

Grow your own is a cheap, convenient, healthy and environmentally friendly way to feed the family, so we are calling for UK households to get on board with our campaign to remind Brits that your vegetables need you!”

Here is the list of eight reasons to start a garden vegetable patch:

  1. Straightforward set up - It’s so simple, quick, easy and cheap to get a veg patch up and running. All you need to do is set aside a plot of land in the backyard and get your hands on some basic gardening tools.
  2. Low-cost food - Seeds are inexpensive, finding a little spare time shouldn’t be too costly and even some additional water or nutrients shouldn’t break the bank – in return the household gets fed many times over.
  3. Environmentally friendly - Getting vegetables flown in from around the world is a completely unnecessary use of air miles and truck transportation. Why pump all those harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere if it can be grown at the bottom of the garden instead?
  4. Healthy diet - Having a ready supply of fresh vegetables at the bottom of the garden should encourage all the family to cook fresh dishes from scratch more often and get their five-a-day in more regularly - consuming more veg means meals that are lower in calories and higher in nutrition.
  5. Tastier meals - Having a garden veg patch opens up the possibilities for a wider variety of meals in the kitchen, thanks to the flexibility that comes from having a range of fresh, healthy and tasty produce available without hassle of having to go to the shops.
  6. Reassuring ingredients - If you’ve planted, nurtured and picked your own ingredients, then you can obviously trace their sustainable source and be sure of their organic and vegan credentials. Home grown veg means no artificial additives, preservatives or pesticides and encourages a reductions in food waste and inefficiency.
  7. Natural entertainment - Modern families that struggle to get the children away from their screens may be thankful for the introduction of a way to reconnect with nature, whilst a veg patch can also provide less tech-addicted adults with an interesting new outdoor hobby to pursue.
  8. Lower shopping bills - Every portion you pluck from your garden is something that can be crossed off your shopping list before you even get to the supermarket, so that means taking a lesser hit in the pocket at the checkouts every week.


On a crisp evening on the 30th January, the Jamaica High Commission in London was the venue of choice for the launch of an exciting new range of products from Marshall & Brown.

In the presence of His Excellency Seth George Ramocan, CD, High Commissioner for Jamaica, the Honourable Attorney General of Jamaica, Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, JP, MP, and Deputy High Commissioner for Jamaica Mrs Angela Rose Howell, guests were treated not only to an evening of delights for the eyes, ears and tastebuds, but to the wonderful story of the creation of the Marshall & Brown brand.

Developed by Dr Carlton Brown, a 1st generation British-Jamaican with a love of Caribbean food and his wife Marvely, the inspiration for this premium range of authentic Jamaican foods and beverages came from his ninety-five year old mother and late mother in law, who were both excellent cooks.

After hearing from Dr Brown, and Laurence Jones, the European Regional Manager for JAMPRO, as well as H.E. George Ramocan and an impromtu message from the Attorney General, the attendees were treated to a range of beautiful savoury and dessert canapes created using Marshall & Brown products, including coconut and chilli prawns, ackee and saltfish on sweet potato cakes, and a selection of their amazing rum cakes and chocolates.

The rum cakes are the most moist, light and fluffy cakes that The Phoenix Newspaper office has ever seen, and they went within minutes of them getting to the break room. Absolutely divine.

H.E. Seth George Ramocan said in his opening remarks, “Dr Brown has an insatiable love for Jamaica, and especially in its food! Marshall & Brown has been able to take it from intial engagement with JAMPRO and the High Commission to this launch in a short time. “I implore you to share this brand far and wide.”

It was wonderful to see not only Dr Brown and his wife at the launch, but that his 95 year old mother was also able to attend, and even got up to dance as the music took her!

“I am feeling overwhelmingly proud and happy that this is a product range than spans generations. We also want to see this range in Jamaica, not just created there and exported!” said The Honourable Attorney General of Jamaica, Marlene Malahoo Forte.

Remember the name, Marshall and Brown, Purveyors of Fine Jamaican Fayre, you’ll be missing out if you don’t!

Acclaimed Muir of Ord bakery and café, Bad Girl Bakery, has expanded into Inverness city centre by Eastgate Shopping Centre with the launch of the Cake & Coffee Caravan.

The Cake & Coffee Caravan will serve coffees and hot chocolates alongside a range of the bakery's cakes and gourmet doughnuts in Falcon Square. The selection will change daily to make the most of seasonal ingredients and unusual flavour combinations but flavours like crème brûlée doughnuts; cherry cheesecake brownies; vanilla caramel fudge cupcakes filled with caramel and topped with Orkney Fudge; and apple cinnamon doughnuts; all sold out within a few hours of opening on the days when the caravan was tested.

Jeni Hardie, owner of Bad Girl Bakery said:

“The response to the trial weekend of the Cake & Coffee Caravan has been phenomenal. We sold out around 400 cakes by lunchtime each day so we know there's an appetite for our produce in Inverness! We're really enjoying meeting fellow cake fans and are looking forward to a busy few months.”

The sleek, retro-style aluminium caravan was built to order and will be based in Falcon Square from 10am to 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays into the spring.

Bad Girl Bakery opened its bakery and café in Muir of Ord in 2017 and has since built a reputation for its outstanding cakes and customer service. In October, the bakery won the Business Growth category in the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards.

Award-winning, fine dining Indian restaurant, Pushkar, is taking on the vegan diet (Veganuary) for this month only.


On through to January 31, there will be a limited edition vegan menu, bringing an exciting fresh and flavoursome interpretation to veganism with Head Chef at the multi-award winning eatery on Birmingham’s famed Broad Street, Vindod Singh creating a Veganuary menu inspired from his childhood to prove how tasty vegan food can be.

Veganuary has become the latest trend for those who were looking to bring in the New Year with a detox, as supermarkets have revealed an increase in demand for meat and dairy free food.


Celebrities such as five-time Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton and pop singer, Ariana Grande have both converted to the vegan life style as the trend ever grows.

Pushkar are bringing this new trend to the fine dining market, promoting its nutritional benefits.

Several studies have reported that vegan dietstend to provide more fibre, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds.

They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.

Creative Director at Pushkar, Rai Singh, said: "As the New Year approaches, opportunities arise to better yourself and get healthy. By taking part in Veganuary, you will notice the health benefits straight away. Give it a go and see the results!"

2018 will likely be known as the year that veganism turned mainstream as more shoppers continue to adopt vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets.

Waitrose & Partners Fish'less'fingers are made from breaded seaweed tofu, with a crispy coating and subtle fish flavour.

When paired with the Waitrose 1 White Sourdough and the new Vegan Tartar Sauce, the Fish'less'fingers make for the perfect comfort sandwich. Made from silken tofu, gherkins, capers, lemon and parsley - the own brand tartare sauce is perfectly 'creamy', vegan-friendly and another first-to-market.

The appetite for vegan food continues to grow with Waitrose & Partners reporting that sales of its new vegan party food range are up 20% since its launch in October.

Chloe Graves, Chilled Vegan & Vegetarian Buyer at Waitrose & Partners says, “After the successful launch of our new vegan and vegetarian range in October 2018 we've been working to see what other interesting dishes and products we can add to the range. The Fish'less'fingers are a great vegan alternative to a much-loved food which we hope our customers will love.'

Believe the hype because it is here. Fridays all-new meat-free vegan burger – one of the most talked about burgers in the USA last year – has landed in the UK.

The burger answers the prayers of those on a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diet – or simply wanting to cut down on the meat – as it tastes every bit as juicy and flavoursome as the real thing.

Why? Because this is no normal vegan burger. It even ‘bleeds’ like the real thing. But there is nothing to worry about, as this is thanks to beetroot juice. As well as beetroot, the burger is made from coconut oil, mushrooms, herbs, plant proteins, and spices, and is flame-grilled to perfection by Fridays chefs before being served in a 100% vegan bun with lettuce, onion and tomato, as well as a side salad or fries

It also comes at a pretty tasty price – just £10.99 – making it healthier for the wallet too! The burger launches on 7 January, making it the perfect meal for those giving Veganuary a go. It’s addition to the menu now means vegan guests can dive into and enjoy what Fridays is famous for – the juiciest burgers in town. And we challenge anyone to see if they can tell the difference between the meat-free burger and the real thing. Yes, it’s that good!

Terry McDowell, TGI Fridays’ Head Chef said: “Fridays flame-grilled, hand-crafted burgers are one of the most popular dishes on our menu and now everyone can enjoy their legendary taste, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, trying to cut down on meat, or anything in between! We launched our vegan burger in the States last year and have been inundated with messages asking if we planned to bring it to the UK. So, it is here by popular demand!

“We’ve put a lot of research and effort into ensuring we offer the best vegan burger in town, as well as one that comes with a 100% vegan bun. With high protein, zero cholesterol – yet all the flavour of a real burger and with a succulent and satisfying meaty ‘bite’ – the question is, why wouldn’t you give it a go?”

It’s not just the meat free burger Fridays offers – check out the menu online for a whole host of other delicious vegan-friendly dishes.

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a three-year trial with the Small Robot Company to test its revolutionary farmbots at the company's farm in Leckford, Hampshire. The Leckford Estate, which grows produce for Waitrose & Partners including mushrooms, rapeseed, apples and many other products, will see three small robots - Tom, Dick and Harry - learn and test their state-of-the-art farming technology on a one-hectare wheat field.

The field trial will start with a prototype Tom robot, which is fitted with cameras and will get the lay of the land by gathering topographical data. Weighing just ten kilos, the robot is able to move autonomously to obtain a pin-point accurate, plant-by-plant view of the wheat field, leading to higher efficiency.

Through this data collection, the Small Robot Company will develop its machine learning in a variety of scenarios, such as differentiating between weeds and terrain, while building new prototype machines in the process. The trial will also provide the John Lewis Partnership's Room Y innovation team with valuable insight to support innovation at Leckford, and inform how robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used further in other areas of the business.

With farming costs rising by almost 8 per cent year on year, this new technology could help relieve some of the pressure and costs within the agriculture sector, improving yields, reducing the use of chemicals and helping to apply big data in agricultural practices to drive efficiency. This type of innovation has the potential to increase revenues by up to 40 per cent and lowering costs by as much as 60 per cent.

Field robotics: how small robots will evolve to help British farming

The data gathered by the prototype Tom robot will be used to develop an AI system called Wilma, which will eventually guide the three robots to farm autonomously. The trial at the Leckord Estate and other farms will be used to create and test prototype versions of Dick, the precision weeding robot, and Harry, the digital planting robot. Dick will use machine vision to differentiate between weeds and crops, thereby enabling it to kill weeds with lasers. Harry will accurately punch-plant seeds individually in the ground at a uniform depth, creating a plant level map showing the exact location of each seed.

In addition to increased precision, efficiency and productivity, the small robots are expected to deliver considerable environmental benefits. As the robots are much lighter than traditional farming tractors, they reduce the damage caused to soil by current farming practices. The small robots will also be able to take care of every single plant on an individual basis, giving them the perfect level of nutrients and support, with no waste.

Andrew Hoad, Partner & Head of the Leckford Estate, says:

“We are very excited to trial Tom, Dick and Harry at the Leckford Estate. The Waitrose & Partners farm has a long history in producing a wide variety of high quality crops. We work hard to farm in harmony with the environment and our vision for sustainable farming is aligned to what the Small Robot Company is trying to achieve.

“This new technology could be revolutionary for British farming. It is not designed to replace human labour but instead boost productivity and increase accuracy, freeing up the agricultural workforce to focus on other important tasks. We want to be at the forefront of this, and ensure we leave our soils and environment in great shape for future generations.”

Sam Watson Jones, co-founder of Small Robot Company and a fourth generation Shropshire farmer, says:

“We're positively thrilled to have the John Lewis Partnership and Waitrose & Partners farm on board to help us develop our robots. Together, we will be working to reimagine food production. We're on the cusp of a fourth agricultural revolution, taking farming into the digital age: and with British ideas and British technology at the helm. Our Tom, Dick and Harry robots will completely transform what's possible on the farm. We will be able to use gardening tactics such as companion planting, but for broadacre crops. Different crops could be planted alongside each other in the same field, and harvested at different times. It's the ultimate sustainable farming model.”

British potato farmers have been given a helping hand by Tesco after the worst growing conditions since the 1976 drought hampered the growth of this year's crop.

Unseasonably freezing Spring temperatures in parts of Britain followed by the summer drought severely hit potato growers across the country.

For many UK growers it meant a struggle supplying potatoes to supermarkets because of crop specifications set by retailers governing the overall look and quality of fruit and vegetables.

But to help British growers and prevent otherwise perfectly good potatoes from going to waste Tesco widened those specifications to ensure they will still go on sale.

The move has resulted in Tesco, so far, taking an extra 4000 tonnes of potatoes.

And for shoppers it means that a greater variety of different but perfectly good potato sizes will now end up on supermarket shelves across the UK.

Rob Hooper, Tesco's potato expert said:

“We've worked with our potato growers to use as much of the crop and prevent perfectly good spuds from going to waste.

“We want to support our growers wherever we can – and although some potatoes might be smaller and larger they still pack the same great taste our customers expect.

“The situation was so bad in August and September that we had to bring in imports as an emergency measure to make sure we could meet our regular demand.”

Tesco increased the size of baby potatoes by 3mm which allowed its growers to keep these potatoes in the ground longer and get higher yields.

It has decreased the size of other lines by 5mm which has allowed growers to increase their yields of already harvested crops.

The aim of this was to stretch out supplies of British potatoes and avoid the need to import at the end of the season in May and June.

Branston, based in Lincolnshire, are one of the UK's top five potato packers, handling around 350,000 tonnes a year.

Branston Sales and Marketing Director Sharon Affleck said:

“The extreme cold of the Beast from the East delayed planting in the spring, then the extended heat and drought of the summer impacted on crop growth and development.

“Potatoes need a good water supply to help them to grow evenly and bulk up, especially when it's hot.

“This means that the fresh potatoes available to pack are generally smaller, and the shape and skin finish is not as smooth as consumers may be used to.

“Being aware of this, Tesco has worked with their suppliers, who in turn are supporting their growers, to allow a greater flexibility in the specifications of fresh potatoes that are being packed.”

The spec widening is in place until June when the first of the new season's crop comes in.

NFU chief horticulture adviser Lee Abbey said:

“It continues to be critically important that retailers provide flexibility on specifications during difficult growing seasons in order for British farmers to do what they do best – producing food for the nation.

When Tesco signed up to the NFU's Fruit & Veg Pledge in 2017, they committed to a set of principles that are flexible and led by production, including commitments to minimise waste and utilise as much of the crop as possible.

“The 2018 season has been extremely challenging for growers so I am pleased to see Tesco honour its commitments and working with growers to minimise the impacts.”

More than a quarter of a million meals of surplus food are set to be donated to charities and community groups by Tesco this Christmas.

It comes as the supermarket looks to end 2018 with more than 36 million meals given to good causes through its Community Food Connection scheme, which distributes surplus food from its stores at the end of the day in conjunction with leading food charity FareShare.

Festive vegetables are expected to top the donations during the week of Christmas once again this year. Last year Tesco donated more than 14 tonnes of sprouts (around 750,000 individual sprouts in total).

The supermarket also donated 8.7 tonnes of parsnips, 1.7 tonnes of clementines and half a tonne of mince pies in Christmas week last year.

Every one of Tesco's 2,600 stores are able to participate in the scheme, with some 7,000 charities and community groups being supported by the donations.

Tesco's Head of Community, Alec Brown said:

“Christmas is a time of year when people think about others in their community, and our colleagues working in stores across the UK see for themselves the charities and community groups that benefit from the donations.

“These groups support people in need of food throughout the year, and our Tesco food surplus donations really are for life, not just for Christmas.”

One of the groups that benefits from donations as part of the scheme is Look Ahead, a specialist housing association and provider of tailor-made care, support and accommodation services in Newmarket which supports people with a wide range of needs, including mental health issues and homelessness.

Krystle Wade manager at Look Ahead, said:

“Our customers are some of the most vulnerable in society with a range of complex needs.

“The donations from Tesco mean that some people actually eat enough each day, because some people really don't have enough money to feed themselves after paying bills each week. It is a lifeline for many of our service-users.”

Groups that are signed up to the scheme are allocated days to collect food from their local stores. Stores input the details of the food available at the end of the day into an app developed by social enterprise FoodCloud, which generates a text to the charity to tell them what is available.

FareShare chief executive, Lindsay Boswell congratulated the leadership shown by Tesco in tackling food waste from its stores:

“Tesco has really embraced the opportunities available in working with FareShare to provide millions of meals using food that would have otherwise gone to waste; and it is set to have donated an incredible 36 million meals by the end of the year.

“Now FareShare is starting to roll out the technology from FoodCloud that Tesco has pioneered to other retailers, helping us to feed thousands more people in food poverty.”

School meal providers in Sandwell have pledged to go further than the government's School Food Standards.

School meals are already offering children healthier options including more fruit and vegetables, food lower in fat, salt, sugar and healthier drinks. More parents and carers will also be given the opportunity to come to taste school food.

Sandwell’s schools have gone a step further by running healthier cooking classes and creating vegetable gardens to engage children and families. They are also sharing Change 4 Life guidance for healthier packed lunches and working to improve the overall lunchtime experience for children.

Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection said: “It’s imperative that children are given healthy meals while at school and I’m delighted the school meals providers already do that.

“It’s great there are plans for more initiatives in partnership with the council, schools and meal providers. This will make sure not only children, but the whole family will get involved and learn more about healthy eating.”

Sandwell Council is working in collaboration with SIPs, Dolce, Autograph, Chartwells, CMC, AIP and Cityserve who provide meals in schools across the borough.

Councillor Simon Hackett, cabinet member for children’s services said: “These initiatives go much further than just providing a healthy school meal. I hope they will help children and families learn about healthy eating so they can use this knowledge at home.”

With veganism the fastest growing culinary trend of 2018 Tesco has increased its range of plant-based Christmas dinner centre-piece dishes.

In 2018, demand for chilled and frozen vegan food at Tesco has soared by more than 50 per cent, helping to swell the UK meat free market to £310 million.

As a result, Tesco has not only doubled its vegan festive main dish offering but has also now launched its first ever vegan party food lines as well as a Christmas vegan sandwich.

The vegan Christmas centre piece dishes are:

  • finest* Roasted Vegetable Galette which encases roast carrots, parsnip and squash with spiced mulled wine in a black pepper and thyme pastry
  • finest* Cauliflower Wellington which is flavoured with turmeric and covered in a festive spiced sauce and wrapped in golden puff pastry
  • Festive Stuffed Butternut Squash* filled with tangy beetroot and apple and finished with a crunchy pumpkin and sunflower seed topping
  • Festive Nut Roast made with carrots, pecan nuts, peanuts, maple sauce, cranberries and spices in a mulled wine and cranberry sauce

With the festive party season coming up the supermarket is launching finest* Thai Inspired Butternut and Lemongrass Rolls as well as Bubble and Squeak Bites.

Other vegan party food treats will include Moroccan spiced cauliflower, sultana, and harissa rolls, roasted butternut rolls seasoned with spiced pearl barley and herbs, and katsu rolls featuring katsu curry vegetables and a katsu crumb topping.

Tesco's Wicked Kitchen range will also launch a festive vegan sandwich in December – a Bubble and Squeak special featuring spiced potato and veg style fritter with chestnut stuffing, tangy cranberry chutney and crisp red cabbage.

A year ago Tesco appointed chef Derek Sarno as Director of Plant Based Innovation to oversee the creation of its own Wicked Kitchen vegan food label.

Derek said:

“People looking for plant centred options for holiday meals no longer need to worry about being considered an afterthought at the Christmas dinner table or party.

In fact the only thing they'll need to consider is making sure these mouth-watering dishes don't get snatched from under their noses by other guests.

“From party food treats to doubling the amount of veg centre pieces, vegans have never had more choice at Christmas than now, how wicked is that!”

Tesco's Christmas new range follows the successful launches of ground-breaking products by European plant-based food brands Oumph! and Vivera earlier this year.

In September, Wicked Kitchen won PETA's 2018 Vegan Food Award for 'Best Vegan Range'.

More than 2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Tesco Food Collection from Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December, encouraging shoppers to donate long-life foods to The Trussell Trust and to food redistribution charity FareShare.

More than a quarter of the food given out last year by Trussell Trust foodbanks was donated by Tesco customers and the network across the UK is hoping the supermarket's annual collection will provide the food they need to support people in crisis this Christmas.

From Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December more than 2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Tesco Food Collection. The drive encourages shoppers to donate long-life foods to The Trussell Trust and to food redistribution charity FareShare.

The food donated to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust's network is given in emergency food parcels to people referred because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. Donations by Tesco customers are vital to foodbanks across the UK, and a quarter of the donations to foodbanks by Tesco customers will be made in the next three days.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust said:

“This year is set to be the busiest Christmas for foodbanks in our network ever. Foodbanks across the country will be doing all they can to provide the best possible emergency support so people don't go hungry - but to make sure support is there for everyone."

Food donated to FareShare is distributed to charities and community groups who use it to provide meals for vulnerable groups such as isolated older people and those in homeless shelters.

It is the 11th collection to take place, and Tesco is topping up the value of the food donated by the public by 20%, providing additional funds to support the charities in their work this Christmas.

Volunteers will greet customers with a list of items most needed by the charities, with shoppers encouraged to pick up items to donate.

More than 3.34 million meals were donated to the two food charities by generous Tesco customers last year, and the supermarket is hoping that shoppers will be just as generous this time around.

Tesco UK & Ireland CEO Jason Tarry and his counterparts from FareShare and The Trussell Trust are launching the Food Collection on Thursday at Tesco's Surrey Quays Extra store in London.

“Tesco Food Collection is the UK's biggest Christmas food collection, and at Tesco we are glad to be playing our part in helping people in need this Christmas.

“We know that the items that our customers donate can make a real difference to people who really need that little bit of extra help this year - whether it is a food parcel for someone at a time of crisis, or a hot meal which means that a vulnerable person does not feel lonely this Christmas.

“Once again we are topping up all the customer donations by a further 20%, and I'd encourage our customers to put something extra in their baskets to donate.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare said:

“For charities doing their best to feed some of the most vulnerable over the Christmas period, these donations make a huge difference.”

This November saw the launch of the new Waitrose & Partners Christmas advertising campaign, Too Good To Wait, with the first of a series of light-hearted Christmas adverts aired on TV.

The first advert, which aired earlier this month, depicts a Christmas concert where a pianist rushes through a rather speedy rendition of Jingle Bells as quickly as possible after learning that Heston from Waitrose Chocolate and Cherry Mince Pies would be served afterwards.

In light of this, Waitrose & Partners conducted research* into the nation's obsession with mince pies and results proved they really are 'Too Good To Wait' for.

When asked when they usually eat their first mince pie of the season, over one in ten will take their first bite over two months before Christmas Day – with people from Yorkshire being the most likely to eat a mince pie in October and those from Northern Ireland the least likely to tuck into a mince pie early. Over one in five of those surveyed will eat their first mince pie in November, just 4% will manage to hold out until Christmas Eve and only 3% until Christmas Day.

Looking at the amount of mince pies consumed, the average person will have already eaten 11 of the seasonal favourites by Christmas Day, while 18% eat between 11 and 30 and a further 5% have eaten up to 50 of the delicious mincemeat treats. When asked for the reasons behind breaking the tradition of eating a mince pie before Christmas Day, half of those surveyed said they love them and just can't wait, further verifying the nation's love affair with the baked treat.

A third of respondents said they eat them to get into the Christmas spirit, rising to 51% among the younger generation (18 – 24 year olds), and over a quarter take part in Christmas celebrations before Christmas Day.

It appears other festive treats also prove too much of a temptation to hold off from eating, with 25% of us tucking into a selection box of chocolates and 14% of us choosing Christmas pudding.

Tesco and WWF today announced a ground-breaking, long-term partnership2 with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket by 50%, improving the sustainability of food while ensuring it remains affordable for all3.

Food production is at the centre of key environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss, as was clearly set out in WWF's recent Living Planet Report 2018.

Working together, Tesco and WWF want to address these issues, focusing on three key areas of activity:

  • Helping customers eat more sustainable diets;
  • Restoring nature in food production; and
  • Eliminating food and packaging waste from the sector.
The partnership comes as new research by the two organisations reveals that demand for sustainable food is high, with nearly 80% of shoppers wanting supermarkets to do more to offer food that is sourced in a responsible, sustainable way.

However, it also showed there are still obstacles deterring shoppers, with 59% confused about which foods count as 'sustainable' and 75% thinking cost is a barrier.

Dave Lewis, Tesco Group CEO said:

“Our Little Helps Plan illustrates what we are doing to address the most significant environmental and social challenges facing our shoppers, colleagues, suppliers, and communities. I'm pleased we're making progress, but we want to go further to achieve our goal of providing customers with affordable, healthy, sustainable food.

“Partnering with WWF will help us make our customers' shopping baskets more sustainable. Our shared ambition is to reduce the environmental impact of the average shopping basket by half. By working with farmers, suppliers, colleagues and other experts we hope to develop innovative solutions so shoppers can put affordable, tasty food on their plates today, confident they are not compromising the future of food for generations to come.”

Tanya Steele, WWF UK CEO said:

“Our flagship Living Planet Report 2018 recently revealed that the world is under threat like never before – we're destroying forests, choking the oceans with plastic, decimating wildlife and causing devastating changes to our climate. And it's the demand for food that poses one of the biggest dangers to our planet. It's the leading cause of deforestation, destroying countless habitats and threatening wildlife to the point of extinction.

“We have the power to not only stop, but to reverse the damage, if we act now. That is why we are delighted to be partnering with Tesco, to help create a food system that doesn't cost the Earth.”

Building on the findings of the report, the partnership will play an important role in delivering Tesco's existing sustainability commitments set out in its Little Helps Plan. Since publishing the Plan a year ago, Tesco has made significant progress in each of its three key areas: People; Places; and Products.

The BBC Good Food Show returns to the NEC on 29th November for four days of celebrity chef inspiration and Christmas shopping, but there is more to this year’s Show than you might expect.

As well as welcoming fresh celebrity face Prue Leith, James Martin and Paul Hollywood return to the Show. The Big Kitchen will host the return of the Michelin Star Challenge, where Birmingham favourite Glynn Purnell will be taking on rising star Tommy Banks, the youngest ever recipient of a Michelin star, in a competitive cook-off.

Glynn isn’t the only local chef trying out new things at this year’s Show – Jamie Desogus head chef at the highly-rated Harborne Kitchen will be making his debut on the BBC Good Food Stage. Fellow Brummie Brad Carter will be joined on the Winter Kitchen by Melissa Hemsley and Dan Doherty.

This winter’s event will feature experiences from industry experts in two of the most loved tipples, beer and whisky.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will be judging its prestigious Champion Bottled Beer of Britain 2018 competition on the opening day of the Show, as well as hosting tutored beer tasting sessions, and partnering beers with pub snacks.

For lovers of all things scotch, Chivas and The Spirit Lounge are giving visitors the chance to learn about the craftsmanship behind whisky, and create a personal blend in an exclusive masterclass (advance booking essential).

As well as a whole host of new exhibitors, including Noisy Nuts and Don Papa Rum, BBC Good Food Show favourites Fox’s Spices will be returning for their 28th year, whilst cheese experts Lynn Bank Farm and sausage specialist Heck will also be back at the Show.

Glynn Purnell, owner of Michelin starred restaurant Purnell’s, said: “The BBC Good Food Show Winter is such a huge occasion - it’s the biggest food event in the country and it takes place right here in Birmingham. The Show is always good fun; as a chef you get to meet and see other chefs who you might not have seen in a while and mingle with the crowds.

“This year, I’m really looking forward to going head to head with the fantastic Tommy Banks in the ultimate cook off, the Michelin Star Challenge, where the audience get to judge for themselves who wins. Hopefully, being a Brummie through and through, I’ll have home when it comes to the audience votes.”

Stout has become so popular again that it is now the fastest growing beer variety in the UK.

In the last year demand for the strong-tasting black coloured beer has grown by 13 per cent at Tesco – nearly twice the growth of its next rival, lager, as a result of the craft beer boom.

Irish stout, including Guinness, dominated the beer market for well over a century, but towards the end of the 20th century stout saw a decline in popularity because of the arrival of lager.

But small UK craft brewers are now adding the beer to their range and Tesco now stocks 10 different stouts as a result of the current trend.

Last week law firm RPC announced that the number of new trademarks for beer brands rose by 20 per cent in 2017 due to the craft beer boom – up from 1,983 the previous year to 2,372 last year.

Tesco stout buyer Hugo Murray said:

“Stout has become popular again on the back of the growing craft beer boom which has brought about a great appreciation of all the wonderful beers brewed across the British Isles.

“British beer tastes are now wider than they have ever been and as a result brewers are taking notice of the craft beer trend and are starting to add a stout to their beer portfolio.

“In the last five or so years a younger audience of drinkers has emerged who are looking for beers with great character and exceptional flavour to challenge the taste buds – perhaps to have at the dinner table as an accompaniment to food much the same as wine.

“As a direct result of this boom we now stock a mix of 10 different stouts  – including traditional, craft and locally brewed lines - something which would have been unthinkable even just five years ago.”

One brewer who has tapped into the growing demand for stout is Vocation, based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. They recently collaborated with another brewer, Yeastie Boys, to produce a Blueberry and Waffle flavoured stout called Breakfast Club which is stocked by Tesco.

Vocation Managing Director Richard Stenson said:

“For a long time the craft beer market has been all about IPA but we're beginning to see an interest in other styles that have previously been sidelined - none more so than stout.

“With the addition of flavourings like vanilla, butterscotch, blueberries, cherry, chocolate or chilli, stout has got very interesting and is getting the attention of consumers who previously thought it wasn't for them.”