THE ADVENTUROUS PATH .... CONTINUED

 

In November last year, we were fortunate enough to hear from the amazing Tania Noakes who approached us with one of the craziest of challenges we had heard of yet. Tania had a mission to complete the “Norge På Langs” which is roughly translated from Norwegian as “Norway from end to end”. The journey is approximately 2500km extending from Lindesnes the most southerly tip of Norway to Nordkapp in the extreme north and Tania wanted to be the first British woman to complete it solo in a single winter.

We were so intrigued to hear what makes someone want to undertake such a feat?  (Part 1 here) However, now Tania is back with the mission conquered! After taking some time to truly reflect and narrow such a vast trip into a few paragraphs. Here is little flavour of Tania's tale.

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Sitting in the sunshine outside my apartment in Chamonix feels a world away from the endless snowy landscapes I journeyed through this winter.  I can stretch out my legs and wriggle my toes; savouring the suns warmth on my skin and the return of summers freedom.  My dream to journey on skis from one end of Norway to the other, to experience “Norge på langs” has become real.  What was intense and vivid for a time now settles into memory and I can feel the seductive pull of sadness at something once lived that begins to recede with the passage of time.

But when I close my eyes, I can return to a world of frost lined eyelashes and cold burning cheeks; where I’m wrapped up tight against the fierce cold and skiing alone from dawn to dusk.  At times I battled fierce winds, deep snow and fatigue, at others navigated in poor visibility to reach the next shelter before darkness fell.  I still remember the feeling of my chest so tight with emotion that it leaked out in humble, happy tears; grateful simply for being alive and able to experience such a magical journey.  Although I was alone with my thoughts I never felt lonely, and despite being unsure as to whether I would ever reach my goal I was content to be on the right path. 

My head and heart remain full of unforgettable moments.  Arctic sunrises painted sparingly from a winter pallet, acres of untouched shimmering snow, mountains extending endlessly to the horizon, the sound of my skis sliding beneath me, softly shattering the surface frost, the northern lights shimmering and dancing to an alien music, the rhythmical squeak of my pole tips as I kick and glide along forest tracks, pine branches cloaked and bowed with snow, vast frozen lakes and sinuous turquoise rivers,  the feathered imprint of outstretched wings from a bird landing, days lived in black and white under foreboding overcast skies,  flat two dimensional light playing tricks on my eyes, a white deeper and brighter than all other colours, skies that come alive with sunlight from an over-saturated blue sky…  

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It took me 82 days and 2533km to ski from Lindesnes to Nordkapp along a route that weaved through some of the most remote mountains and valleys of Norway.  Every day brought some unique new experience or encounter and taken as a whole the journey is one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences of my life.  When I set out from Lindesnes lighthouse, despite my planning and preparation I was far from certain that I would ever reach my destination.  There was no way of knowing in advance what the winter season would bring in terms of snow and weather conditions.  Though I felt physically prepared, I knew that even a small injury could prevent me from continuing.  I focused on making the best decisions from moment to moment, concerning my capacities and the prevailing conditions. My strategy was to travel as far as I could when the weather was good and be prepared to take a rest day in poor conditions.  More than any other time in my life I was able to live one day at a time and I was rewarded with the simple satisfaction brought by living wholly in the present.

When I look back on my journey I feel fortunate in many ways.  I am fortunate to live in a time and place where taking on such a challenge is possible, fortunate to have the strength and skills to make it happen.  I am grateful to the companies who were inspired by my project, added fire to my enthusiasm and supported me materially. 

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I also recognise that this winter had near perfect conditions for such a traverse.  Compared to recent years there was more snow, particularly in the south and early on in the season.  More importantly the temperatures stayed consistently cold, preserving the condition of the snow through to early April.  Over the course of my journey I had to ski across hundreds of frozen lakes and yet I rarely had concerns about breaking through the ice because it was so cold.  For a solo skier this had the potential to be a serious risk.

This winter Norway was battered by remarkably few westerly storm systems and as a result I rarely had to face storm force winds.  The prevailing air system stayed largely from the east (Siberia), which was why there was such a prolonged period of low temperatures.

I was able to start skiing on the third day of my journey and stayed on skis all the way to Nordkapp.  Of the 2533km I only had to walk about 2%.  For the most part the snow conditions allowed steady progress, despite tiring trail breaking.  Snow can be impossibly difficult to make progress through, under certain conditions, as I found out north of Abisko.  But despite minor setbacks and frustrations there was always another way through, and with the help of friends and a positive attitude I was always able to find it. 

Perhaps it is unsurprising that I should arrive at the end of such a journey feeling somewhat philosophical.  In the constant clamour of day to day life we don’t always have time and space for much reflection.  One thing I take pride in is that despite many hours alone, at times in difficult and uncertain conditions I was always able to focus on something positive, and I honestly say that I enjoyed the lows as well as the highs.  

Since returning from Norway the breathing space that I created in my life so that it could happen has disappeared.  Like a fragile bubble that has burst, collapsing that precious space and returning the reactive struggle of daily life.  But those moments of clear contentment out on my skis in Norway have ossified into something firm and solid inside; a determination to fight to keep things simple; to be clear about my priorities and keep space for them, accepting that the remaining decorations of life will fall as they may.

I would like to thank Fori for their enthusiasm and support for my adventure.  I hope that reading a little about my experiences will help inspire you to make the time and space to make your dream project happen too.  Happy adventuring! Tania

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If you would like to see a record of my journey then I posted a photograph and short piece of text each day on Instagram.  https://www.instagram.com/tania.noakes/?hl=fr

 

WHOLE30

 

What is it? Who's behind it? Is it for us? Just a few of the questions we have about the Whole 30 Programme a phenomenon that is sweeping across the US and looks set to hit the UK in 2018.

A huge advocate for Whole 30 in the UK, is the tireless; Aly Harwood, A.K.A. @whole30ukchallenge so we thought we would pick her brains.

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We feel tired just reading about Aly's normal week. It is a combination of running from Waterloo to work 4 mornings a week, 2 or 3 land training sessions for rowing (the dreaded ergs and core sessions), 1 horse riding lesson and then 4 hours rowing on the Thames each Saturday and Sunday! And if that wasn't enough also working a full time job ... and cooking (almost) everything from scratch!

"It's a little manic! I love it and I do not want to change how active my life is, but I need to fuel it with a diet that keeps me going".

So how did Aly adopt the Whole30 programme?

18 months ago, Aly's eczema was driving her mad and it got to the stage where she was having restless nights sleep due to it waking her up during the night. Aly was fed up of the doctor prescribing steroid creams and tablets which worked whilst using them, but as soon as the course finished, would just lead to her skin flaring up again. Aly therefore, thought a trip to the dermatologist was the only option and this led to her looking into her lifestyle and diet and whether this was having an impact on her skin. As a result, Aly started eliminating certain foods out of her diet, which after some research came across the Whole30 eating programme. And when we say programme, we really do mean programme and not a diet, as Aly says -

"Note: I always use the phrase eating plan NOT diet - this plan is not designed for weight loss which the word diet is associated with. It is working out what foods work for you and ensuring you have a healthy relationship with food".

What are the basic rules of the whole30 programme?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) you are unable to consume during the programme. These are seen to have a potential negative impact on your health and fitness. In theory, the Whole30 Program has been devised to eliminate these food groups from your diet for 30 days to see what effect this has on your body.

So,

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form
  • Do not eat grains
  • Do not eat legumes
  • Do not eat dairy
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
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So essentially, Aly (self quoted) became a cavemen. It wasn't all easy though.

"It took me a while to work out how much I needed to eat to get enough energy. 4 days into round 1, I came up in a red, lumpy rash and on day 10 I nearly threw up on the tube! The detox for my body was intense! I didn't realise just how much sugar I consumed and my body was not happy about me going cold turkey. However, by day 30 I was sleeping so well, my skin was clear and smooth, I had plenty of energy, I had lost some weight and I was loving experimenting in the kitchen to develop new compliant meals. For me dairy is a no-go".

18 months later, how is Aly getting on?

I have completed another round of the Whole30 plan but my training has increased, so I need a lot more calories! I'm a sucker for a challenge; I have signed up for a 100km ultra challenge and the Great North Run. Fruit and nut bars are great but just not enough to get me through, this is where FORI bars stepped up. They fill me up and now i'm hooked. 20g of protein and it's not a boring chicken breast, or several boiled eggs. They're quick, easy, guilt-free and everything I need in a bar.

To follow Aly on her journey check out: @whole30ukchallenge, good luck keeping up! 

 

 

 

Love British Food

 

Backing British was never a question for us. It was a necessity, that we would use 100% British meat within our products from farmers we knew and trusted.

Next time you pick-up a meat snack, check the ingredients list and see if you can find the country of origin for the meat. You'll be surprised how few actually use British meat. Imported meat may be cheaper but it comes at an added cost to the environment and more often than not, animal welfare.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Therefore we hope that by raising the standards, eventually the rest of the market will follow. So when we discovered Love British Food we knew that this was an initiative we must be involved with to help spread our message further.

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Love British Food is the leading promoter of buying British,  highlighting the importance of buying local.

We are currently at a time where the importance of backing British farming and eating British food is more important than ever.

Teaming up with Love British Food is something that we are incredibly excited about and we can’t wait to get involved with projects throughout the year, particularly our first British Food Fortnight.

Make sure to check us out on their website and social media channels soon and see how you can use the power of our wallet to make a difference and buy British. #LoveBritishFood.

 

THE IMPOSSIBLE VEGAN

 

To kick-off March, Laura takes a look back at Veganuary and debates how feasible it is for anyone to live a vegan lifestyle.

Every year we are bombarded with new fad diets, and to kick of 2018 we’ve seen the rise of Veganuary, a month where people around the world choose to undertake a vegan lifestyle.  However, just how achievable is a vegan lifestyle?

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Technically anyone who chooses to abstain from eating and using animal products is vegan but some vegans do choose to go the extra lengths to avoid using anything associated with the use of animals. The truth is, it’s virtually impossible to be 100% vegan and live a life that doesn’t involve the use of animal by products. The fact is, almost everything, contains animal products. The rubber soles of your trainers, the steel within your car and even the photo paper you printed your holiday snaps on all contain animal products.

When farmers and others within the meat industry tell you that every part of the animal is utilised they really aren’t lying. The meat is the most obvious by product of animals accounting for approximately 51%  of a cows carcass with the remaining 49% forming a use in our day to day life.  

Shampoos, soaps, cosmetics and even pain relief contain animal by products, from fatty acids, collagen, keratin, lactose, lanolin and even musk.  The dining room table and chairs you sit and eat from will contain animal by products in the glue. The strings on a tennis racket or a musical instrument, plastic or animal gut? Both contain animal by products.

Your car contains animal products? Surprise! Animal fat is used in the production of steel and to vulcanise rubber. Antifreeze also contains animal fats, as does hydraulic brake fluid! Bricks, plaster, home insulation materials and cement mix can also contain animal fats, which make them last longer.

The unlimited use of the animals carcass is amazing.  There is nothing wrong with the choice people make whether to abstain from eating meat or whether you choose to devour a roast dinner every night of the week!  But it really does pose the question, can you ever really be vegan?

 
 

Meet Mr Average

 

Our mission is to fuel the "outsiders" and that's not just those people rowing the Atlantic or skiing across the Arctic. It's people who inspire others to get out of their comfort zone to where the magic happens. Self-titled Average Geoff is one such person. Discover what motivates Geoff to motivate others via his rapidly growing social profile.

I've been asked on several occasions if I’ve always been fit and crazy (I think in my case the two go hand in hand). The honest answer is no!

I was not a very active child or teenager. I’ve messed about with fitness for most of my adult life but never really focused on anything until about 6 years ago. Like many others, I had a realisation that despite lifting some barbells and drinking protein shakes I was far from being fit. I couldn’t run a 5k, I would be nearly dying after any sort of sprint and my ability to move my own bodyweight was nearly non-existent!

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I decided I wanted something different. I wanted functional strength, to be a role model for my son....and to look good with my T-shirt off. Finding the balance of family life, fitness and full-time shift work hasn’t been easy. After 6 years of successes and a lot of lessons, here I am.

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made and what I’ve accomplished and my social media presence is my way of motivating and inspiring others to find their balance. So get up, get out and get it done.

 

More Than A Meat Bar

 

To mark World Innovation Day I thought I'd trawl the archives. In the hope that I could inspire you to take a leap of faith.

Dreams are the most profound when they seem the most crazy. Co-incidentally, I was told I was crazy, when I first met with the head of innovation at the Food Centre Wales in 2014. With no knowledge of food production, I was convinced there was an opportunity for an ambient meat bar. I refer to it as the naively optimistic years!

The interview in the short edit below was filmed back in 2015. I was on the verge of launching a Kickstarter campaign for an idea called Fori. One thing that still rings true, three years later, is the ambition to be more than a meat snack, to kick start a revolution. A movement towards snacking on real food and away from sugar laden treats we're misled to believing are healthy.

A revolution never dies.

Through thick and thin, our mission is the one thing that drives our business forward. I can't wait to reveal what we have in store for 2018. This revolution is only just getting started.

Into the void

Carl.

 

 

 

 

IT ALL STARTS WITH CHICKEN DINNERS

 

When young gymnast, Ben Goodall got in touch to thank us for developing Fori, we were intrigued to know more. In just 19 years Ben has grasped more about nutrition than many manage in a lifetime. Here's, Ben's story about how he got in control of his diet and his journey to represent team GB.

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OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

With obesity statistics and "overweight Britain" appearing in headline news most days, there is a constant reminder to shape up our diets and move to living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, on the other hand with social media dominating most of our lives, young millennials are facing increasing pressure to have a perfect body.

Ben was a 15 year old, trying to juggle friends, GCSE revision and devoting 90% of his time to gymnastics. As with most 15 years olds, Ben was poorly informed about nutrition and adopted a typical Western diet, which unfortunately led to bloating and gut issues. Combined with the pressures of stereo-typical images, Ben felt insecure and developed body issues, eventually becoming clinically underweight. Unaware of the impact Ben, went to the British Championships which sadly finished in a disaster.

"I was unable to complete any of my routines and missed out on the finals"

Left very disheartened, he sat down with his National Coach to hear the words -

"You need to eat more chicken dinners"

Of course, this wasn't easy for Ben to hear, but it was the light bulb moment Ben needed. Ben realised he wasn't treating his body the way it deserved and nourishing it with the right nutrients needed to preform gymnastics to this level. Therefore, Ben got back to a healthy body weight and went back to the British championships the following year to prove to himself he could do it and not only did he prove to himself, he also tumbled his way to a silver medal in the 2015 British championships.

ONE STEP FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK

Even though Ben had overcome his nutrition problems, injuries sometimes are inevitable. The stress of training for bigger moves left Ben struggling with his spine and was unable to compete for the whole of 2016 and losing his spot on the British team. Ben was gutted, but true to his spirit he stayed upbeat and wouldn't let his injury define him, he would come back and this time stronger.

Ben did just that, securing his place back in the British 2017 championships coming home with another silver. This meant he could now finally go to the World's in Bulgaria, in which he did earning himself a PB and 8th place!

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REFLECTIONS

Learning 1

"Sorting out my nutrition was one of the most important steps in getting me to where I am today; it boosted my performance and helped me recover from my injury"

Now that Ben understands the importance of nutrition and furthering his knowledge on what diet is optimal for him, Ben has decided to adopt a Paleo inspired diet. However, one problem Ben faces on a daily basis is trying to maintain good nutrition whilst being on the go.

"Portable, clean, tasty and ambient nutrition is hard to find"

As even though Ben is a fan of sardines, they are not the most convenient and very smelly to take on a plane. Therefore, this quest led Ben to our bars which is music to our ears as our one mission when creating Fori was to make the ultimate snack without compromise.

Learning 2

"Life is not a journey that happens to you, you have to get out there! Play an active role in shaping the way you want your life to be. Take the bad with the good and keep going. But most importantly have fun and enjoy it"

The admiration we have for this young Foriger is up there and it has been a pleasure to help him on his quest to eat clean and punch above his weight!

#DEVOUR&CONQUER

 

What does it all mean?

 

Cheap meat often comes at a price. Paid for by the farmers, processors, animals and ultimately the environment.  To help you navigate the landscape (and following on from our journal; How to buy the best meat) our resident agricultural expert, Laura, has taken a look at the claims found on packaged meat and reveals what they all mean.

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Organic

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Organic agriculture is about a way of farming that pays close attention to nature. It means fewer chemicals on the land such as artificial fertilisers and the absence of veterinary medicines such as antibiotics in rearing livestock and the avoidance of genetic modification. Organic farming can also offer benefits for animal welfare, as animals are required to be kept in more natural conditions. 

  • Organic farms don’t use chemical fertilisers or pesticides and the routine use of antibiotics is not permitted, organic systems also dictate that the animals must have access to the outdoors for the majority of their lives.
  • Organic standards are defined by law, and farmers and processors must be certified by an approved organisation, the most renowned is the Soil Association. The Soil Association organic logo appears on approximately 80% of organic food produced in UK

Free-range

Free-range allows for chickens, pigs and most recently cattle to be outside for at least part of their lives.

  • Free- range poultry must meet legal requirements. The RSPCA states that chickens must have a defined amount of space (no more than 13 birds a square metre), be 56 days old before they are slaughtered and have continuous daytime access to open-air runs, with vegetation, for at least half their lifetime.
  • A varied environment allows the animals to exhibit more of their natural behaviours.
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Grass fed

Grass fed focuses on the traditional practice of grazing cattle and sheep on grassland as opposed to what is perceived as a more intensive practice of indoor fattening on grains.

  • In the UK, the words grass fed can be used to describe food from animals that have spent the majority of their time eating grass.
  • If you are seeking meat from animals solely fed on grass and forage crops then look for the Pasture-Fed Livestock Logo. It is a farmer-led organisation that promotes the health, welfare and environmental benefits of raising cattle and sheep exclusively on grass and forage crops.

RED TRACTOR

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Britain's largest food label, the Red Tractor, guarantees that products featuring the Union Jack attached to the Red Tractor logo have been born, raised, slaughtered, grown, prepared and packaged entirely within the UK and in accordance with their strict standards. They beleive all animals should have the following:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain the animals' full health and vigour.

  • Freedom from discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

  • Freedom to express normal behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.

  • Freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and care which avoid mental suffering

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RSPCA ASSURED

RSPCA Assured is an independent certification by the RSPCA, unlike other labelling schemes they are independent from both the food and farming industries.

  • Their vision is for all animals to have a good life and to be treated with compassion and respect and as such are acknowledged as a higher-level scheme by the UK government.
  • RSPCA go above and beyond the standards of free range but don’t replicate all of the standards laid out within organic certification.

The simplest thing you can do to help raise animal welfare standards is to vote with your wallet. Whenever possible choose the highest standard you can afford. Finally, watch out for the meat in your meals when eating out. Don't be afraid to ask where it comes from and do your research if eating any meat-based product. As a bare minimum, always look for the Red Tractor logo.

 

A Lidl Adventure

 

We're here to disrupt, to change a market and save you from crap snacks. So when the grocery giant Lidl, said they were interested in stocking Fori we jumped at the chance!

For the next month, our superior sustenance will be stocked in 350 Lidl stores nationwide. Meaning you can pick up and stock up, during your weekly shop.

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Of course, it's not conventional for a start-up food brand to launch with Lidl. But we're not a conventional start-up. We want to influence change, and arguably, Lidl has done this more than any other grocery retailer in the UK! So we're grateful to Lidl for the opportunity, to lead the charge and make snacking better for everyone.

 

Lessons learned and future plans

 

Reflecting back on 2017 has been cathartic. Those victories that we overlooked amidst the mania of running a food start-up soon add up.

80k Fori bars were consumed, we exhibited at 6 major trade shows in 3 countries, won 4 awards for innovation and increased our small but perfectly formed team by 50% (from 2 to 3!).

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We're not a conventional food start-up, but that suits us. Because we're not a conventional product nor do we have realistic expectations (self-imposed). We have a long-term vision and we know it's not going to be easy but we laid great foundations in 2017.

Did we get close to our forecasts? NO! Do we know a lot more than we did 12 months ago? YES! Success can be measured in many ways. We know, one day, we will hit that forecast but for now, we're learning, evolving and grafting.

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2017 taught us some valuable lessons, that can only be gained through experience and being in the midst of a food start-up. Our experiences were from the sublime to the ridiculous. Seeing the bars in Whole Foods for the first time, recruiting a small but awesome team and receiving emails from people who've used our bars to fuel their adventures are just a few of the things to make us feel really proud. As for the ridiculous, witnessing a person washdown protein powder with Redbull at BodyPower or being asked for £10k+ listing fees / marketing contributions makes you realise the challenge we face. 

For us, 2018 is all about evolution. We want to disrupt, to change the snacking landscape for the better and for the future. Starting next week, we will be one step closer, to our vision of making superior sustenance convenient and affordable when our bars become available in Nisa and Lidl. Then in early Spring we will be launching several new flavours and formats which will really shake things up. Please, keep in touch and join us for the ride, it's going to be one hell of an adventure!