The statistics around food have been pretty frightening of late. Consider that 18 million tonnes of the stuff ends up in landfills each year and around a third of what we produce in the UK is wasted. Meanwhile, the obesity crisis is worsening, with 41 million children under the age of five worldwide obese or overweight. While all this makes for glum reading, an ever-increasing brigade of trail-blazing chefs, restaurants and producers are setting out to change things, helping us to be mindful of the consequences of our food habits – both on ourselves and the planet. From cracking down on waste to employing sustainable working practices and harnessing the power of food for social good, these pioneers are paving the way for a whole new way of thinking about food – and serving up some seriously tasty grub in the process.
Eco-chef Tom Hunt is leading the charge in the world of sustainable eating. He’s the founder of Forgotten Feast, a roaming restaurant that uses only unwanted produce, and works closely with campaigning groups such as Fareshare and Foodcycle. His Bristol restaurant Poco has just seen a second branch open in East London, both of which serve incredible small plates inspired by Tom’s own ‘root-to-fruit’ seasonal philosophy. We can’t wait to see what this chef does next.
The Kindling Trust
Based in Manchester, this social enterprise is involved with several projects that promote sustainable food production. For example, they founded Manchester Veg People, a co-operative of local organic growers, buyers and workers. By bringing them together, the trust hopes to make the small-scale production of organic food a viable livelihood for the growers.
As founder of somerset’s Free-Range Dairy, farmer Neil Darwent is on a mission to make us think about how our milk is made. He’s pioneering a movement to encourage milk production from free-range cows, and lobbying for clearer labelling, fair prices for farmers and much more.
The aerobic composter (Bertha for short) out the back is the first clue that Silo is not your average restaurant. The team at this Brighton eatery use pioneering techniques to radically minimise waste, with very tasty results.Excess milk from the coffee machine is made into ricotta, the flour for homemade sourdough is milled on site and even the plates are made from recycled plastic bags. This is groundbreaking stuff.
Seasonality and local produce come first at this restaurant in a walled Victorian garden in the Mendips, just outside Bristol. The abundance that’s picked from the garden in summer and autumn is cured, pickled or fermented, to be used during sparser winter months, resulting in some thoughtful and creative cooking that’s winning fans nationwide.
The Ethical Shellfish Company
If anywhere could inspire an awestruck respect for the environment, it’s the windswept landscape on the Isle of Mull. So it’s no wonder this principle is at the heart of Guy Grieve’s Ethical Shellfish Company, which supplies hand-dived scallops to the country’s top restaurants. Divers use measures to ensure they only pick fully grown scallops, and gather them to order, minimising waste and protecting the fragile marine environment.
Better Health Bakery
Artisan bakeries are popping up everywhere,
so it’s becoming easier to get your hands on a decent loaf. The hand-crafted sourdough from Better Health Bakery in London’s Haggerston is an excellent example – but in addition to producing amazing bread, this place is also a social enterprise, running trainee placements for those recovering from mental health illnesses, who may otherwise feel distanced from the workforce. betterhealthbakery.org.uk
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