"Can food sustainability ever be sexy? What can we do to get the public to think about it in the same way as the war on plastic?"
On 18th June 2019 Women in The Food Industry hosted a supper and panel event at Cookery School at Little Portland Street - London's most Sustainable Cookery School. The panel discussed how could agriculture meet the world's growing need for food while doing less environmental harm, what to do personally and what the panellists are doing in business to reduce food waste, whether the public's definition of sustainability was different to the panellists and what we could do to make "sustainability sexy".
Guests were welcomed with a glass of organic Prosecco Doc to get the evening off to a celebratory start. Mecca Ibrahim co-founder of Women in the Food Industry chaired the panel discussion. But before the discussion got serious, the attendees were treated to two great demonstrations. Firstly Pervin Todiwala - co-founder of Cafe Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen and Mr. Todiwala’s Petiscos gave a very entertaining and informative demonstration. She showed how to make rice (cooked perfectly in an oven) yoghurt curry and vegetable bhajjia made from vegetables which would normally have gone to waste provided by Jess Latchford Director of Waste Knot
This was followed by Rosalind Rathouse (Ros), founder of Cookery School at Little Portland Street and her team - who made asparagus soup, savoury (and sweet) bread and butter pudding all made from "imperfect" asparagus, pullet eggs and cheese which would have been discarded. The "waste food here" came via the help of Amelia Christie-Miller from Foodchain.
More than 40,000 people have passed through Rosalind’s doors, drawn in by the cookery school’s accessible approach to teaching, peerless sustainability credentials - a three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association who also attended the event, and zero-tolerance for pretentious gastro-jargon. Many of its students come in groups from London’s corporate sphere and Rosalind has a reputation for transforming cooking classes into memorable lessons in leadership. It was clear that sustainablity ran through the core of her school with no cling film or single use plastics used in the school for many years.
Ros said "Did you know that 250kg of plastic gets dumped into our oceans every second of every day across the world? That’s a tonne every 4 seconds! Plastics take decades to break down and are having an adverse effect on the food chain.
Single-use plastics have been banned on the whole from our kitchen for years. It takes decades (if ever) to biodegrade and we are well aware plastics from packaging can leach into food, potentially compromising our health".
The panel of women leading the way for sustainability was made up of Ros and Pervin and the following
Alicia Lawson - Commercial Director of Rubies in The Rubble.
Amelia Christie-Miller - The Food Chain (also for providing 'waste' ingredients for our evening, pullet eggs, asparagus and cheese)
Linde Stael - Corporate Social Responsibility and Foundation Manager at Belazu Ingredient Company.
Jess Latchford - Director of Waste Knot. (also for providing 'waste' veggie ingredients for our evening)
Rubies in The Rubble are the first movers in building a food brand in the ‘anti food waste’ space, their range of ketchups, mayo and relishes have won numerous awards and are stocked across the country in stores including Waitrose, Ocado, Sainsburys, EAT, Marriott and Virgin Trains. Often featured on shows like Saturday Kitchen, Alicia was keen to point out their approach had an element of humour - they are not called "condiments with a conscience" for nothing.
Foodchain is a simple idea that’s helping to connect chefs directly with producers, changing the way food buying is done to create a fair, functioning and sustainable food system. They have introduced a directe online ordering system and app - on iOS or Android. The company cuts out the number of unnecessary middlemen in our food system, reducing food miles and giving us greater transparency for where our food comes from. This means farmers, when they have an excess of a certain product, are able to share this quickly with the numerous chefs within Foodchain’s network.
Belazu Ingredient Company sources, produces and supplies authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients in the most responsible way. The company’s CSR program “The Journey Matters” focuses on People, Product and Planet and the company has been zero-waste-to-landfill site since 2013. Last year, Belazu employed Linde Stael, as their first Corporate Social Responsibility manager to focus on, and drive the initiative.
Waste Knot makes the connection between farms with produce with quirks and those wanting to buy and use it. With over 10 years’ experience in the fresh produce industry, supplying directly into all types of catering outlets and working closely with farmers all over the UK, Jess Latchford witnessed the colossal amount of produce being cast aside for the sake of aesthetics alone. With a drive to help stop this ever-growing problem, Waste Knot was born.
It was great to hear the audience's views and pretty much everyone agreed that education was crucial for change and collaboration was needed to power the message home to government and consumers.
Everyone left with goodie bags from Belazu and Rubies in the Rubble and a renewed energy to think how they could spread the word around the many issues surrounding how what we eat and how it is farmed & supplied to us effect the environment. Visit this link to see more photos and insights from the Women in the Food Industry's Sustainable Gastronomy Day Event.