Meal. It’s an area of our lives where small changes in our behavior can make a massive difference to climate change. Food and the farming system behind it are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Restaurants in the UK produce nearly 200,000 tonnes of food waste each year, costing the food industry £682m a year. In addition, livestock farming accounts for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
But now a wave of truly radical London restaurants are helping the industry take big strides towards being green while still producing incredible food. Veganism has only grown stronger in the city over the years. The focus is on supply chains from farm to fork and recipes from food waste. And this stuff is by no means a hippie fad. It’s here to stay. Here are six things we can learn from these industry leaders.
1. Tpoints out that the floor is really important
Iconic Milanese pasta restaurant forgiveness has this status for a reason – and not just because of its food. Its founders run a regenerative agriculture project outside of Milan. His focus? Floor. The team plants a variety of grains and seeds that help pump nutrients back into the soil. Non-invasive techniques such as Composting and the use of low or direct tillage practices also minimize soil disturbance.
“Farmers are the gatekeepers of the health of our soils: the most important foundation of a healthy agricultural ecosystem,” says Alberto Cartasegna, Founder and CEO of Miscusi. “Good soil health practices can really help fight climate change from the ground up.”
Miscusi opens his first restaurant outside of Italy in December, right here in Covent Garden. All dishes contain seasonal ingredients, grown using organic farming techniques and are created with a nutritionist to reduce the carbon footprint of food so they can help them reduce the impact of carbon emissions, water and biodiversity for to keep track of all the ingredients. The restaurant will also be pioneering by launching an industry-first loyalty program that rewards diners for choosing food that’s more environmentally friendly. As if we needed another reason to eat good pasta.
23 Slingsby Place in The Yards, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB
Photo: Edward Howell Photography
2. ESeasonal food is the way to go
New restaurant warehouse will be big — a whopping 2,000 square feet — but also big on sustainability. The plan is to offer seasonal food while supporting local suppliers. “If a menu stays the same year-round, it’s not sustainable because you’re only mass-producing certain ingredients and not using fresh, local produce,” explains Executive Chef Brendan Eades, who previously led the kitchen at the pioneering zero-waste Restaurant Silo. “Our menu will follow the seasons. It needs flexibility. One week I see what’s available from my grocers and the next week they’re gone.” The restaurant’s sustainability efforts extend beyond the food: natural materials and reclaimed furniture are used throughout for the interior design. “If we don’t change now, there will be no future,” adds Eades. “That’s really what it boils down to, because the industry as it is is not sustainable. Change is urgent and must come from everyone.”
6 Langley Street, WC2H 9JA
3. It’s time to start foraging
You can let off steam Indigenous. Not in some frenzied three-day-bender sort of way, but in relation to what you eat. Founders Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis have created a restaurant that celebrates wild, foraged food, with hyper-local British seasonal and sustainable cuisine at its heart. They incorporate game, unorthodox meat and fish dishes such as fallow deer shank and Cornish hake, as well as carefully selected herbs, plants and vegetables into their dishes. Best to order? The Chefs’ Wasting Snacks, a selection of nibbles such as hen of the wild mushroom with aquafaba smoke emulsion or pumpkin, chermoula and tamari seeds, made with ingredients that would otherwise be destined for the top. A voluntary donation of £1 will also be added to each bill to Farms for City Children, a charity that enables children from underprivileged inner-city communities to experience life on the farm and in the countryside.
Bachstr. 39, W1K 4JE
Photo: Justin De Souza
4. YYou should probably find out how your fish is caught
Hackney Fishmonger fin and flounder is one of the few companies leading a change in the fishing industry. Rather than being farmed and imported, it opts for fish caught on small boats and coastal vessels. These use equipment such as creels, traps and gillnets that have a much lower environmental impact compared to commercial fishing methods such as bottom trawling, where nets are dragged along and destroying the seabed. No wonder this family run business has become one of the most trusted wholesale fish suppliers to some of London’s finest restaurants including Bright, Rochelle Canteen and The Clove Club. “As a rough guide to sustainable fish buying, always shop locally, seasonally and eat less large, predatory fish,” said Mike Harrison, general manager of Fin and Flounder. “Shellfish (clams, mussels, hand-dipped scallops, pot crabs and lobster) are a very sustainable option given their abundance and position in the food chain. Avoid imported fish and try some of the less appreciated species such as plaice, flounder, spider crab or whiting.’ If you want a good catch of the day, cooked fresh in front of you, go to Bar Flounderthe fishmonger’s new fish stall netil marketjust around the corner from his shop.
71 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Photo: Petersham Nurseries
5. Composting is cool
You’re not just an Instagrammer honey trap, Petersham Nurseries is in harmony with nature and treats it with the utmost respect. Founded by Gael and Francesco Boglione, it has long been a champion of organic farming. The on-site vegetable garden and nursery grow the ingredients chemical-free and source the produce directly from the owners’ family farm in Devon. Slow Food is the game’s goal, with chefs sticking strictly to seasonal vegetables and fruit transported as short as possible (to reduce the energy needed to get them to the table). Sustainability informs every aspect of the flagship Richmond restaurant: from the catering supplies to the uniform, everything has been chosen for its environmental credentials. “The kitchen uses parchment paper from sustainable forests that is 100 percent compostable and recyclable, and chef jackets are made from recycled bottles,” says managing director Lara Boglione. “Our vegetable preparation, coffee and tea waste is added to our in-house compost. This is used in all nurseries and vegetable gardens and helps us grow the wonderful flowers in our cut garden.’
Church Lane, Petersham Road, Church Lane TW10 7AB
Photo: Hill & Szrok
6. IIf you want to make meat, do it the old-fashioned way
during the day Hill & Szrok is a small butcher’s shop that specializes in slaughtering small animals and whole bodies. At night, it’s a neighborhood eatery that uses local and seasonal produce, doesn’t take reservations, and has a large communal table where the chefs serve leftover meat from the day’s trade until it’s gone. This place is no ordinary butcher, it takes its sourcing policy and traceability seriously. It no longer buys animals from slaughterhouses, favoring local producers, making sure they’re paid fairly and putting animal welfare first. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel. We’re going back to earlier times by taking away options and only selling what’s available,” explains Luca Mathiszig-Lee, co-founder of Hill & Szrok. ‘[We’ve gone] from having everything the customer wants until now no longer having what the customer wants. It’s a risk and we’re more expensive than our competitors, but it’s important to store seasonally to avoid food waste.”
While some people argue that giving up meat and fish is the only way to eat sustainably, Mathiszig-Lee believes there is a middle ground. “People come to us because of what we stand for and what we do. We’ve actually had people who haven’t eaten meat in five years,” he adds. “I don’t tell people ‘don’t be vegan or vegetarian,’ but if you’re not aware of where the food comes from, then you’re no different than someone who eats meat.” Keep an eye out for more from Hill & Szrok, as it’s opening a second location on Newington Green in November called Stella’s (named after Mathiszig-Lee’s dog), which will have a food stall and bar element.
60 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
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