January saw the launch of the Sustainable Fish City campaign, which asks Londoners to take action to save fish stocks. Ben Reynolds finds out what it’s hoping to achieve and who’s backing it.
Henry Dimbleby is one of the co-founders of Leon Restaurants, which has eight outlets around London. The restaurants have a buying policy that takes into account flavour, quality, provenance and sustainability, with a public commitment that states: ‘Any fish that we use is from sustainable shoals’.
In practice, this means that the Leon menu avoids using endangered species of white fish, and features more sustainable species such as mackerel, an oily fish that is also better for health. Like many food outlets and caterers across the city – big and small, selling luxury and everyday foods – it has shown that sustainable fish is achievable and affordable.
Henry is also a founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, which helps other restaurants and caterers to adopt health and sustainability standards. As the association explains, ‘Sustainability is good for business and the planet. Sustainable fish, recycled waste, energy efficiency: it's what more and more customers want’.
Leon is not alone in calling for action. Concern for fish stocks has been rising, with a peak of activity in London last year, off the back of the End of the Line documentary and the Evening Standard’s campaign to get Blue Fin tuna off the menu (though alas, high-end restaurant Nobu is still serving it!). While Jamie Oliver and a platter of other celeb chefs are gearing up to tackle the plight of fish, London has a campaign of its own, aiming to become the first capital to rid itself of unsustainable fish. Sustain’s Kath Dalmeny, who is working on the Sustainable Fish City campaign, explains why this is what London needs right now:
The campaign has a range of high- profile targets against which it will judge its success, and aims for all London councils to serve sustainable fish.
At its launch in January, the campaign already had a number of influential supporters including the National Trust, Sodexo, Greenwich University, The School of Oriental and African Studies, Goldsmiths University, Imperial University and the Greater London Authority family (Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade and Transport for London), as well as a veritable shoal of smaller food companies and individual supporters.
The Jellied Eel is backing its call for common sense and we implore you to join this vital campaign in whatever way you can (see below), whether you’re a punter, company food buyer, or work for an organisation that caters for meetings or events. We’re kicking off in this issue by looking at the state of the city’s sandwiches, and will be keeping you up to speed on the campaign as it progresses.
Want to find out how to do this? Go to www.sustainablefishcity.net
Old favourite: Haddock
Alternatives: Coley – often sold as saithe
Alternatives: MSC-certified haddock from Scotland or Norway
Old favourite: Cod
Alternatives: Line-caught pollack from Cornwall
Alternatives: MSC-certified Alaskan Pollock
Alternatives: MSC-certified cod from the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans
Old favourite: Plaice
Alternatives: Flounder, dab or lemon sole – caught by otter trawl or seine net
Alternatives: MSC-certified plaice
Alternatives: MSC-certified Dover sole
Old favourite: Skate
Alternatives: Starry, spotted and cuckoo rays
Old favourite: Halibut
Alternatives: Red, grey or tub gurnard
Alternatives: MSC-certified Pacific halibut
Building on London's Fairtrade Foundations
Kelly Parsons talks to campaigners, café owners, caterers, councillors and even a visiting Kenyan tea grower, about their experiences of Fairtrade food in the city.
How ethical is your detox?
Michael Dees investigates the sustainability, and science, behind our annual January ‘cleanse’
Taking away health inequality
London may be one of the world’s leading foodie destinations, but behind the façade, various projects are working hard to tackle food access problems that still blight the city.
Flounder and chips (40)
The butcher’s banger (39)
Thin end of the veg? (39)
The Hunger Game (38)