Ben Reynolds is Editor of The Jellied Eel, the quarterly magazine for ethical and sustainable food in London, distributed free of charge to over 80 locations around the city. London Food Link runs a network of organisations and individuals who care about sustainable food. Its members are as diverse as farmers and food writers, caterers and community food projects.
There are many important aspects of sustainable food. But timing is key. Fish currently has momentum, and is near to tipping point on widespread adoption of more sustainable practices around the UK. The need for action is urgent, with stocks of many fish species at an all-time low. The simplicity of the subject means that it is relatively easy to communicate what needs to happen, and for consumers, business and government to take action.
The "what" part is simple – follow what the Sustainable Fish City campaign is calling for. The more difficult bit is "how" – as this will mean many businesses having to ask their suppliers to change the fish they get, or potentially change suppliers. Plenty of businesses have done this already. I would like to see businesses communicating to their customers what they’re serving. Not every business likes to shove sustainability in their customers' faces (even despite customer calls for more information) but there are other ways of publicising good practice – whether it’s on the website, or even on the end of receipts.
The Jellied Eel is proud to back the Sustainable Fish City campaign and focused on the public launch of the campaign in Issue 30 (January 2011). As well as covering the success of the campaign over the coming issues, we have undertaken an exposé of the state of the Capital’s fish sandwiches. We sent out surveyors to ask about the source of fish in their sandwiches. They received the most amazingly unhelpful answers - the fish came "from a packet", "from a tin", and even "from Euston"!
The sandwich is a great leveller, something eaten by everyone and affordable to all. The aims of the campaign to avoid fish that are 'at risk', or go that bit further by actively choosing fish from sustainable sources, are quite achievable through the humble sandwich. We hope that with a little pressure, dodgy fish sandwiches of unknown origin will increasingly become a thing of the past in the Capital.
Sustainable Fish City is a Sustain campaign