From 2010 to 2013, London Food Link’s Ethical Eats team helped businesses identify practical steps towards becoming more sustainable, to share their experiences of doing so, and to promote their good work.
It also devised campaigns, to raise awareness of the issues surrounding sustainability in the restaurant and catering sector, and to encourage businesses to improve their practices.
The Ethical Eats project ran a network of over 1,000 of London's restaurants, community cafes, caterers, and others in the foodservice sector, to help them improve the ethical and sustainability credentials of the food they serve. Ethical Eats had many notable achievements, for example, as a result of our work:
- Hundreds of restaurants and caterers in the capital have been reinforced in their commitment to ethical food, and have shared their valuable expertise generously with others.
- Hundreds of good food suppliers have had their products highlighted and promoted on Sustain’s popular Local Food Finder (www.localfoodfinder.org).
- We have reached tens of thousands of London's ethical consumers with our free The Jellied Eel magazine, with a readership of 50,000 and circulation via the capital's ethical eateries.
- We established Urban Food Fortnight as an annual celebration for the city. It has been hugely successful in linking London's eateries with ethical suppliers and community food growers, and has become a big idea that people want to be involved in the longer term.
- Ethical Eats helped to inspire the establishment of Sustain’s successful Sustainable Fish City campaign, and ran many workshops and chef training sessions with the help of sustainable fish specialists.
- The project contributed to setting new standards for catering training, working with the qualification specialists, City & Guilds.
- Our work helped Sustain gain a place at the table to win a healthy and sustainable food policy for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also contributed to development of the Food for Life Catering Mark standards, run by the Soil Association, that are now improving meals for at least one fifth of the UK’s primary schools.
- A new weekly fine food market in Brentford is now thriving, and community cafés have learned that it’s good to become more business-like and learn from each other.
- The project helped Sustain - the charity that ran Ethical Eats - get involved in The Pig Idea, to help lobby for a change in EU food waste law – an eminently sensible campaign to allow leftovers to be fed to pigs and chickens, to reduce the scandalous waste of good food.
- The project produced many influential reports and publications that have been championed by Sustain and ethical food traders, such as One Planet Dining, A Greener Curry and guides to improving the healthiness and sustainability of festival food and in catering training.
- Sustain has built up the contacts and expertise to continue work to reduce food waste in the capital, working with London's small- and medium-sized food enterprises work, in project called FoodSave, which is coordinated by the Greater London Authority.
To help caterers in London to improve the ethical and sustainablity credentials of the food they serve, and drawing on our extensive directory of local suppliers, Ethical Eats suggested practical ways that business can use more sustainable ingredients - such as local and seasonal fruit and vegetables, high-welfare meat, sustainable fish, organic and Fairtrade produce - could be incorporated into menus. Click here for more information.
We also promoted ethical eating to consumers, to encourage them to choose sustainable options when eating out. Ethical eaters have long been offered a cornucopia of sustainable food in London’s shops and markets - but until recently, when they ate out, they had to leave their principles at the restaurant door. In recent years, a growing number of restaurants and catering businesses have started to use more local, seasonal, organic and Fairtrade produce. And with Britons now spending more on out-of-home meals than on grocery shopping, and some research showing we’re eating more out-of-home meals than any other country including the US, the potential market for sustainable dining is huge.
London-based restaurants, cafés, pubs and caterers doing great things were also selected by the Ethical Eats team to be highlighted in The Jellied Eel magazine’s 'On the Menu' section. Events such as our popular Restaurant Rambles aimed to raise the profile of ethical food providers and get consumers thinking about dining out decisions.
For more information on consumer attitudes to sustainable dining download the London Food Link report One Planet Dining.
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