Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency is a successful social enterprise that has played a leading role in transforming food in the London Borough of Greenwich. The skilled and energetic team work on a wide range of projects on community and enterprise development, food co-ops, and a Good Food Training programme for people in the catering profession, to improve skills for health and sustainability. Greenwich CDA has had a long-term commitment to supporting sustainable food, including sustainable fish. Here, Claire Pritchard (pictured left) and Mel Taylor (pictured right) explain how they have incorporated a sustainable approach to fish into their work.
Why do you think sustainable fish is important?
Buying and eating sustainable fish is essential! With gradually dwindling fish stocks throughout the world it is imperative to only buy from well-managed and responsible sources to ensure there are enough fish left in the seas for your children and grandchildren. We are also losing some real British heritage as we buy up huge amounts of cod and haddock and lose knowledge of ‘old fashioned’ varieties. For countries where fish is their key source of protein, over-fishing is putting not only their traditional ways of life at risk, but also the nutritional quality of their diets. The UK and USA have many other sources of protein on which to draw.
What inspired you to take action on sustainable fish?
We have been a long-time supporter of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and sustainable fish since learning about it through work. Learning about the collapse of the Newfoundland fisheries and seeing the impact on local communities, and also growing up in Hastings I feel some strange affinity with the fishermen and their way of life! For 30 years Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency (GCDA) has supported sustainable development and we have always been committed to the principles of buying sustainable food.
And what have you done as a result?
We have done a number of things to embed sustainable fish into our policies and practices, for example:
- We have incorporated sustainable fish into all the training we deliver around food and food skills.
- We have very strict guidelines for people using our kitchens and they have to sign agreements stating they will only use MSC-certified fish. This includes the De Vere Hospitality Academy who are using our kitchens to train new chefs.
- We also only use sustainable fish in all our outside catering events.
What would you say to a concerned citizen interested in supporting sustainable fish?
Look for the MSC label. Look at their website and order the Good Fish Guide. Join Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls’s big Fish Fight, and badger your MP!
What would you say to a catering business interested in serving sustainable fish?
Demand Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish from your suppliers. Join the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Get more information from the MSC website. Get your chefs trained in fish skills and inspired new recipes. Educate customers and promote your new-found sustainable fish status.
What would you say to someone in a similar business to yours, to inspire them to get involved?
Come on our training! (The training is run by Greenwich CDA's social enterprise SE Ten - click on the logo to find out more).
What would you say to a business that hasn't yet tackled the issue?
I would give them the information about the state of the fish stocks and explain the importance of switching to sustainable varieties. This is all good business – the public are getting more educated and more demanding and restaurants that ignore this will not survive. It is also great marketing!
Find out more about Greenwich CDA's Good Food Training programme (run as part of the SETen social enterprise) at: http://www.greenwich-cda.org.uk/seten/good-food-training-and-feast-centre/ and Greenwich Kitchen Catering at: http://www.greenwich-cda.org.uk/seten/greenwich-kitchen/
Sustainable Fish: A campaign to protect precious marine environments and fishing livelihoods, and call for fish to be bought from sustainable sources. We want to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.
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