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Make an appointment with The Doctor’s Kitchen

16th January 2018
Plus win a signed copy of ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen: supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes’ 

Rupy Aujla is a straight talking NHS doctor on a mission to show that food is the ultimate medicine. We’re minded to agree, which is why we met up with him to talk about The Doctor’s Kitchen project, his latest recipe book, and why he thinks we should start taking culinary medicine seriously.

How did The Doctor’s Kitchen start?  

I started The Doctor’s Kitchen to inspire my patients about the beauty of food and the medicinal effects of eating well. I wanted to bring a reliable, evidence based approach to healthy eating and start the conversation about how we can use food in medicine.

What do you think lies behind the growing interest in food nutrition?

Overall I think people are becoming more inquisitive and I welcome that. We live in an era of information accessibility and the democratisation of healthcare is upon us! Most people recognize that food is very important but they lack the knowledge or motivation to make the first steps. Having a GP literally showing them how to cook is quite revolutionary and motivational for a lot of my patients.

Tell us about your new recipe book… 

I describe it as a culinary journey through food in medicine where I try to inspire people about the incredible health benefits of nutrition using an evidence-based approach. I’m trying to shake off the stigma of healthy eating being expensive or pretentious and making it inclusive for everyone. It’s accompanied by 100 delicious recipes that span cultures and have the science woven into the dishes. I also tackle common fad diets using a balanced open minded approach and science as my guiding principle.

I’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible. Whether you’re a novice cook or somebody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, the book will certainly appeal. I have a section on cooking staples such as wild rice or greens from scratch and the methods that are proven to retain most nutrition. I also like to experiment with making marinades, pastes and chutneys so there’s a whole section on that. As well as quick meals and slow cooking favourites.

How do you juggle responsibilities as a NHS doctor with The Doctor’s Kitchen?

It can be tough but I’ve learnt to deal with one task at a time and try not to think of the whole to do list which can get overwhelming. I’ve started using google calendar to schedule and that has helped immensely. I try to meditate daily (although that doesn’t always happen). I forgive myself for not hitting targets. I learnt how to reduce my stress over the years by concentrating on my breath during the day and I try to leave time to unwind. Burnout is something I have experienced in the past and I’m very mindful of it.

How important is convenience in your cooking?

Very important! I don’t always have time to create amazing instagramable pictures in the mornings! So efficient cooking and kitchen hacks are essential and these are some tips that I’ve learnt along the way and shared in my cookbook.

 

Then check out his The Doctor’s Kitchen Pistachio and Fennel Slaw recipe available to try on farmdrop.

How important for you is understanding how and where your food was made?

Exceptionally important, especially when it comes to animal products. I think over the years we’ve lost touch and therefore respect of exactly where our food comes from. Life has been sacrificed to nourish our bodies and it’s a very humbling reality that we’ve lost sight of since we don’t butcher or milk the cows ourselves anymore!

I think if we were mindful of that we would care a lot more about where and how our food is produced and probably eat less animal products but certainly of a higher quality. This is why I’m so supportive of what Farmdrop are championing in the UK.

Where are your future plans for the Doctor’s Kitchen?

I’m in the process of starting culinary medicine in the UK, where we teach doctors the foundations of nutrition and how to cook. I also want to change the way medicine is taught to include a large proportion of the curriculum on nutrition, because I believe we need to teach our medical students the future of medicine revolves around food.

To celebrate the launch, we are giving away a signed copy of The Doctor’s Kitchen. Simply enter your details here to be in a chance with winning. Entries close on 30th January 2018. 

Thinking

10 food initiatives fixing communities in London and beyond

15th January 2018

From growing your own and sharing it to elegant surplus food solutions, here’s our round up of ten game-changing food initiatives to get behind this year.

Food has a habit of shaping new communities. Often, these communities have a common goal: to make some part of the world – whether it’s East Africa or a vegetable plot in a local pub garden – a better place. London’s flooded with initiatives to get behind and local communities to involve yourself in. So, read on if you like the idea of food’s power in the context of the greater good, or just fancy making your own little patch of London a more food-friendly (ergo a more people-friendly) place.

1. London Grows

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

That nature offers solace from the humdrum and sedentary ways of everyday life is a romantic and Wordsworthian idea. But a good one. London Grows, and initiative by Capital Growth and funded by the Mayor of London, encourages Londoners to get out and about, with the aim of re-establishing local gardens as communal hubs. They’re helping run hundreds of fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens around the capital with which to do it. Learning to grow food while meeting similarly minded people? Sounds like our cup of tea.

2. Student Food Co-ops

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

Food co-ops are a good way for local residents to get their hands on produce from surrounding farms, where the farmers can directly support the community, and visa versa. Students for Cooperation and Sustain’s own scheme are more specifically aimed at bringing together college students, postgraduates, and undergraduates ­– i.e., those not as embedded in the neighbourhood as residents – who share an interest in obtaining local, fresh produce. To start up a new group, all that’s needed is a few relatively entrepreneurial students.

3. People’s Fridge Brixton

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

Brixton is one of London’s most progressive areas when it comes to the part food plays in local communities: The People’s Fridge, known affectionately as Freddie The Fridge, is just one example of several social projects carried out by Impact Hub Brixton and Pop Brixton. Their aim? To provide a place for locals and businesses to deposit their surplus food and make the food available, for free, to anyone who wants it.

4. The Orchard Project

 

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

Photo: The Orchard Project via Facebook

 

Britain’s orchards have been in a state of rapid decline since the ‘50s. But, through small communities around UK towns and cities, The Orchard Project are hoping to turn that around. They train a handful of community leaders ­– could be you or your neighbour – in nurturing a communal orchard, so that they can pass on that knowledge to anyone interested in pitching in. It’s a great way to bring people together through the medium of food. And a lot more manageable than allotments…

5. Auction Against Hunger

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

Hunger and malnutrition is perhaps the biggest hazard to children in less developed countries. With the help of the talents of some of the UK’s best chefs, Auction Against Hunger appeals to the hearts and stomachs of Londoners to try and address that. Last year’s main event, hosted by Borough Market, brought together the likes of Anna Hansen, Neil Rankin, Pascal Aussignac, and Tom Hunt to put on a menu that’d make even a medieval monarch blush.

6. Abundance Network

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

We import around 6 million tons of fruit and veg every year (the majority of what we consume), yet the Abundance Network reckons we could be self sufficient on apples and pears if we all took up giving and sharing them locally. Remember your mum cooking that apple crumble with the Bramleys from your neighbour’s tree? Sharing garden-grown produce is what the Abundance Network is all about – just on a slightly bigger scale.

7. Incredible Edible

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

What started ten years ago as a small set up aimed at re-localising the food system has since expanded to more than 100 groups up and down the country, with four currently in London. But, unlike most collections of people passionate about their food, how these groups have come to fruition is more about how creative and resourceful they are. Some involve sowing seeds in a pub garden or lay-by, while others look at the importance of incorporating small-scale agriculture into the school curriculum.

8. The People’s Kitchen

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

The concept of The People’s Kitchen is simple: to turn waste and surplus food otherwise fit for eating into free, delicious meals for all. Volunteers – i.e. you and me – can turn up and wash, peel, chop and cook to help put on a community feast, while diners pay forward whatever donation they like to the local assets that need it. Look out for People’s Kitchens in Brixton and Dalston.

9. OLIO

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

That predicament when the recipe says you need six onions for the soup, but you only have four. That situation when the milk spoils in a few days but you’re off on holiday tomorrow. Sound familiar at all? Through its app, OLIO helps you call on your neighbours to make use of each other’s surplus food, rather than wasting it.

10. City Farms

10 food initiatives fixing communities and surplus food in London & beyond

Spitalfields City Farm is home to goats, chickens, donkeys, sheep, and rabbits. All of which need a bit of tender loving care. And mucking out. This is where you could come in – the farm, like others around the capital, was founded by volunteers, and relies on similarly minded people to get their hands dirty every now and then. Similar opportunities can be found at Vauxhall and Hackney city farms, among others.

Discover more about The Orchard Project in our round up of 10 food and farming heroes to watch in 2018 and meet more pioneers shaping the future of ethical food innovation in Britain.

Need a blues-busting does of escapism?  Take your pick of these 8 farm stay holidays guaranteed to beat winter blues.

Living Thinking

Veganuary: 2018’s latest fad diet or a wider cultural shift?

4th January 2018

This month record numbers of people are giving up meat and dairy for Veganuary. Come February will it be last month’s detox diet or 2018’s biggest food trend?

Following the season of indulgence, the start of the new year is all about abstinence – first came the eschewing of alcohol with Dry January, and now comes Veganuary (Vegan January).

So far this year more than 120,000 people have pledged to give up meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey for 31 days.

It represents a staggering 3,600% rise from the 3,300 people who signed up in Veganuary’s inaugural year in 2014 and almost half of sign-ups are from the UK, where the relatively new campaign originated.  

Google trends show the search term for the word “vegan” is at an all-time high in the UK.

Veganism is now of one of the UK’s fastest growing lifestyle choices, seeing more than a 360% growth over the last decade, according to the Vegan Society. Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton and singer Robbie Williams both declared themselves vegans last year, further indicating that veganism is transforming from hippy to hipster.

The Vegan Society report that there are now more than half a million vegans in the UK, typically city dwellers, aged between 15-34 and motivated by ethical and compassionate reasons.

Globally, it has powerful ambassadors. Beyoncé famously has a stake in the US-based 22-Day vegan diet and popular popstars Miley Cyrus and Arianna Grande are both outspoken vegans.

“We think it’s more of a cultural shift than a trend. It’s here to stay,” says co-founder of Veganuary, Jane Land. “We personally feel it’s the biggest social justice movement of our time.”

Will the consumption of animal products be viewed differently in years to come?

Land and her husband and co-founder Matthew Glover make no secret of the fact their ambition is to encourage lifelong veganism. But, inspired by the success of Movember, they decided to introduce the idea with a less daunting month-long pledge.

“It makes it seem much more achievable for people and they have the comfort of knowing other people are doing it with you,” says Land.

“You haven’t got a fear of failure that you’re committing to it forever. It also makes it a lot more palatable for loved ones – people you’re sharing cooking with become a lot more supportive when they think you’re just doing a challenge, likewise with colleagues.”

Why people are embracing Veganuary

There are three main reasons people become (or consider becoming) vegan – animal welfare, the environment, and personal health.

The most popular New Year’s resolutions revolve around health – exercising more regularly, losing weight and eating better – and this has become a major motivation for people signing-up to Veganuary.

“Research has linked this way of eating with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer,” says Heather Russell, dietitian at The Vegan Society.

A full-on vegan cauliflower recipe from Farmdrop. The popularity of vegan-friendly recipes has increased as more people appear to be ditching animal products altogether.

After the excesses of Christmas, the health benefits of a vegan diet are appealing – it helps to limit saturated fat and, as long as a variety of foods is consumed, provides plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

These points are hammered home in popular Netflix documentaries such as What The Health (from the makers of Cowspiracy) and Land says they see huge surges in traffic following the release of such films.

However, traditionally, the most popular motivation for a vegan diet is concern over animal welfare.

Recent controversies including the 2 Sisters chicken scandal and supermarket’s fictional farms, along with the rise of information shared on social media, are making people realise that the reassuring images we have of pigs wallowing happily in the mud, chickens scratching on the range and cows and sheep grazing in the fields is no longer the reality for the majority of farm animals.

According to Compassion In World Farming a staggering 70% – of the 75 billion animals farmed worldwide each year are raised in factory farms – where animals are kept tightly packed indoors, fed high-protein grains and growth hormones to fatten up quickly, and slaughtered inhumanely on huge production lines.

For a nation of animal lovers, these reports are a powerful incentive for veganism, especially when combined with the third motivator, the environment.

The widely touted UN stat that livestock emissions currently account for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases – greater than transport’s 13% contribution – is highly surprising and concerning for many.

The WWF report factory farmed animals are fed 75% of the world’s soy and maize harvest when one in nine people are starving in the world – and rainforests that are animal habitats are being razed to make room for the crop.

Then there were the heartbreaking scenes of the devastating effects of overfishing pollution in our oceans in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which inspired many to sign up to Veganuary this year.

Many vegans choose to go plant-based because of the environmental damage caused by industrial animal farming.

Veganuary vs Vegan

But does turning vegan for just 31 days have any benefits?

All evidence suggests the short-term health benefits are pretty impressive. About 87% of the 60,000 people who took part in Veganuary 2017 reported they lost weight and had more energy; 97% of those who took part reported they felt their health was better.

It could be argued this is a strict diet directly following the gluttony of Christmas so it’s not a fair test, but six months later and 66% of Veganuary’s 2017 participants were still vegan and reporting similar results.

Although there isn’t much evidence on short-term vegan diets, it is likely that if people have managed to follow it for a short time period, some of their healthy habits such as increased fruit and vegetables and less meat may be continued,” says Chloe Hall, Community Dietitian at Dorset Healthcare University NHS foundation trust.

Roughly one in 10 new year resolutions is successful. The Vegan Society have run a similar campaign, The Vegan Pledge, since 2008 helping people to become vegan in 30 days all year round. 82% of the people who took the pledge in 2014 are still vegan today.

All indications point to veganism being perceived as less of a drag and more of a force to reckoned with as a mainstream lifestyle diet.

How to be a healthy vegan

“If you are cutting out dairy it is really important to ensure that you are getting enough calcium and iodine in your diet,” says dietician Hall.

Calcium can be found in calcium-enriched milk alternatives, such as almond milk, or dairy free yoghurts, such as soya, plus fortified cereals and enriched orange juice.

On iodine Hall says: “It is difficult to get enough in your diet without consuming dairy products and, therefore, a supplement may need to be considered.”

The only other supplement it is recommended vegans take is B12, especially when new to the regime. It’s an important vitamin for making red blood cells and is only found in meat or specially fortified foods.

While meat is a good source of iron,, an iron-rich vegan diet needs to consist of legumes (such as peas and beans), dark green leafy vegetables, quinoa and tofu.

Nuts, seeds and a daily dose of flax or chia oil are good for Omega 3, which helps to maintain a healthy heart.

And what about vegan protein?

Beans, pulses, soya, and nuts are not only great sources of protein but also valuable sources of iron, zinc, soluble fibre omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.

And we actually require a lot less protein than the media and fitness industry lead us to believe – world tennis No 1 Novak Djokovic and British former world heavyweight boxer David Haye are both vegans, while former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams calls herself a ‘cheagan’ (a cheating vegan).

Are you giving up or thinking of giving up meat and dairy for Veganuary? Share your experience in the comments below.

Discover the real cost of cheap chicken and 4 facts that reveal the damage done by industrial farming.

Thinking

7 reasons why 2017 was a good year for ethical food innovation in Britain

28th December 2017

Meet the ethical food innovators who took it upon themselves to change how we eat, drink and shop in 2017.

#SquareMileChallenge is one solution to the mass misconception that disposable coffee cups are recyclable. Image: Hubbub.

2017 sent us some worrying signals. Cheap, chlorinated chicken could find its way to the UK. Large scale poultry plants were exposed for their fibs and deceit. Much-loved chocolate manufacturers ditched Fairtrade status. Supermarkets showed disappointing responses to the growingly dangerous use of antibiotics on livestock.

You get the point: headline news in the world of food elicited little more than doom and gloom. To spare us complete despair, here are a few stories that will have you feeling a little more optimistic as we head into 2018.

UK’s first ultra-sustainable cocktail bar lands in London

ethical food innovators 2017

Doug McMaster and Ryan Chetiyawardana of Cub. Image: Xavier D. Buendia.

Cub, a new restaurant-bar in Hoxton, is the birthchild of mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana and zero-waste pioneer Doug McAllister. The table tops are made from recycled yoghurt pots and the lights from paper mulch and cork. However, the main focus is the food and drink.

Cub employs a closed-loop system to produce as little waste as possible, while nothing but sustainable ingredients are bought into the kitchen and bar. It’s kind of a big deal ­– when someone as with as much international fame as Mr Chetiyawardana opens a bar hinged on sustainability, you can expect the rest of the world to take note.

More people buying into ethicality

ethical food innovators 2017

Native breed West Country Wessex Saddleback crossed with a Welsh Boar pigs at Pipers Farm in Devon

According to a report carried out by Triodos Bank and Ethical Consumer, sales in organic and ethical food and drink flourished in the past year, while conventional food stagnated. It’s good news for ethical food in general, as that side of the market saw a growth of 9.7%, and the fourteenth year straight in which interest in ethical goods has increased.

‘It appears that demand for locally produced artisan food is driving a revival of local shopping,’ said Ethical Consumer co-editor Rob Harrison. ‘Shoppers increasingly want to know where their food comes from, and that it’s come from somewhere as local as possible to reduce its carbon footprint.’

Sustainable cod is back on the menu

ethical food innovators 2017

Stocks of North Sea cod fell to 36,000 ten years ago. So it was remarkable news when the Marine Stewardship Council said reserves had recovered enough in 2017 for them to be sustainably sourced again.

Mark Pike, chairman of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group, called this a ‘massive development’ where, finally, shoppers could buy one of the nation’s favourite fish with a clear conscience. We hope the fishing industry collaborates to make sure things stay that way.

Brewers take ethicality to heart

ethical food innovators 2017

The team at Long Arm Brewery, owned by brothers Ed (left) and Tom Martin.

Craft beer still makes up for a comparatively small portion of the brewing industry, but given the total figure of breweries reached the 2,000 milestone in 2017, you have to wonder – for how much longer? As the number continues to rise, so too does those with a sustainable philosophy.

Unlike big breweries, these small guys are more mindful. A more nimble bunch, they can adopt waste-saving initiatives such as repurposing spent grain otherwise destined for the bin, drastically cutting down on water used, rolling out more environmentally friendly packaging (such as cans), and turning surplus or waste products into beer. Some like the Long Arm pub in Shoreditch are even embracing aquaponics to feed fish their spent grain, waste from which is used to fertilise their urban farm.

Coffee drinkers snub high-street chains in favour of small batch roasters

ethical food innovators 2017

Will Corby, Head of Coffee at Pact with Colombian grower Faiber Vega and his family. Faiber describes how the opportunity to sell his best beans has revolutionised farm life.

Three years ago, Costa’s sales were on a high. August 2017, however, saw them at a new low. The reason? Partly down to rising costs, and the rise of internet shopping, but even Whitbread’s chief executive (Whitbread being the conglomerate who own Costa) had to admit Britain is caught up on a new appetite for higher quality, extra-ordinary coffee from independent roasters. And as we’ve seen with the likes of Pact, these setups generally favour the farmer’s welfare more than they do their own profits.

‘War on the straw’ takes hold among popular bars and restaurants

Millions of plastic straws, which end up in our oceans, are fatal hazards to marine life and sea birds. In the wake of a distressing video depicting a bloody sea turtle with a straw wedged up its nose, pub chain Oakman Inns stopped stocking plastic straws from their sites and opted for an eco alternative instead. The move triggered other chains to swiftly follow suit ­– JD Wetherspoon, Be At One, The Alchemist, Laine Pub Company and Liberation Group, Hawksmoor, and Redcob Pubs to name just a few. More are expected to join them.

Councils and organisations address the deplorability of disposability

The #SquareMileChallenge in the city of London. Image: Hubbub.

Innovation in the world of straws is just the start – it’s estimated there’s five trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. So does the war on the straw really align with the actions of cutting out plastic as a whole? Well, quite possibly.

This year, London’s first plastic-free shop opened in Hackney; Borough Market introduced water fountains as their first action in phasing out single-use plastic bottles; and City of London launched a Square Mile Challenge which succeeded in their goal of recycling half a million coffee cups in April, with the aim of recycling five million by the end of the year. However small these victories, they’re concrete signs that we’re not just open to the idea of harmony among animals, one another, and the planet – we’re actually championing it too.

Any other good news to come out of 2017? Shout it out in the comments below.

Discover 10 food and farming heroes to watch in 2018 and the food trends that’ll shape your plate.

Thinking

10 food and farming heroes to watch in 2018

20th December 2017

Meet the farmers, chefs and all-round superstars safeguarding the future of our food and making the planet a better, healthier place you need to watch in 2018.

There’s plenty of doom and gloom in the media these days, what with chicken scandals and plastic-filled oceans and warming climates. But with every year that passes, more producers and farmers, more chefs and foodies, more brewers and growers are working harder to make our planet a better, healthier place to be.

They’re the guys helping to safe-guard the future of our food system, bringing our attention to what’s on our plate and where it comes from, and promoting better ways to grow, buy, cook, eat and enjoy it.

Here’s our super-select pick of the ones to watch; the inspiring, passionate and positive game-changers who are leading the way in the world of radical food and farming.

Massimo Bottura

future of our food

It’s hard not to love Massimo. Owner of three-star Michelin restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Modena, voted the Best Restaurant in the World in 2016, Massimo is one of the most influential chefs in modern Italian gastronomy. Now he spends his time heading up his non-profit association, Food for Soul – a series of community kitchens from Brazil to London that intercept otherwise wasted food to feed those in need. He’s also recently released a new cookbook – Bread is Gold is packed with recipes that show how to turn humble, often wasted, ingredients into delicious meals: “these dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. To feed the planet, first you have to fight waste.” Enter our competition to win a signed copy.

Foodforsoul.it

IG: @massimobottura

​Old Tree Brewery

future of our food

‘Living drinks for living soil’ is the tagline for this ecological brewery in Brighton investing in regenerating the land through their naturally fermented, seasonal, probiotic drinks. Suppliers of zero-waste restaurant SILO, Old Tree are equally serious about minimising their negative impact on the planet. They gather ingredients they’ve grown in their food forest or by foraging for abundant wild edibles and return any waste as compost to the land. Find them setting up their new nano-brewery of live, botanical drinks in 2018.

oldtree.house

IG: @oldtreebrewery

The Sioux Chef

future of our food

What with all Trump’s handiwork this year, the rights of North America’s indigenous communities seem on shakier ground than ever. So it’s good timing that the Sioux Chef, AKA Sean Sherman, is reviving an ignored slice of North American history. And he’s doing it… through food. Forget tacos and fry-breads, wheat and beef, dairy and sugar. The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen cookbook (soon to be restaurant and a string of Indigenous Food Hubs) dispels modern misconceptions of native American food, with a celebration of ingredients from venison to rabbit, lake trout to wild turkey, sage to sumac, plums to purslane. Of native American origin, the Sioux Chef draws from a long forgotten culinary culture that uses wild plants and animals, native crops and methods to inform a new take on what north American food really should, and could, become known for.

sioux-chef.com

IG: @siouxchef

Kate Collyns at Grown Green

future of our food

Magazine editor-turned-veggie grower, Kate Collyns ditched her office career for a life on the land, and now runs a successful, award-winning, sustainable market garden near Bath. After years of learning on the job – with challenges from chiselling swede out of the ground in sub-zero temperatures to picking kale in hail storms to educating customers on seasonal eating (and why they can’t have tomatoes in January) – she’s also written a book, aptly named Gardening for Profit, and shares her knowledge in farming groups and organisations to promote the merits of efficient small-scale farming. These days Kate’s two-acre garden is flourishing, and we’re big fans. Even with an eight-month-old in tow, she still manages to supply Farmdrop with quality greens grown with organic methods. She’ll be back on the site in spring.

Growngreen.wordpress.com

T: @katecollyns

Neil Rankin

future of our food

Offal lovers unite! The rise of nose-to-tail eating is showing no signs of abating, with more chefs and home-cooks seeking to swap prime cuts for under-loved and often-wasted parts of the animal. One such person is Neil Rankin, chef and owner of Temper Soho, whose focus on using well-reared whole animals, butchering them on site and barbecuing every morsel over open fire pits won him Best Newcomer at the 2017 Observer Food Monthly awards. “I buy a great cow, and then work out how to sell the whole thing. People come in and say they want a sirloin. There are maybe six kilos of sirloin on a carcass of 600 kilos. Every single part of the cow is delicious to eat, it’s just knowing how to cook it.” He knows what he’s talking about.

Temperrestaurant.com

T: @frontlinechef

Mazimas

future of our food

The revolutionary pop-up restaurant and catering company that ​connects refugee and migrant women with London diners has taken the capital by storm in recent years. Serving up ‘soulful, authentic’ meals, the social enterprise seeks to give women a means to work by putting their cooking skills to good use. After sold-out supper clubs and a Guardian Cook residency, Mazimas has now launched its first online shop, selling jams, spice blends and teas with interesting twists and quality ingredients.

Mazimas.co.uk

IG: @eatmazimas

Locavore Magazine

future of our food

Photo: @salutateporcum via Facebook

A new publication promising ‘slow, seasonal and sustainable food’ was always going to pique our interest, and this one’s a goodie. Launched in November 2017, the quarterly journal looks at how food is found, grown, prepared and served. Expect intelligent stories from chefs and farmers, foragers and scientists that explore anything from seed-saving projects and fermenting to heritage grains, asking the question; what does a sustainable food system look like?

locavoremagazine.co

IG: @locavoremagazine

Mr Lyan – Ryan Chetiyawardana

future of our food

Xavier D. Buendia / XDB Photography

It should come as no surprise that we’re big fans of Mr Lyan. Award-winning bartender and owner of Dandelyan, Ryan went on to open White Lyan – the world’s first bar without any perishables in a bid to reduce waste – and later Super Lyan (which we wrote about here) and adjoining bar-restaurant Cub (we wrote about that here too). Both work to empower their farmers, chefs, bartenders and consumers to produce, cook, eat and drink in a more sustainable and informed way: “we want to nurture a dialogue between producers and us, and between us and the public. By empowering each stage, we can treat our food systems more appropriately and find ways of championing positive change in a way that feels realistic and exciting” says Ryan. Cheers to that.  

mrlyan.com

IG: @mrlyan

​Nordic Food Lab​

future of our food

Eating insects is a concept we’re waking up to, albeit slowly, in the west. And it’s a trend on the up, with more scientists and chefs researching the benefits of eating bugs as a viable source of edible protein. Will it take off? It seems so. The Nordic Food Lab – the non-profit organisation founded by Noma’s Rene Redzepi and food entrepreneur Claus Meyer – are taking it seriously, with a new book, On Eating Insects, that explores most importantly, how they taste. Insects are just one of their many experiments, with a lab full of local roots, mushrooms and herbs, fermented fish, preserved deer meat and barrels of ageing quince ‘balsamic’ vinegar to name a few, in their pursuit of delicious foods that can feed a sustainable future planet.

Nordicfoodlab.org

IG: @nordicfoodlab

Delphis Eco

future of our food

Delphis Eco CEO Mark Janovich and team at Damer’s First School in Dorset during Recycling Week.

This kickass manufacturer and innovator of eco cleaning products is taking their mission one step further. They’ve developed the UK’s first 100% post-consumer plastic bottle. Meaning? They collect recycled plastic milk bottles, refine it, re-blow it and re-use it to package their products, lengthening the life-span of single-use plastic. Providing a small – but significant – solution to the world’s 300 million tonnes of virgin plastic that gets binned every year. All of their products will use their ‘closed loop’ packaging, and will be sold via Farmdrop soon.

Delphiseco.com

T: @DelphisEco

Don’t miss the food trends set to shape 2018.

Cooking Farming Thinking

The bird is the word: why are we so obsessed with chicken? And is it as healthy for us as we think?

27th November 2017

The bird is the word: why are we so obsessed with chicken?

Chicken is by far one of Britain’s favourite foods, accounting for half of our meat consumption.

Its rise in popularity is largely thanks to it now being incredibly cheap to buy. It’s also due to chicken’s superfood-like reputation as the low-fat, high protein, cancer-risk-free alternative to red meat.

However, the reality is that the pedestal on which we hold this white meat is at best meaningless and at worst harmful, because its low cost comes at a high-price for both the birds and for our health.

THE REALITY OF MODERN DAY CHICKEN FARMING

To meet consumer demand a staggering 950 million chickens are farmed in the UK each year.

But, that’s using the term ‘farm’ lightly, as more than 90% of poultry is reared in intensive conditions, with Jamie’s Food Revolution reporting that the number of higher-welfare chickens in the UK is at its lowest in a decade.

Commercial farming has become a very vertical industry. Globally, there is a handful of companies who breed fast-growing chickens, most commonly the Ross bird.

“[Huge processing plants] buy those birds and supply them to contract farms to rear them. They provide the feed and even tell the farmer what the temperature inside the sheds should be,” says Compassion In World Farming’s chief policy advisor, Peter Stevenson.

“These farms are so inhumane but there’s not really anything even a good farmer can do to improve conditions because it’s so tightly controlled.”

According to the RSPCA, if a newborn baby grew as fast as your average supermarket chicken by its third birthday it would weigh 28 stone.

“I don’t think people realise just how much these animals are suffering,” says RSPCA poultry welfare specialist, Kate Parkes.

The bird is the word: why are we so obsessed with chicken?

Fosse Meadows chicken cooked by Thomasina Miers. She says: “Given that chicken is the star of the show here, I’d advise buying something of good quality.”

 

HEALTH MYTHS DEBUNKED

Chicken is widely touted the go-to choice for pretty much any modern-day diet and fitness regime.

But we require a lot less protein than the media leads us to believe. A healthy person requires about 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight. So, someone who weighs 60-70 kilos needs around 50 grams a day, which is equivalent to around one and a half chicken breasts.

“Chicken is a good source of protein but so are lots of other foods you eat throughout the day like fish, eggs, beans, pulses, soya, nuts and dairy. These are also valuable sources of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, soluble fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all essential for good health,” advises registered dietitian Christiana Pavlides.

Our insatiable appetite for chicken as a lean meat has been further reinforced by white meat also being less associated with cancer than iron-rich red meat.

But, it’s not a clear-cut case of white meat being better. Red meat is good for you – in moderation. The problem is that it now forms a substantial part of our everyday diet. Plus, red meat is typically found in a lot of unhealthy ‘junk food’, such as burgers.

The way animals are farmed also has a huge impact on their quality and nutritional value. People who are choosing cheap chicken for health reasons are being sorely misled.

“Chickens grown in really close proximity get ill and are administered antibiotics ,” says Jordan. “Aside from the whole cruelty aspect of this, in terms of our health this is not a good thing at all.”

According to the Soil Association, intensively reared pigs and poultry account for 85-95 per cent of UK farm antibiotic use.

This is creating an ‘army of deadly superbugs’ such as E.coli, which is resistant to critically important drugs and can cause meningitis, blood poisoning and severe urinary tract infections.

Passing from animals to people via the meat we eat, it has been found in meat sold in the seven major UK supermarkets and is predicted to kill one in every 10 people by 2050.

Free-range and organic meat, especially, has much lower level usage of antibiotics. Meanwhile, a 2015 study by Newcastle University found that organic meat had around 50% more omega 3-fatty acids – which is good for our joints, brain and heart – and that it is also lower in the more unhealthy saturated fats.

Free-range chicken at Castlemead Poultry: “I’d rather see birds running around in a free-range environment, allowing them to forage and eat bugs and seeds in line with their natural behaviours,” says farmer Stuart Perkins.

 

FREE-RANGE AND ORGANIC CHICKEN: THE TRUE COST

De-boned and skinless breasts, the nation’s favourite cut, bear little resemblance to the animals they come from, which makes it easier for us to ignore the realities of modern day farming.

However, following the recent supermarket chicken safety scandal uncovered by the Guardian and ITV newsand headlines about US-style chlorinated-chickens potentially heading to the UK after Brexit, consumers are becoming more aware of what’s going on behind the sanitised plastic packets of ready-to-cook meat.

Sales of free-range and organic chicken are slowly on the rise. However, it still only accounts for around five per cent of all chickens sold.

The biggest barrier for consumers is that higher-welfare chicken is around three times more expensive than the cheapest chickens. A slower-growing free-range chicken on Farmdrop starts from £10.75 and the equivalent organic chicken costs £12.75.

At the industrial end of the spectrum, a whole chicken on the supermarket shelves costs as little as £3.18, in a sandwich it’s just £1.70 and it can be found in a bucket with some chips for £2 on pretty much any high-street.

The truth is the only way to ensure better welfare and nutrition is to opt for slower-growing free-range or organic chicken.

Commercial farms, including the majority of free-range bought in the supermarkets (typically slaughtered at 56 days), generally rear the fast-growing Ross bird.

“The whole evolution of the Ross bird is basically down to people wanting breast meat,” says Nick Ball, founder of free-range Fosse Meadows chicken farm in Leicester.

“It has very small legs because nobody really wants to buy them and enormous breasts. The downside is this means it can’t walk very well.”

In an industrial system the aim is to get poultry to the supermarket shelves as quickly as possible. But slower-growing free-range farms such as Castlemead and Fosse Meadows sell to butchers shops and farmers markets, where quality is what counts.

Fosse Meadows chickens grow to 81-days: “Chickens go further and get more curious as they get older, so this essentially gives them more opportunity to roam,” says Nick Ball.

“They’re two completely different production systems,” says Stuart Perkins, who runs free-range chicken farm Castlemead Poultry in Somerset.

“The number one difference is welfare – I’d rather see birds running around in a free-range environment, allowing them to forage and eat bugs and seeds in line with their natural behaviours.”

These farms tend to opt for slower-growing breeds, from Hubbard. Their birds are fed on cereals that are grown on or nearby the farms, with a lower content of protein in their feed, so they grow at a much more natural pace. Castlemead chickens reach maturity around 70 or 80 days.

“The older a bird is, the more flavour. It’s a much firmer meat and there’s more fat on the bird, so the eating quality is much better,” says Perkins.

Ball makes a point of growing his birds to 81 days, in line with the highest organic slaughter ages.

“Chickens go further and get more curious as they get older, so this essentially gives them more opportunity to roam,” he says. “It also gives you a maturer flavour.”

Rosie Birkett’s marinated chicken recipe.

FROM FARM TO PLATE

Thanks to being given space to roam – as opposed to the equivalent of a space the size of an A4 piece of paper in a shed to live on – the muscles on free-range and organic birds have been worked and developed, so they benefit from a slower cook to make them more tender.

“When a bird is slow grown you can taste it,” says Rosie Birkett, chef and author of A Lot on Her Plate. “There is so much flavour. When roasting a chicken it fills the house with the most incredible scent.”

Although breast is the most popular part of the chicken for majority of consumers, Birkett finds it one of the least interesting cuts in terms of flavour.

She says: “Thighs are one of my favourite parts, they have a bit more fat and are on the bone so plenty of flavour.

“At this time of year I like to marinade thigh with citrus zest and juice, garlic, shallots, woody herbs, a little honey and olive oil. Slow-cook them along with the wings and squeeze over some caramelised orange. It pairs really well with bitter leaves like chicory or radicchio.”

Using the carcass to make stock also means you get full value from your bird. Simply slowly poach it with half a carrot, onion, leek and bay for the most delicious stock to use as a base for soups, risottos and pasta.

This article appeared originally on BICBIM, London’s ethical food and fashion guide, covering the eco-friendly and ethical brands that produce top-quality food, fashion and experiences.