Thinking

8 of London’s most ethical food innovators

1st August 2017

Mindful baby food? Fair wage coffee roasters? Carbon neutral granola manufacturers? Here are a handful of ethical food producers changing the way we think about our food.

Fruit Magpie

Fruit Magpie - ethical food innovator

When Hazel moved to a tiny flat in Tottenham from leafy Kent, she bought her love for food and growing with her. She makes fruit cheeses – essentially solid, sliceable preserves made with home-grown apple, quince, or pear. ‘The irony is that produce from [allotments and small gardens] can often have a fantastic flavour that is a world away from mass production,’ she writes on her site. ‘Yet rarely sees the light day beyond friends and family’. Fruit Magpie is Hazel’s ethical food solution to that problem.

GrowUp Urban Farms

Grow Up - ethical food innovator


What happens at GrowUp Urban Farms goes full circle. First, you start with a fish farm (in this case, one in Beckton) wherein fish, like livestock, fertilise their own habitats. GrowUp use the resulting nutrient-rich wastewater, enabling them to grow the likes of coriander, sunflower shoots, and micro mustard frills without soil. It’s a system which requires little input – only fish food and energy to supply the pumps, to be exact – but yields a host of benefits.

Alara Wholefoods


Alara is, allegedly, the world’s first zero-waste manufacturer in the world. 100% of their packaging is recyclable or biodegradable, all their granola and muesli range is organic much of which gluten, wheat, and dairy-free – and have transformed a good deal of land around their King’s Cross headquarters into urban food gardens for the community. Alara’s endeavours as ethical food providers quietly, but surely, grows.

Piccolo

It’s not often you come across baby food with provenance. But honest, independent, and organic sustenance for Britain’s young kids is exactly what Piccolo have set out to achieve. Piccolo use ingredients like cheddar from Bristol, bananas from Ecuador, and chickpeas from southern France to give babies a well-rounded natural diet, and parents a peace of mind.

Rubies in the Rubble

Rubies in the rubble - ethical food innovator

Slowly, the developing world is cottoning on to the significance of the large amount of food we waste (15 million tonnes in the UK alone), and what can be done about it. Rubies, however, have been working on a response since 2011. The London-based condiment company collaborates directly with UK farmers to turn otherwise discarded cucumbers, onions, or tomatoes into sweet or spicy relishes and ketchups. Their best compliment? That their waste-to-taste project is all a load of rubbish.

Snact

Ethical Food Innovator - Snact

Snact take sustainable snacking to a whole new level. Not only do they use ugly and unwanted produce from farmers and pack houses to make handmade fruit jerky, but to reduce the amount of waste in the world even further their fruity treats are packed in 100% home compostable packaging. Their current #deliciousprotest sees them on a crowdfunding mission to stop 1.4m bananas going to waste every day by turning them into food waste-fighting banana bars.

The Orchard Project

The orchard project - ethical food innovator

Property developers are a force to be reckoned with, and unfortunately urban orchards are among those pressured to make way – The National Trust estimates 60% of England’s traditional orchards have vanished since the ‘50s. The Orchard Project’s wider agenda is all about protecting the urban orchards we have left, as well as helping plant and nurture new ones. Their latest project – creating a cider and apple juice made entirely from London-grown apples – rolls out very soon.

Pact Coffee


Exploitation in the coffee trade is no small issue. It was recently reported, for instance, that many Brazilian farmers (Brazil being the largest producer of coffee in the world) were each on a payroll amounting to less than half of Brazil’s legal minimum wage. Pact’s answer is to ignore the middleman so they could reach out to farmers to supply the coffee for their Bermondsey roastery themselves, paying these farmers a decent wage as they go.

Have a favourite ethical food producer we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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