Sustainable Food

The world is changing in positive ways. Like millions of others our family has been moved by the message of David Attenborough in the BBC Television programme Blue Planet 2 concerning plastic waste in our oceans. Sir David was clear in his message: we must stop polluting our oceans with plastic. It is seriously harming ocean wildlife, and because fish are consuming toxic amounts of micro-particles of plastics people eating the fish are being affected too. In our household we have been taking a long, hard look at our consumption of plastic. I try to have an eco-lifestyle, but when my fair-trade organic bananas (and many other items) come shrink-wrapped in non-recyclable plastic, what I am to do? The good news is there are other options for packaging that are better for the environment. Normal petro-chemical plastic does not degrade. Degradable plastic isn’t great either as this will just degrade into smaller and smaller bits of toxic plastic. Biodegradable plastic is better and can be made from plant-based materials. This type might take years to biodegrade. Finally there is compostable plastic, which will biodegrade in your compost heap. When I do catering work all of my packaging is eco and compostable. Now that Sir David has sounded the alarm, the big companies are looking to catch up with supermarkets and fast food chains looking to use natural, non-harming packaging in the future. Many countries are doing this now. Now is a powerful opportunity for positive change. If our children are going to live on a healthy planet we must embrace sustainable methods. We also need to ask a few questions: Where does my food come from? What practices are employed to create this food? For example, chemicals used in growing, energy and resources used to make the farm machinery, transport emissions, food miles etc. What un-recyclable or un-reusable materials are used in the packaging and transport of this food? Are there more sustainable ways to supply our food needs? The answer to the last question is a resounding yes! One small example is how home produced or locally produced food has zero or low food miles, as transportation of food is a large contributor to global pollution. My 6-year-old Eliah is really on fire with environmental issues at the moment and has even created his own musical puppet show with his dad called Nature Stories. Their characters Sea-Dog and Parrot Fish look at issues such as plastic, overfishing, the rainforest and endangers species. Every episode explores the issues but focuses on positive solutions. You can check out the fun episodes (with a few cameo appearances from me) at www.worldhealingproject.com. Regarding the issue of sustainable food production and packaging I believe the solutions are there, as today’s recipe demonstrates. With the issues I’ve discussed today, I had to come up with a healthy recipe that ticked all the boxes for packaging and sustainability. Most of the ingredients came in my organic veg box from Moyns Park and had paper or zero packaging and only travelled 6 miles to get to me. I used herbs and a bay leaf from the garden, so no packaging or food miles there. Maldon Sea Salt adds some flavor and is just down the road. We can fry the vegies and spices in East Anglian rape seed oil rather than using coconut oil (saving a few thousand food miles). It was when I was looking for protein that I nearly came unstuck. As a vegan I know that large-scale animal farming uses vast resources of land, water and energy. So, I looked in my nuts and seeds cupboard and was hoping to find something local to add some essential nutrients and a creamy flavour. Oh no! Hemp seeds - Romania. Pecan nuts – South Africa. Hazelnuts – Turkey. None of these would do for this recipe. I then had a brainwave and remembered a late summer outing where I bought some walnuts from outside a local garden gate. I found them, still in good shape 6 months on and cracked some open and into the soup to complete this local, sustainable meal. (One confession, I did add an optional 1 tbs of curry powder and a chilli from India but as I brought them back in my suitcase, I hope this counts.) Local Winter Soup 2 parsnips 1 large potato 1 leek 1 onion 1 garlic clove 1 cup cabbage 1 chili 1 tsp sea salt 1 tbs rape seed oil 1 bay leaf 1 litre hot water ½ cup hulled walnuts herbs to garnish Finely chop all the ingredients. Heat the oil and fry the leeks, onion, chilli and cabbage with the salt for a few minutes. Add the water and other ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until ready.

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copyright Juliette Bryant