Was this egg from a free-roaming happy hen? Will this tuna contribute greatly to the rapid depletion of fish in our oceans? And did a bashed apple fall short for this more aesthetically pleasing one? Questioning the ingredients on your plate is becoming mandatory in 2016.
According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the concept of sustainable dining is on the rise with more and more chefs coming forward to gain a rating. With the future of our planet relying on eco-friendly ingredients, wining and dining in restaurants is changing for the better.
And restaurant owners are stepping up the plate. “Serving and producing ethical food is a way of life, a mindset. There is no opt-out clause. If we want to live long healthy lives there is no alternative,” explains chef Jim Cowie, the co-owner of The Captain’s Galley, Caithness, Scotland.
Having won the Sustainable Restaurant Award in the UK twice, he knows what he’s talking about. “Factory farming forces their animals to gain weight, but they’re left bereft of all the essential minerals our bodies depend on. We are destined to live longer lives courtesy of drug companies, yet most of it will be spent sick and under care. Even in the 15 years of Captain’s Galley, I find some of the plants I forage are non existent now due mostly to what’s sprayed on the fields, and then finds its way then into our streams and rivers.” They’re changes we don’t want, so the time is now to act.
Gourmet food consists of high quality ingredients presented in artful ways – surely this can also include an ethical process to plate? The Food Made Good awards are proving it’s possible.
“Winning the Sustainable Restaurant Award 2016 means it’s two in a row. Many chefs I speak to spend their lives striving for a Michelin star, this is our star,” says Cowie. Providing environmentally and socially ethical meals is now commonplace for them. “At the Captain’s Galley, we think global and act local. We work today, by creating an accord between people, technology and nature, which maintains our position as a world leading ‘eco-friendly’ operation continuously striving to create and maintain a harmonic balance between ecology and the environment.”
According to State of Sustainability Initiatives, in 2015 certified sustainable seafood accounted for 14 percent of global production - a figure that needs to be raised.
Seafood is a main staple at The Captain’s Galley, and a food enjoyed across the world, by many. As our oceans become over fished a collective effort is required to protect them whilst we dine. “Apart from a small percentage, most restaurants need a paradigm shift in their practices to become sustainable,” says Cowie.
Although the numbers are increasing, some restaurants continue to turn a blind eye to sustainability. “One simple solution is, develop a ‘nose-to-tail’ policy by using every part of every fish or animal carcass, right from the point of the nose to the tip of the tail. With plants chefs must adopt a ‘roots-to-shoots’ policy and manage all the waste. They must be open minded and build up consumer trust, only then will we and the environment be healthier.”
The process that follows, from farm or factory to our forks, is fundamentally important for a greener future.