#FoodForThought

On the 4th September I had the pleasure of attending the collection launch for Gung Ho's S/S 2019 collection. Yes, this is me, Charlotte, talking about clothes. I know, I know, Elea is definitely the more knowledgeable when it comes to all things style but I was particularly interested in seeing this new line. 

For those of you who don't know Gung Ho is a London-based ethical brand that is not only sustainable (and pretty cool) but uses their collections as way to speak out about environmental issues. A talking point in clothing form, and the focus of the Spring/ Summer 2019 collection is sustainability in food & their collection launch including a panel discussion on that very thing. See why I was interested now?

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So off I trotted to Grow, stunning canal side venue which is also ethical and sustainable, with my friend Kathryn in tow (kudos to most of the photos go to her!) to have a sneak peek at some stunning clothes, eat some good food and maybe learn a thing or too. And the clothes were stunning. I've already bagged myself one of their classic sweatshirts on pre-order and will be saving my pennies for a stunning dress for when the collection launches in February 2019. 

The food for the evening was catered by Elysia, a catering company using 'naturally imperfect' food that would otherwise be thrown, in this case provided by Oddbox. Oddbox being a veg box subscription full of wonky veg. Even the cocktails were sustainable. 

Following the cocktails and canapes Sophie from Gung Ho hosted a panel discussion focusing on how we ca reduce waste in the food industry. The discussion was varied and thoughtful and even briefly touched on the role of insects in sustainable diets of the future. Now I’m not quite ready to chow down on a spider sandwich but food waste and how we can change our eating habits as a society has been playing on my mind ever since.

Over the past year I’ve had several conversations with family, friends and colleagues about eating seasonally and sustainably but in hindsight none of these have started because of food waste. Or even because of a desire to eat with the seasons. In fact the most common route to these conversations has been through plastic waste, typically how you buy fruit and veg that isn’t wrapped in plastic or completely over packaged and my common answer to this is farmers market. We’ve never begun by saying ‘how do I get hold of all that veg that isn’t perfectly shaped?’

And that’s not to say that this is the wrong way to look at things. Reducing plastic waste is a key factor in more sustainable food shop, but so is reducing food waste. And wider than that, the effect that intensively mass producing fruit and veg out of season has on the environment and wildlife and eco-systems is huge. And I’m not even going to touch on the horrors of intensive farming with livestock. So why is #plasticfree at the forefront of everyone’s minds and why is food waste just not?

I think there is a very simple answer to this; we can’t see it. We’re never going to see the impacting images of food waste that provoke the same feelings of guilt as a seahorse swimming along clutching a cotton bud. It just isn’t the same. The closest you can get is the devastating pictures that come out of battery farms and the like, but these have been circling for decades to seemingly little effect. However when thinking about why I eat how I eat, something occurred to me. Yes, it supports local traders, yes it saves on airmiles etc. yes I can track where and how my food was grown/ produced. But mainly, above all other reasons? It tastes better.

As it came up during the discussion in, to make something popular it just has to be better than what people are already getting. To use the sustainable fashion analogy - sustainable fashion has a bad rap for being a bit hippy and whimsical in style (something the Gung Ho challenges) and until sustainable fashion is ‘cooler’ than the stuff you get for a fiver on the high street, it’s never going to be mainstream. That’s just how mass population works. But if the food already tastes better, as eating things when they are at their best, whether that be due to seasonality or welfare, really really does impact on it’s quality, why do we all not shop this way?

It seems to me there are two main reasons 1) we have a culture of ‘instant’ - we want to be able to walk to the shop at 1am on a Tuesday and get what ever takes our fancy and 2) we have a culture of quantity over quality - whatever I’m buying at 1am on a Tuesday I want to be able to buy 20 of them for a few quid. And I get it, I get the appeal but I can’t help but think do I really actually want 20 packs of watery flavourless strawberries in mid December which I can munch through without much thought. Or do I want a handful of berries, warmed in the summer sun, that I’ve waited all year for, bursting with a perfect balance of sweetness and something else that is just quintessentially British that makes me pause, make noises that could be seriously misconstrued if overheard and slow down to really savour each bite?

If your answers the first one I implore you to take trip to your local farmers market, or your local butchers or bakers and buy something, anything and then ask yourself again. Quantity or quality? #foodforthought

Peas, love & cider,

Charlotte

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