Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 628

5 8 DECEMBER 2022 News&Views Sustainable living Illustration: Amelia Flower/Folioart Photography: Issy Croker, Getty Images Renting a Christmas tree is an excellent idea – water it, keep it alive, then return it to the soil to continue absorbing CO2. The trend is gatheringmomentum in the UK, with some folk renting the same spruce each year. I discovered late last month that all the trees at our local rental company (christmasonthehill.co.uk) were reserved by other eco-minded households. There was the option to drive to Gloucestershire to pick one up from rentalclaus.com, but I wasn’t sure the carbonmaths made sense. This leaves us choosing between a real or artificial tree. My proposal to decorate our large indoor cheese plant went down as well as the suggestion that Santa have a year o . The debate about whether real or artificial trees have a bigger eco impact is complex, with no clear winner. The Carbon Trust says a two-metre tall artificial tree produces 40kg of CO2, compared to a similar-sized real one, with no roots, that creates 3.5kg. If a real tree goes to landfill, its footprint increases to 16kg. It will also producemethane, amore potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but most councils collect and shred trees to make chippings for green spaces. If we had invested in an artificial tree, I would bring it out each year [a portion of sales from those sold by John Lewis this year goes to planting real ones at Leckford Estate]. But we’re suckers for that pine smell, so I’m following John Lewis climatemanager Jacqui Machin’s advice to “pick whichever tree will give you themerriest Christmas”. ANNA SHEPARD Week 45: The tree debate THE RESTAURANT THAT GROWS ITS OWN MENU December is busy atWilsons restaurant and bakery in Bristol – but the 15-strong teamaren’t just servingmeals. They’re also growing, picking, preserving and storing produce ahead of the winter ‘hunger gap’ fromJanuary toMarch, now that all the fruit, veg and herbs come from its own two-acre plot, sevenmiles away. This reversal in how themodern restaurant kitchen typically operates, means the farm– rather than the chef – dictates the menu. It comes with di culties – deer had a go at the fruit, so locally sourced boxes of quince and apples are welcomed – but has led to greater creativity, says cofounder and head chef Jan Ostle. “Our menu changes every day and is based on what we have coming out of the ground,” explains Jan. “Rather than letting the meat determine what we’re going to cook, we let the vegetables decide. We’re committed to doing it on a scale for the full menu.” This festive season the restaurant – awarded aMichelin Green Star for its sustainable practices – will o er roasted pheasant with Tokyo turnips and sourdough bread sauce, and a pudding of celeriac ice creamwith fermented honey andWiltshire tru e. Other dishes include bitter red radicchio leaves alongside duck liver parfait and last year’s raspberry vinegar, and ichi kuri squash cooked in lobster oil or beetroot, slowly cooked in foaming butter until ‘fudgy’ to accompany beurre noisette hollandaise and cod. It took three years to get to this point and for the smallholding investment to pay o , but as Jan adds, the shift is needed. “It’s not always easy coming up with 19 di erent dishes using kale for instance, but that’s part of the joy. We’re living at a time when everything is changing, and we have to change as well.” Anna-Marie Julyan Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mention of gold, frankincense andmyrrh, the iconic gifts brought to the Bethlehem stable by the three wisemen. But how do these precious goods compare today? “Theories abound as to the significance of these gifts, but they are typically given to honour a king or god in the ancient world – gold as a precious metal and trading commodity, frankincense as a perfume, andmyrrh as an anointing oil,” explains Shehbaz Khan fromThe Frankincense Store in London’s Notting Hill. Time has proved the wisdomof the wisemen’s choices. Gold, at around £1,500 an ounce, continues to hold its value, and as well as being used in jewellery, has many uses in technology. “It is an important element in mobile phones,” says Shehbaz. Frankincense, derived from the sap of the boswellia species of trees, remains highly valued too, at £200-£300 a kilo. Still used as incense, it’s renowned for its calming aroma and healing properties and has been used as an ingredient in cosmetics, chocolate and even cocktails. Myrrh, at £350-£400 a kilo, is produced from the sap of small thorny trees belonging to the species commiphora and is still used in perfume, incense and for religious ceremonies. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. And so, as nativity plays take place across the country this month, young stars of the show can rest assured that the gifts still hold currency. “The value of gold continues to be timeless, while the greatest gift you can give to someone is health, so why not frankincense andmyrrh, too?” says Shehbaz. Jane Garton Gifts fit for a king still holding currency FARM TO FORK Head chef Jan Ostle and cofounder Mary Wilson (below left); part of the two-acre Wilsons kitchen garden (below); the restaurant interior (bottom) WISE CHOICE Frankincense (right) has a calm aroma and healing properties