Issue 639 | 2March 2023 FREE The facts p2 / What the activists say p5 / The family challenge p6 / Chefs on amission p10&p40 / Leftovers recipe special p23&p27 / Drinks p32&p34 / DianaHenry p36 / ThomasinaMiers p39
2 2 MARCH 2023 News&Views ‘ TO ME , I T ’ S SORT OF FUNNY THAT WAST ING FOOD IS NOT TABOO. I T ’ S ONE OF THE LAST ENV IRONMENTAL ILLS THAT YOU CAN JUST GET AWAY WI TH’ JonathanBloom, journalist and author FOOD WASTE One third of all food in the UK is wasted, with 70% coming fromhouseholds. This leads to significant environmental damage. Anna Shepard looks at howwe canmake a difference by adjusting howwe shop and eat Global food waste produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all commercial flights, and if food waste were a country, it would have the third biggest carbon footprint in the world after China and the US. When you throw away food, it also wastes the energy and resources required to produce, process and transport it. Yet public awareness of the impact food waste has on climate change is less widespread than that of fashion and aviation. Research by climate action charityWrap found that, while 81%of people in the UK are concerned about climate change, only 32% see a clear link between it and food, compared withmore than half whomake the link between aviation and climate change. In 2023, we still throw out around a third of our food, with themajority ending up in landfill, where it generates methane, amore potent greenhouse gas than CO2. This year’s FoodWaste ActionWeek, organised by Wrap, runs from6-12March, and is themedWin. Don’t Bin. It highlights the damaging e ects of food waste and its financial frivolity. Wrap says a quarter of the food we waste is due to cooking, preparing or serving toomuch, costing households £3.5 billion each year. But progress is beingmade. Waitrose conducted a recent survey withWrap showing that nearly a third of its customers were doingmore pre-shop planning, including checking cupboards, fridges and freezers, so they only buy what they need. Here are some key facts and easy solutions to help reduce food waste in your home. CALLING TIME ON 20M SLICES OF BREAD 4.4M POTATOES 3.1M GLASSES OF MILK 2.7M CARROTS 2.2M SLICES OF HAM 1.2M TOMATOES 1M ONIONS 900,000 BANANAS 800,000 APPLES According to the latest figures fromWrap, every day in UK homes we discard... What we throwaway France The Food Sustainability Index, a regular survey of 60 countries according to how sustainable their attitude to food is, has repeatedly given France top spot. It was the rst country to ban supermarkets from throwing out or destroying edible food in 2016. Instead, large food stores and supermarkets must donate their surplus to charities or other good causes. Spain A new law comes into force this year obliging bars and restaurants to o er doggy bags for leftover food. They must tell customers the option is available. It’s part of a drive to reduce waste, outlined in Spain’s Food Waste Prevention Law, that includes a tax on non-reusable packaging and calls for supermarkets to donate more leftover food to charitable causes. UnitedKingdom Targeting food waste in supply chains and businesses, the UK led the way with its Food Waste Reduction Roadmap in 2018, which outlined how the food industry could halve food waste at retail and consumer level by 2030. More than half the UK’s large food businesses, including Waitrose, report annually on how they prevent food entering the waste stream. Countries leading progress Cover Illustration: Nicholas Stevenson/Folioart
3 2 MARCH 2023 Turning rubbish to revenue One big message to emerge from last November’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt was that more coordination is needed in our food system to tackle waste. In future, companies need to work together to repurpose each other’s waste streams pro tably. What is being rejected by one can form the basis of another product, as these UK companies are proving. All products below are available at Waitrose. LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS Fromusing leftover fruit for smoothies to composting your scraps, you’ll find 100 brilliant ways to reduce foodwaste at waitrose.com/100tips Doing the numbers 50% Waitrose pledged to halve food waste across its supply chain by 2030, and help to halve UK household waste by supporting customers to make changes in their own homes 40 Waitrose shops now work with Olio Food Waste Heroes to give away their surplus, which has led to 32 tonnes of food being rescued 13.6M meals have been provided by Waitrose to people in need since it started working with FareShare, a charity ghting hunger and reducing food waste 5,721 tonnes of food have been saved thanks to Waitrose’s work with FareShare. This has prevented 15.8m kilos of CO2 being produced 20% of shoppers are batch cooking and using their freezer more to avoid throwing away food, a survey by Waitrose with Wrap found 400 products at Waitrose no longer carry best before dates, including citrus fruits, salads and vegetables, supporting better longevity of food Put the excess to good use #NEXTOVERS Not to be confusedwith leftovers (yesterday’s dinner heated up), nextovers are surplus ingredients turned into something different the next day. See TikTok for ideas – roast chicken into quesadillas, mashed potatoes into fish cakes, pasta into a frittata… WHOLE CHOCOLATE About 14 million tons of cacao fruit is harvested annually, but 70% is thrown away, says The Upcycled Food Association. No.1 WholeFruit Chocolate from Waitrose is made from the entire fruit rather than just the cocoa bean, creating premium chocolate from an ingredient that would otherwise go to waste. No.1 WholeFruit Chocolate, £2.85/45g. TARGETING UNLOVED VEG Leading the eld is Rubies in the Rubble, a condiments and relish company that has been using fruit and vegetables rejected by others in the food supply chain since 2010. Rubies in the Rubble Tomato Ketchup, SAVE 25%, £2.60/470g, was £3.50, o er ends 14 March. REPURPOSING WONKY FRUIT Using similar unwanted ingredients but with a di erent result, Dash launched its range of sparkling spring waters in 2017. It says the fruit it uses would not normally be considered good enough for consumers, but tastes delicious. Dash Water, £4/4x330ml or 2 FOR £7, o er ends 14 March. REINVENTING COFFEE GROUNDS Drying co ee grounds to make co ee logs to burn on barbecues and wood stoves, Bio-bean launched co ee waste collection services across the UK in 2013 to become the world’s rst industrial-scale co ee recycling factory. Co ee Logs, £8.75/16s. Gluts happen. If you know you’ve got too much food in your fridge and no time or space to cook and freeze it, turn to these resources. OLIO An easy-to-use app that puts you in touch with neighbours who can collect your unwanted food. Even if it’s just a few turnips you know are not going to be eaten, you can take a picture of them, post them on the app and wait for someone to pick them up. olioex.com LOCAL FOOD BANKS They need donations all year round. Find your nearest one, and ask what is needed and how you can help. givefood.org.uk TOO GOOD TO GO This app o ers food businesses a way to have leftovers picked up for discount prices. If you are interested in collecting unsold food from places near you, you can log in as a customer. toogoodtogo.co.uk COMMUNITY FRIDGES These are a great place to donate surplus food – anyone can use them and they’re usually set up in a public place. The environmental charity Hubbub funds more than 300 fridges across the UK and plans to increase that to 500 by the end of 2023. hubbub.org.uk KARMA Similar to Too Good to Go, this app allows you to buy unsold food from local businesses at a discount, usually around half price. Order items over the app, then collect them from the store. old.karma.life GANDER An award-winning app that provides real-time information on reduced supermarket stock. It aims to x the problem that shoppers can only nd yellow-stickered items when they visit a store, saving you money and reducing food waste. It currently only operates in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, Coventry and south-west Wales, but aims to expand across the UK. gander.co Photographs: Getty Images, Cabosse Naturals, Illustration: Nicholas Stevenson/Folioart
NEW LOWER PRICES ON HUNDREDS OF YOUR FAVOURITES Essential Carrots 1kg was 60p/kg now 50p/kg, frozen Essential Garden Peas 725g was £1.66/kg now £1.38/kg, Essential Savoy Cabbage was 90p/each now 70p/each, Essential Mushrooms 300g was £3.67/kg now £3.33/kg, Essential Custard Creams 150g was 23p/100g now 20p/100g, Essential Tuna Chunks in Brine 112g was £1.12/100g now £1.03/100g, Essential Unsalted Dairy Butter 250g was £8.80/kg now £8/kg, Essential Mini Easy Peelers 500g was £2.60/kg now £2/kg, Essential Blueberries 150g was £11.67/kg now £10.67/kg, Essential Red Onion was £1.05/kg now £0.90/kg, Essential British Roast Ham 7 Slices 80g was £1.88/100g now £1.25/100g, Essential Rich Roast Coffee 100g was £1.75/100g now £1.60/100g, Essential Seville Orange Marmalade Fine Cut 454g was 24.2p/100g now 19.8p/100g, Essential Easy Cook Long Grain Rice 1kg was £2/kg now £1.50/kg, Essential Raspberries 150g was £14/kg now £12.67/kg, Essential Wholemeal Pitta 6s was 11.7p each now 10p each, Essential Reduced Fat Brussels Pâté 170g was £1.03/100g now 88p/100g, Essential Fairtrade Bananas 5s was 20p each now 17p each, Essential Bolognese Sauce 340g was 38.2p/100g now 29p/100g, Essential Wholegrain Mustard 185g was 67.6p/100g now 51.4p/100g, Essential Limes 5s was 34p each now 25p each, Essential Fairtrade Original Blend Tea Bags 80s 250g was 48p/100g now 44p/100g, Essential Courgettes 600g was £3.17/kg now £2.50/kg, Essential Coleslaw 300g was 38.3p/100g now 33.3p/100g, Essential Loose Butternut Squash was £1.90 each now £1.60 each, Essential Raw King Prawns 180g was £2.08/100g now £2/100g, Essential Plain White Flour 500g was £1.20/kg now £1/kg, Essential Coconut Milk 400ml was £3.75/L now £2.75/L, Braeburn Apples minimum 5s was 38p each now 34p each, Essential Cherry Tomatoes 500g was £3/kg now £2.80/kg, Red Romano Peppers 180g was £12.22/kg now £10.56/kg, Essential Fruit Muesli 1kg was 30p/100g now 29p/100g, Essential Houmous 200g was 75p/100g now 68p/100g, Essential Iceberg Lettuce was 90p each now 80p each, Essential Crunchy Peanut Butter 340g was 52.9p/100g now 45.6p/100g, Essential Ultra Soft Bathroom Tissue 4s was 30.7p/100 sheets now 26p/100 sheets, Essential Mature British Cheddar 350g was £7.86/kg now £7.14/kg, Essential Baguette 400g was 29p/100g now 25p/100g, Essential British Pork Sausages 8s 454g was £5.84/kg now £4.41/kg, Essential Pure Clear Honey 454g was 38.5p/100g now 35.2p/100g, Essential Bunched Salad Onions was 70p/each now 55p/each. Selected stores. Subject to availability. Minimum online spend and delivery charges apply. Prices may vary in Channel Islands, Little Waitrose & Partners and concessions. 55p 70p £2 £2.65 £1 £1.15 £2.50 £2.75 £2.50 £2.95 £1.55 £1.80 £1.35 £1.50 £1.90 £2.20 £1.40 £1.50 £2.90 £3 £3.60 £3.75 £1.10 £1.50 £1.60 £1.90 £1.50 £1.90 £1.60 £1.75 £1 £1.15 85p £1 £1.50 £2 £1.50 £1.75 60p 70p 90p £1.10 70p 90p £2 £2.20 50p 60p £1 £1.30 £1 £1.50 £1.60 £1.75 90p £1.05 £1.60 £1.75 £1 £1.10 £1 £1.20 30p 35p £1 £1.30 95p £1.25 80p 90p £1.70 £1.90 £1.25 £1.70 £1.90 £2.10 £1.10 £1.20 50p 60p £1.15 £1.25
5 2 MARCH 2023 News&Views THE CHEF Rachel Khoo is a food writer and Wrap ambassador. Her latest book is The Little Swedish Kitchen THE CAMPA IGNER Tristram Stuart is author of Waste: Uncovering The Global Food Scandal THE GLOBAL ADV ISER Sustainability expert Marilique Nijmeijer of Clim-Eat spoke at COP27 last year THE GREEN PR Jenny Briggs works for Greenhouse Communications MEET THE ACTIVISTS We know food should be eaten, not thrown out, especially at a time of food shortages and a cost of living crisis. But the problem is much bigger thanwhat happens in our kitchens. Four people who live and breathe foodwaste offer their insights to Anna Shepard about the progress made, and the change required to tackle this global issue “When I rst started campaigning on food waste in 2001, the government had no food waste policies, public awareness was low and schemes to redirect surplus food were very thin on the ground. “Today, almost every food corporation has a waste strategy. Our government has invested millions in raising awareness and, per capita, British households are wasting more than a third less food today than in 2008. Internationally, almost all the countries in the world have signed up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, pledging to cut food waste by a third by 2030. “We do have a lot to be thankful for, but we can’t solve the problem until we understand what is being chucked and at what stage. There is a disproportionate focus on household food waste, while waste in supply chains isn’t being measured. At the minimum, the government should proceed with its proposal to introduce mandatory food waste reporting, so large food businesses have to publicly report exactly what they throw out.” If you could change one thing? “I would want everyone to eat more plants, less meat and dairy, waste less food and support businesses with sustainable values.” “Progress so far on food waste has been slow. Latest data [from global food coalition Champions 12.3] suggests 8% of food produced in the world is lost on the farm, 14% is lost between the farm gate and the retail sector, while 17% is lost with food providers, such as restaurants, in retail and in households. “One problem is that many well-meaning commitments and initiatives are launched at international conferences, such as COP27, but they don’t always make it to the implementation stage and often remain voluntary. “Our behaviour in the developed world is an obstacle. We are used to, and want, all products to be available at all times, regardless of the season. Food comprises a much smaller part of our expenditure compared to other countries. We need to start valuing food di erently. “We also need supply chains to shift back to what the supplier can o er, rather than what the buyer wants, depending on which products can be grown sustainably.” If you could change one thing? “I’d like to see accountability for commitments made at climate conferences so we can really hold them to their words down the line.” “For the rst time ever, COP27 hosted a food systems pavilion, bringing together multiple players within the food space, all dedicated to transforming the way we produce and consume food. It was exciting to give a talk there. “The pavilion was a sign of progress, but for lasting change we need more cooperation between farmers, producers and retailers, along with policymakers and consumers. Our government could have a real impact by increasing funding to organisations such as FareShare – this charity is doing great work in redistributing surplus food to those in need. “At a household level, how food is labelled contributes a signi cant amount to waste. There has been a little progress, with some retailers scrapping best before dates, but there is still a lack of consumer understanding around what labels mean. People don’t realise that best before means the product will be at its guaranteed best quality, but it can still be eaten after that date.” If you could change one thing? “I wish everyone would use their senses and initiative about what’s good to eat. Touch it, feel it, smell it, then consider whether it should be thrown away, or used in some way.” “Being short of time has led to us being more wasteful in the kitchen. We know we have stu that needs eating, but we don’t get around to it. If there’s been one silver lining to the cost of living crisis, it’s that slowly but steadily we are learning how to manage the food in our fridge. “Even if you’re not a con dent cook, there is so much content online. I love Melissa Hemsley’s waste-saving recipes, such as her fruit bowl cake, and Max La Manna o ers great ideas on social media. In restaurants, you might imagine food waste is terrible, but actually you’re dealing with professionals who know how to minimise it – they actively want to do so, as it can make a huge di erence to their pro ts. “Food waste apps such as Karma and Olio work for businesses and consumers. It’s win-win – customers get discounted food and businesses cut food waste. I’m a regular Karma user, which means I can pick up bargain bread at my local bakery.” If you could change one thing? “I’d like to see more ‘ugly’ fruit and veg at supermarkets – this food is often wasted before it even gets to the consumer.” Photographs: Julia Rajkovic, © Food Systems Pavilion 2022, Frances Gard
6 2 MARCH 2023 News&Views ‘If I’mbeing honest, the ease withwhichwe waste food in our house should be a source of shame’ In focus If you’re a person who does a regimented supermarket food shop on a set day, and meticulously plans your meals for the week ahead like Ed Sheeran’s manager preparing for a global stadium tour, then I envy you. Or maybe store purchasing isn’t your thing, and instead you opt for a designated weekly delivery. Withmilitary precision, the bags arrive brimming with foodstu s and are brought to your doorstep ready to be distributed to their assigned area in the kitchen for a carefully designedmeal plan. Sadly, I have adopted neither of these logical and e cient systems. Instead, I have a haphazard approach to food shopping which largely involves dipping into a supermarket when I have the time, scanningmy phone for recipes, then wandering past aisles thinking tomyself: “Is that a jar of red onion chutney? I wonder what I could do with that?” It’s more like indoor foraging than food shopping. The big problemwith this lifestyle choice is that it results in a lot of waste, and two teenage children who wonder what strange concoction will appear on their plates that evening. This is not the case when my wife cooks, as she is far more organised thanme. If I’m left in charge, then peer into our family fridge and you’ll find a tiny bottle of wine that was intended to bring flavour to a long-forgotten recipe, or a jar of miso paste which I presume I bought in order tomake homemademiso soup, and never did. Eventually, the fruit and vegetable drawer in the fridge becomes a repository for virtue signalling. Mouldy blueberries, some part-frozen, part-thawed carrots and a cucumber that has turned into a cellophane-sealed tube of green gloop congregate here. As I open the fridge door, I half expect the soothingly curious voice of Sir David Attenborough to begin describing in grimdetail the hideous new NOW I ’M A BELIEVER Presenter and Weekend columnist Nihal Arthanayake was challenged to reduce foodwaste at home for two weeks last month – and the results were eye-opening life forms that have evolved fromwhat was once a simple grocery shop. I make the grim journey from fridge to green bin on an all too regular basis, so when I was asked if my family and I would be interested in seeing if we could radically cut our food waste, I immediately said yes. The challenge was tomake sure that our ravenous little green box for scraps was left ravenous, as we used ingenuity and imagination to make dishes that required fewwasted by-products and, most importantly, none of us ended up scraping unusedmorsels into the bin. We each had tomake a vow to buy nothing new before checking each and every corner of cupboard, fridge and freezer. If I’mbeing completely honest, the ease with which we waste food in our house should be a source of shame. For too long, we have bought bananas that have gone fromyellow to beige to the colour of charred wood. Mangoes have gone froma sumptuous green with a tinge of red to a shrivelled husk of their former glories, with pimples of mould breaking out over their once shiny skins. If we have cooked toomuch, then the excess is placed into containers, put into the fridge and only removed once scientists in hazmat suits appear to safely dispose of them. When we bought a new fridge freezer, we had no idea it had a function that threw an invisible cloak over any leftovers. I hope we didn’t pay extra for it. So that’s why I’ve attempted to go through the contents of our kitchen over the past two weeks, buy no new food and work out what those cans of kidney beans were for in the first place. For me, the buying of food had become too formulaic andmeant that cooking lacked imagination. Items purchased on a whimand forgotten about had to take centre stage as I tried to work out how they could star in an entirely new production called The Lord of the Tins. In the course of this two-week culinary odyssey, I’ve discovered that as long as I have cans of chopped tomatoes, red onions, garlic, flour, brown rice and pasta, turkey sausages, basic dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese, someminced chicken or turkey and ground cumin, coriander and garam masala, I can keepmy family going for a fortnight. Over the past 14 days, a perfectly edible toad-in-
7 2 MARCH 2023 ‘I have never been able to scrape a plate into a bin and not feel bad. I know there’s life to be had froma strip of potato skin or a carrot top’ FI GLOVER The journalist and broadcaster has her say Inmy opinion NIHAL’S TIPS FOR AVOIDING WASTE Be better organised by auditing what food is in the kitchen and get creative with the bare ingredients you have. Before that piece of food disappears into the little green box of doom, ask yourself if there is more mileage in those leftovers. Could excess pasta be used in a salad for the following day’s packed lunch? Ask the question and the internet will give an answer. Never leave uneaten food when dining at a restaurant – ask for a doggy bag. My wife recently took home a half-eaten Sunday roast wrapped in tin foil from a very cool place in London. If leftovers do end up in containers, label them, put them at eye level and do not push the plastic boxes to the back of the fridge. TAKING ACTION Nihal, his wife Eesha, son Kingsley, 15, and daughter Aarya, 13 enjoying his chicken mince bolognese. The family spent two weeks trying to cut their food waste the-hole has made a few appearances, as did a very good chickenmince bolognesemade with carrots and a generous dash of red wine, all piled on top of wholewheat fusilli with a sumptuous topping of melted cheese to complete themasterpiece. When stripped down to the bare bones of what was left in the kitchen, cooking became a puzzle to solve, rather than a chore to begrudgingly carry out. This has also taught me that cooking toomuch so there are leftovers doesn’t work inmy household. Making sure the portions are of an appropriate size means less food waste. With a 15-year-old son who has the appetite of a shoal of piranhas, and a 13-yearold daughter who eats well, but not with the same capacity, I want to be unburdened by a fridge full of plastic containers whose insides are slowly rotting. The wastemanagement company BusinessWaste has reported that the UK produces around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste annually, enough to fill 190 Royal Albert Halls, giving us the unenviable title of food waste capital of Europe. Even though the food we throw away breaks down when placed in landfill, it still emits vast amounts of methane, which is 25 times more damaging than carbon dioxide for our environment. It also emits 25million tonnes of CO2e [carbon dioxide plus all other gases] which is more than the entire annual emissions of Kenya. Food waste isn’t just a case of guilt-free wastage – there’s an environmental impact every time that little green bin gets full with items that my relatively privileged position allows me to discard. It’s time I reconsider my past indulgences andmake suremy family and I live by the termwaste not, want not. @therealnihal Iwould like to talk about compost, and confess my di cult relationship with it. Compost andme just don’t get on. Both my parents were keen gardeners. Mymother still is and, now in her eighties, her tiny back garden is a thing of wonder. She has alsomanaged to purloin part of a friend’s garden in which to grow her vegetables and has guerrilla gardened her cul-de-sac – planting flowers around lampposts and filling any space with something pretty. One of my clearest memories of my father is him turning the compost heap in our garden – a strange thing of wonder with its steaming centre. On a cold day, a gentlemist would rise as the components decayed, their energy becoming warming, almost inflammable soil. So it was ingrained inme that we live in a circular world and I have never been able to just scrape a plate into a bin and not feel bad about it. I know there’s life to be had froma strip of potato skin or a carrot top. But have I been able tomake it all work? Nope. The composting gene has been reluctant to thrive. And I have tried. I’ve had small bins that I believe I’ll ‘turn’ at the right time and larger open piles that end up with other people’s rubbish chucked onto them. I’ve had a worming tower and one of those egg-shaped composting things that you string up like a tombola tub at the fair and spin it around so it churns its own contents. The results still evademe. If youmake your own compost, you’ll be thinking it’s not that hard. But I lose interest or patience or just can’t get into the routine. Every heap of the stu has let me down. One got infested with rats. One bin became the nightly target of foxes, who could open it even if it was tied up with a Krypton Factorstyle contraption. I can’t even remember what happened to the worming tower. Nowmy local council, Hackney in east London, takes all our food waste away. I just put a bag of it in the bucket outside and o it goes to a bigmunicipal composter. I should feel good about that but I don’t. To be more specific, I feel bad about the possibility of feeling good. But you have to keep something ahead of you in life. Something you’re capable of accomplishing, so composting will be first on the list of things to do inmy third age. By then, we’ll probably be able to QR code our carrot scrapings and pop them into an app. I will reject this modernity. I will be the one feeling triumphant about the simple art of helping our world decay, in order to help it grow again. I can’t wait. Listen to Fi Glover and Jane Garvey’s new show on Times Radio from3-5pm, Monday to Thursday. @fifiglover Photographs: Olivia Brabbs
9 2 MARCH 2023 News&Views EASTERN PROMISE The big picture A shopkeeper at Noryangjin fishmarket in the South Korean capital Seoul sets out brightly coloured baskets of ingredients for what is one of the world’s fastest-growing cuisines. It’s also worth looking to the East Asian country for inspiration as the UK enters FoodWaste Action Week (6-12March), given that South Korea has upped its food waste recycling to 95%, from2% in 1995. According to a report by theWorld Economic Forum (WEF), part of the problemwas that banchan – popular side dishes eaten with rice – were often left uneaten, and vast amounts ended up in landfill sites. The South Korean government banned sending food to landfill in 2005, and since 2013 households have had to separate waste food into biodegradable bags and place them in roadside recycling units. But more action is needed globally. Humans produce enough food to feed the world’s population, yet around 800million are chronically undernourished, says theWEF. And the 2021 United Nations Environment Programme Food Waste Index found that Indian households discarded 68million tonnes of food each year, with those in China wastingmore than 91 million tonnes. Ellie Butterworth, of FeastWith Us, a North London charity helping people in food poverty, acknowledges the challenge. “Surplus food, coinciding withmalnutrition and hunger, is evident on a global scale, yet the impacts at community level remain significant,” she said. “Supporting local charities, such as ours, ensures we can save food frombeing wasted and use it to provide hot, nutritious meals for those in need.” Faith Eckersall Photographs: © Eric Reichbaum/ Getty Images
1 0 2 MARCH 2023 News&Views Photographs: Sam Harris
1 1 2 MARCH 2023 NOTHING TO DECLARE Douglas McMaster tells Paul Kirkley about his mission to create the world’s first zerowaste restaurant (without losing his mind) There’s a line fromNietzsche that Douglas McMaster is fond of quoting: Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. “Whenever someone’s described as slightlymad, I think about that quote,” says the chef, entrepreneur and visionary who, by his own admission, has been driven “onto the side of slightlymad” by a singular and allconsumingmission – to create the world’s first zero-waste restaurant. It’s a battle that, by and large, he appears to be winning. Eight years after opening in Brighton, andmore than three years since transferring to its current home in east London, Silo is an undeniable success story. But it hasn’t been easy. “I’ve spent themajority of the time wanting to give up, because it is bloody hard,” admits Douglas over co ee at the restaurant, housed in a former warehouse building overlooking the River Lee Navigation inHackneyWick. “I can’t stress that enough. For years, everywhere I looked, something was going wrong. Those crushing defeats in the early years really took their toll. “What we’re doing now, in the restaurant, is the 1%of everything I’ve tried that’s actually worked,” he adds. “And there’s another 99% that has crashed to the ground. It’s the di erence between hypothesis and reality. The hypothesis is simple – reality is trying to constantly comb out the knots.” Looking around the restaurant today – where a small, welldrilled team is getting on with preparations for a busy Friday night with theminimumof noise or fuss – there’s certainly no evidence of this chaos. “London was a turning point,” says Douglas. “I can’t rhapsodise enough about the people you can see behindme here today. Theymake everything work, because they’re brilliant.” But it’s no surprise the journey has been tough for Douglas.
12 2 MARCH 2023 mix of iron-clad determination and crippling self-doubt. “I have a failure complex,” he says. “I always feel like I’m failing. It’s compounded, I think, by not being very good at school,” he adds of his formative years inWorksop, Nottinghamshire. “I was so unacademic – I couldn’t do maths, couldn’t do science, couldn’t do English. I felt really, really useless at everything. And I just retreated into myself, because of my fear of the world. I’ve got ADHD and dyslexia, and I’mpretty sure I have dyscalculia [di culty understanding numbers] as well. I’m fascinated with the humanmind, because I’ve always felt a bit of an outcast. I think a lot about what’s going on inmy head, neurologically, that’s di erent.” And yet, not only is hemaking a success of an almost impossible task – one that requires a forensic eye for microdetail – he’s also a writer and an artist, whose 2019 book, Silo: The ZeroWaste Blueprint, reveals the soul of a poet. It’s possibly an inheritance fromhis parents, he says. “They were total opposites, in terms of character. Mymumhas a garden nursery, which she’s done since she was 16, and she’s completely single-visioned about it. She’s a grafter – a proper, tough, northern working class lass who never gives up.” It’s probably why, he adds, that even though he dreamed of chucking in the towel, in his heart he knew he never would. “My dad, however, was a poetic, nomadic kind of wanderer who was always in love with about a hundred things at once. He’d be like: ‘I need to go and paint this flower,’ and he published a book of poems before he died. And I love art, all kinds of art. Brian Eno said art is everything that doesn’t need to happen, and that’s how I like to see it.” Having left school at 16 and “fallen into a kitchen as the only place that would haveme”, Douglas relished the “anarchy and chaos” of restaurant engine rooms. Aged 21, he won BBC Young Chef of the Year – a contest he began in a blind panic, before having what he describes as a Keanu Reeves in TheMatrix-style ‘kung-fumoment’, at which point the world fell quiet and he knewwhat he needed to do. Afterwards, he drifted around various restaurants before rocking up inMelbourne, Australia, where one day he saw a queue of people snaking around a building – and decided to join it, without knowing what it was for. Eventually, he found himself inside the ‘holy temple’ of The Greenhouse by Joost Bakker: the restaurateur and ‘zero-waste prophet’ in whom Douglas saw a vision of his own – and the world’s – future. MAKING THE MOST Douglas (right and previous page); the exterior of Silo (previous page); tropea onion cooked over re with cuttle sh sauce (far right); Silo’s in-house our mill (below right); one of the restaurant’s seaweed pulp lampshades (below left) ‘A bin is a terminus. Once a material goes in the bin, it’s dead. Nothing else in nature is like that. Nature is not linear’ News&Views Restaurants are a pressure-cooker environment at the best of times, but throw in the requirement to put sustainability at the heart of every decision – not just under your own roof, but at every point in the supply chain, from farming to shipping – and the size of the task can seemoverwhelming. Eliminating food waste, says Douglas, is almost the easy bit. “Of all the food that comes through the door, I would estimate that around 1% goes to compost – so that’s 99% product e ciency. Whereas at a typical restaurant, around 40% goes to waste.” Packaging is a bigger problem– which is why, alongside a butter churn and a flour mill, Silo also has its own onsite pottery. “You see these lights?” says Douglas, pointing at the wall. “They’remade fromwine bottles. We turn our waste glass into all sorts of di erent materials, from tiles to plates.” He shows me some of the plates customers will eat from later –made by turning wine bottles back into sand, then into crockery. “It’s a process that didn’t exist before. We’ve literally birthed it into the world. It’s ametamorphosis, in whichmaterials are reborn, like a caterpillar into a butterfly.” Elsewhere, there are seaweed pulp lampshades, and a countertop of recycled plastic sits atop a bar made of upcycled leather from the waste product of an Italian shoemanufacturer (“cows don’t come in the shape of Italian shoes,” smiles Douglas). What Silo doesn’t have, though, is a bin. Or at least, not a general waste bin – an absence that is key to the restaurant’s entire philosophy. “A bin is a kind of terminus,” says Douglas. “It’s the end of the line. Once amaterial goes into a general waste bin, it’s dead. And nothing else in nature is like that. Nature is not linear – a tree, for example, lives and dies and falls, and then gives root to a whole new ecosystemof di erent things. “We’re all part of this life and death cycle of nature, and what we’re trying to do at the restaurant is to design a closed loop system that’s circular, not linear. So we don’t have a general waste bin, because that’s a bad bin. But we do have good bins – like compost bins – which we call silos.” But Silo is harbouring a dirty secret. In the back of the restaurant, Douglas shows me the airing cupboard where, on top of the water tank, are two crates and a couple of bags of rubbish. This, he explains, is the ‘alien waste bin’ – bits of packaging he hasn’t worked out how to dispose of yet. For a busy restaurant with several years of trading under its belt, it’s an infinitesimal amount of stu – but it still bothers him, so he’s sitting on it until he comes up with a solution. The challenge, says Douglas, lies in the word zero – a very small number, but a very big word that brooks no compromise. “Getting every single thing you need to run a restaurant – thousands of items – with no plastic anywhere, is impossible,” he sighs. “We’re down to something like 0.00001%. It’s tiny.” And yet, for Douglas, it’s a work in progress. By his own admission, the 35-year-old, who lives close to the restaurant with his partner Sandra, is a curious Photographs: Sam Harris, @hgd_photography_ (Laura), @samaharris, Doug McMaster/ Silo, @frankowski
13 2 MARCH 2023 It’s a proper Sliding Doors moment, I suggest – almost as if the hand of fate was pushing him into that building. “I think people with high levels of creativity have high levels of openness,” suggests Douglas. “I like to see everything as an opportunity. I’mvery open to new experiences.” Having collaborated with his new friend on the Silo by Joost café inMelbourne, Douglas launched his own pop-up diner calledWasted, before returning home and setting up Silo in Brighton. From the start, the restaurant was a word-of-mouth hit, but behind the scenes, an exhausted Douglas and teamwere fighting fires and floods – literal, as well as metaphorical – in an atmosphere of perpetual chaos that led his restaurant manager to declare: “We’ve created amonster.” For all his waste evangelism, Douglas knew from the start that Silo would stand or fall on the quality of the food. “If it’s going on themenu, it has to be amazing – that’s paramount,” he says of his bold, creative recipes (see right). “If there’s one reason we’re still trading, after eight-and-a-half years in the UK, it’s because wemake it nice.” So people aren’t coming to feel virtuous? “I’d saymaybe 1-5%of people come purely because of the concept,” he says. “If it doesn’t taste good, it’s game over. The sustainable business becomes unsustainable.” As youmight expect, Silo takes the concept of seasonal dining to its logical conclusion. “Whatever lives on the farm is on our menu,” explains Douglas. “Whatever is growing is plucked from the soil and goes on the plate, typically within 48 to 72 hours, sometimes within 24. The health implications of eating food that is alive are just... glittering.” To the surprise of some, perhaps, meat and dairy are also prominent on themenu, alongside plant-based dishes. “There’s an expression – ‘it’s not the cow, it’s the how’,” says Douglas. “Industrialisingmeat and dairy is such a bad idea. But that doesn’t make the inclusion of animals in the human food systemwrong. It means the way we’re producingmeat and dairy is wrong. A veganmight say: ‘It’s wrong to kill an animal,’ and everyone’s entitled to their personal beliefs. But my belief is that everywhere in nature there is death, and that there is a beautiful, harmonious relationship between animals and the land.” All this is a part of Douglas’s wider “pre-industrial” model for the business. “Essentially, industrialism is the problem,” he says. “That’s not to say industrialism is evil – it’s just a reference to scale. It’s an umbrella term for all the things that are wrong with the food industry, from agribusiness to plastic pollution. It’s a system that gives humans convenience and choice – everything we want, when we want it, like tomatoes in the winter. But wherever that industrial systembreeds, nature dies. “We’re trying not to follow those systems. We’re not going through wholesalers, we’re not buying processed foods, we’re not contributing to the burning of fossil fuels. We are contributing to pre-industrial methods – we’re working with regenerative farmers. We’re buying wheat rather than flour. We’re buying cream rather than butter. We’re doing everything from scratch in this kind of holistic, pre-industrial way. I know this is just a silly drop in the ocean,” he adds, with a half-apologetic shrug. “We’re just one little restaurant. But it’s a good principle.” Does that ever get himdown – the idea that one man alone can’t change the world? “Well, I’d love to see this happen at scale,” he says. “Not in like: ‘Let’s open a chain of Silos!’ Because that would defeat the point. But… I don’t want to sound like a cult leader,” he smiles. “All I’m saying is that nature is important, and we should try to listen to it, rather than to ourselves. So I think less about the actual impact of this restaurant, which is negligible, in quantifiable terms – ‘oh, we’ve saved this many wine bottles.’ Who cares? It’s more about what we believe in. Imagine if everyone just believed the narrative that we need to heal.” Imagine, in other words, if everyone could hear themusic. Like you do? “Yeah, I hear themusic,” grins Douglas. “I’mnot a very good dancer,” he adds, with typical humility. “But I don’t think that matters.” silolondon.com January Chervil root, apple, whey and miso; shiitake mushrooms, dumplings and mustard February Beetroot, apple and elderberry capers; cray sh and stonecrop March King oyster mushrooms, celeriac and rosemary; sourdough ice cream and brown butter April Whelks, pointed cabbage and Douglas r; potato, sea kale and buttermilk May Mackerel, dulse and Japanese knotweed; rhubarb, soured cream and elder ower June Trout, peas and fennel; goat’s cheese, lavender and oats O N T H E M E N U July Potato, blackcurrant and pineapple weed; sheep heart, kale and red grapes August Retired sheep and pickled unripe blackberries; raw cream ice cream and preserved elder ower September Pig, swede and wine; potato skin ice cream, blackcurrant and fennel ower October Hokkaido pumpkin, sour apple juice and beach herbs; old pig and Tokyo turnips November Venison, pickled elderberries and fat; preserved blackberries, soured cream and Alexander pollen December Abalone mushrooms and three-cornered garlic; venison and fermented aronia berry Seasonal choices from Douglas’s book Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint ‘We’re doing everything from scratch in a kind of holistic, pre-industrial way. It’s a good principle’ WASTE WONDERS Silo’s open-plan kitchen (bottom); potter Mark Ciavola creates a lampshade for the restaurant made from empty wine bottles (below)
1 5 2 MARCH 2023 Food&Drink ALISON OAKERVEE Partner & food and drink editor Food Waste Action Week (6-12 March) highlights a cause that’s been important to me since I started working at Waitrose, more years ago than I care to remember. We have close relationships with our suppliers, and I meet lots of farmers, growers and food producers. Having seen how much e ort they put into the food on our shelves, it’s always seemed terrible to me to throw it away. So every week, our Too Good To Waste feature has delicious ideas for using up leftovers and making the most of the food we buy – even the leftover cuppa in the teapot! What’s For Dinner? p16 Short Cuts p21 Too Good ToWaste with Elly Curshen p23 The Best withMartha Collison p24 Loving Your Leftovers p27 What I’mCooking withMallika Basu p31 Very Important Producer p32 Wine List with Pierpaolo Petrassi MW p34 Photographs: Jamie Orlando Smith, Food styling: Jennifer Joyce, Styling: Max Robinson, Art direction: Corrie Heale
1 6 2 MARCH 2023 Photographs: Jamie Orlando Smith, Food styling: Jennifer Joyce, Styling: Max Robinson, Art direction: Corrie Heale What’s for dinner? If you’re in need of easy, affordableweeknightmeals, look no further – these brilliant dishesmake themost of our Essential products
17 2 MARCH 2023 Food&Drink Oil (olive or vegetable) Butter Milk Honey Sugar White wine vinegar or malt vinegar Stock cubes Flour (tbsp) Salt Black pepper Garlic Dried mixed herbs Chilli akes Tomato ketchup Tomato purée Wholegrain mustard Soy sauce Curry powder STORECUPBOARD ESSENTIALS Keep these staples to hand as the base for easy weeknight meals You can now add ingredients to your trolley direct from our online recipe pages. Simply sign in to your account, book a delivery slot and add what you need from the ‘Shop this recipe’ section further down the page. SCAN THI S CODE FOR EASYTO SHOP RECI PES Serves 4 Prepare 15 minutes Cook 10 minutes 600g frozen Essential Garden Peas 100g Essential White Floured Baps (or bread), roughly torn 1 tbsp (3 tsp) tikka masala paste 75g Essential Greek Style Yogurt, plus extra to serve 4 frozen Essential Alaskan Pollock Fillets, defrosted and patted dry 2 tbsp Essential Plain Flour 1 tbsp Essential Vegetable Oil ¼ x 25g pack coriander or mint, leaves only, shredded 1 Essential Lemon, cut into wedges 1 Put the peas into a pan with 4 tbsp water. Set over a high heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until piping hot throughout. Meanwhile, in a processor, whizz the bread with 2 tsp tikka masala paste to make even crumbs. Spread over a plate. In a small bowl mix, together the yogurt and remaining 1 tsp tikka paste. 2 Dust each sh llet with our and coat in the yogurt mixture, then the crumbs. Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, pressing the sh down occasionally with a sh slice, until golden and crisp on the outside and cooked through so the sh is opaque and akes easily on the inside. 3 Add the mint and a squeeze of lemon juice to the peas, mash to make a chunky purée, then season. Serve with the sh, a spoonful of yogurt and more lemon wedges for squeezing. Per serving 1599kJ/380kcals/8.2g fat/1.4g saturated fat/36g carbs/12g sugars/10g bre/35g protein/0.6g salt/ 1 of your 5 a day Crisp tikka fish with crushed minty peas Serves 4 Prepare 10 minutes Cook 10 minutes 2 Essential Courgettes 2 x 200g cans Essential Tuna Chunks In Sun ower Oil 50g Essential Cream Crackers, crushed to ne crumbs 2 tbsp Essential Sliced Black Olives In Brine, drained 2 Essential Free Range White Eggs, beaten 25g pack at leaf parsley, leaves only, nely chopped 350g jar Loyd Grossman Tomato & Chilli Sauce 1 Cut the courgettes lengthways into thin slices, then into long thin strips (if you have a spiralizer or julienne peeler, use that). Drain the tuna, reserving the oil. Mash the sh, then mix with the crumbs, olives, eggs, ½ the parsley and seasoning. Shape into 20 balls, then set aside. 2 Heat 2 tbsp of tuna oil in a frying pan, then add the tuna polpette and fry for 5 minutes, turning a few times, until golden. Nestle the courgette among the balls, sizzle for 2 minutes, then spoon in the sauce and 4-6 tbsp water. 3 Simmer for 2 minutes, until piping hot throughout, then scatter with the remaining parsley, nish with a drizzle more oil, if liked, and serve. Per serving 1175kJ/281kcals/14g fat/2.9g saturated fat/ 15g carbs/5.9g sugars/2.4g bre/22g protein/1.8g salt/ 1 of your 5 a day Tuna & olive polpette with courgettes COOK’S TIP Any remaining olives can be kept in their brine in a sealed container for up to 1 week. Add to salads, pizzas, pasta dishes or bread, scones and other savoury bake recipes. COOK’S TIP Leftover tikka paste and Greek-style yogurt are a marinade waiting to happen. Search ‘tikka’ on the waitrose.com/recipes section for ideas using great value chicken thighs, cauli ower and more.
19 2 MARCH 2023 Serves 4 Prepare 5 minutes Cook 35 minutes 1 tbsp Essential Olive Oil 500g Essential British Pork Mince 8% Fat 1 Essential Onion, nely chopped 300g frozen Essential Grilled Vegetable Mix 400g can Essential Chopped Tomatoes 395g can Essential Red Kidney Beans In Chilli Sauce 3 Essential Large Tortilla Wraps 1 ripe Essential Avocado, cut into small chunks ¼ x 25g pack coriander, to serve 1 Essential Lime, wedges, to serve 1 Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Heat 1 tsp oil in an ovenproof frying pan or wide, ameproof casserole. Fry the pork mince over a high heat for 5 minutes, until turning golden. Add the onion and frozen vegetables. Keeping the heat high, cook for 8-10 minutes, until the pork has browned with no pink meat and the vegetables are soft. 2 Pour in the tomatoes and the kidney beans, season, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes until rich and thick. 3 Brush 1 side of each tortilla with a little of the remaining oil, stack, then cut into 8, like a cake. Scatter the tortilla triangles over the chilli, oil-side up. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and the tortillas are crisp. Scatter with the avocado and coriander and serve with lime wedges. Per serving 2310kJ/551kcals/21g fat/5.4g saturated fat/49g carbs/14g sugars/11g bre/35g protein/1.6g salt/ 2 of your 5 a day Family taco pie Serves 2 Prepare 10 minutes Cook 20 minutes 1 tbsp Essential Olive Oil 2 tsp Essential Clear Honey 2 tbsp Cooks’ Ingredients Rose Harissa 1 tbsp Essential Red Wine Vinegar, plus 1 tsp 1 Essential Aubergine, cut into large bitesized pieces 1 Essential Red Onion, halved and sliced 100g Essential Couscous 25g Essential Currants or Raisins ½ x 160g pack beetroot salad 50g Essential Greek Light Salad Cheese, crumbled 1 Preheat the grill to high. Whisk together the oil, honey, harissa and 1 tbsp vinegar to make a marinade, then season. Toss the aubergine and onion with 2 tbsp of marinade on a baking tray, then spread out. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until the aubergine is tender and starting to char. 2 While you wait, put the couscous and dried fruit into a large bowl, season, then stir in 200ml just-boiled water. Cover and leave for 10 minutes. Add 1 tsp vinegar to the remaining marinade to make a dressing. 3 Flu up the couscous, then toss with 2 tbsp dressing, the beetroot salad, aubergine, onion and most of the cheese. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing and top with the remaining cheese to serve. V Per serving 1621kJ/386kcals/12g fat/3.4g saturated fat/53g carbs/25g sugars/7.8g bre/12g protein/ 1.9g salt/ source of bre Charred aubergine & harissa couscous with feta COOK’S TIP Use up the remaining beetroot salad in a sandwich or wrap the next day, or toss through a risotto with some leftover feta from this recipe (or crumbled goat’s cheese) for a vibrant-looking meal. Try whipping the rest of the feta in a food processor with some olive oil and seasoning for a fabulous dip, dressing or spread for lunchtime sarnies. COOK’S TIP If feeding a crowd, oil and cut extra tortillas from the pack, spread onto a baking tray and bake in a hot oven until crisp and golden, to serve on the side with a green salad. Any remaining tortillas can also be frozen, ready to be used another time. Save the remaining coriander from this recipe to use across the week in alternative meals, such as the crisp tikka sh with crushed minty peas, or add to salads, stir fries and soups.
21 2 MARCH 2023 EASY COOK DINE IN 1 MAIN + 2 SIDES Food&Drink SHORT CUTS Serves 4 Ready in 45 minutes Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6. Squeeze the sausages out of their skins and roll the meat into 16-18 balls. Warm a little olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the meatballs and brown well. Stir through the pasta sauce and set aside. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes in salted, boiling water. Drain, then tip into the meatball sauce and mix to combine. Tip ½ the pasta into an ovenproof dish, tear over ½ the drained mozzarella, then repeat with the remaining pasta and cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Meatball rigatoni bake 400g pack 6 Cumberland pork sausages 2 x 350g jars tomato with fennel & pepper pasta sauce 350g pack No.1 Rigatoni 250g pack (drained weight) Essential 2 Italian Mozzarella O er ends 14 March. Selected lines only. Subject to availability. Chicken Parmigiana With Tomato & Basil Sauce £7.95/450g Crispy Potato Slices £2.10/400g Kale, Peas And Fine Bean Layers £2.40/200g (selected stores)