Food is big business. The average household in the UK spends £455 per week on food, that’s over £23,000 per year. Until recently, the choice of food products, restaurants and cafes available to suit the more ethical eaters among us has been limited. High streets are lined with chains of takeaways, pizza huts and supermarkets which have an abundance of mass produced, fertilised, battery farmed produce. I have become a farmers’ market addict, religiously visiting the one in my London borough every Sunday and I find I still have money in my pocket when I’m done. Farmers/farm workers bring their own produce, set up a stall and sell all things from fruit and vegetables to cheese and chutney, not forgetting the most delicious breads, eggs and meats. There are now over 500 farmers markets operating around the country.
Stall at Borough Market, London – Photo by Rob Qld
Britons spend more money on out-of – home meals than any other country in the world. With such huge demand for eating out options, there is no surprise that there has been a rise in the number of establishments tapping in to the ethical conscience and using fair-trade, local, seasonal and organic produce. I decided to scour the country to find some of the most ethical eateries.
The first place I found was London eatery Acorn House. Situated in the heart of London’s King Cross, this restaurant was set up by Shoreditch Trust in 2006 as an attempt to challenge the industry’s approach to sustainability. It is built from organic, recycled materials, composts or recycles 100% of its waste, uses bio diesel to transport within London and pledges that all ingredients come from within the M25. It may be situated right next to the most polluted road in London but it has a clean conscience and a practically non-existent carbon footprint.
Travel to the south coast and you will find Riverford Field Kitchen – of Riverford Organic fame and twice winner of The Guardian’s best ethical restaurant award 2009 and 2010. It is a smaller, cosier eating atmosphere but the food doesn’t get much fresher than this – from field to fork the same day.
Head to North Yorkshire where you will find the quaint Helmsley Walled Garden Cafe. The beautiful gardens are home to a vinehouse and well looked after walled garden where all the produce required to supply this vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe are grown. They compost all waste, use fair-trade products and are reducing their carbon footprint by only using filtered tap water.
Further north still to the city of Edinburgh, ethical eaters will find Urban Angel. They pledge to serve the freshest, tastiest food sourced locally and sold for fair price to all their customers. They cook with the seasons and source all their produce from an organic farm in Berwick.
Top photo by NatalieMaynor