At Make Food we love meeting other people who curious, passionate, immersed in and inquisitive about food and we’ve decided to start bringing their stories together so you can Meet the Makers – the people behind the food you are eating now and also those who are striving to build a secure food system for the future.
We thought a great way of starting this endeavour would be an introduction to some of the London based food innovators changing the way we eat now, written by our new contributor Imogen Sherwood a London based food enthusiast looking to soak up some of her city’s delectable culture.
London Food Link (LFL) is the voice for good food in the capital. It brings together London’s cooks, growers, researchers, scientists, vendors, educators and community advocates, to create initiatives for maintaining a sustainable food network. I was lucky enough to meet them and learn more about the individual work their members do at their Winter Warmer in December.
As a new comer to the world of food I didn’t understand all the ways people are involved with food in the city. All the members aim to provide their local communities with access to good food whether this be by selling, volunteering, cooking, researching or teaching. A welcoming group of friendly faces greeted me and I was soon at ease with a cup of home brewed gin (yes a whole cup) in hand. Each talk lasted a few minutes and below I capture a few members that show the breadth of what is being achieved.
Community alliance –Sustain – Their representative Sofia Parente talked about an alliance for better food and farming whereby all stake holders are brought together to help shape better decisions for the community. They run many different projects and campaigns to improve food and farming such as protecting children’s health, community growing spaces and the real bread initiative. I also talked to her about the importance of Food Partnerships which brings interested people together in a community to voice the issues and projects they would like to see and to make an action plan. This means work is specific to the individuals and where they live not simply commanded from council levels or via government guidelines. Quite empowering!
Food sharing technology – OLIO app – I don’t know about you but I hate seeing food go to waste and sometimes struggle to eat everything I have bought or cooked. This is a drop in the ocean compared to what is discarded by businesses. Enter the Olio app, part of a food sharing revolution where a free app helps to minimise food waste in your local community. Each individual simply downloads the app and can advertise food or search for free food in their location. It can be anything from food about to go out of date to half of a leftover children’s birthday cake or food leftover in the local takeaway, cafe or bakers. To bring local enterprise and residents together volunteer businesses ‘Food Waste Heroes’ allow food to be dropped off in their premises for collection. Impressively the app has an 83% success rate of food being collected within 24 hours and 50% within 1 hour, so no need to worry that food might go off. The initiative has served a huge need in the community in London to ease food waste and help food poverty at the same time.
Vendor – Gourmet Goat – is the name of an inspirational and award winning street food stall started a few years ago. The husband and wife team decided to bring their family heritage of Eastern Mediterranean village food to the UK. They sell Kid goat and Rose veal which is roasted into Koftas or slow cooked added to salads. Like many I was initially alarmed about the slaughter of baby animals until it was explained that this was sustainable, healthy and supported dairy producers. How? Well, by using the meat of young male animals – the bi products of the dairy industry – they stop food waste where these animals are culled in their thousands. Farmers benefit too as they earn more than expected to top up the small percentage they earn from selling milk to big supermarkets. Unless you are vegetarian everyone wins. Read more here.
Community, education and enterprise – Skip Garden and Kitchen. Sadhbh Moore is the Chef at this mobile community garden and cafe sited on old derelict land behind King cross station. The land is provided by local business developers which allows them to give back to the community. Produce is grown in skips throughout the garden as the industries glass and steel is built up around them. Sadhbh explained they have created a hub for local residents to visit and share the food that has been grown. They run classes & events for the community, young people and schools focusing on sustainability, cooking and healthy eating. Both businesses and residents are brought together to help their area thrive.
Farming development Future farm labs’ Abi Glencross spoke to us about their work to put the farmer back at the centre of the food system through connecting them with retailers, consumers and technology. She highlighted the use of chemicals on our food and their research to understand if this could in turn lead to higher levels of food intolerance or allergies. The scientists focus on researching new food technologies which marry with old techniques to improve our food chain. They aim to re-establish a ‘Food Utopia ‘of farming the land within our means, and to educate people to connect with the food they eat. For example one interesting event focuses on the fry up to demonstrate and discuss how it does not change seasonally. Could it change and what could you replace your mushrooms with?!
This was an eye opening evening demonstrating that the smallest ideas help the wider community with sustainability and educate us in food and health. Of course it wasn’t all talk and wouldn’t be a winter warmer without some food in our stomachs so we descended on the simple buffet to try squash soup served in mini squash dishes with homemade bread and an array of colourful dips like beetroot (sweet and bright purple) and pesto. For desert, what could be more British than an apple crumble from the orchard with custard?! I ventured out in to the city full and contemplated how I could be involved at a local level. Funnily enough a new neighbour offered me some starter dough recently and our block of flats now share bread recipes from our different backgrounds. Just another small idea that could grow.