W hen it comes to fresh food, we know what we should do: buy local, eat less meat, look for fish approved by the Good Fish Guide . But what about the particular items in our store cupboard – the sauces, spices, condiments, spreads and ingredients that are canned, jarred or dried? How do all of us choose them so as to inflict as little damage on the planet as possible?
The bad news is, it’s not that simple. Sustainability is a complex hydra. “There are social criteria, health requirements, embedded carbon [all the CO 2 emitted in producing a product throughout its lifecycle] plus embedded water [all the water entailed], ” says Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City, University associated with London and the person who coined the phrase “food miles”. For example , buying dried pulses and cooking them yourself will reduce the energy expended upon packaging plus transporting cans, but it entails more emissions than in the factory where the process is streamlined. In theory, dried fruits and spices have a low environmental impact – but this is increased if they are quickly freeze dried rather than dried slowly in the particular sunshine.
The particular good news is that a well-stocked store cupboard can help to reduce food waste, which is responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions . It can also play a part in food security.
“A shop cupboard is usually ultimately about giving the household a buffer, ” says Lang. “We need to transform consumers’ approach in order to household planning and to cooking food – not assume supermarkets will do that will for us. ” Since refrigerators replaced larders, technology “made consumers dependent on energy-guzzling supply chains”, he states, which are now facing uncertainty. Long term, this will require changes in public policy: sustainable store cabinet products are far from being universally affordable. Still, there are cheaper – if ever so slightly less lasting – options, and if a person have space and can afford to, buy loose and in bulk where possible to save money and packaging.
British pulses: Hodmedod’s
Pulses are usually truly the particular holy grail associated with store cupboard goods, says Lang. They are storable, nutritious, grow easily and abundantly in the UK, and are great for soil health. In fact, Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedod’s – purveyor associated with British signal – is almost embarrassed simply by how positive pulses are usually for the environment. “There really is no bad news, ” he says. Being rich in protein, they are perfect as the substitute with regard to or supplement to meat, so that we consume less of it. Then there’s their ability to fertilise the ground, using root nodules containing bacteria which convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia – “so they don’t need any artificial fertilisers, which usually degrade the particular soil, ” continues Meldrum. The nodules increase organic matter by feeding microbial life which, when it dies, “ensures carbon is locked into the soil”. Hodmedod’s baked beans taste at least as good because Heinz’s, plus its carlin peas are an excellent British substitute regarding chickpeas.
Palm oil-free peanut butter: Manilife, Meridian
Like pulses, peanuts are naturally a sustainable crop that demands little drinking water, has nitrogen-fixing properties and, when planted in rotation with other crops, reduces soil erosion. Other nut butters are available, of course, but walnuts plus almonds are more water intensive and much less versatile compared to peanut butter, which may be used in a variety of soups and sauces as well as on toast. Manilife sources its peanuts from a family-run farm inside Argentina which usually follows natural processes since closely as you possibly can, and eschews palm oil: one of the biggest drivers of deforestation worldwide.
‘Heritage grain’ flour: Sharpham Park, Wildfarmed , Gilchesters, Doves Farm
It’s hard to believe something so ubiquitous and innocuous as flour could be environmentally problematic, yet modern, hybridised wheat has a lot in order to answer intended for. Being bred over the years to have a short stem and simply no protective husk has left the particular strain entirely dependent upon pesticides plus fertilisers, which reduces biodiversity and strips the ground of organic matter, leaving it susceptible to flooding and erosion. Heritage grains such because spelt, emmer and einkorn have deeper roots and can be grown without chemicals on farms that will adopt regenerative practices. They are then stoneground – a process which preserves the nutritional properties of the grain – into the flavourful flour. Will Murray, from the sustainably minded restaurant Fallow , is a particular fan associated with Wildfarmed. “They buy the flour before this has been grown, therefore they’re not really driven simply by yield, they’re driven by quality, which usually means supporting soil nutrients and dirt health. ”
‘Heritage grain’ pasta: Pastificio Carleschi, Sharpham Recreation area, Fresh Flour Company
As with flour, so with nudeln. Pastificio Carleschi and the Fresh Flour Company use the stoneground flour of British-grown heritage grains to produce beautiful, bronze-cut pasta, dried out at low temperatures to maintain the nutrition, flavour plus texture of the final product. Pastificio Carleschi avoids plastic packaging. Fresh Flour Company supplies reduce pasta, direct from the particular mill and through a network of zero-waste shops while well since online. “I struggled a bit along with [sustainable] teigwaren, but I really like the New Flour Organization, ” states Michelin-green-starred chef Chantelle Nicholson, of the zero-waste cafe Apricity in London. “They do fettuccini, ramen noodles, bucatini – all sorts of shapes. ”
Raw honey: Oliveology, Field & Flower, Local Honey Man, Bermondsey Street Bees (look for the nearest local small-scale supplier)
Around two-thirds of the particular crops that feed the world rely on pollination simply by bees, birds and bats. Pollination benefits both human nutrition plus biodiversity, yet monocultures and the blanket use of chemicals inside intensive agriculture are compromising bees’ capability to support the particular ecosystem , putting their own – and, ultimately, our – survival at risk. Supporting beekeepers who prioritise the health of their particular hives plus work alongside organic farmers is one way associated with safeguarding towards this danger – as well as the best way to do that is to look for raw honey, which will by definition have been produced on a small scale. Being the natural preservative, honey does not require heating – yet industrial honeys are usually made through a huge number of sources, and each honey will vary wildly within colour plus viscosity. “They blend all of them together and heat them to make an uniform product, ” says Sam Wallace, co-founder of Industry & Floral, which sources honeys from independent producers in UK and Europe. This means the ethics associated with how plus where it is gathered are muddier, and that the market for honey is distorted, she continues, making environmentally friendly beekeeping less financially viable.
Fava bean umami paste: Hodmedod’s
“We love using miso in our food preparation, ” says Murray, “and Hodmedod’s umami paste is a good alternative in order to the Japanese item. It’s very dark, intense and umami. ” Like all legumes, fava beans flourish in regenerative farming systems, support dirt fertility and soil co2 and work well within crop rotations with grains and cereals. Hodmedod’s ferments these coffee beans to create a paste that can serve instead of miso, which is definitely traditionally made with fermented soy plus imported to the UK through Asia. It is available to buy online in bulk, inside 20kg tubs, or in smaller recyclable glass jars.
Seaweed: Cornish Seaweed Company, Mara Seaweed, Wild Irish Seaweeds
Seaweed is only as niche as your knowhow. At Fallow, Murray uses sustainably harvested seaweed from Cornwall in order to make all sorts of savoury gravies and stocks, including dashi, one of the foundational stocks associated with Japanese cooking that will be most commonly produced with sardines, dried bonito flakes or shiitake mushrooms. “It’s one of the most sustainable foods you can eat, ” Murray states. It requires no chemicals or even fertilisers to grow and, by absorbing huge quantities of carbon dioxide, its cultivation improves the quality of the surrounding water plus ultimately our own atmosphere. In Scotland, saucier Jacob Thundil uses seaweed to make a plant-based alternative to soy sauce . “I wanted to avoid soy, because it’s a potential allergen and often intensively farmed – and when I was experimenting with seaweed grown at my friend’s farm, I found I can create similar flavours, ” he says. The seaweed is aged, and only a small amount is used so it is not overpowering.
Fish sauce: Red Boat, Sozyë
Thundil uses Scottish seaweed to make plant-based “fish” sauce, for similar reasons: “It often contains shrimp, that is an allergen; there are ethical issues around farming; plus fish sauce is transported over long distances. ” The main issue with traditional fish sauce is the lack of transparency. Sustainable prawn farms do exist, and the other common ingredients with regard to fish spices, anchovies in addition to sardines, are “good candidates for sustainable fisheries because they reproduce rapidly at a relatively young age and, when well managed, are a great source of sustainable, highly nutritious seafood. But this isn’t always the case and sadly, south-east Asia isn’t renowned for its sustainably handled fisheries, ” says Jack Clarke, the sustainable sea food advocate at the Marine Conservation Society . That said, fish marinade needs to be viewed in the particular round. “A bottle lasts a long time and even a few splashes impart a lot of flavour. I’ll add fish sauce to otherwise vegetarian dishes to give them a slap of umami … you’re using a tiny proportion of animal-derived ingredients to potentially take the place of something like prawns or beef, and this could be seen as reducing a dish’s impact on the planet. ”
To that end, many chefs swear by Red Boat , which is simply made from salt and barrel-fermented wild-caught black anchovies. Clarke can’t comment on typically the sustainability from the fishery – it doesn’t have a rating – but given “a third associated with global fish catches are turned into animal feed, the more we can divert directly in to human nutrition, the better, in my opinion. ”
“Even from a flavour perspective I wouldn’t buy pesto, ” says Nicholson; homemade is a no-brainer. Mass-produced pesto frequently uses pine nuts through China. The particular olive oil is rarely sustainably sourced. The jars are small, and yet somehow you always end up with a new little bit left that accrues mould within days. Yet there are few better ways of using up old herbs, salad leaves, carrot tops and leafy vegetables than blending all of them with oil and nuts . Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds rather compared to pine nut products, says Nicholson – or even better yet, British cobnuts; Food & Forest have an excellent, regeneratively captive-raised supply . Use a pestle and mortar instead of an electric grinder to create it more sustainable still, and sterilise your jars so it will last longer.
Regeneratively farmed extra virgin olive oil: Typically the Oil Merchant, Citizens regarding Soil , Two Fields, Oliveology, Honest Toil
It’s hard to believe something as ancient together with poetic as the olive tree could be intensively captive-raised, but it can – and additionally with that will comes all the attendant environmental problems involving pollution, chafing and lost biodiversity . Traditional small-scale methods connected with essential olive oil production have very little environment impact, however. Olive trees can grow in areas of mixed land use, promoting biodiversity, not to mention require very little water compared with other crops. They are usually well suited in order to regenerative farming practices : but these are only viable if growers are usually selling their oil directly to consumers rather than into global supply chains, where they would get homogenised and depreciated. Mercifully, these are just some sort of few with many suppliers who source their olive oil direct from minor producers. Opt for refillable cans and bottles if you can.
Organic Joha rice, millet, barley: Woodland Whole Foods, Hodmedod’s, Doves Farm, Hatton Hill
Is there such a thing as lasting rice? Lang doesn’t think so. “The UN assessments all say rice will be the staple food most at risk from climate change, ” he tells me. It is responsible regarding 10% for the world’s methane exhausts , and the embedded water cost ~ the amount of water entailed in the production about rice – is high. “Until this catastrophic River Po drought I’d say you could opt for Italian risotto rice over Indian, but now Italy is also water-stressed, ” says Lang. Even the award-winning Indian chef Chet Sharma is steering clear in rice as far while possible in his restaurant Bibi, with the exception of Joha grain, which is slowly grown and organically farmed inside the Assam region. Yet there are plenty from sustainably developed British grains that can stand in for hemp, depending on the dish you’re cooking. “Emmer wheat does not have often the softness of rice, yet it includes a lovely bite to this. Pearled barley would work alongside curries or perhaps in risottos, ” says Nicholson.
Rubies found in the Rubble ketchup
It doesn’t have to be Heinz; that can become Rubies within the Trash ketchup, made with organic tomatoes and sweetened with oversized or misshaped pears and also apples that are surplus to be able to demand and have no other buyer. Nicholson actively prefers this ketchup to Heinz – as well as it doesn’t just come in glass containers: the new recyclable squeezy bottle is usually 100% post-consumer recycled plastic waste. “I would say it’s my favourite – and you can buy it inside of the supermarket now, too. ”
Spices: Steenbergs, Ren’s Kitchen, Spice Mountain, Top Up Truck, Hodmedod’s
The same rules which apply for you to all foods apply to spices: the shorter and more transparent the supply chain, your better. These suppliers are all either fair trade, or have direct links with spice producers, and are familiar with the way they are produced and dried. Steenbergs sources organic, Fairtrade spices if possible, Hodmedod’s resources only organic, British-grown spices or herbs, while Top Up Truck and Ren’s Kitchen : Nicholson’s favoured spice purveyor – allow you to buy in bulk.