Hello, and welcome to the Delicious and Sustainable blog. This site is a celebration of everything that is fantastic, vibrant, nutritious and delightful about food, with the added lens of sustainability that is now the context for our lives.
It's not an accident that 'delicious' is the first word. The enjoyment of great food is a sensual pleasure, and that's why so many people care about it, seek it out and obsess about it. I decided to focus on this area - having dealt with business and sustainability issues for 30 years - because I wanted to spend time sharing the enjoyment that I get out of food, and to speak to those for whom sustainable food should be mainstream, aspirational, and life-enhancing.
I'm something of a pragmatist when I look at what our sustainable future will look like. Of course a world-wide sustainable food system will have to include the major food corporations, and the chemical companies, as well as the fantastic artisan producers. If it doesn't scale, it won't be sustainable. And if we're going to wait for perfection before we move forward, we'll never scale. Luckily, increasing numbers of those mainstream agents are coming to understand the nature of the task in front of them as well. Probably more than the political leaders right now.
A few things about me. I eat and enjoy most things, but agree with the growing movement that thinks that a couple of meat-free days per week is a good thing. The rest of the time I will seek responsibly-sourced high welfare options for meat and fish, supporting local producers as well as mainstream companies going the extra mile to meet their social responsibilities.
I am very fortunate not to have any known allergies or intolerances. But I'm keen that people that have those issues - and indeed who have just made specific dietary choices - can enjoy food that is just as delicious and life-affirming as the rest. I'm interested in some of the ingredients and techniques that make that possible, and will explore some of those on this blog.
Meat-eating is one of those areas where some - and I say some, because many don't - get very ideological when it comes to sustainability. I was a (non-preaching) vegetarian for 23 years, from the start of my twenties onwards. I lived with a vegan for four years - and that was the period when I began learning how to cook properly. I am aware of all the arguments. The fact that there has been something of a growth in recent years of uptake in vegan lifestyles is testament to what can happen when (often young) people make a certain choice attractive and aspirational. It doesn't happen by lecturing people and calling them names.
More specifically, freedom of speech is a wonderful thing and a prerequisite to successful society. But this is not a public forum - it's my personal space. Abusive or rude comments will be deleted. There are plenty of places where you can go to vent.
It's my view that sustainable diets, like sustainable everything else, will only happen if people vote for it - with their wallets as well as at the ballot box.
Maybe we'll all end up miserably eating grey porridge for three meals a day because it's the only thing that will sustain 10 billion people on a stressed planet. But if that happens it will be because we failed to create the attractive alternative that people would embrace. We can still create a future that will preserve most of those good things (but we are getting clear sight of diminishing options on the near horizon, for sure).
To celebrate the good things isn't to diminish the urgency of the task we have in creating a sustainable future. It's only by celebrating the good things and finding ways to make them work in the new future that will help us to get there.
Let me give an example. When environmental issues first came to the fore, environmentalists began to preach that everyone should stop driving. People were lectured about the negative impact of car use, and told to feel guilty if they used their car as anything other than a once-a-week community car pool. Nobody elected those environmentalists into positions of power. Nobody bought into their solutions. Because they were based on hair-shirt visions of sustainability that were all about what people had to give up.
Then Elon Musk came along with a mission to make the solar-charged electric car the vehicle of the future. It was high-end and aspirational. Suddenly, the whole industry began to see the vision for how it would take the next evolution on the journey to reduce emissions. There are still problems to be solved at scale - but it is an enormous leap from where we were. Enabled by entrepreneurial vision and technology, not hair-shirt denial of human needs and hopes.
A few more things about me. I'm politically interested, but because of previously-mentioned pragmatism most 'see-who-you-should-vote-for' tools I've ever tried out have placed me squarely in the centre. In some countries, sustainability issues have been placed on one or other ends of the political spectrum. That is bonkers. If people agree with science based on what their party or their social tribe believes, then it's evidence that we're not assessing the science at all, we're justifying preferred ideological or social positions. Science doesn't give two hoots about your political preferences. No sides have a monopoly of wisdom - but we have a shared interest in coming to a consensus about the core of what we need to do to move forward. We can fight about the details of implementation if need be, but we don't have forever to get on with it.
If we're looking for areas of common ground, I think it's food. The love of good food is common to every race, every poltical persuasion. Important leaders often negotiate over dinner because shared food and drink is such a natural social bonding experience it helps the process. When people are welcomed as guests, it is food that is often the thing that provides the substance of that welcome. In every society and every culture we have a stake in our ability to produce good food sustainably.
One other thing, of course. The flip side of the focus on food is that we also run the risk of eating too much of it, and damaging our health. And on top of that, we also waste huge quantities of that which we have. Quality not quantity is a key movement for the next few decades. I think celebrating great food takes us in that direction. And reducing food waste - that is a huge challenge we are only just starting to scratch the surface of.
Every recipe I share on here will (I intend - apologies if I slip) include notes on what can be done to deal with any leftovers that recipe is likely to create. It partly does depend on the degree to which you set up your own system. If you grow your own rocket, you can snip a few leaves off and the plant goes on happily until the next time. But if you have tiny amounts of space, what is it worth growing yourself, especially if you don't want to spend a lot of time tending a demanding garden?
You know, I was brought up in the grey old world of 1980s Britain where what we ate was mostly 'meat and two veg'. And it was unimaginative and derided the world over. We now have hundreds of cookbooks and TV shows by celebrity chefs. But you know what? Those great recipes create a ton more food waste than the old way. "Serve with a few rocket leaves." Right. But they only sell rocket in significant sized bags. So what happens to all the rest? Answer - unless you can use it all up within a couple of days, it goes in the bin. And huge amounts leave our kitchens via the bin every single day.
We will only reduce when it becomes easy to do so. Maybe the new services where they deliver exactly measured ingredients to your door plus recipes is the way forward. Maybe the big companies need to solve issues around micro-portioning for produce. Perhaps there should be more 'bring-your-own-container' stores. Possibly all three, and a lot of things besides we haven't even thought of. But expect to see plenty about reducing food waste on these pages.
That's enough for now. If you're a visual person when it comes to food, you might want to follow me on Instagram. I post pictures of great food there, and also add stories with some of the day to day visuals of life. If you want to get notified once a week about new content here, then sign up to the email newsletter (or if you use RSS newsreaders then add this site's feed to your reader of choice). If you want to banter, then probably hit me up on twitter. If you want to add to the discussion on any of the posts, then add your comments on that page.
Thanks for coming here, and thanks for getting to the end of this page. Your attention is always welcomed and appreciated.