Food is a passion for most of us here at SustainIt. Every lunch you are likely to hear “That looks nice” or “What’s that I can smell!” with greedy eyes. Don’t even get me started on the tonnes of homemade cake we get through in a week. With an office full of foodies, it’s no surprise that on a regular basis we like to come together to flex our culinary muscles for a team lunch.
Our latest lunch was inspired by something that fills our newspapers and newsfeeds every day and causes heated discussions over family dinners. You guessed it, it’s Brexit.
There’s a great deal of uncertainty about what our food trade deals and labelling requirements are going to look like, especially if the result is a no-deal Brexit. In 2017 the UK supplied slightly under half (50%) of the food consumed across the UK, based on the farm-gate value of unprocessed food.
We rely on another 30% coming from the EU (Source: Chapter 14, Agriculture in the United Kingdom, Defra).
These facts got the team thinking about their favourite British vegetables, and what our dinners may look like post-Brexit, albeit a little to the extreme. For this team cook-off I challenged the office to prepare an entirely British lunch, an especially difficult challenge in April when the UK produces less fresh fruit and vegetables than other times of the year. The only rule – all produce must be grown or reared in the UK.
So how did we do? Let me take you through our menu:
Main – Slow cooked lamb, honey-roasted vegetables, shepherd’s pie and vegetable pasties
Dessert – Rhubarb crumble and apple tart, with homemade custard
As you might expect from a meat, potato and pastry dense menu, there were a lot of full bellies after we had gorged ourselves and several 3pm coffees were required to energise us in the afternoon.
Over lunch we discussed the challenges we faced when sourcing our ingredients. Our local supermarkets clearly labelled their British produce but for both meat meals the British meat was amidst imported goods. Whilst we managed to deliver on all the core produce, our biggest challenge were the herbs, spices and other flavourings. Black peppercorns, sugar, vanilla, tomato puree – all are ingredients not easily grown in the UK or available at this time of the year yet are essential to elevating our meals.
The challenge has encouraged us to take more time to read the labels in our local supermarket, greengrocers or butchers, to choose British fruit and vegetables and where possible to choose organic, locally sourced or seasonal produce.
By Sam Hadfield, Systems Consultant