Sustainable Gastronomy Day: How your food choices can shape a sustainable environment
Jun 18, 2019

Sustainable Gastronomy Day: How your food choices can shape a sustainable environment

By EJF Staff

When it comes to eating sustainably, there’s a simple mantra that we would all do well to follow: Think globally, eat locally.

June 18th is Sustainable Gastronomy Day: a day to highlight the interconnectedness between maintaining a sustainable environment and what we eat. Food miles, environmental degradation and sustainable livelihoods must all be factored into our everyday food choices if we are to act responsibly.

But that’s easier said than done, as a whole host of factors contribute to our foods’ overall sustainability ranking.

Caught on the high seas and with truly global and complex supply chains, seafood is one of the worst offenders when it comes to traceability. It may be simple enough to trace fish back to the waters in which it was caught, but this is only a very small part of the story. A lack of regulation within the global seafood industry means that illegal fishing is rife. From fishers using destructive fishing gear, to companies taking unlicensed or unregistered fishing vessels into protected waters, marine ecosystems are under attack from all angles.

Drawing attention to this multi-faceted issue is crucial. Not only is illegal fishing decimating our oceans, but it’s impacting the food security of millions of people. EJF has partnered with seafood restaurants to highlight the scale of the issue, with top chefs jumping at the chance to take a stand when it comes to the transparency reforms that are needed in their industry.

Restaurants championing sustainability

Restaurant group Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill joined Martin Wishart, Firmdale Hotels and the Peat Inn to advocate for our oceans, raising awareness and funds to save the sea, in the face of insufficient seafood traceability.

Michelin-starred chef and long-term advocate for EJF and sustainable seafood, Martin Wishart announced, “We urgently need to re-think our relationship with the sea in 2019. I hope this collaboration with EJF encourages diners in Restaurant Martin Wishart and The Honours to eat consciously and do their bit for safer seas.”

As the first restaurant group in the UK to be serving 100% MSC-certified seafood, Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill was an obvious partner for this project. Andrei, founder of Lussmanns laid out the issue by stating, “It’s quite clear that we won’t have enough fish in the sea if we carry on buying fish that’s not been certified.”

These sustainability champions prove that we can make steps towards a greener way of eating, simply by seeking out retailers that have done the work to trace the origin of their produce; shining a light on the legality and sustainability of the catch.

Bringing big business on board

We hope that soon, this will extend beyond a select few restaurants and businesses to major supermarket retailers. In May this year, Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose all signed EJF’s Charter for Transparency, which calls on the major brands to ensure that the seafood they buy cannot be linked to illegal fishing or human rights abuses. The charter includes detailed recommendations retailers can use to check their suppliers, thus taking ownership of responsible seafood sourcing.

Sam Ludlow Taylor, Ethical Trade Manager at Waitrose & Partners commented “By signing this charter, further safeguarding measures will be implemented to ensure all workers are operating within a safe and ethical environment, as well as practising the high standards both we and our customers expect”.

We’re encouraged by the strong response from these big brands that have shown their commitment, but there is still a way to go. We need to see sustainability across all seafood – not just own-brands, and it needs to include the food we give our pets too. We can all play a part by contacting our favourite retailers direct and refusing to buy from brands that aren’t taking steps to improve across their supply chains. We know supermarkets listen when their customers raise their concerns – together we can make change happen.

Food for thought

People’s gastronomic choices can be restricted by a range of factors, but an extra ounce of empathy goes a long way. Today, if you can, consider the millions of people who rely on oceans for their survival. Eating locally should be a way of re-connecting globally: Sustainable Gastronomy Day is a reminder that none of us dine in isolation, it is an occasion to think of other cultures and environments.

Local, organic, seasonal produce comes in many delicious forms – enjoy a year of sustainable gastronomy, starting today.

How you can help save the sea:

  • Shop EJF’s new range of 100% organic cotton, fairly-traded designer T-shirts, with all profits going to our global oceans campaign.
  • Dine out and donate at the seafood restaurants demonstrating sustainable practices, and fundraising for EJF’s Save the Sea campaign until 8th July.
  • Demand better from your retailers. Urge them to ensure their seafood is guaranteed to be from legal, ethical and sustainable sources.