Socially Responsible Food

socially responsible food

Creating a Global Cooking Community

food production chain

We recently blogged on the world’s changing eating habits, so it is interesting to see some organisations taking advantage of the shifting attitude to nourishment.  Noma, the Scandinavian fine-dining phenomenon, is now expanding its 15-year-old New Nordic project, transforming all the links in the food production chain, from dirt to dinner table, and creating a global cooking community with a social conscience.

The New Nordic principle of “social gastronomy” stresses sustainability, locality and respect for the natural world, and takes those principles mainstream into supermarkets, canteens and classrooms, and partnering with Ikea, which feeds 660 million people per year.  They re-discover forgotten local Danish ingredients; Øland wheat flour, æggeblomme (“egg yolk”) potatoes and other native varietals – and through their research, crops that had all but ceased to be cultivated are finding new uses, and a reason to be grown again.

alternative cooking


The new era of cooking

Spin-off projects include ServedOnSalt, which has developed a battery that uses solar energy, salt and water to create a cheap and clean-powered cooking stove for use in refugee camps; whilst another has been focused on improving the safety and storability of milk products across rural Ethiopia.

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Rediscovery of the Traditional Cereal Grasses

Some people in Britain are following suit, although it would be a stretch to claim that the philosophy resides in the mainstream – yet.  Probably the best examples are the initiatives to re-discover traditional wheats.

  • Martin Wolfe has re-introduced ORC Wakelyns Population (known as YQ).  Wolfe had to fight EU legislation which required seeds to be distinct and uniform, and in 2017 he won the right to sell his seed.

  • Ed Dickin’s Oak Farm Population is made up of 14 crosses from the genebanks of traditional landrace varieties and aims for stronger straw, better yield, better gluten, that tastes good and can be grown with fewer inputs than homogenised grains.

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  • Andy Forbes at Brockwell Bake sourced many tiny traditional samples from genebanks, grew some on his allotment, persuaded farmers to grow more,  and began to re-introduce traditional British wheats.

  • An example is Hen Gymro, a Welsh landrace, which Andy grew and he has teamed up with the Welsh Grain Forum (bakers, millers and thatchers) to work out how to create a market for it.

  • Andy has also regenerated the Scottish Rouge d’Ecosse, Hunters and Golden Drop which has lead to the Scotland The Bread project.

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The most vibrant new market for re-discovered wheats is the artisan bakers who are desperate for heritage flours.  The flours present technical challenges for bakers because they need to be flexible with non-homogenised grains. The initiative, which is spearheaded by the UK Grain Lab, requires re-building localised grain economies from scratch, perhaps with small, community-owned regional mills and the network of farmers, millers and bakers.

How the Environmental Impact of Livestock Farming and Chemical Usage in Agriculture can open an opportunity for Business Continuity

There is a link here to a forecast that cell-based meat will bankrupt the US’s huge beef industry within 15 years.  This very thoughtful piece in the Guardian offers a different view on British farming and is well worth a read as we consider where eating habits are going as the background to New Nordic and other initiatives.

With the world population set to rise rapidly in the next 30 years, there is no doubt that demand for food will rise.  And if the environmental impacts of large-scale livestock farming and heavy chemical use in arable agriculture mean that food can no longer be produced as it was in the 20th century, then this represents an opportunity – for both food producers and restaurants who want to stay in business.



Toby Ingram, OBE

Senior Consultant,

Sector Lead: Academia & Heritage



Scotland The Bread

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