In the luxury world, it’s not often that the buzzword du jour is ‘waste’. But when it comes to fine dining, going zero waste is the movement of the moment. But is the zero waste food trend here to stay? Or does true fine dining demand ecological compromise?
We spoke to a pioneer of the zero waste industry and founder of Silo (a waste-free fine dining restaurant in Brighton) Douglas McMaster about the new philosophy of waste not, want not.
Tell us a little about the zero waste industry and movement in food
I think Zero waste is so popular because it’s so simple. In this very complicated wasteful world, something so pure is naturally attractive. The food industry in the last 50 years has become incredibly wasteful mainly due to industrialised food systems creating so much convenience and choice.
Furthermore, the culture that this food system has allowed to breed is one with unnatural expectations and an unhealthy appetite for perfection. That’s not to mention the packaging waste, which is, of course, a phenomenal strain on the environment, our economy and resources.
My challenge at my zero waste restaurant ‘Silo’ in Brighton is to make consistently brilliant food without generating any waste.
Is there any way to know which restaurants and businesses are practising zero or limited waste policies?
Unfortunately not. I’d love to create a ‘Zero waste certification’ to help guide restaurants on maximising their resources to minimise their waste.
Why do you think it’s taken this long for people to start paying attention to these issues and needs? Why now?
This food industrialisation I refer to is only really taken hold in the last 50 years, mostly giving us what we want. The trouble is that we are only just starting to understand the downsides to this. Processed food is making us ill, and the environment is also ill because of the way we’re processing the food.
How can we have more of a ‘zero waste’ attitude in our own lives?
Start by looking at every purchase as a vote. If you buy fast food you are voting for fast food to exist, if you buy organic food you are voting for an organic future, if you buy something with no packaging you are voting for zero waste. It’s important to never underestimate these small actions.
How can this tie into other areas of life?
Zero waste works hand in hand with Minimalism and other lifestyle movements which can bring great relief on life’s anxious demands. Practically speaking it will save you money, it’s likely to make you healthier because most zero waste purchases are whole, organic and bring back fundamental life trends (such as cooking) which are philosophically crucial to our existence.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
It is important to me to work with brands taking zero waste and sustainability seriously. I recently collaborated with Patrón Tequila for their Patrón Secret Dining Society event alongside innovative mixologist Iain Griffiths of Mr Lyan Ltd. It was great to present a zero waste menu perfectly paired with a set of Iain’s adventurous cocktails at the event. It was the perfect opportunity to align myself with a fellow brand taking sustainability seriously, in the knowledge that the production processes Patrón use in Jalisco Mexico to make their tequila are sustainable. For example, instead of disposing of the unused hand-harvested agave in the production process as waste, Patrón takes it and mixes it with the remaining concentrated stillage to create organic compost for growing crops on the Hacienda’s grounds and shares it with the local community to fertilise the surrounding agave fields.
Consider all food as a living thing, if you eat dead denatured processed food packed with things unnaturally our bodies will suffer, whereas if we eat food that’s alive, we will prosper.
Find out more about Douglas & Silo at www.silobrighton.com.
READ MORE: Wine Trends / Drinks Trends
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