6 lightbulb moments from the Eat Out Sustainability workshop

Feel like you want to do more to save the world? Don your cape and listen up. In a workshop at Eat Out HQ this week, the judges of the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award spoke about sustainability for restaurants in South Africa. Sonia Mountford of Eategrity, Pavs Pillay of WWF-SASSI and Karen Welter of the Longtable Project, as well some key farmers doing great work, shared some fascinating insights. We sum up some of the most mind-blowing moments.

1. Get used to the word ‘regeneration’

“We should already be talking about regeneration. Our consumption as humans is not sustainable. We are not sustainable,” was the opening gambit by Sonia Mountford. Angus MacIntosh, of Farmer Angus fame, agrees the current system cannot possibly be sustained and favours the term ‘regenerative’, emphasising the need to overhaul farming practices entirely.

Sustainability Awards. Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash.

2. You can’t do everything

Whether you’re looking to save water, eat less meat, use less plastic or buy more local, you have to pick your battles. But every decision does count, so make them more mindfully. “Every person involved in the food system – growers, food processors, distributors, retailers, chefs, consumers – can play a role in ensuring a sustainable agricultural system,” says Sonia.

3. SASSI’s list is not only about the fish

The colours of the guide are determined by where the species is caught and how, as well as the knock-on effect of these methods on other species and the ecosystem. Pavs Pillay of WWF-SASSI shared some cases where changing the shape of hooks and adding highly visible streamers to longlines drastically decreased the number of by-catch and seabird deaths, moving certain fish onto the green list. Want to know more about the fish you’re eating? SMS 079 499 8795 or download the SASSI app.

Are you ensuring your seafood picks are SASSI-approved

Are you ensuring your seafood picks are SASSI-approved? Photo by Jeremy Stewart on Unsplash.

4. Not all labels are created equal

Organic doesn’t equate to higher animal welfare, it just means the animal was fed organic food. Two farms producing ‘free-range’ eggs could house their hens in vastly different conditions, some of which would shock you. The terms ‘ethical’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are not regulated and are often (read: usually) abused in marketing. Do your research! Many products that are banned elsewhere in the world are still allowed here – and used with abandon. As consumers we should be demanding better labelling practices by voting with our wallets.

5. We’re all farmers by proxy

Every time we choose a product, we give a farmer permission to act on our behalf. By buying it, we’re essentially giving them permission to do things a certain way. As consumers, we should be using that power for good.

With great power… Photo: Thinkstock.

6. A lamb only has so many shanks

Learning to cook with and enjoy different cuts of meat and different kinds of fish is one of the easiest ways consumers can contribute to a market for these products. Also, as eaters we need to realise that at certain times of the year we cannot have certain types of food. Rather than feeling hard-done by, we should relish products when they are in season. It’s only because of demand that shops are flying in out-of-season produce from halfway around the world – through our spending we can change this. (Sorry, avocado lovers!)

The winner of the Sustainability Award will be announced at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards this November. Want to know more? Download our form and see the criteria. Entries for the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award have been extended until 14 September 2018.


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