Food waste: major UK supermarkets and organisations sign world-leading government pledge to help halve food waste

Food waste: major UK supermarkets and organisations sign world-leading government pledge to help halve food waste

  • Major UK supermarkets and organisations sign world-leading pledge to slash food waste by 2030 and increase public awareness

  • Leading names include Asda, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks, Tesco, Nestlé and Unilever

  • Action taken after the government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion urged the food sector to ‘Step up to the Plate’

More than 100 of the biggest players in food, including all of the UK’s major supermarkets, have signed a pledge to take ground-breaking action to drive down food waste following a call to action from the government.

Big-hitters from the world of food and sustainability including Aldi, Asda, Café Nero, Co-op, Costa, FDF, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks, Tesco, M&S, Morrisons, Nestlé, Ocado, UK Hospitality, Unilever, WWF and Waitrose have signed a pledge committing to help halve food waste by 2030, and raising public awareness of the issue through a week of action.

Currently in the UK an estimated 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted annually after leaving the farm gate, worth around £20 billion. It is estimated that UK householders spend £15 billion every year on food that could have been eaten but ends up being thrown away, equating to £500 a year for the average household.

Today’s announcement comes after the government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot urged organisations to ‘Step up to the Plate’ at a landmark symposium last month. The event brought together around 300 key players from various parts of the food industry for a day of targeted discussion and action.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“I am delighted to see so many UK food businesses commit to game-changing action to cut food waste, and I hope that others follow suit.

“The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but each year millions of tonnes of food is wasted.”

“I want to thank our Food Surplus and Waste Champion for inspiring business to step up to the plate. Together we will end the environmental and economic scandal that is food waste.”

Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot said:

“We are pleased to see these retailers committing to change. To those retailers yet to sign the pledge – why not? You have a responsibility to step up and do your bit.

“We will be highlighting those who participate and those who do not.  The food waste crisis can only be solved by collective action.”

Stefano Agostini, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé UK & Ireland said:

“Food waste is a critical issue, from an environmental and social perspective and one where we all have a role to play.

“It is crucially important that we work together to help reduce food waste across our own operations, our supply chains and also support consumers to reduce food waste in the home.”

Judith Batchelar OBE, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said:

“Food waste is one of the biggest challenges currently facing today’s society and an intrinsic part of our combined response to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. At Sainsbury’s it continues to be an urgent and important priority for us to tackle.

“By working collaboratively with others, from suppliers through to fellow retailers, we can work to eliminate surplus waste within every part of the supply chain process and achieve the impact that we all want to see.”

Dave Lewis, Chair of Champions 12.3 and Group CEO Tesco said:

“Today’s announcement that over 100 UK food companies have signed up to the Step up to the Plate pledge is welcome news. The next step is for all signatories to publicly report their food waste data in line with Champions 12.3 best practice.

“This will be crucial for identifying hotspots that require collective action; holding individual companies to account for the commitments they have made and for the UK delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.”

Earlier this year the government launched a £15 million game-changing scheme to tackle food waste, building on its landmark Resources and Waste Strategy which sets out how the government will introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has invited organisations to apply for the second round of more than £6 million funding under government’s game-changing scheme to slash food waste. We would like to see larger food businesses report their food waste transparently on an annual basis in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. We will consult later this year on mandatory reporting for larger businesses.

The government is committed to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to help halve food waste by 2030, report on progress and prioritise action.

Notes to editors:

  • Food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacture, 1 million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retail, with the remainder from households.

  • Wrap estimate that there is the potential to redistribute a further 190,000 tonnes of surplus food from the retail and food manufacturing sectors. Some of the surplus is difficult to make use of, costly in that it would need to be reworked or repackaged, and some surplus would not be edible. It is estimated that around 100,000 tonnes is both accessible and edible with the remaining being more difficult to redistribute.

  • Anyone can sign up to the ‘Step up to the Plate pledge’ through sending a signed copy of the pledge to http://www.wrap.org.uk/stepuptotheplate.

The pledge asks attendees to reduce food waste by:

  • setting an ambitious target to help halve food waste by 2030 in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, report on progress and prioritise action. As a food business, adopting the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to have half of all 250 of the UK’s largest food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019.

  • embracing a week of action in November 2019 to highlight the changes we can all make.

  • using their voice and profile to empower and encourage citizens, including the younger generation

  • changing their habits as an individual to be Food Value Champion at work and at home, buying only what they need and eating what they buy.

The list of organisations that have signed the ‘Step up to the Plate’ pledge at the date of publication of this press notice are:

  • Aberdeen Ltd.

  • Aldi

  • Alliance for Sustainability and Leadership in Education

  • Allied Bakeries

  • Apetito

  • Approved Food

  • Approved Food Limited

  • Asda

  • Bakkavor Group

  • Barfoots

  • Baxter Storey

  • Berry Gardens

  • Bidfood

  • Boots

  • Bread and Butter Thing

  • Bread and Honey

  • British Frozen Food Federation

  • Café Nero

  • Central England Coop

  • ChicP

  • Chilled Food Association

  • Company Shop

  • Compass Group

  • Cooke Genie

  • Costa

  • Cranswick

  • Dale Farm

  • Daylesford Organic

  • Denhay Farms LTD

  • Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)

  • Direct Produce Supplies Ltd.

  • Earth Changers

  • East End Foods

  • Eden Project

  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation

  • Environment Agency

  • Felix Project

  • Flawsome

  • Food and Drink Federation

  • Food Bytes

  • Foodchain Technologies Limited

  • Fortnum & Mason

  • Fresh Produce Consortium

  • Gather and Gather

  • Gen Mills

  • General Mills

  • Greencore

  • G’s Fresh Limited

  • Harper Adams University

  • Heckfield Place

  • Hilton Food Group

  • His Church

  • Hummingbird Technologies

  • Industry Council for Packaging & the Environment

  • Institute of Grocery Distribution

  • Intercontinemtal Hotels Group

  • It’s Fresh

  • Karma

  • Karmalicious LTD

  • KP Snacks

  • Lidl

  • London Restaurant Festival

  • Marks and Spencer

  • Morrisons

  • National Farmers Union

  • Neighbourly

  • Nestlé

  • Nibsetc

  • Ocado

  • Old Oak Primary School

  • Olio

  • Plan Zheroes

  • Plot Kitchen

  • Rubies In The Rubble

  • Sainsbury’s

  • Samworth Brothers

  • Selfridges

  • Smart Store Cooking

  • Starbucks

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association

  • Tesco

  • The Packaging Federation

  • The Real Junk Food Project

  • Toast Ale

  • Too Good To Go

  • UK Hospitality

  • Unilever UK and Ireland

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Waitrose

  • Waste Food Solutions

  • Wasteless

  • Winnow

  • World Resources International

  • World Wide Fund for Nature

  • WRAP


Our Rainforests Are In Peril. Here’s What Needs To Be Done

Another wonderfully written article on our environment by Anna Kučírková

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Most experts say that over 80,000 acres of rainforest are being destroyed every day, with an additional 80,000 being significantly damaged as a result of logging, agriculture, farming, mining, and dam building. Commercial deforestation occurs on a staggering scale globally, and scientists estimate that we lose 50,000 species of plants and animals annually to extinction due to deforestation.

A few specific industries are causing widespread upticks in deforestation rates, which the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization notes are 8.5 percent higher this decade than they were in the 1990s. Further, researchers estimate that the loss of primary tropical rainforest, which is the wildest and biologically diverse category, has increased by as much as 25 percent since the 1990s.

As many developing nations grow at a rapid rate, their appetite for raw materials as well as land to farm and develop is threatening rainforests around the globe. However, there are still plenty of ways that we can save rainforests, which will save species from disappearing forever while also alleviating other devastating global issues including the water crisis.

The Rainforest Makes it Rain

One of the most interesting and potentially devastating effects of deforestation is the way deforestation creates a ‘negative feedback loop.’ The same trees that absorb carbon dioxide and regulate moisture levels in the air suddenly release CO2 when they are chopped down, and they are no longer there to constantly filter the air. The Amazon rainforest’s massive network of trees creates a natural cycle that causes rain clouds and moisture to accumulate nearby.

Without this cycle, the Amazon region could quickly trend towards arid, further disrupting global weather patterns which have already created a dangerous water shortage in many regions across the planet.

National Geographic Magazine has explained the interaction of the world’s rainforests as creating a “giant flowing river in the sky” as different regions’ rainy seasons push and pull moisture through the air. Rainforests have a profound effect on the weather, and until conservation efforts begin researching and prioritizing the devastating, drought-inducing effects of deforestation, the water crisis will only intensify.

This is particularly true of many developing nations which happen to be located in tropical regions which are currently home to large swaths of rainforest which are being harvested for wood to use in construction and land to farm as these nations’ populations boom.

Food-Hungry Nations Drive Deforestation

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Oftentimes, deforestation is spurred on by a demand for food products that grow in tropical regions. In West Africa, the cocoa trade has spurred on massive deforestation in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% in the last sixty years.

The global demand for cocoa has created a rampant black and grey market for cocoa beans that has caused enforcement agencies in countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast to turn a blind eye to the illegal practices that account for up to 40% of the cacao in the global supply chain.

Because it is so difficult to discern the provenance of cocoa once it is gathered in bulk for processing, industry giants like Nestle and Hershey are fueling the demand for the illegal cocoa, which is farmed primarily in freshly-deforested areas, where local farmers believe the “fresh” soil and ashes from burned down trees produce the highest crop yields.

However, deforested areas end up drought-stricken and infertile due to their inability to naturally self-regulate, which only fuels further demand for the illegally-procured deforested farming plots.
Similarly, palm oil farmed in deforested sections of Sumatra is causing major ecological crises and loss of already-threatened species like elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans. Much like the cocoa industry, palm oil is aggregated at processing plants which effectively obscure the oil’s origin, thus “absolving” buyers of direct responsibility for illegal deforestation.

However, the demand for these products is created by major international companies which are acutely aware of the practices required to create large amounts of palm oil and cacao, both of which incentivize farmers to operate illegally in order to boost production and have access to a profitable market.

Sumatra’s deforestation rate is among the world’s highest alongside Indonesia and Brazil, and the deforestation also contributes to drought and unusual wildfires which, in 2015 alone, created more CO2 emissions than the entire United Kingdom combined.

The logging-induced fires that year destroyed over 8,000 square miles of rainforest and contributed to over 100,000 premature deaths caused by exposure to smog or fire. Palm oil is a common vegetable oil that is used in foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, and fuels; it is a biological alternative to petroleum in many instances, but its harvesting is often similarly destructive to fossil fuel production.

Palm oil is the cheapest and most efficient vegetable oil to produce, which is why it’s in a staggering half of all consumer products on the market today. But just because it offers good economic incentives for major corporations, its environmental costs may make it among the most costly commonly-used ingredients today.

In addition to being obscured behind the generic name “vegetable oil,” palm oil is also frequently masked in consumer goods using names like “sodium lauryl sulphate, stearic acid, and palmitate,” all of which do little to betray their origins or allow consumers to make informed decisions.

In Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sumatra, the equivalent of 3oo football fields per hour of rainforest are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. The impacts of deforestation are alarming and widespread, but many developing nations are slow to legislate or enforce environmental action as they prioritize economic growth, even when it comes at the expense of human rights or global ecological well-being. The island of Borneo has lost more than 16,000 square miles of ancient rainforest to palm oil plantations, which has threatened thousands of species of tropical flora and fauna.

To put this in the context of one species which is quite closely related to humans, almost 150,000 critically endangered Bornean orangutans were killed between 1999 and 2015, all lost to deforestation, which occurs in large part due to demand for palm oil.

Food Local solutions to Global Problems

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The unfortunate reality is that concerned environmentalists have little to no direct impact or power over the local governments which would theoretically protect rainforests. However, consumers, corporations, and environmental organizations can have a large impact through education initiatives and incentivizing viable alternatives to environmentally harmful products like palm oil and single-use paper goods.

Whether it’s public information campaigns that share the destructive backstory of palm oil with consumers in an effort to pressure major manufacturers or it’s small tech companies and nonprofits offering tools to help local enforcement agencies monitor and protect the forests under their jurisdiction, there are ways we can protect the fragile ecosystems of the world even if we do not have direct voting power in the nations they are located in.

The Rainforest Connection is using machine-learning and second-hand smartphones to create a network of “eyes and ears” in the Amazon rainforest to listen for noises associated with (illegal) logging activity as well as animal chatter that indicates the presence of certain critically-endangered and internationally-protected species.

This project solves a series of problems in protecting rainforests–when forests are still standing, they are extremely dense and difficult to navigate and monitor, which is both a challenge and an excuse for many local agencies. It also gives international watchdog groups credible evidence that CITES-listed endangered species are being directly threatened by logging activity in specific areas, which is a far more directly actionable data point than even the most thorough and credible research hypotheses.

Final Thoughts

Deforestation in global rainforests effects every one of us, no matter where we live. The good news is that every one of us can directly protect the rainforest by reducing the demand for products that contribute to deforestation, all while providing major corporations economic incentive to be transparent and support ecological initiatives instead of turning a blind eye to ecological and environmental catastrophes.




Ocean Acidification Is A Big Problem. Read Anna from Mobox Marine's article on Why

Climate change and global warming have been hot topics for the last couple of decades. The phrase ocean acidification may not sound quite as familiar as the other two phrases, but it’s a growing environmental concern frequently described as the “evil twin of global warming.”

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Opinions on the severity of climate change vary, and it’s understandable that a lot of passion is vested on all fronts. On one side of the argument, it’s been asserted that ocean acidification is clearly due to humankind’s burning of fossil fuels. That verdict has helped lead the charge for a broad emphasis on reducing human production of carbon emissions. But some believe that’s not the whole story, and that additional factors are unrelated to the human element.

For example, research done by NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) states plainly that

“people aren’t the only players changing the ocean carbon cycle. Over decades, natural cycles in weather and ocean currents alter the rate at which the ocean soaks up and vents carbon dioxide.”

Clearly, there are no quick answers, and nothing is simple about the aim to meet the challenges of ocean carbon balance. Rising ocean temperatures are likely related but may not be solely due to human threats to oceans. Nature herself could also be a key player.

What is Ocean Acidification?

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To better understand ocean acidification and how it’s linked to marine life threats, and to examine the arguments fairly, you need to understand the chemistry behind two terms closely related to ocean acidification - carbon dioxide and pH.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a gas found naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. It’s part of what is given off by humans and animals each time they exhale. Plant life needs carbon dioxide and sunshine to grow, and then in turn, plants give off oxygen which humans and animals need to survive. CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere help to trap the sun’s heat much like a greenhouse does. Without this happening, our earth would be a frozen planet. As for the ocean, greenhouse effects are believed to be a source of warming.

The second word - pH - is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution is, such as ocean water. The pH of solutions is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with plain water being neutral on the pH scale. Pure water, without the calcium and other minerals that are found in seawater, has a pH of 7. 

If there’s acid present in water, the number of the pH will be less than 7. When it’s more alkaline, the number will be greater than 7. So a lower number on the pH scale means the acid level is higher, and a higher number means the water is more alkaline. Got the general idea?

The exchange of carbon on our globe happens all the time since carbon is chemically the backbone of all life on earth. Between the atmosphere, plant and animal life, the waters of the ocean, the processes of erosion, volcanic activity, and man’s burning of fossil fuels which add to carbon emission effects, there’s a steady continuous movement of carbon known as the carbon cycle.

Carbon dioxide is freely absorbed by ocean water, which is a good thing. In fact, carbon exchange occurs quite easily between the ocean’s surface waters and the atmosphere. Masses of carbon are stored in the deepest ocean depths. About 93% of CO2 is found in the oceans.

Almost half of all man-made CO2 ends up being absorbed into the ocean. The more carbon that the ocean stores, the less carbon there is left in the atmosphere. The ocean’s ability to do this has been an amazing balancing act up to this point! 

The ready absorption of CO2 has prevented the earth from experiencing a much greater progression of climate change. Many more serious changes would most likely have occurred already if all the carbon dioxide had stayed in the air. 

If CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase - whether it’s from manmade activity or natural emissions of carbon - a possible outcome would be the formation of more carbonic acid in ocean water, mainly near the surface of the ocean. Surface acidity would increase. This outcome is a major reason for concern among many members of the scientific community.

A technical but clear explanation from the Environmental Protection Agency about how ocean water becomes more acidic is useful:

“Once carbon dioxide dissolves in water, carbon dioxide molecules react with water molecules to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid can be further transformed to bicarbonate and carbonate ions. These four different forms of carbon exist in balanced proportions in seawater. As more carbon dioxide is added to seawater, the balance shifts and carbonate is lost as it is transformed to bicarbonate due to increasing acidity.”

Why Are Concerns About Ocean Acidification On the Rise?

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Before the onset of the industrial revolution, the pH of ocean water was around 8.2. The salty sea water was slightly alkaline. Most scientists agree it probably had been at that pH level for eons past. Now it’s about 8.1. That may not sound like much of a difference, but if you understand how the acid/alkaline scale works, the current level is about 25% more acidic than the level was 200 years ago! 

Optimum pH levels promote the conditions that are best for much of marine life. It’s especially essential for those creatures that depend on pH levels with specific parameters to utilize calcium carbonate minerals saturating the ocean. These minerals are components used to make either calcium-based shells or exoskeletons(skeletal structures on the outside protecting an animal’s body.) 

Researchers believe that ocean acidification can lead to certain areas of the ocean being undersaturated with these vital minerals. Coral reefs, barnacles, oysters, clams, mussels, sea urchins, and other calcifying species of marine life are among the groups originally thought to be most at risk since they have calcium-based shells or exoskeletons. 

These animals provide crucial nursery habitats for fish, protection from erosion, help to mitigate storm damage, and also serve as food sources for other ocean creatures. But research has revealed that these varieties are not the only organisms that would be hurt by a significant pH change. 

There are also tiny ocean creatures that are important food sources for predators further up the food chain - even whales consume these diminutive animals along with plants in their huge gulps of krill. The shells of the miniature specimens could dissolve if pH and carbonate levels continue to move away from the ideal. The loss of these abundant food sources would affect many other higher types of marine animals.

Not all ocean creatures and plant life would be equally affected by rising acid in the water since some may be able to adapt over time. Algae and seagrasses could even benefit from higher CO2 levels. However, there will be a ripple effect if and when certain animal populations begin to fade. Shortages of life at the bottom of the food chain could, in sequence, cause their natural predators’ numbers to diminish through a lack of sustenance. 

Naturally, any of these progressions would eventually take a damaging toll on humans. Those who rely primarily on ocean life for the food staples, or whole communities whose living is based on harvesting fish or shellfish, could be devastated if the threat to marine biodiversity continues.

Human factors other than the burning of fossil fuels need to be studied closely and monitored. One example is when nitrogen and phosphorous are applied to crops or lawns in the form of fertilizers. Nearby water can carry those excess nutrients, ending up in coastal waters. In that particular habitat, the excess nutrients stimulate more rapid growth of algae. Then when algae die and decompose, carbon dioxide is added directly to the water, resulting in acidification once again. 

Climate scientists concur that any type of pollution in the ocean only adds to the complexities of global warming. Organisms that might be able to adapt to a limited amount of water acidification could disappear when additional stressors like the burgeoning “plastics pollution” of ocean waters continue to increase.

What’s next?

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Since ocean acidification is just one element among many that can threaten the survival of marine life, programs addressing acidification need to be a good fit within overall engagement to meet other challenges. The most significant question is how to implement a cooperative, multi-faceted plan that will prevent ocean global issues from worsening in the future.

These global affairs are complicated. It’s going to take time to sort it all out. Environmental scientists will continue to bring clarity to the underlying causes and their interconnection. But one thing everyone can agree on already is that pollution is real, it’s not going to go away on its own, and we should each be willing to do whatever it takes to keep our planet unspoiled.

https://moboxmarine.com/blogs/mobox-marine-blog/ocean-acidification-big-problem

Footprint Forum – Plastics In food service: a must or menace?

Footprint Forum – Plastics In food service: a must or menace?

Neil Whittall – Chair of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group

  • In 2016 more than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide. Less than half were recycled. Only 7% were made into new bottles.

  • Plastic itself is a brilliant material, the issue is how it is discarded and responsibility issues.

  • Many types of plastic are beneficial to society.

  • Important to understand what plastic is. Some things that are seen as ‘plastic free’ still contain polymers.

  • Plastic has a place in the world, we can’t eliminate it completely. E.g. it is good for hygiene i.e. in hospitals, on the go nature of society.

  • Plastic is efficient in the manufacturing industry. Should cut down on it, but not demonise.

  • Should look at reason why we use plastic. Use recycled materials where allowed but important to remember this isn’t always possible.

  • 10% of energy needed to put food on our tables is used up in the packaging element.

  • Plastic is good to cater for practicality, particularly on the go consumption.

  • Need to look to change consumer behaviour change.

  • Manage waste collection.

  • To increase recycling, need to work with the people who bring the products out. Need to tie together different materials.

  • Need industry to work together: retailers, brands, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers, local authorities, governments, NGO’s and litter groups.

  • Plastic is only a demon when it ends up in the wrong place.

  • On the Go recovery needs to be the next big thing. Not enough recycling bins for on the go culture.

  • Need to communicate with the consumer the impacts of not recycling and just throwing plastic away.

  • Latte levy: discount bringing own mug. Avoidable tax used to change behaviour habits. Plastic cups aren’t an issue if recycled. Costa have cup collection system in place. Buying the material back.

  • Need to avoid making knee-jerking decisions. Need a long term solution.

Panel 1 – status quo of the plastic problem

  • Single use plastics are the biggest issue and need to be prevented i.e. carrier bags, straws, stirrers, polystyrene foam. These are easy changes to make because we don’t actually need these things.

  • Compostables are practical in food service for contamination.

  • Mixed recycling can be problematic.

  • There are 264 different recycling systems in the UK; this becomes confusing for consumers.

  • Want to make it compulsory that every household has two bins, one for bio waste and one for generic waste. This will reduce the contamination issue.

  • Uniform recycling system around the UK will reduce contamination.

  • Need communication and education e.g. bin labelling can be confusing. Needs to be simplified so the consumer knows what goes in what bin.

  • Government is responsible for standardisation of recycling and communicating with people.

Louise Stevens – Head of Circular Economy at Innocent

  • Sustainability strategy: be better than when we started.

  • Plastic can’t be recycled endlessly.

  • Mix recycled plastic with plant plastic

  • Need clear communication on packaging as to how to recycle products.

  • Want customers to know how to recycle and to want to recycle.

  • Molasses plant based plastic from sugar cane. Used in plastic bottles.

  • Contamination is a big issue in the UK. Have to source plastic elsewhere to make recycled bottles.

Panel 2 – future of plastics in food service

  • Need customers and consumers to understand the process and supply chain of plastic. This will mean the right environment choice is made.

  • Look at food waste production. How do plastics help preserve food?

  • Plastics are producing food waste e.g. pre-packed vegetables – too much for one person.

  • Focus on preventing all types of waste.

  • Instead of focussing on more and more recycling, focus on using less plastic in the first place. Use less plastic in packaging

  • Recycling levels aren’t what they should be.

  • Plastic in the food industry can be the best way, particularly for hygiene.

  • Huba? Sustainable charity. Brands working with them to increase awareness and recycling. 6 months: placing recycling bins in Leeds city centre, talking to people about recycling etc. targeting offices and retail sector. Increasing communication.

  • Need to change consumer expectations e.g. someone turns up to the salad bar at 3 when it is closing and expects it to be packed with the same fresh salad that it had at 12. Communicate with them; say it’s to prevent food waste. If you want a salad, we can make one for you.

  • Plastic bags; example of consumer behaviour. Used to always take a bag, even though we didn’t need them.

Final thoughts:

  • Need a recycling revolution.

  • Prevent plastic use when can.

  • Need to communicate with consumers

  • People need to take responsibility

  • People in the industry need to work together to improve communication.

  • Need a long term solution, not just short term.

  • Need to show people that plastic isn’t bad, only some types.

A review on Megan's Restaurant

 

Eating out at Megan's

A twist on contemporary dining … sustainable and houmousy menus

Last week I was fortunate to visit the wonderful Megan’s in Parsons Green. After being given the choice of either the New Kings Road or Parsons Green branch, I opted for Parsons Green because I just love the ambience and layout of the place, as well as the wonderful floral ceiling that sits so well for both summer and winter dining.

As a contemporary, sustainable and healthy restaurant that has a fresh and in my eyes ‘hummusy’ menu, Megan’s is the perfect spot to visit.

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To keep things sweet and simple, our breakfast began with two delicious and brightly coloured light juices. I say light because sometimes juices can feel quite ‘heavy’ but these left us feeling rejuvenated and still hungry for our meal.

Write here…

Write here…

Megan’s is known for its Coconut Cappuccino – and this is one of the reasons I frequently visit. The cappuccinos naturally came straight after our juice and we were most impressed by the cocoa stencil!

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It was a Monday evening so we very abstemiously ordered fizzy water to drink. This comes in a glass bottle which you can buy for £1 at the beginning of the meal and be consistently topped up for free. Great to see only glass rather than plastic bottles being used...however the straws that came with breakfast could definitely be cut out.

A tricky decision yet again. For starters we chose the Mediterranean Meze board. The wonderfully warm carrot hummus made this dish.

The falafel was a little dry the hummus dip made it less so. The lamb koftas were delicious but needed a little more tsatsiki on the side. They were full of flavour but I would normally choose a vegetarian alternative since I rarely eat meat. However, the waiter also recommended the posh lamb doner kebabs on flatbread which were beautifully presented. I felt a Iittle food envy at the chicken with peanut dukkah dish placed opposite me but I did get a chance to try it. Perfectly cooked and full of flavour and the combination of herbs and spices with the chicken was delicious.

Megan’s is also known for its delicious flatbread which is sprinkled with fresh herbs and lightly toasted. Perfect for dunking. The halloumi, grilled aubergine and courgette were spot on.

Megan’s meat is sustainably sourced. Their lamb is from Yorkshire and the chicken is British halal A grade red tractor. All their suppliers are certified.

Megan’s meat is sustainably sourced. Their lamb is from Yorkshire and the chicken is British halal A grade red tractor. All their suppliers are certified.

We were extremely full by the time we had the dessert menu placed in front of us. Much to the waitress’s persuasion, we ordered the half baked cookie/cookie dough! It was quite out of this world… There was certainly a sugar rush but if you don’t mind that and love gooey, hot, crunchy puds then you’re in for a winner.

Mint tea was served as a digestif and we then left feeling pretty good.

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Turning Food Waste into Cash

Introducing Chris King from FoodisWasted on his recent Blog on Brands working with Food waste: 

Some forward-thinking individuals are turning food that might otherwise go to waste, into a source of revenue – here’s why…

In an ideal world none of our systems – especially those providing our basic, essential needs – would produce any waste. But the food system in its current form, be it at a national or global level, produces a criminal amount of waste – much of it avoidable. The reasons for this are diverse, and ultimately a by-product of a deeply flawed and inefficient system, that has for too long been allowed to function with little or no regard for the impact of both its production processes, and the waste it produces.

Things such as the cost related to the impact and management of soil degradation, antibiotic resistance, ocean acidification, and climate change, as well as treatment of diet-related health issues attributable to our intake of processed foods – such as obesity and Type-2 diabetes – and many more critical issues we are currently facing, are treated as ‘externalities’. They are therefore not deemed relevant to pricing, and as a result, what we pay for food and many other vital and non-vital resources is kept artificially low.

Disregarding the impact of our consumption, the means by which our food and other goods are produced, and the waste we collectively produce, is essentially hardwired into the current food system and prevailing food culture. The externalisation of critical costs is essential to sustaining it, and as long as these costs are not accounted for within the price we pay for our food at the point of purchase, the flaws in this system will be sustained. Consequently, we will continue to contribute directly to each and every social, environmental and health issue with a link to our food production and consumption.  As the Food Ethics Council points out in their campaign for ‘True Cost Accounting’, we pay twice for the food we buy – once at the checkout, and then again to address the environmental, health and social impacts of our current food production and consumption practices. In monetary terms this essentially doubles the cost of the food we consume in the UK.

And it’s not just us, as tax-payers and as human beings, who pay the price for our wasteful and destructive systems – all other life on Earth does too. As Elizabeth Kolbert discusses in her book, The 6thExtinction, we are living in the midst of mass biodiversity loss. Our agricultural practices, and the general means by which we are producing the food we eat, being one of the main contributors to this on-going, catastrophic loss of life.

So that’s a snapshot of where we are, and it’s not a pretty picture, but the good news is that, as with many systems producing waste – be it an airport, a music festival, a family household, or a farm – a significant percentage of the waste produced can be captured, either before or after being discarded. Depending on its state and the tools and resources available, once captured it can then go on to be redistributed, repurposed or recycled. An apple left hanging on a farmer’s tree after the harvest, for example, having been rejected by a supermarket because of the cosmetic standards they impose on their suppliers, might be saved and turned into an energy bar to be sold on, or used to make apple crumble and given to someone suffering from food insecurity.

Capturing this ‘waste’ and keeping it in the system – hopefully creating a closed loop, rather than following the conventional linear progression of take-make-dispose – is what underpins the concept of the circular economy – a concept which is finally coming to the fore.

Ultimately, we need to take measures to refine the food system – making it more efficient, thereby producing less waste. This would have the greatest positive impact in terms of minimising resource use, and what are currently externalised costs – the aforementioned environmental, health and social impacts. However, this takes time and willingness, and when there is a lack or complete absence of either, the circular economic approach, which captures and utilises the system’s waste to create new, valued products, is a viable and easily accessible solution.

Many of you may have heard of FareShareFoodCycle or the Gleaning Network – well-established organisations that capture and redistribute food that might otherwise have gone to waste. But In recent years there has also been a rise in the number of start-ups led by forward-thinking entrepreneurs, who are tapping into this valuable resource and turning what some have labelled as waste into a nutritious meal or food product.

Here is a brief introduction to 4 of the enterprises based in London, capturing food that might otherwise have ended up in the bin:

Elysia

Elysia is a food start-up using artisanal surplus food from local producers to cater for events in London. Founded by Sophie (pictured), they obtain produce such as “vegetables that do not fit the conventional standards of beauty, or organic granola discarded due to overproduction, and many more locally-produced surplus food products”. They then transform what they have gathered into tasty bites for breakfasts and canapés, and deliver everything by bicycle across London.

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ChicP

Working as a private chef, Hannah, the founder of ChicP, would often take some of the leftovers to create dips for the next day. The inspiration behind the company was “the overriding determination and passion to change the way we approach cooking and food waste.” Gathering food that would otherwise have gone to waste from local markets, they create “delicious alternative dips, founded on a passionate commitment to reducing food waste.” 

Rubies in the Rubble

One of the pioneers of food waste entrepreneurialism, Rubies in the Rubble, producing relishes, chutneys, sauces and other delights, has been around since 2011. Motivated by the quantities of food seen going to waste in London markets they took action – “armed with some family recipes and a car-boot full of rescued fruit & veg from the New Covent Garden market, the experimentation in the kitchen began.”

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Snact

Snact started out by making fruit jerky by hand, from fruit that might otherwise have gone to waste, gathered from wholesale markets in London. Founders Ilana (pictured) and Michael set up and tended a stall at markets across the city. They got their first packs into shops in 2015 – “after a lot of trial and error, playing with a lot of fruit, and a successful crowdfunding campaign.” Now they’ve diversified, gained more funding, and “make wholesome food waste-fighting snacks to create more taste and less waste.”

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There are many more great organisations out there, and most were likely started by one or two individuals with a passion for food, and a desire to contribute to reducing the amount of edible food needlessly going to waste. With there being so much food to capture, organisations that redistribute food on a charitable basis don’t really have to compete for access with those that repurpose it for a profit. Rest assured there is room for many more of both types of organisations before this particular resource is exploited fully!

So why not take inspiration from the people behind these organisations, and get out there and capture what food you can – start small, start local – and help it fulfill the purpose for which it was introduced into our food system in the first place. By doing so you will not just be reducing food waste, but also impacting positively on so many of the critical issues of our time.

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Chris King

I'm a documentary and portrait photographer and multimedia producer from Northern Ireland, but currently based in London. With the Food Is... website and my exploration of the issue of avoidable food waste, I have a desire to create positive change in whatever way I can, and to whatever degree I can. You can see more of my work at chriskingphotography.com

Guest Blog from Basil & Vogue on our National Tea Festival Experience

NATIONAL TEA DAY: MY FES-TEA-VAL EXPERIENCE

Last week Saturday was National Tea Day, and as an avid tea drinker of course I had to celebrate by going to Chiswick Fes-Tea-Val!

In contrast to what the name suggests, there was so much more than just tea! There were a huge range of tasty food stalls from vegan burgers (which I had) to chai tea infused cakes, and there were also loads of alcohol stalls giving out tasters too; I’m not usually a fan of gin but I tried the lavender tea infused gin and had to stop myself from getting my 3rd taster!

I didn’t go as a visitor though as I was working with a company called ChicP to sample hummus at their stall. So I’ll share my experience of the Fes-Tea-Val from an exhibitors perspective…

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What is ChicP hummus?

ChicP hummus is a company founded Hannah McCollum, that use surplus (wonky) vegetables rejected from big supermarkets as a way of fighting food waste. Not only does this make her hummus healthier than the average shop-bought dip, it’s more sustainable too! The varieties include:

  • Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric (my personal favourite!)
  • Beetroot, Horseradish and Sage
  • Herby (Spinach and Parsley)
  • Cocoa, Avocado and Banana (yes you read that right- chocolate hummus!)* only available at events

All the flavour combinations of ChicP hummus are so much more exciting than any other brands I’ve tried so you have to give these a try- you’ll be helping the community by reducing food waste and having 1 of your 5 a day at the same time!

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You can buy ChicP hummus online via their website/Amazon fresh, or at various health stores such as Wholefoods Market.

You can find the whole list of suppliers and more information about the ethos of ChicP hummus on their website.

Fancy making your own hummus? You can try out my easy golden hummus recipe here.

ATMOSPHERE

The festival was really buzzing with energy as there was a live DJ, appearance from celeb chefs, cocktail making classes, yoga workouts, funky cocktail tents all around and SO MUCH MORE. There was a real positive vibe in general- although the sunny weather probably helped!

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FOOD

It was a foodie’s heaven as there were food stalls to suit every appetite, ranging from fragrant curries, to meat hot dogs, to colourful veggie salads, and of course there was lots of cake (can’t have tea without it!)

I went over to The Green Grill stall for lunch, which serves 100% vegan burgers with a variety of colourful patties and buns.

I chose the Supergreen burger with a turmeric bun

My verdict?

Wow was I impressed- This has to be the ultimate vegan burger; the yellow turmeric bun made it really eye catching whilst the patty itself had so much fresh flavour. I also added some babaganoosh as an extra topping (which they kindly didn’t charge me for!) which really pulled all the flavours together! The dairy-free mayo and cheese added some lovely creaminess too.

I would definitely reorder this plant-based burger- it was everything you want in a filling vegan lunch!

DRINK

Well where do I begin??? There was limitless varieties of tea with a big emphasis on turmeric (no surprise as it’s been a top food trend this year). I loved all the chai teas too,  as each brand had it’s own unique spice blend!

I have to say though, the spirit flavour varieties were so interesting especially the lavender gin! I also loved the fruit tea and coconut infused rum which was (dangerously!) moreish!

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The whole day out was so action packed and I had so much fun selling lots of hummus. I never thought of myself as a sales woman but it just shows just can really get into something if you’re passionate about it! If you’re a hummus-aholic (like me) definitely get yourself a tub of ChicP hummus– you won’t be disappointed!

Andri x

You can read more of Andri's blogs at Basil & Vogue 

ISTANBUL (March 2018)

WED 7TH -SUN 11TH MARCH 2018

ARRIVAL

After a very smooth flight, with many Turkish families on board, I was ready to immerse myself in Turkish culture. On arrival, I ventured into the Bus Station, and after a little help from the locals, found myself on a large bus taking me to Taksim Square, in the centre of Istanbul. This included an hour of horrific traffic and unbelievable driving.

It was time to find my little airbnb with the instructions given to me… A busy High Street led to a very steep hill, where a helpful man in a coffee shop offered to help me find my airbnb. He locked up his shop, took me up another hill and straight to my door! Finally arrived! After a brief and relatively friendly welcome by my host, I ventured out - exhausted and starving. I wandered up a street lined with student cafes and hangout joints and found myself on a rooftop cafe bar with shisha. The menu was totally uninspiring (soggy burgers and greasy cheese sandwiches), so a large bowl of nuts and some Turkish filo parcels with spinach and feta were a welcome alternative; (was hoping to try out their hummus but after countless attempts asking for some, I walked away empty handed).. Emails up to date and then off to bed.

DAY 1: THURSDAY

Walked all the way down from the 6th floor of my airbnb - POURING - walked all the way back up, no site of an umbrella - back down! Luckily the little shop opposite had one umbrella left.

I’d planned to go to Soho House to get some info for my trip as I wasn’t sure my hostess would be quite so helpful. The forecast was rain for Thursday and the rest of my trip, sun, so it made sense to sink into some work there, some good coffee and a snug base. Breakfast - big coffee and a bowl of delicious warm and fruity oatmeal. Lunch - hummus (it was great, quite heavy and bumpy and lumpy but very enjoyable) and a bowl of beetroot, quinoa and avocado salad (not hugely original).

Lunch at Soho House

Lunch at Soho House

For the afternoon I decided to head to one of the well known Turkish Hamam’s for a proper bath, detox and massage. It was a good 40 minute walk from Soho House and a great way to see the city.

On route - Lots of Baklava shops which were absolutely amazing.

Turkish Delight shop = these ones have a gooey filling with flavours such as Hazelnut, praline, pistachio and chocolate. 

Turkish Delight shop = these ones have a gooey filling with flavours such as Hazelnut, praline, pistachio and chocolate. 

On the way back, dinner at ‘Guney’,  A great sociable and buzzing restaurant in Karakoy, a fun neighbourhood known for its delicious red wine and good food.

I had a range of the meze options which were absolutely delicious - aubergine paste with walnut and tahini, lots of bread, olive oil and feta was by far the favourite. Hummus, warm and again, not a smooth texture but delicious.

Tahini, Aubergine and Walnut Meze. 

Tahini, Aubergine and Walnut Meze. 

FRIDAY 9th:

Early morning walk over Galata bridge to the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar.

Fisherman at Sunrise

Fisherman at Sunrise

Wandered up and down through streets and streets, getting lost, forgetting quite how large this market is, both inside and out. Some great conversations with guys at the Turkish Delight stands and some of the most delicious Pistachio chocolate covered triangles I’ve ever eaten - breakfast complete!

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Next stop - coffee break in the sun next to the Bazaar, opposite the Galata Bridge researching for best hummus restaurants…

Long walk along the river and out into the suburbs in the sun, to Chora Church. Very interesting walking through hilly suburban streets. The church was covered in scaffolding and only the ‘Chora museum’ and 2 parts of the Mosaics were available to see, so I decided not to pay the hefty fee and popped into the recommended Asitane restaurant next door instead. This was a white table cloth vibe with only one table occupied (women drinking wine), which didn’t appeal so back into town - this time on a bus.

After more market walking and backstreet climbing (so many hills!), I came out on the front again near Galata Bridge. A buzzing local Turkish restaurant offered everything from Kebabs to Lentil Soup and Hummus… This time I went for the big spinach plate with egg and yoghurt, served with lots of Turkish bread. Great choice.

Spinach and egg with Turkish Yoghurt and bread

Spinach and egg with Turkish Yoghurt and bread

I then walked back along the buzzing streets with more baklava and coffee shops, to visit the hotel where I stayed with my family 15 years ago, the ‘Blue Hotel’, right next to Aya Sophia.

Aya Sophia

Aya Sophia

More walking, a chai and some work catch up, plus many snaps of the meal below; I felt it necessary to take photos of some hummus  two guys were eating!

More walking, back over the galata bridge,and a recce of many restaurants where I found a great vegan haunt (perfect for Saturday’s breakfast) called ISO and had a drink at a restaurant with beautiful views over the Bosphorus, lovely but not the most buzzing place for dinner.

Beautiful restaurant in Karaoke (next to the vegan cafe)

Beautiful restaurant in Karaoke (next to the vegan cafe)

I headed towards the Jazz Cafe which is where I was planning to go after dinner. I ended up at the same restaurant as the night before - such a great ambience, lovely food and great service. I was given a great table and ordered a large glass of red wine, lentil soup to start (which is a staple dish here and I can see why!) and a delicious tahini falafel dish.

 

 

Total km walked : 21!

SATURDAY 10th:

50 minute walk through the new town back over the bridge to the old town (getting to know this route rather well!) and up to Aya Sophia. A short coffee break on route with some pistachio baklava. I wasn’t quite ready to indulge in the traditional Turkish breakfast consisting of cheese (however the sweet cheese pastry which I often get given when I visit manufacturers in the industry in London is amazing… maybe later!)

Queues at Aya Sofia!! Tip - get there early or don’t go on a Saturday.

It is one of the most beautiful buildings and in my opinion more beautiful outside than in. There is still a huge amount of renovation work occurring inside so a lot of the views are blocked with scaffolding.

Onwards to the Blue Mosque which is opposite Aya Sophia and across the gardens. The courtyard was open which has a wonderfully holy and humbling feeling about it but the mosque itself is closed for renovation until May.

I spoke to a man outside who showed me to a secret passage where the women pray and from there, up tiny circular stairs, I was able to look through the window into the mosque which was amazing.

Women's Prayer area, Blue Mosque

Women's Prayer area, Blue Mosque

Seeing these places feels much more humbling when no one else is there… Aya Sophia was slightly ruined by the numbers of people inside, the noise and the clicking of cameras. Still a very special place, especially looking away from all the people and up at the beautiful ceiling..!

The afternoons plan was to visit Kadakoy, a ferry ride across the Bosphorus, known for its charming and chic neighbourhood with more cafes to enjoy and the famous fish market. However due to fog, no ferries were crossing. Instead I befriended a young Turkish man, after asking him which Metro I needed, and we ended up walking together to the station, back in the direction of Aya Sophia. He was able to practice his English which was perfect as he’d had a lesson for his erasmus that morning. The Metro was steaming! He mentioned that it was never this packed but must have been due to the fog. We both decided to give it a miss and said our goodbyes.

I decided to head back along my favourite street to get lunch. I’d been eyeing up ‘Noah’s pudding’ at ‘VALIDE’, a great coffee shop with a wonderful hidden upstairs area and terrace - great when it’s sunny. I chose ‘Noah’ for my lunch, a large orange bowl of fruit and nuts mixed with some sort of jelly (sounds odd but it’s good!) sweetened with honey along with a cappuccino. Opposite on the other corner is ‘Hafiz Mustafa’, a high end chain of the best Baklava, coffee and cake in Istanbul. Highly recommend.

After a while, I thought I would try the ferry again. Along the way I stopped at a snack shop and found a very interesting ‘Chickpea paste bar’... It was delicious! Certainly something to try making at home..Back on the pier, the ferries still weren’t leaving. I stayed for a while, thoroughly enjoying the noisy chatty conversations being thrown back and forth between ticket officers and commuters.

The old city was heaving by 3pm. The tunnel back under the road was like a stampede. Every alleyway into the Bazaar was also snail paced, full of Turks, perhaps Turkish tourists, perhaps locals - I wasn’t sure but I was still yet to hear the voice of someone from the UK. I’d been mistaken for Russian, Argentinian & Brazilian (often it’s Dutch).  

I visited another Mosque around the corner and found another hub to relax with an orange juice. More Istanbul and restaurant research and a reminder of how easy it is to phone a friend in London :)

By the evening I was so exhausted from all the walking but was determined to make it to ‘French Street’ which was, to my utter surprise, the street next to my apartment! I hadn’t realised that this busy little hippy restaurant by the apartment had a walkway through it which was just the beginning of French Street. A very hippie, quirky and extremely steep street with lovely old steps and tables outside on either side, I settled for the restaurant where the waiters said they would make me hummus even though it wasn’t on the menu.. The waiter said he’d do anything that any of the other restaurants couldn’t do and with a seat opposite some live music, I couldn’t resist.

The chef made a portion of hot hummus from scratch for me and the waiter also brought me his own speciality of grated carrot with tahini and olive oil (another new winner!)

A great fun evening with the local Turks.

Discussing all things Hummus

Discussing all things Hummus

SUNDAY 11th:

Last day!

I headed to the neighbourhood that I was yet to visit, Cihangye and found a great place for local Turkish brunch - a typical turkish buffet with cheeses, hams, hummus and dried fruits as well as bowls of tahini, nuts, nutella, breads and so much more. As it was my last day and this went on till 3pm, I thought I’d come back and make it my main meal of the day as a late lunch.

Of course, coffee first. After my walk I decided on ‘Journey’ as my cafe. As a more upmarket area of town I found myself amongst English speaking Turks and more hipster characters with a relatively European/Turkish menu and a price tag. Very enjoyable anyhow - indulged in a book and coffee in hand, I was bashed over the head by a magazine - a guy who thought I was his mate!

We ended up chatting, exchanging business cards (he flies to London once a month and has lived all over the world), and advised that I visit Fatih, the Syrian district renowned for its hummus.

He advised I get a taxi as it’s miles away. Of no interest to get a cab in what was the hottest day so far(!), I walked back across the Galata Bridge (I thought I had said goodbye to this bridge) and all the way back to the area that I had walked to on my first day to Chora. However, I went a another way and saw the workmen’s streets which were full of groups of men working on their various trades.

Men's Trading Street

Men's Trading Street

Green Grocer in Cihangye, the first (and only) one I’d seen.

Green Grocer in Cihangye, the first (and only) one I’d seen.

By the time I reached Fatih (60 mins later), the street was full of activity but there weren’t as many restaurants as I expected, having hummus on their menus. I took a few photos and then rushed all the way back to Cihangye to make it back to the buffet place before 3pm!

By this point I had unbelievable blisters and walking along the main road back was not so fun so I jumped on a bus and after some more painful walking (I got off too early), I made it to the place just before 3pm but they’d already put the buffet away… disaster.

That restaurant was hidden from the sun so I felt better after finding a lovely cafe nearby where I was able to sit outside in the sun, drink coffee and eat a local honey and date cake instead.

Somehow the late afternoon had crept upon me and it was time to collect my suitcase from a local cafe near where I’d stayed. They’d kindly kept my bag for the day as my airbnb guests didn’t offer this service. I ate roasted chestnuts from the street food vendors, brought some Turkish Delight and got on the very busy bus back to the airport.

The plane was swamped with English speaking people which was rather a surprise and unfortunately I was back to reality again.

Tips - Tamsin High Street is like Oxford Street, without the congestion but instead people hoarding towards you. I’d avoid this at all costs unless you want high street chains, doner kebabs and being surrounded by the millennial Turk.

Sustainability: There’s a LOT of fishing. Stale bread goes to the fisherman but the amount of fish being sold for the famous ‘Fish sandwiches’ off the Galata Bridge on the key is somewhat rather shocking… but perhaps its relative. Something to look into.