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 (pictured), 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.

Optiat: Nature-Friendly skincare

We had the opportunity to speak with Anna from Optiat, a brand that is very similar to us: All about sustainability and promoting a circular economy. They do this by taking ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and transforming them into their natural skincare products. 

We wanted to speak with Anna after being inspired by her new food waste blog series and we are very proud to be a part of it! 

Is there been anything exciting recently going on with Optiat? What have you been focussing on?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for us recently, the run up to Christmas was a little crazy and now seems like a big blur! We only fully launched our first range of products in November 2016, so this really felt like our first proper Christmas - It’s fair to say we learnt a lot!! A major recent project that we have been focusing on was the expansion of our website. As our product ranges grow, we needed our website to reflect this, so we had exciting product photoshoots in order to get it looking beautiful. The site finally launched in mid December and we are so pleased with how it looks.

Where do you source your coffee grounds from?

We collect the coffee that we use in our coffee scrubs from a selection of independent artisan coffee shops and restaurants all over London. We now have a portfolio of about 50 different cafes and restaurants. The fact that we get the coffee from coffee shops and restaurants also means that it is the highest-quality Arabica coffee, as opposed to the lower-grade, cheaper Robusta coffee found in most coffee scrubs. If we didn’t collect the used coffee grounds from these places it would otherwise be destined for landfill - and that is what we are trying to avoid.

How is it working alongside your sibling (I’m sure you get asked this all the time!)?

We do get asked this question a lot and I can totally see why! I guess you have to be wary of mixing family life and work life, but honestly for us it works really well. There can be disagreement and the odd argument, but we are able to speak our minds freely with each other so the resolution is always speedy. The best part is that it’s so much fun, we laugh a lot and take great joy in being able to share Optiat’s success with the rest of our family. 

What did you do before starting Optiat?

Before forming Optiat my brother was working in finance for a hedge fund and I was working as an area manager for a supermarket managing several stores. My brother and I have very different strengths, he’s the number cruncher and I’m more the creative, so we really compliment each other when it comes to heading up our own business.

Excited to hear that your next range of products will be soaps. Where do you manufacture all your products?

Yes! We are really excited to soon be releasing a lovely new range of soap bars made from brewed chai spices which were previously used to make chai tea. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! We have taken the chai spices and used them as the core ingredient for the new soaps range. As always, they are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable and 100% natural.

All of our products are manufactured by hand in the UK.

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What do you find are your biggest challenges?

I would say that the main difficulty has been explaining to those responsible for the repurposed ingredients why we want to take them away! For example, if there is a new member of staff at one of our coffee shops, it is critical that we explain the process of our collections. When we go in and try to explain that we don’t want a latte or a cappuccino, but actually just want to collect their used grounds, there can be some confusion! Once they realise it is in the name of sustainability people are delighted to be involved.

You’ve got a great number of stockists in the UK and Europe. How was it reaching out to the countries outside of the UK?

We made the decision to exhibit our products at trade shows outside of the UK and this was really how we began establishing relationships with retailers and customers in other countries. It was a big risk as we really had no idea whether people would respond well to us or be interested in stocking a foreign brand, but in the end we think it’s paid off!

What has been the reaction to your brand mission from customers and press?

Fundamentally we wanted our brand to be totally unique, we wanted to be doing something which no one else is doing and we wanted to prove that there can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of. This mission is appealing to customers as they are increasingly looking into the provenance of the ingredients of the products which they are choosing to buy. Consumers are beginning to shop in a much more conscious and critical way.

We encourage our customers to ask us what has gone into the making of our products: what is the process? What are the ingredients? Where are they from? Increased transparency for the customer about a product and its ingredients empowers them to make more informed choices about the brands they choose to buy from and the products they choose to use. We stand for beauty with a conscience, our customers don’t have to worry about what will happen when our products eventually are washed down the drains as the ingredients are natural and chemical-free.

The feedback that we have received from press about our story has been very positive. There is a greater focus on both sustainability, but also on natural and organic cosmetic products. We are trying to do something different by promoting a more environmentally conscious objective, and people are really buying into that vision.

What is your proudest achievement from 2017?

We attended Vevolution Festival at the end of 2017 where we pitched at a dragons’ den competition against five other vegan brands. We ended up being selected as the winner which was extremely exciting! It was my first experience getting to hold a giant cheque so that was a nice box to tick!

What are your plans for 2018?

There are so many wonderful natural ingredients which are unfortunately going unused. We are keen to rescue these unloved, unwanted ingredients and continue to develop more skincare products from them. We have two or three exciting ideas that are currently in their first stages of development. We are also revisiting our coffee scrubs and exploring some exciting new scents, so there’s lots to look forward to in 2018!

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Superfood Flapjacks from Store Cupboard Ingredients!

One of my 2018 New Year's Resolutions is to use up as much of the ingredients in my food cupboards as possible. This is the intention for every meal that I cook as well as for recipes that include baking, healthy snacks and desserts as well as entertaining.

On the 2nd January, the first official day back at work, I was already distracted by 11am.  I started opening my cupboards and various jars and put together the most delicious mixture for a healthy flapjack recipe…. 10 minutes later I'd used up a jar with seeds and 2 half plastic packets with nuts. Boom! 

I would love to share this recipe with you and hope that it inspires you to delve in to your store cupboards and grab ingredients that you can mix together very easily to bring about a fruitful, hearty, texture filled flapjack!

Recipe:

300g oats already mixed with hempseed

20g raisins

2tsp turmeric powder

2tsp moringa powder (pot finally finished!)

2tsp cinnamon

Handful of seeds (pumpkin etc)

50g blanched almonds (packet finished!)

1 tbs tahini 

50g blended walnuts 

1 large tbs maple syrup

1 small dollop of pomegranate molasses 

100g coconut oil (I always have so much of this!)

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then melt the coconut oil and add to the mixture along with the maple syrup and pomegranate molasses. Stir well until all the mixture is combined and pour the mix into a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180c for 20 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes and then tuck in! I tend to break apart the tray back into big chunks rather than cutting them straight with a knife. 

This will keep for over a week in an airtight container.  YUMand have some ChicP Banana, Avocado & Cacao hummousse to dunk it into (Or layer on as icing)!

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I Pita The Fool That Doesn’t Like Hummus

ALEX HEAD from Social Pantry has written a wonderful Autumnul blog post on ChicP... with a delicious recipe from us too! 

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There’s a lot to be said for a good dip; they’re a delicious way to jazz up a dull desk lunch and can bring dinner parties to life when paired with a fresh crudités. As much as I try to make everything from scratch, there are some fantastic packaged dips on the market at the moment and one of my favourites is London-based ChicP.

Tired of bland, unoriginal supermarket versions, ChicP founder Hannah set about creating dips from surplus vegetables otherwise destined for the bin. The colourful range (all made using a base of chickpeas) includes Beetroot & Horseradish, Herby Hummus and Carrot & Ginger.

Hannah has created this quick, tasty falafel recipe using the best-selling Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric dip as the key ingredient – perfect in Autumn to enjoy with salads, add to hearty soups or wraps or to eat with a warm chicken dish. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic diets for centuries to boost the immune system and help prevent disease – this dish is great to give your immune system a boost when the weather dips low. Enjoy!

 Ingredients Makes 10-12 falafel 2 pots ChicP  Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric  hummus 200g plain flour or (brown rice flour for a gluten-free option) 1 tbsp coconut oil (for frying)  Method 1. Place the contents of both the hummus pots in a bowl followed by the flour. 2. Mix well with a spoon until the hummus and flour are completely mixed together. At this point, you can opt to add a few of your own ingredients if you want to add some flavour such as chilli powder, chopped herbs etc.. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour. 3. Now get your hands stuck in and roll the mixture into as many balls/patties as you can. I like mine to be around 3cm long, nice big bite sizes. 4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, place the balls into the pan, around 5-6 at a time. 5. Heat for around 3-4 minutes on each side until they are nice and browned. They should be cooked long enough so that the inside is nice and hot. 6. Serve straight away or keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They’re also great to freeze!  Recipe courtesy of  ChicP .

Ingredients
Makes 10-12 falafel
2 pots ChicP Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric hummus
200g plain flour or (brown rice flour for a gluten-free option)
1 tbsp coconut oil (for frying)

Method
1. Place the contents of both the hummus pots in a bowl followed by the flour.
2. Mix well with a spoon until the hummus and flour are completely mixed together. At this point, you can opt to add a few of your own ingredients if you want to add some flavour such as chilli powder, chopped herbs etc.. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour.
3. Now get your hands stuck in and roll the mixture into as many balls/patties as you can. I like mine to be around 3cm long, nice big bite sizes.
4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, place the balls into the pan, around 5-6 at a time.
5. Heat for around 3-4 minutes on each side until they are nice and browned. They should be cooked long enough so that the inside is nice and hot.
6. Serve straight away or keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They’re also great to freeze!

Recipe courtesy of ChicP.