If you thought Christmas was a time for culinary excess and lots of meat, you’d better think again: our food stand at the 6heads event showcased some fascinating ideas for how to make the season a more sustainable one. New start-up company Hodmedod brought along their straightforward yet so-effective ideas for how to wean us off meat whilst also getting us to buy and eat local produce. In a word, Great British Beans! With beautiful branding and imagery produced by a neighbourly Norfolk artist, the business is based around the simple premise of UK-grown, protein-rich fava beans as a nutritious low-carbon alternative to meat. Not only that, but they’re good for the soil too. And if you’re thinking What, just one product? you can be assured of the dynamism of the humble bean by checking out all the fabulous recipes that Hodmedod provide on their website… plus they now do mail order, so you can rustle some up on the big day and give them as original pressies too!
The wonderful Wonderbags brought us slow, fossil fuel-free cooking in the shape of a decorative and highly-coloured insulating bag. Just start your stew, soup, curry or whatever off on the stove and then place it in the Wonderbag – where it will continue to cook, saving carbon emissions, water and money! Consumer goods giant Unilever has already committed to buying and distributing five million Wonderbags throughout the developing world, where they are set to reduce toxic fumes, cooking time and accidents as well as saving families energy and money. The wonderful prints also make them a lovely addition to any sustainable kitchen…
Thirdly, we showcased a perennial Christmas favourite: the mince-pie. And you’d be astonished at the impacts of this unassuming festive delicacy. Over 1,000 litres of water (that’s about 14 baths’ full) and 300kg of carbon dioxide (300 party balloons) go into the production of each one!!* Of course this is an educated estimate, as each one has slightly different ingredients and quantities, but it gives an idea of the environmental toll that currants, mixed peel, butter and flour take when they are farmed and produced for our seasonal appetites. A quandary indeed when we come to learn that it’s the butter that’s by far the worst… and what would pastry be without butter?
Of our top ten tips (also posted below) the most popular, and arguably most obvious, was ‘Don’t over-shop, and keep leftovers out of the bin’ – which, it was agreed, is easier said than done when we consider pre-Christmas frenzy and post-Christmas lethargy. Second in line was ‘Buy locally grown or reared’. And if you laughed off the question of chomping down on roadkill, you can laugh in the other direction, because we met people, who know people, who do it!
*Figures based on research by an Imperial College CEP PhD student by calculating the impacts of mince pie ingredients.