With so much focus on eating healthily we often disregard another (huge) element of responsible eating; where our food comes from, how it is prepared and what effect it has on the environment. We’re not suggesting you live on organic hemp and cook in a solar-powered kitchen but with so many great options for ethical, sustainable and socially-aware dining in London, you can take your guilt-free lunch to the next level.
Britain’s First Certified Organic Pub
Far from your average pub, The Duke of Cambridge is Britain’s first and only certified organic pub. With produce supplied by Riverford’s family farm in Devon, the Islington pub has a daily-changing menu which for spring may include nettle, wild garlic and potato soup, pan fried whole plaice and rhubarb fool. Food waste is collected for generating energy, furniture is all second hand and events at The Duke help raise money for local charities, schools and the Send a Cow programme in Northern Uganda.
Responsibly Sourced Ingredients
Greek street food restaurant Hungry Donkey are proud to reveal the name and origin of every single ingredient in their kitchen. All their meat is ethically and sustainably reared; lamb comes from Devon and Cornwall, chicken from the Cotswolds, free-range pork is reared in Suffolk for longer than average to intensify flavour and wild boar used in sausage meat is reared by the Fotiadis family in Greece. Drinks-wise, craft beers come from Greek microbreweries and local London breweries.
Where: Hungry Donkey Greek Kitchen, Wentworth Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Aldgate East (0.2 miles)
If the name alone doesn’t get all the points, the pizza itself and good intentions definitely put Well Kneaded head and shoulders above the competition. The super-doughy sourdough pizzas are most commonly found being served from their Citroen pizza van at KERB street food market. Toppings are seasonal and organic, and they employ young Londoners who have had restricted employment opportunities.
When you get your morning coffee from Old Spike it’ll make you feel even better than usual. Their beans are sourced from all over the world, helping individual producers in places like Guatemala and Tanzania have a stable workforce and therefore a regular income. Closer to home, Old Spike employs homeless people in the local community, giving them training, English lessons (where neccessary), housing and a job that will lead on to long-term employment. The shop itself is now open seven days a week and their coffee is available at coffee shops all over London.
Socially Conscious Mayfair Cafe
Socially conscious is how Spring Workshop describe themselves. A cafe in the heart of Mayfair, they are open for breakfast and lunch (until 5.30pm) Monday to Friday serving seasonal food with a menu that changes daily. Supporting the local community is at the heart of Spring Workshop – all profits and tips are donated to charities supporting social mobility and employers are proudly paid Living Wage.
Grain Store in Granary Square, King’s Cross proves that dining with a clear-conscience can be stylish and contemporary. The menu is inspired by chef Bruno Loubet’s global travels, making vegetables the star of the show to keep meat consumption to a minimum (although meat they do cook with is almost exclusively organic and free range). Elsewhere, Grain Store aim to become carbon neutral and lead the way for sustainability in the restaurant industry.
Independent Foodie Brands Under One Roof
Sourced Market does as the name suggests and sources its produce as locally as possible for its St Pancras and Marylebone stores. Independent suppliers include Crosstown Doughnuts (who handmake their doughnuts from scratch), Celtic Bakers (organic, ethical sourdough) and Doisy and Dam (superfood chocolate handmade in Norfolk). 90% of the produce for sale is from small producers in the UK – it’s why they describe themselves an incubator for young business.
Bread Made in Brixton Prison
The Joint started out as a pop-up stall, serving both slow-cooked meat (pulled pork is the speciality) and freshly prepared cocktails. Fast forward a couple of years and meat (all free range, supplied by The Ginger Pig) is transformed into 16-hour slow cooked pulled pork, shredded chicken, beef brisket or baby back ribs with a selection of sides including candied apple bacon, Asian slaw or onion rings. The Joint also serve craft beers from Brixton Brewery and equally locally made bread – all buns are made by inmates of Brixton Prison, known as Bad Boys Bakery.
Waste Not, Want Not
Skye Gyngell’s elegant restaurant, Spring, has launched a fresh menu dedicated to reducing the burgeoning problem of food waste. Offerings on the Scratch Menu are not extravagant, but aim to combat the amount of food being thrown out, as well as spotlighting the humble heritage of seasonal ingredients often overlooked in the kitchen, from beetroot tops and potato skins turned into simple soups to yesterdays bread transformed into warm bread pudding.
Skye has just announced the launch of TABLE, a community eating house in collaboration with Photo London at Somerset House. Taking place from 17th-21st May, the temporary installation will be crafted using seasonal scraps from Spring’s a la carte menu and ingredient donations from a select group of farmers, producers and chefs who share Skye’s philosophy to ensure that nothing will be wasted, from root to stalk.
Jamie Oliver’s Apprenticeship Scheme
One of the better known on this list, Fifteen spearheads employment of disadvantaged youths. The food is of course top notch (it has Jamie’s name to it so we’d expect nothing less) – rustic, elegant and globally-inspired, with the gin-based cocktail bar a main draw. The restaurant is not-for-profit, with profits going back into training 18 unemployed 18-25 year olds each year into professional chefs, giving them huge future prospects.
Great Coffee and Light Bites
Many of us have walked past a homeless person, stopped into the nearest café and grabbed them a hot drink, but Second Shot Coffee are taking it one step further and offering jobs to those unable to find them. Serving up a whole range of freshly baked light-bites and expertly brewed coffee, this café offers you the chance to not only enjoy your favourite beverage, but to help someone back onto their feet. Teach a man to fish…
Eat Sushi, Give a Suit
Feng Sushi love to give back to their neighbourhood – whether it’s sourcing local produce or helping those in need, their morals are just as good as their food. By ordering their sushi, whether that’s to eat in or to be delivered, you’re helping them support Suited & Booted, a charity supplying suits and shoes to those unable to afford them to assist with job interviews. The perfect way to feel as good as the food you’re eating.
All Day Dining Created by Young People
Cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients and offering a comprehensive drinks list, Waterhouse is the perfect way to dine for breakfast, lunch and private events. Not only is the food brilliant, but it’s cooked by young people trained by the Blue Marble training team at the social enterprise restaurant, owned by charity The Shoreditch Trust. Here, they are taught a new and valuable life skill, setting them up for a successful career and positive future. Nothing tastes better than helping others.
Dining in a Prison
Everyone’s heard gruelling stories of prison food, but the food at The Clink is not to be avoided. Situated in a Category C prison, the meals are prepared by chefs, using the freshest ingredients, and served by prisoners preparing for rehabilitation via the prisons training scheme.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Zest presents a Taste of Syria, a kosher meaty pop up restaurant in partnership with the World Jewish Relief on the piazza of their JW3 venue. Zest, which traditionally serves fish and vegetarian dishes, will offer a fully kosher meat menu for the first time, with typical Syrian dishes cooked on an outside grill. Inspired by cooking from the Syrian-Jewish culture, the kosher menu will include lamb kofta, Muhummara marinated chicken wings and saffron and orange marinated chicken as well as vegetarian alternatives. £1 from each meal purchased will be donated towards World Jewish Relief’s work supporting refugees who have fled war and persecution in Syria.
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