Ethical eating - 6 great innovators in better, greener food
Here are six new companies that have found brilliant ways to make our food (and the world) a little bit better.
At Bulb we love finding simple, innovative ways to go green. And if a small change makes your life happier at the same time, even better! The good news is it’s getting easier and easier to eat delicious things AND do right by the planet. So, if you fancy making your life a bit more delicious, and the world a bit better at the same time, get to know these ethical foodie innovators.
1. Rubies in the Rubble - turning food waste into chutney magic
Many people are shocked by the amount of food that gets wasted every year, but Jenny Dawson did something pretty awesome about it. Visiting markets across London, she saw tonnes of perfectly good produce sent to landfill just because it wasn’t pretty enough, or because too much had been ordered. So one day she loaded up her car with rescued fruit and veg from New Covent Garden market and took it back to her kitchen, where she turned it into delicious preserves. Rubies in the Rubble was born!
From Spicy Tomato relish to Chipotle Ketchup and London Piccalilli, Rubies has got it all. If you’re in London, you can pick up a treat from her stall in Borough Market. And if not, there’s Waitrose or the online shop. It’s all made from food that would otherwise be thrown away, so it tastes twice as good.
We love Rubies in the Rubble because it provides a really simple, positive solution to food waste, focusing on the great quality of the discarded fruit and veg that goes into it.
2. Farmdrop - bringing food shopping closer to home
Farmdrop is reinventing the food supply chain in the UK. They use technology to connect consumers directly with producers, making it really easy to shop for fresh, local produce.
You use the Farmdrop website or app to do your grocery shopping, the majority of which will be from farms within 100 miles of your home. Local food hasn’t travelled as far as typical supermarket fare, so it’s much fresher, tastier and healthier. And food miles and carbon emissions are cut to boot - they even deliver in electric vans. But it’s not just about better food. Farmdrop makes it possible to give farmers a better cut too. Roughly 75% of the retail price of what’s ordered, in fact. This is only right, especially when working with producers who hold sustainable principles at heart.
Farmdrop is available to residents of London, Bristol and Bath. But if you’re not in any of those three, we recommend checking out their website for recipes, tips and a behind the scenes look at farming in the UK.
3. Growing Underground - London’s first subterranean farm
Did you know that deep under the busy streets of Clapham, London is a 2.5 acre herb farm? Growing Underground has transformed a World War II air raid shelter into an urban farm growing salad leaves and herbs. If that sounds far fetched, think again. They are already selling to Marks & Spencer, Ocado and a number of independent restaurants and shops around London.
Founded by the Zero Carbon Food company and top chef Michel Roux Jnr, the farm uses hydroponics to grow vegetables 100 feet below the ground. Plants are grown without soil, while using low-energy LED lights. They grow in a controlled, pest-free environment which produces consistent quality crops, whatever the weather above ground. Hydroponic systems use 70% less water than traditional open-field farming. They make urban agriculture not just a possibility, but a reality.
And if we can grow crops in cities, food miles are minimal. If you live in London you can buy Growing Underground leaves from Farmdrop and have them in your kitchen within 4 hours of them being picked. It doesn’t get more local than that!
4. Cook - remarkably good freezer meals
Much as we’d all love to cook a proper wholesome meal from scratch every evening, the reality is that we sometimes rely on the ready meal. And that means trying not to think about all the e-numbers, sugar, salt and less-than-ethical origins of the ingredients.
Cook offer a simple solution: delicious freezer meals made in a real kitchen by real chefs, using only carefully sourced ingredients. And it’s not all typical freezer food (we’re looking at you fish & chips). How about a Balinese vegetable curry? Or Portobello Mushroom Risotto?
Like Bulb, Cook is part of the B-Corp family, meaning they meet rigorous social and environmental standards. And they have a great initiative - the One Feeds Two partnership - which we love. For every purchase from their Kids range, they provide a school meal for a child in one of the world’s poorest countries. A company that makes a positive difference and an incredible sticky toffee pudding - does it get any better?
5. Rebel Kitchen - making the healthy choice the tasty choice
Rebel Kitchen is a new kind of health food business. They don’t like to preach. Instead, they just make delicious stuff that you want to eat.
Products like Orange Chocolate Coconut Mylk or Coffee Coconut Yoghurt are dairy-free, organic and responsibly sourced - but more importantly, they taste really good.
Rebel Kitchen are another fellow B-Corp and contribute to the 1% For The Planet scheme. This means they’ve pledged 1% of sales to nonprofit partners working for a healthy planet. We love climate change heroes. Especially those with a penchant for chocolate ‘mylkshake’. Pick one up at your local supermarket.
6. Divine Chocolate - chocolate powered change
Divine Chocolate is the longest-established company on this list, but it never stops finding new ways to make the world a little bit better. And through the power of chocolate, too!
Plenty of chocolate companies are Fairtrade. But only one is co-owned by cocoa farmers. The biggest share of Divine’s profits go to a co-operative of over 85,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana, and premiums have been invested in great local causes including new schools. Tasty chocolate bar ingredients like mangoes from Burkina Faso and vanilla from Madagascar are also all Fairtrade.
This year, Divine won an award for having the fastest-growing international sales for an emerging brand. Which only goes to show you can be a great commercial success while pursuing an ethical strategy. This is what the B Corp community is all about. And we love that so many are food businesses. Who wouldn’t want to change the world, one mouthful at a time?
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