It’s quite simple really, our daily food choices can make a significant difference not just to our own life chances but to the health of the planet. We are already aware that low fat, low sugar, balanced diets are good for us; they improve well-being and reduce our chances of obesity and disease. Yet, the impact of food procurement and consumption on the earth systems, nature, and biodiversity are perhaps not so well known.
We have recently come to learn that between 20-29% of greenhouse gases come from food production. A diet based on vegetables and grain has the lowest carbon footprint; meals containing pork, chicken and fish create a moderate impact; whilst consuming large quantities of beef and lamb leaves an environmental dent on our planet. Sometimes it can simply be a matter of awareness and of understanding the impact of choices as consumers. Other times, it is about what is expected by those who organise events and/or procure food services on a regular basis.
Recognising this, HMGOG has released a new Sustainable Catering policy. This document identifies what it understands by sustainable catering and sets expectations with regards to the procurement of food and food services for government meetings and functions as well as Government-supported events. So going forward, the Gibraltar Music Festival and similar events will be subject to the commitments outlined in this document. Various stakeholder groups including the Sustainable Gibraltar Food Working Group and key professionals in the field have informed the policy and guided the identification of best practice. A separate document outlining sustainable catering considerations as they apply to catering outlets such as Government hospitals and homes and schools is to be developed.
In Gibraltar, we rightly engage in clean-up campaigns, promote recycling and have bought into the idea of avoiding single-use plastics. We have a healthy obsession with waste disposal and waste reduction. The policy recognises that this is an important issue but also looks at the big picture regarding food and sustainability – going beyond the promotion reusable and bio-degradable options. In my view, this is very timely. We need to go a step further and consider issues at source and not just at the end-of-pipe. This means going beyond packaging and asking questions about ethical sourcing, animal welfare, fair wage as well as how far the food has traveled to get to us. The document recognises this need promoting consideration of food miles, choosing organic and Fairtrade options as well as sustainably certified fish and fish products.
There are many businesses in our community that are already opting for sustainable practice and embrace many of these commitments. Indeed, the recently announced finalists for the Food for Sustainability category of the Gibraltar Sustainability Awards demonstrate that the commitment to sustainable catering is alive and well. Judges commented on how the Calentita Festival has taken on environmental and ethical considerations at its core – and this is not an easy task. Yet, the ripple effect of such an initiative can be immense and organisers can influence not just the food and catering industry but also consumers and how they make choices that impact people and the planet.
Nosha’s Healthy Options is also recognised for embracing sustainability values at the heart of this small business venture. This catering business provides nutritious food meeting a diversity of dietary needs in the community (low salt, low fat, vegetarian, gluten, and lactose-free options) at a reasonable price. It also seeks to minimize its carbon footprint by reducing their plastic waste. And using food containers that are made from sugar cane, and bamboo cutlery as well as plant-based soup containers.
Vicky’s Natural Kitchen (VKN) has also been shortlisted for a Gibraltar Sustainability Award. This catering business offers balanced meals sourced locally (and regionally) and supports homegrown food practices as well as healthy choices. VNK offering has sustainability an integral principle and is committed to raising awareness and building interest in sustainable food through workshops, courses, and television programmes.
Article written by Professor Daniella Tilbury, Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations.
HMGOG Sustainable Catering Policy document can be downloaded from https://www.futuregenerations.gi/news/sustainable-catering-11
The Gibraltar Sustainability Award: Food category was open to catering professionals and food as well as organisations that procure food on a regular basis. Videoclips of the entries can be viewed at www.futuregeerations.gi, The Awards will be announced on the 8th October.