Chefs are being encouraged to take up the Organic September Menu Challenge as part of Soil Association’s Organic September.
Restaurants and cafés are challenged to step up to the plate and put organic on the menu, whether it’s creating an “Organic September” menu option featuring organic ingredients or simply switching one thing to organic like dairy, meat or fresh produce.
Organic food and drink in foodservice has risen over 10% in the last year, but 48% of people think there aren’t enough restaurants serving ethically and sustainably sourced dishes and two thirds believe it is not easy to determine whether organic food and drink is available. A third would be more likely to eat at a restaurant described as organic.
Sarah Jupp from Soil Association Certification said: “Our research tells us people want to see more organic food when they eat out – consumers see organic as a signpost to health and it’s fully traceable due to the rigor of the certification process. Asking restaurants to try organic for the month means they can dip their toes into a more sustainable way of sourcing, and play an important part in educating diners about the benefits of organic for health, wildlife, the environment and animal welfare. For customers, we hope the Menu Challenge will help to explain what organic really means, while strengthening the link between what you buy and eat and where it comes from. We’re excited about people having the chance to experience food as it should be.”
Participants in the Menu Challenge are encouraged to promote their involvement using the hashtag #organicseptember on social media and to make use of the campaign logo on their menus and websites to show their support.
For those restaurants and cafés that want to make an ongoing commitment to organic, the Soil Association offers the Organic Served Here award scheme. The scheme offers a 1 to 5-star rating depending on the percentage of the menu that is organic, raises the profile of eateries that use certified organic produce and helps diners to find organic restaurants near them.
Neil Forbes, Chef Director at Cafe St Honoré in Edinburgh, the first restaurant to receive the Organic Served Here award, said: “Achieving the Organic Served Here standard is a real seal of approval, and for restaurants thinking about more ethical sourcing the Organic September Menu Challenge is a great place to start. Not only are organic ingredients superior but commercially it makes sense at a time when more and more consumers expect assured quality, provenance and traceability. I truly believe that every restaurant should have at least one organic dish on their menu. By doing butchery in house there are many savings to be made, by cutting out the middle man and using all the cuts from the animal. It’s also a great way to train staff. Buying seasonally and in bulk, and making everything from scratch can make a big impact as well. This approach keeps my kitchen team challenged, engaged and enthusiastic.”
Organic September, an initiative started by the Soil Association over a decade ago, aims to celebrate food as it should be, showcasing businesses that work hard to produce and use food with fewer pesticides, no artificial colours or preservatives, the highest standards of animal welfare and no GM ingredients. The campaign helps people to find, try and buy organic.
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