The Future of the Full English
Thanks to everyone who joined us last week for our breakfast event for curious foodies, The Future of the Full English, in London.
Ollie Lloyd (Great British Chefs), Rob Woodall (The Meatless Farm Co), Fozia Ismail (Arawelo Eats), and Michelin-starred chef Nurdin Topham joined the panel discussion hosted by Sonoo Singh of The Drum. Meanwhile guests were given the chance to sample crickets (or ‘land shrimps’ as they are sometimes euphemistically known) with a Japanese-style Chirashi breakfast from Omoide.
Social media mentions of plant-based diets, protein-rich insects, and CBD oil, as well as concerns around the impact of Brexit on food, are firmly on the rise. But what impact are consumer concerns actually having on the food industry?
While it’s easy for us to talk about trends, the reality is more nuanced. As Ollie Lloyd stated, “What goes in Islington doesn’t necessarily apply in the rest of the country. 30% of the UK define themselves as foodies. The other 70% really do not.” And while the foodies might be scratch cooking and experimenting, Rob Woodall acknowledged the ‘inherent conservatism’ in the food we eat in the UK. This, he said, was driven by people who had no desire to learn a completely new way to cook because they are just too busy.
The importance of moving to more of a plant-based diet cannot be underestimated. Increasingly the science is telling us it’s a must for the planet’s survival, as well as our own health. But the panellists agreed we are undoubtedly looking at the problem from a western point of view. Rob Woodall pointed out that eating meat is a status symbol for the emerging middle classes in many parts of the world, creating a significant barrier to entry for plant-based foods. While Fozia Ismail drew on her own family’s experiences in Somalia, where the real threats to food security posed by climate change are already being felt: “We are in an incredibly privileged position to be able be able to choose between plants and meat.”
According to Ollie Lloyd, the demand for organic food has stabilised. He suggested this may be due the fact it’s not the only way of assessing the quality of our food. But the picture is more nuanced than that, with Fozia Ismail pointing to the growth of local organic food box schemes, which are even more linked to the demand for sustainability.
THE NEXT BIG THING
The good news is there is still plenty of room for innovation, according to the panel. Ollie Lloyd is yet to be convinced on vegan cheese, and Rob Woodall noted the considerable room for improvement there is in artificial sweeteners. While, you may be reassured to know, Nurdin Topham won’t be bringing insects to the fine dining experience just yet…