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“I was born worrying about the planet,” says Thomasina Miers about her commitment to environmental consciousness. It’s a worry that the chef has translated into a mission statement for her restaurant chain, Wahaca, which was the first UK restaurant group to be awarded ‘carbon-neutral’ status in 2016 from the CarbonNeutral Protocol – a global organisation that sets guidelines for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
Wahaca’s food is inspired by the tastes of Mexico, but commitment to the brand’s sustainability mission means ingredients must be local to the UK. “I’m trying to use vegetables we have in this country because there is no way I’m going to fly vegetables over from Mexico,” Miers explains. And local buying is something she advocates for her customers too.
“Farmer’s markets only allow farmers who grow food within a 50-mile radius to sell at the markets, so what they bring to you has to be local,” says Miers. But aside from buying locally farmed produce, reducing the amount of food wasted can also have a major impact on increasing sustainability.
Miers created The Pig Idea to help change the way food waste is handled. Citing concerns that farmed pigs are usually raised on a high-grain diet that contributes to deforestation, The Pig Idea aims to use safe food waste for feed – a solution that is better for the health of the environment and the pigs. “Bread scraps, hops from beer-making, vegetables that had no contact with meat. The pig eats the food and he turns it into more food. It’s the perfect circle of energy consumption,” says Miers.
Miers’s commitment to eco-friendly living is something that has driven her career, and she hopes to make it a driving force behind other people’s food choices. “Three times a day, every single one of us can have a positive impact on the planet just by our food choices,” she says. “For me that’s very empowering.”
To coincide with Earth Day, 22 April, Culture Trip examines sustainable cities through the lens of architecture, food, waste and green spaces.