When it comes to sustainability, we look to America chef Dan Barber and his essential definition: that sustainable practice is something that will still be here in 100 years. Sustainable practice does not deplete resources, but nurtures resources and ensures their longevity. We work with producers who are ethical custodians of tradition and environment, and by supporting them, we give strength to their business, make their practice sustainable, profitable and give it future.
Luigi Crescenzi who preserves our anchovies in Lazio takes sustainability very seriously and – as many of you will know – they are more often out of stock than in! But when there are no anchovies to filet he spends his time teaching on the dangers of over fishing so we don’t mind.
In Le Marche Michele and Sabina who supply our passata only cultivate tomatoes on 1/5th of their land at any one time to keep the soil healthy and fertile and the low yielding, heritage grains of our different pasta varieties are from strong, sturdy plants that have never been hybridised and that grow without the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides. In her Piedmont paddy fields Igiea Adami uses naturally resistant aquatic plants to prevent the growth of unwanted weeds instead of herbicides.
Looking for a new supplier of sustainable salumi is harder, we first ask how many pigs the producer slaughters a week. This tells us the size of their production and is, we have learnt, often a reliable pointer for quality and also for sustainability.
We want to know who has slaughtered the animals. Most of our suppliers, even if they don’t rear the meat, will slaughter the animal themselves in their own, tiny, EU regulated abattoirs as the calm, humane slaughter of their carefully reared animals is an integral part of how they work.
Then we ask at what age the pigs are slaughtered. With our suppliers it is between 12 months for Large White pigs and 24 months for rare breeds. Any younger than this and the animals have not been allowed to reach maturity at a natural pace without the use of environmentally damaging antibiotics or hormones to promote growth.
A pig reared like this is expensive and our suppliers will never be able to compete on price; they have to focus on taste, quality and sustainability. And so do we.
Back in London we had the first fully electric refrigerated van in the UK!