Sausages, Bacon, Eggs: London organic butcher, UK ¦ Tomatoes, UK ¦ Baked Beans, China ¦ Mushrooms, UK ¦ White Bread, UK & Canada
The Full English Breakfast is our starting point on our journey of food utopia.
How could each of the ingredients - whether they be vegetables, meat or carbohydrates - be replaced in order to make this meal more ecological? In this series we explore how reducing waste and making the most of seasonality could transform our food system into a utopia, moving away from factory farm food production which produces greenhouse gases and exhausts the farming landscape.
The Staple Loaf: Glorious Grains
Wheat and rye flour, UK
As opposed to the white, mass-produced loaf in the Full English, this loaf of bread, provided by E5 bakery, is made from wheat that isn’t grown in damaging monocultures that are sprayed with fertilisers and pesticides. The grains used in this loaf are UK grown, and are a mixture of wholemeal wheat, heritage wheat and rye. These grains are stone ground, which keeps the nutritious endosperm, bran, and germ intact for a healthier loaf.
Forward thinking bakers and farmers are key in producing breads that contain diverse, nutritious grains, grown more sustainably.
Courgette and Beetroot: A Secret Kaleidoscope
Red Globe beetroot, Candy beetroot, Averil’s Garden, UK; Courgettes, Eve’s Garden, UK
This photo encapsulates the beauty of in-season vegetables. These candy and golden beetroots are distinct from the familiar deep red beetroots but equally as tasty. By making the most of UK seasonal produce, we can save on air miles, reduce emissions and support local economies.
This summer salad combines a number of obscure vegetables, all in season and little used. Courgette flowers, normally thrown away, are a great way to add extra texture and beauty to this dish.
Summer Squash: A Seasonal Sensation
Summer squash, UK
This pattypan summer squash might be a little knobblier than its well known butternut or pumpkin counterparts, but grows well in the UK summer climate.
The vegetables we eat in a Full English, or indeed any other meal, often show little change throughout the year, which is hugely at odds with the way produce naturally grows. In season vegetables, like this squash are more adapted to our climate and are less likely to need synthetic chemical ‘help’ to aid growth or reduce pests. Eating them when they are readily available reduces carbon output from transportation or the heating of polytunnels that produce unseasonal veg all year round.
Offal: Nose-to-Tail Eating
A thick juicy pork shoulder sausage or smoked back bacon both sound delicious. But what happens to the other parts of the animal that don’t look, or sound so attractive? Every day, tonnes of meat is thrown away due to lack of consumer demand. What an offal waste.
Unsurprisingly, animal ‘by-products’, like this ox’s heart, are bursting with vitamins and are much cheaper than mainstream alternatives. Luckily chefs like Fergus Henderson of St. John’s restaurant in London's Smithfield are putting offal back on the menu with a lot of success. This is paving the way for this way of cooking to be taken home to our kitchens.
Cultured Meat: Farming of the Future
Cells, collagen (bovine), Sigma Aldrich, various origins; Media (cell food), Invitrogen, origin undisclosed; Serum, non-USA origin
Current livestock farming utilizes ⅓ of all ice free land, accounts for 80% of Amazon deforestation and produces 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Cultured meat is muscle tissue produced from cell cultures in the laboratory, rather than directly from animals. This technology could decrease the impact of industrial farming but risks alienating the population even further from the origins of our food.
This innovative work is being researched at King’s College in the Tissue Engineering department by Abi Aspen Glencross sponsored by New Harvest, and in the Geography department by Alexander Sexton sponsored by ESRC.
Huel: The Meal Replacement
Huel, 32 ingredients, Origins Undisclosed
Huel is the self-proclaimed ‘future of food’.
100% vegan, low sugar, high protein, virtually waste-free and totally nutritionally complete - it certainly fits the bill. This powder blends rice, peas and flaxseed and more into a tasteless powder. When mixed with water, Huel makes a smoothie that contains ‘everything your body needs’, around five 500ml smoothies is enough to satisfy you for the day.
But does satisfaction, and the reason to eat, extend beyond our GDA requirements? And is Huel paving our way to a food utopia, or dystopia? If we fail to improve our current food system through careful sourcing and waste reduction, we could be left with the futuristic Huel smoothie as one of our only options.
Spirulina Marshmallows: Green Machines
Spirulina, South West China
An unlikely contender for a future diet supplement, this microscopic green algae can be found in ponds or oceans directly converting sun energy into nutritious oils, proteins and capturing essential vitamins like B12.
Spirulina is just one species of (cyano) bacteria - the ancient ancestor of modern-day chloroplasts. And like many species of algae, it’s extremely nutrient and protein dense.
Originally Spirulina was researched by NASA as the future of space food because it can grow using only water, nutrients and light. It’s one of the most efficient suppliers of protein relative to energy input and land use, and can even grow on wastewater.
This innovative work is being researched at Imperial College London in the Life Sciences Department and the Royal College of Art.