Chefs are being encouraged to take up the Organic September Menu Challenge as part of Soil Association’s successful Organic September campaign. The challenge entails creating an “Organic September” menu option featuring organic ingredients or simply switching one thing to organic like dairy, flour, meat or fresh produce.
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.
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.
The demand for organic when eating out
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 (1). A third would be more likely to eat at a restaurant described as organic (2).
National dining chains already using organic include Itsu, Jamie’s Italian, IKEA, Wetherspoons, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Harvester, Strada, McDonald’s, Zizzi, Giraffe, Nando’s, las Iguanas and Prezzo.
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.
Organic Served Here award
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 an Organic Served Here award for serving organic, 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.”
Ways to engage:
The principles of organic food production are reflected in areas 1 and 2 of the Chefs' Manifesto- Ingredients grown with respect for the earth & its oceans; Protection of biodiversity & improved animal welfare. Organic will be the focus of London Action Hub's upcoming event in October, bringing chefs together to discuss the role organic farming can play in building a sustainable food future.