Today (25 January 2017) the Soil Association is launching Organic Served Here, an award scheme for restaurants, cafes and eateries to celebrate their commitment to using organic ingredients. The Organic Served Here scheme assures customers restaurants source between 15% and 100% of their ingredients from certified organic suppliers.
With organic food sales on the rise, more and more customers want to know where their food is from, making the award a great way to promote the connection between the restaurant and the way the food is produced. First launched in Scotland in 2016, Organic Served Here is the only award of its kind in the UK, awarding restaurants stars on the basis of the percentage of organic ingredients they serve, from one star all the way up to five stars. The scheme brings organic to life and shortens the supply chain from field to plate with dedicated support from organic experts.
Peter Melchett, Policy Director for the Soil Association, said: “Organic Served Here is a fantastic new way for restaurants and cafes to show their customers how much they really care about quality ingredients. Demand for organic is on the rise and it has never been easier to serve organic, thanks to the huge range of top-notch certified produce available, from meat and vegetables to essentials like flour, milk and just about everything else you can imagine. What’s more, organic food is produced to exceptionally high standards of care for the environment and animal welfare. So it’s good for business, for customers, for animals and for the world around us. ”
Organic Served Here award-holders have access to a range of support and benefits: dedicated support from Soil Association Certification organic specialists; access to a network of top-quality organic suppliers via a directory and networking events; opportunities to learn first-hand about where ingredients come from with training and farm visits; listing and promotion as an Organic Served Here award-holder; promotion to the Soil Association’s network of members and supporters, and opportunities to be featured in national press. All restaurants, cafes and eateries that achieve the award are rigorously audited by Soil Association Certification experts to verify the percentage of their food from certified organic farmers, growers and processors.
Neil Forbes, Chef Director at Edinburgh’s prestigious Cafe St Honoré, the first restaurant holding the Organic Served Here three-star award (for serving 50 – 75% organic), said: “I strongly believe that everyone should have access to good food, and good food starts even before the seed is planted, with our soil quality determining the quality of the food we eat. This award encourages everyone who prepares and sells food to think about that quality. So let’s all grow, cook, eat and learn together, and be part of a future of better food for all.”
Grierson’s Organic, a traditional family farm in Perthshire, Scotland, supplies organic meat to Organic Served Here awarded Café St Honoré. Sascha Grierson said: “More people than ever are eating organic, but it is availability, rather than price, which is the overriding obstacle to eating more of it. The Organic Served Here scheme makes organic visible on a much wider scale than ever before, and demonstrates to customers that restaurants are proud of the provenance of their ingredients, and that they are committed to shortening the journey from plough to plate.”
More and more people are choosing organic to avoid pesticides in their food and to avoid meat from animals routinely treated with antibiotics. The organic market is continuing to increase across the UK, with overall growth in 2015 at 4.9%, and sales worth £1.95 billion. Organic catering has had particular success – up by 15.2% last year and now worth £64.3 million in the UK . With the average Brit eating out 1.5 times per week and UK diners projected to spend nearly £55 billion on eating out by 2017, never has the time been better to recognise restaurants that source and serve organic [3, 4]. Organic farms support around 50% more wildlife than non-organic farms and are the best currently available practical model to address climate-friendly food production. Organic standards put animal welfare first, and animals raised in organic systems enjoy the very highest welfare standards of farmed animals.