Berkshire pub named Britain’s most eco-friendly food business

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Solid green: the Wheatsheaf in Berkshire took the top prize at the SRA’s Food Made Good Awards 2019
Solid green: the Wheatsheaf in Berkshire took the top prize at the SRA’s Food Made Good Awards 2019

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An organic Berkshire pub has been recognised alongside climate change activist Greta Thunberg at the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) Food Made Good Awards 2019.

The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat near Hungerford, Berkshire, was named Business of the Year at the SRA’s annual accolades, recognising the best and brightest in sustainable food service.

A runner-up for the Waste No Food award, the freehouse scooped the night’s top prize at the ceremony held at Troxy in London for achieving the highest sustainability rating of 20 shortlisted businesses – including a green workplace, university caterers, a city farm café, two beachside restaurants and Young’s, the operator of 150 pubs.

Owner-chef Ollie Hunter was commended for removing Sunday roasts from his menu out of concern over meat, vegetable and energy waste while reducing the meat content of pub classics – for example, substituting a third of meat in his burger for mushrooms.

Hunter, who has managed to keep carnivorous customers content despite three quarters of his pub’s dishes being vegetable-led, also scooped the night’s Serve More Veg and Better Meat awards.

“This is everything we strive for here at the Wheatsheaf,” Hunter commented upon receiving the Business of the Year accolade.

“Every decision and action we take is for sustainability. This award is reward for all those decisions and actions. This is about the future of all food businesses. Bring on the revolution!”

Pubs win prizes

As reported by The Morning Advertiser​, a number of pubs and national operators were listed among the finalists​ for the SRA’s Food Made Good Business awards – including Young’s and JD Wetherspoon.

Deri Reed, chef-owner of family-run, café-restaurant and bar the Warren in Carmarthen, Wales, took the SRA’s inaugural Chef of the Year gong for creating a community-built venue, showcasing quality Welsh produce and producers at affordable prices off the back of a £20,000 crowdfunding campaign.

East London pub, the Buxton took the Open Right award – awarded to the most sustainable operator to have served their first meal since May 2018 – for its dedication to retaining as many of the building’s existing features, fixtures and fittings during a major refurb, saving 21% of carbon emissions that would have been generated if the owners had built from scratch.

What’s more, London pub the Roebuck, in Borough, claimed the One Planet One Plate prize for eco-friendly dishes – such as selling a 35% mushroom and lentil burger – while drastically cutting its carbon emissions.

Runners-up from the pub trade included Young’s Pubs – which was shortlisted for prizes recognising celebration of local and seasonal produce, and responsibly sourcing fish. Additionally, industry giant JDW was a runner-up in the ‘treat staff fairly and feed people well’ categories.

Everything needs to change

“Tonight’s winners of the Food Made Good Awards demonstrate that we can take risks, influence our guests to make better choices and use creative skills to ensure that every meal we serve has a positive impact,” according to the SRA’s president Raymond Blanc OBE, who named Greta Thunberg his Sustainability Hero to round off proceedings.

Accepting the award on behalf of Thunberg, a representative of the UK Student Climate Network said: “My message to everyone in the industry is that you need to realise how important the decisions are that you take in your business every single day and that you are completely transparent about them.

“You must make that information accessible so people, young and old, can make informed choices about what and where they eat.

“As Greta says, ‘everything needs to change, and it has to start today’.”

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