Foodservice Footprint Issue 15 – April 2012

Foodservice Footprint FF15-proof-9-1 Foodservice Footprint Issue 15 - April 2012 Magazines  WE ALL remember the shampoo adverts, the ones where actors with shinier than natural hair boasted of taking only one bottle into the shower. Shampoo and conditioner in one bottle was a 90s phenomenon, I think. In the noughties we were then able to take in shower gels that washed and conditioned our hair too. This decade, I foresee a new campaign, encouraging us to make use of the free hand we have (with only one bottle to carry) to take an egg timer into the shower.


Yes, an egg timer. Don’t worry, it’s a waterproof egg timer. Various water companies are dishing them out free to residents to encourage them to cut back on their shower time. Some would argue that time and money would be better spent preventing the 3.3 billion litres of water that escapes through leaky pipes every day. But, regardless, all would agree that water is a huge environmental issue.


At the City Food Lecture last month, Sainsbury’s chief Justin King suggested that water was a bigger challenge than carbon for food businesses. The panel after King’s speech was flooded with questions about water, and how to tackle the issues. Just a week later, the Government’s drought summit took place as some parts of the UK were confirmed as officially ‘in drought’ (page 7). The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman called on everyone to “use less water and to start now”. A few minutes less in the shower is one thing, but for food businesses the pressures are more acute; battles for available water are already emerging between domestic use and business use, including that to grow food. The Government’s summit outlined plans to encourage farmers to set up water abstractor groups and consider on-farm storage. But some might argue that this will only take us so far. It’s ironic that as the pressures on our food system pique, so too has the debate around genetically modified (GM) foods. Could this technology – that Europe derides yet the rest of the world embraces – provide the answer? (pages 6 and 8).


A poll on the Foodservice Footprint website suggests that 78% of you want to re-open the debate on GM, while just 11% want nothing to do with the technology. I wonder whether those of you in the latter group, voted as a concerned consumer or as a business reliant on a food supply that your clients demand? Or how many of those of you that said ‘yes’ are pro-technology or simply pro-choice?


It’s an intriguing debate and one which has challenged the ethics and thinking of the world’s biggest environmental groups for many years. GM is certainly not a magic wand that will solve all our sustainability challenges, but might it deserve a second chance? You certainly seem to think so.

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