Putting the British into breakfast

LONDON’S RESTAURANTS, caterers and hotels are being challenged to provide better breakfasts that are good for diners, farmers, farm animals and the environment.



Ethical Eats, a network of 1,000 London caterers determined to improve their sustainability, has published a “Better Breakfasts” guide to help all those in the foodservice industry in the capital improve the quality, ethics and sustainability of their breakfasts.


The guide includes practical advice such as cheap and easy swaps, such as upgrading to Fairtrade tea and coffee, free range eggs and real bread from local and artisan bakeries. It also has suggestions of small-scale, local-to-London suppliers for caterers to try, from Sustain’s Local Food Finder.


The guide also suggests innovative ways to make breakfast menus more interesting and using sustainable ingredients, such as cuttlefish kedgeree. It also contains case studies of inspiring catering businesses such as Sarah Moore Catering who dry soft fruit when it’s plentiful and in season, for use in porridge and muesli year-round.


Meanwhile, the Lido Café in Brockwell have embraced nose-to-tail eating with Stornoway black pudding and rare breed pork from Essex. The owners said customers really appreciate the quality and difference in taste.


Pork and bacon are particular areas of concern for great British breakfast, with much of London ’s bacon and sausages coming from pigs raised to low standards of animal welfare. Tony Goodger, from the pig industry body BPEX, urged caterers to switch to higher welfare, British pork, and try under-utilised streaky bacon in favour of traditional back bacon.


“Much of the pork imported into the UK has been produced from pigs that have been farmed in a manner that would be illegal in the UK,” he added.


Emily Crawley from Ethical Eats said the famous full English breakfast is a source of national identity and pride, but too often, the breakfasts eaten in London are anything but British.


“When shopping in the supermarket, British consumers now buy more free-range eggs than eggs from caged hens, and most people say they really care about local food, sustainable fish and real bread. Yet when they eat breakfast in a restaurant or hotel, it’s likely that the eggs are from caged hens, the fish from environmentally damaging production methods, and their watery tomatoes from overseas hothouses,” she explained.


The Ethical Eats restaurants network will be sharing recommendations of their favourite local suppliers this week on Twitter (#ilovetobuyfrom).