Footprint Blog

Caviar: A wonderful tale of stock replenishment

Caviar, possibly one of the greatest symbols of wealth, could assume quite a different status with commendable ecological side effects.

Caviar is in desperately short supply due to the unsustainable harvesting of the wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, where most of the world’s caviar is presently produced. The situation became dire after the break up of the Soviet Union, which led to the virtual collapse of management and control systems. A century ago, rivers and seas were stuffed with sturgeon, even in Britain.

Sergei Trachook who owns a fish farm called Mottra, near Riga in Latvia has a vision that ‘one day our rivers will be teeming again’, according to The Times.

Mr Trachook doesn’t kill his sturgeon, instead milks the fish for their roe using ultrasound technology and massage, before swiftly returning them unharmed into temperature controlled tanks. He has started to deposit young fish into the nearby Daugva River with a view to replenishing wild stocks.

50g of farmed Mottra Osetra is half the price of wild caviar and once he opens more farms, he will be able to bring the price down even further. Mottra is not the only eco-friendly caviar farm but he claims that other farmed caviar producers make a larger incision, which must be sewn up afterwards, thereby limiting the times the fish can be milked.

According to The Times top chefs are already taking note. Richard Corrigan has put it on the menu of his Mayfair restaurant, Corrigan’s, ‘impressed as much by its clean flavour as by its green credentials’.


Some Water Facts!

Posted in Comment,Diet,Food Miles,Food Trends,International,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 13, 2009


Last week, the subject of water was raised with us repeatedly in light of the ever-increasing anti-bottled-water momentum.

Here are a few lesser known facts about fresh water, that might serve as a fundament to understanding the ambiguity of this issue:

97% of the worlds water is in the ocean. Of the 3% of fresh water, three quarters of it is locked in the polar ice caps, some of it billions of years old. Most of the rest of groundwater, in the soil and rock, seeping gradually back into the sea.

Less than 1% of the world’s freshwater (0.008% of the total) is sufficient to fill all the world’s rain clouds, lakes, swamps and rivers.

There is a clear link between access to safe water in a country and its GDP.

It is estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world will be facing problems caused by lack of water

More than a quarter of the British water supply is wasted through leaky pipes.

There is half as much fresh water in Africa today as there was in 1970.

70% of available fresh water each year is used in agriculture.

It takes 2,800 litres of water to grow a kg of rice and 50 glasses of water to grow enough oranges to make a glass of orange juice.

Perhaps the bottled water sceptics might consider some of these points when they next drink a glass of orange juice. We clearly have a global water problem that needs to be addressed but can the blame for this be laid at the door of the mineral and spring water industry?

It’s taken long enough for the EU to show sound judgement!


What are MEP’s doing? Rather than defining how small toothpicks have to be, or worrying about the speed at which train doors close, Brussels seems to have finally caught on to actual environmental emergencies.

After what has been referred to as a ‘breakthrough’ in Brussels, Europe has finally said it will list Bluefin Tuna as an endangered species, while further scientific studies on the latest population figures of the species are carried out.

The 27 countries of the EU are expected to vote on suspending the trade on bluefin tuna. If these votes receive international support all international trade may be prohibited.

Maybe foodservice’s voice is being heard!

Fifteen commits to MSC

Posted in Foodservice Footprint news,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 2, 2009

The global restaurant brand and social enterprise, Fifteen and the Marine Stewardship Council  (MSC) have received a grant to have all four Fifteen restaurants certified to sell MSC ecolabelled fish. The grant, from the Dutch Stichting Doen Foundation will also fund a training project which will see Fifteen’s chefs join with the MSC to create training and promotional support to the food service industry on certification and its benefits [1].

Once the certification is in place, all four restaurants will be making a commitment to put MSC fish on the menu regularly, and at least once a month. In the UK the range of MSC fish choices varies from mackerel to langoustines and availability is improving all the time.

The certification is hugely important to Fifteen as the sourcing of quality ingredients is an important part of the Fifteen philosophy. The restaurants’ apprentice chefs will also learn about MSC certification as part of their 12-month training programme, helping to educate some of the next generation of chefs.

Fish carrying the MSC eco label can be traced back to the independently certified fishery that caught them.  This means that the fishery has been through the world’s most highly regarded assessment process, which uses the most up to date scientific methods and best independent experts available to assess them and is therefore a standard bearer for traceability and sustainability.

The MSC’s fishery certification programme recognises and rewards sustainable fishing by creating market demand for MSC eco-labelled seafood, encouraging people to look for the MSC logo on seafood in shops and restaurants. 

Laura Stewart, Foodservice Manager for the MSC commented:  “We’re delighted to be working with Fifteen. The combination of funding from Stichting Doen and the Fifteen Foundation’s expertise and experience will mean we can produce some fantastic materials for training chefs together. With Fifteen’s additional commitment to training the next generation of chefs, we hope to make an even greater impact on the food service industry in the future.”

Executive Head Chef Andrew Parkinson says: “At Fifteen we’re passionate about using the best possible ingredients, and wherever possible ingredients that are sourced in a sustainable way. This year UK consumers have been made even more aware of the issues around our supply of fish and we are pleased to be able to show our commitment to sustainable fishing with our partnership with the MSC.”

Fifteen’s flagship restaurant in London aims to kick start promotion of MSC in the UK in September followed by Cornwall in October. It will also be involved in the MSC’s Sustainable Seafood Lunch on 30th September.

Nobu in the spotlight again!

Posted in Comment,Foodservice Footprint news,International,News,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on August 5, 2009

Diners were locked out of Nobu last night as the restaurant fell victim to an environmental campaign. Activist Aiden Brown dressed up as a fisherman turned up at the restaurant and utilised a bike lock to chain the doors of Nobu’s Park Lane eaterie. Guests were greeted by a sign reading ‘Gone Fishin’ for Blue Fin Tuna’.

As you know Nobu has come under attack for serving the endangered Blue Fin Tuna, and even under increasing pressure,  merely added a warning on its menu.

Pioneering Farming formula in the Home Counties

A new farming method has arrived in the UK. Thanet Earth covers 18ha (the size of 25 football pitches) and is modelled on a Dutch farming approach. Based on high-intensity horticulture pioneered in the Netherlands, the farm boasts seven reservoirs to catch rain water, has its own power generators, allowing the farm to sell electricity back to the national grid while also producing the heat and Co2 that are beneficial to the plants.

The farm is expected to boost British salad-vegetable production by 15%, growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

80 million Euros have been invested getting the site fully operational and is not only based on sound environmental logic but also on commercial plausibility. 

Not bad for a farm just outside of London.

Watch out for

Alaska and New Zealand lead the way to sustainable fishing. The British are sadly not quite off the starting blocks!


A study from an international team of scientists shows that a handful of major fisheries across the world have managed to reduce the rate at which fish are exploited, says David Adam, Environment Correspondent at

The analysis is a very welcome reflection of global efforts but one must remain cynical. It shows what can be achieved but the British fishing industry in particular has a long way to go. 

‘The new analysis used catch data as well as stock assessments, scientific trawl surveys, small-scale fishery data and modelling results. It highlighted catch quotas, localised fishing closures and bans on selected fishing gear to allow smaller fish to escape, as measures that help fish stocks recover. Agencies in Alaska and New Zealand have led the world in the fight against overfishing by acting before the situation became critical, says the study, which is published in the journal ‘Science’. Fish abundance is increasing in previously over-fished areas around Iceland, the North-East US shelf, the Newfoundland-Labrador shelf and California. This has benefited species such as American plaice, pollock, haddock and Atlantic Cod’, says The Guardian.

Apparently the North Sea, the Baltic and Celtic-Biscay shelf fisheries are all still declining. In these areas Atlantic cod and herring are still badly affected. Fishermen in Ireland and the North Sea are still catching too many fish. 63% of assessed fish stocks worldwide still require rebuilding, the scientists report.

The article goes on to say the isolated success stories ‘May best be interpreted as large scale restoration experiments that demonstrate opportunities for successfully rebuilding marine resources elsewhere. Many nations in Africa have sold the right to fish in their waters to wealthy developed countries that have exhausted their own stocks, the experts said.’

Dr Ana Parma, one of the Authors of the paper said ‘this is the first exhaustive attempt to assemble the best available data on the status of marine fisheries and trends in exploitation rates, a major breakthrough that has allowed scientists from different backgrounds to reach a consensus about the status of fisheries and actions needed’.

Footprints own conclusion is that this is wonderful news but a terrible shame that British fisheries do not appear to have had a positive impact. One would hope that this will only be a matter of time.

Compass takes action!




courtesy of

courtesy of

Compass Group has decided to follow the advice of the Marine Conservation Society. Sixty-nine species have been removed from menus at thousands of restaurants across the UK and Ireland to protect threatened stock.

The decision has an impact on 6500 outlets and includes a ban on 4 varieties of Skate, 5 Tunas and two types of Plaice.

According to The Guardian, the move means that Atlantic cod from all but a few fisheries will be off the menu while Pacific cod certified by the MSC will stay on it. Alaskan pollock, Pacific salmon also from Alaska, and Dover sole from the Hastings fishery are options that remain.



Babydoll makes an impact on the sustainability of wine production

Duncan Graham-Rowe’s article in The Guardian addresses what one particular winemaker in New Zealand has done to reduce his carbon emissions.

Firstly, just to put a winemakers carbon footprint into perspective, let the me outline the scale of the impact: Peter Yealand, a New Zealand winemaker owns a 1000 hectare vineyard. In order to keep the grass short between the vines, which is a necessity to prevent the grass from using precious nutrients and water and to hinder the spread of disease and fungus, Yealand would have to drive his tractor 3,500km 12 times a year to keep the grass short according to The Guardian. As a result diesel amounts to 60% of his energy costs.

The Guardian article outlines a number of experiments:  ‘To avoid using a tractor, last year he experimented by letting loose giant guinea pigs. That worked initially, he said. “But once the hawks had a taste for them they were sitting prey. We were losing them by the hour. Besides, we would have needed 11 million of them to make it work.”

But there is an alternative, ‘Now Yealands has turned his attention to babydolls, a rare breed of sheep which only reach about 60cm tall when fully grown. Because the grapes tend only to start growing from about 110cm off the ground the sheep can’t reach them. Yealands has tested 10 of the sheep on a 125-hectare patch of vines.’

‘By selectively breeding them with another more common sheep, the Merino Saxon, which is favoured for its meat, Yealands now hopes to get his stock up to the 10,000 he needs within the next five years. If successful, the flock should save him NZ$1.5m (£600,000) a year in diesel alone, and he hopes to sell the sheep for meat too.’

The Forager: Extraordinarily Brilliant!

In this weeks Eco Hero column, Miles Irving talks about how he grew up foraging for wild food, encouraged by his grandfather. Irving has turned his hobby into a business selling his ‘forage’ to leading restaurants.

Miles said ‘I tried setting up a foraging company a while ago when I had lots of chanterelles to get rid of, but no restaurants were interested. Then about three years later we happened to mention our wild food escapades in a restaurant in Canterbury and got pounced on by the chef’.  He really saw the potential. We now sell to J Sheekey, The Ivy, Scott’s, St John Bread and Wine and Le Caprice, amongst others.

Come on Chef’s, this is so exciting, why not try bittercress, chickweed, a lady’s smock and beefsteak fungus….

I think this is the most exciting thing since Olive Oil became something to cook with, rather than just a remedy for ear-ache! 

Please check out

« Previous PageNext Page »