You don’t attain a *sustainability champion* award from the SRA without picking up some serious local food expertise along the way. Since opening a kitchen in 2005, Iglu in Edinburgh has been a frontrunner in sourcing food for the restaurant locally, organically and above all, sustainably.
FoodTrade caught up with founder and chef, Charlie Cornelius to learn from the best and find out why he wanted to get involved with FoodTrade.
Charlie initially heard about FoodTrade when we were featured on Radio 4’s Food Programme and recognised many of our aims as being those which he strives towards in his own business;
Anything which makes it easier for food businesses to source wise ingredients, closer to home and more easily is a really great thing.
So Charlie, when you source ingredients, what are some of the most important considerations?
The impact of our procurement choices on society and the environment trumps everything else at Iglu
How does this play out in practice?
- Fresh produce never comes from outside the UK with the exception of organic / fair trade citrus and organic onions and garlic when the UK has run out
- Everything is organic or unsprayed (unless it really is an emergency and organic is unavailable)
- Local suppliers must be used wherever possible (Charlie goes one step further by sourcing from social enterprises where he can)
Does a commitment to sourcing organically, from the UK and preferably local to Edinburgh, bring its own limitations?
Yes of course, sometimes we can’t put dishes on the menu until long after our neighbouring restaurants have started using say, new potatoes. However, our strict standards push us to be more creative with our menu, by working with the flavoursome, seasonal produce which fits within our strict remit we create great tasting dishes.
That’s a lot of extra work, what keeps you motivated and committed?
- Customers who come to us because of our transparent supply chain and clear value proposition is a constant encouragement.
- Choosing local producers helps support a strong regional economy and creates added social value which Iglu are proud to be part of.
- Winning awards and becoming a Sustainable Restaurant Association Champion acts as a mark of our accountability and sets us apart from the rest.
Where next for values driven food businesses like yours Charlie?
- We are always looking to improve our marketing and reach out to new people who share our values, both customers and suppliers.
- Putting producers in touch with one another and creating a stronger local food network around us would make it easier to achieve our aims.
- More frequent local deliveries from organic vegetable suppliers would be a big improvement. Organic vegetable producers often come into Edinburgh once or twice a week to sell at the farmers markets, as a restaurant more frequent supply would help
- Greater awareness and communication between local producers is key, the more we know about what other people are doing the more we can make informed decisions which strengthen our local economies whilst adding social and environmental value too.
- If FoodTrade can help to create links between regions we will all be better off for it.
- The more we are aware of one another, the more we can work together to create sustainable food systems.
Thanks Charlie and well done Iglu!
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