Product origins and the wider sustainability issues around food and beverages have never mattered more than they do to today’s consumers. Along with ingredient lists and nutrition information, sustainability labels such as the Rainforest Alliance’s green frog seal are often at the forefront of supermarket shoppers’ minds. Yet, what happens when those same people dine out at restaurants, where more often than not, eco-labels aren’t displayed? Sure, diners want to enjoy themselves, but they do not suddenly take on a new identity and forget their values. For example, the US-based National Restaurant Association placed local sourcing, natural ingredients/minimally processed and environmental sustainability in the top six places of their annual What’s Hot culinary forecast 2016. In addition, research by Harden’s Restaurant Guides shows sustainability issues have been a deciding factor in the dining decisions of more than 80% of the UK population.
Cue the Food Made Good Sustainability Rating of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which assesses UK businesses implementing sustainable practices across everything they do – helping to highlight the right ingredients needed to make the food truly good. For hospitality businesses that are already sourcing products with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, that is points in the bag for their sustainability rating – helping them on their way to One, Two or Three Food Made Good stars. Tom Tanner from SRA commented, “As the Rainforest Alliance helps to ensure the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as the improved well-being of farmers and their families, it makes complete sense for us to encourage our members, both foodservice operators and suppliers, to Follow the Frog”. While the SRA is mainly focused on the UK, it also works with major hotel groups like Belmond to rate all of their restaurants globally, and its ‘global’ rating is used to judge the Sustainable Restaurant Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The Food Made Good rating provides the dining public with the reassurance they crave, ensuring that their chosen venue is doing things right across the board. It also enables a restaurant, café or pub to stand out from the pack, letting consumers know that a meal will leave them with a good taste in their mouth and a healthy conscience. These ratings and assessments are not just about where food is from and how it was produced; it also takes social and environmental impacts into account. It’s like asking a supermarket to do your shopping for you, safe in the knowledge that you would unpack to find free range meat, sustainable mackerel and your favourite Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, without even having to ask for it. SRA certification enables diners to sit back and enjoy their meal, free from the chore of engaging waiters in a game of 20 questions about the menu’s back-stories.
Since launching with 50 member sites in 2010, the SRA now works with more than 6,000 sites across the UK, spanning the whole spectrum of dining destinations: fish and chip shops; well known high street restaurants like Carluccio’s; Michelin star restaurants, like SRA President Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons just outside London; and many more. Whether in a restaurant, workplace cafeteria, university catering hall, or on a Eurostar train under the English Channel, consumers can now look for the Food Made Good stars, rather than check their principles at the cloakroom.