Making it our business to reconnect consumers with their food systems

23 April 2024

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By Rebecca Ricketts, Campaign and Project Lead, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Circular Glasgow. 

As a kid I grew up on a small seven acre smallholdings, nestled amongst the thriving Cumbrian farming community.  For as long as I could remember, I knew exactly where my food came from and how it was made. I also learnt how labour-intensive subsistence agriculture was but also how rewarding family meals were, bursting with flavour and packed with all that ‘good stuff’, as my dad referred to it. 

For me, eating sustainably was simply a way of life, so you can imagine my utter shock when aged eight, ‘folk from the city’ paid us a visit and were mesmerised by our small flock of hens.  Why?  This was the first time their children, aged seven and nine, had ever encountered a chicken not wrapped in cling-film or coated in breadcrumbs! For me, it was the first time I’d encountered people who hadn’t had reason to think much about where the food they ate came from.  

Today, more than ever, there appears to be a real disconnect between our food’s origins and those eating it.  Assuming you are not from a low-income community, affordable and easily accessible food appears to be in abundance, from convenience stores within walking distance, restaurants, pop up food trucks, takeaways and home delivery services.   

I’ll admit that when work deadlines take precedence, I’ll be the first to reach for a ready meal, but the problem with all this convenience is that we no longer get to experience the processes that go into sourcing and producing our food.   As we lose that appreciation of where our food comes from, we also lose sight of the critical role nature plays in getting it to our plates.   Worse still, we don’t directly witness the environmental consequences caused by the unsustainable practices connected to our current food systems, something I’ve profiled through Plate up for Glasgow and Grounds for Recycling, two city-wide campaigns’ aimed to bring attention to the problem of food waste by presenting circular economy solutions.   

But the good news is that we’re starting to see a growing curiosity from consumers keen to better understand the provenance of their food.  As people prioritise their health and the impact that food has on it, there is a growing demand for experiences that help reconnect us with the way our food is sourced, produced, prepared, and served. 

One such initiative is the Forage and Feast experience, recently piloted in collaboration with Love Loch Lomond, The Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha, and Experience Glasgow Food & Drink with support from the Scotland Food & Drink Regional Food Fund.  Due to launch this Autumn, this innovative experience allows guests to responsibly immerse themselves in the local flora, searching for wild food under the guidance and supervision of a guest forager, in our case, Emma Sandhu, Curious in Nature, and member of The Association of Foragers.  

With a newfound appreciation for what grows right under our nose, foraged ingredients are skillfully incorporated throughout the Forage and Feast menu by leading guest chefs, all served aboard a repurposed vintage bus on the shores of Loch Lomond.  Thanks to our chef for the evening, Tristan Campbell of Truffle Events, we enjoyed a four-course meal showcasing a range of foraged ingredients, including Hogweed, Sea Buckthorn, Wild Garlic, and mushrooms. 

For those looking to educate themselves about the importance of sustainability and how to make environmentally conscious travel and food choices, this is an adventure not to be missed.  This first-class sensory experience is guaranteed to have a powerful effect on how participants see the natural world, re-evaluating their appreciation of food, where it comes from and in turn, seeking to protect it. 

For more information, visit Food Foraging Experience. 

Keen to build and share knowledge on the business benefits of adopting the circular economy? Check out Circular Glasgow Network and join us.