These days, the word ‘halal’ is becoming more and more prevalent; on supermarket shelves, in restaurant chains and on social media. But do you actually know what it means? Well, assuming you’re not Muslim or well informed on the subject, it’s time to brush up! This is because halal food is big business. So without further ado…
What is halal?
Halal means permissible, i.e. that which follows the rules set out in the Quran. However, it is NOT just related to food; it covers many aspects of life, all of which can be divided between ‘halal’ (permissible) and ‘haram’ (banned). When it comes to food and drink, the rules are extensive and also, open to interpretation. These are the big ones:
- All vegetable, fruit, grain and seafood is halal.
- Meat is halal, providing the animal has been killed in the kindest possible way with appropriate prayers said at the time of death by a sane Muslim man. Also, the blood must be drained while the animal is alive.
- Pork is not allowed. The definitive reason behind this restriction is somewhat unclear.
- Meat must not have been killed in the name of any deity other than Allah.
- No alcohol or intoxicants. This includes the animals, who must not be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, since the hormones may contain pork-based ingredients.
- Animals must be fed vegetarian diets, which means that many chickens and cows raised on U.S. farms don’t qualify, as their feed often contains animal byproducts.
- Animals must be respected and their slaughter given as much dignity as possible, i.e. they should be reared in a way that gives them shelter, food, water and space, similar to that which they receive in the wild, and they should not see another animal’s slaughter before their own.
There are other details, but due to the lack of a universal standard it is hard to define halal exactly. Hence the debate rages…
Why does halal court controversy in the press?
Some descriptions of halal claim that by draining the blood from the animal while it is still conscious (without cutting the spinal cord or stunning it), you improve the meat in many ways. This view is based on the belief that blood makes meat more susceptible to putrefaction, which negatively impacts taste and freshness. Also, with less blood the buyer is taking home more meat pound per pound.
However, this study from 2015 proves there is no difference in the amount of blood drained between stunning and not-stunning. Also, many health experts and campaigners, such as the RSPCA, argue that killing animals without stunning causes them “unnecessary suffering”.
This viewpoint, also held by the British Veterinary Association, Peta and the Farm Animal Welfare Council, is in line with legislation from the European Union that requires animals to be stunned before slaughter.
Although there is an exemption given by the British Government that allows non-stunning on religious grounds, the vast majority of halal butchers comply with this legislation. In fact, 88% of Britain’s halal meat comes from animals that have been stunned before slaughter and the 12% that do not certainly court controversy within the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
However, it is interesting to note figures from the Foods Standards Agency which show how the number of non-stunned sheep slaughtered in Britain has doubled in six years between 2011 and 2017, to more than three million. Also, with Brexit looming, there is the issue of Britain leaving the EU and how this will affect regulations.
With more and more focus on animal rights as well as the economic incentive of stunning (one butcher in Manchester told the Independent: “Non-stun slaughter is a much lengthier process…It can take a week to kill 500 lambs.”), it seems likely that stunning will remain the norm for halal meat.
What might help stem this minimal trend for non-stunning is if a respected organisation could declare a universal standard. The IHAF (International Halal Accreditation Forum) has set itself the task of doing this.
As it continues to gain credibility, it may be able to host multilateral agreements, which would streamline accreditation and distribution making the end product cheaper and more accessible for everyone. Ultimately, this should result in increased sales. But why is this momentum building?
Because the Muslim market matters, big time!
Both in the U.K. and across the world, the interest in and the provision of halal products is increasing and at quite a considerable rate. The State of the Global Muslim Economy Report 2017/8 from Thomson Reuters estimates that global Muslim spend across lifestyle sectors was $2 trillion in 2016. Out of all the categories that make up this spend, Food and Beverage leads the way with a spend of $1.24 trillion. Apart from being the largest sector of the Islamic economy, it is also the most diverse, as product offerings no longer simply refer to meat, but also to confectionary, ready-meals, snacks and children’s food.
To give some comparison, so the scale of demand can be fully appreciated, it is worth noting that Muslim spend on F&B is growing at nearly double that of global growth. It is also expected to reach $1.93 trillon by 2022. But why this apparent massive growth?
It mainly comes down to the rate at which Muslim populations are growing, which is rapidly. According to one research centre there will be a 73% increase between 2010 and 2050. If this quite astounding projection is true that means that in 2050, more than a quarter of the world’s population will be Muslim (a rise from 1.6 billion to 2.8 billion).
High fertility rates combined with a youthful demographic in countries with majority Muslim populations has something to do with this rate of growth, but it also true of minority Muslim countries, like India, which will have the largest Muslim population in the world (311m) by 2050.
As the economic landscape shifts to the East and the middle classes increase (to 900 million by 2030), their spending power becomes more and more relevant. Hence why the F&B multinationals are starting to pay attention.
Catering to halal
Unilever recently invested $33.3 million into its Halal food operations in South East Asia, while private equity and sovereign wealth funds have also been investing heavily. Interesting partnerships have begun to pop up, such as the e-commerce site Aladdin Street signing a five year partnership with Manchester Utd. Knowing the Manchester demographic and this partnership it is not surprising that the Intu Old Trafford Centre hosted The Muslim Lifestyle Expo last weekend which, of course, focussed a great deal on halal food.
Halal and the meat industry
Muslims in the UK represent about 5% of the population, but they consume around 20% of all the lamb sold as well as a growing percentage of beef. This appetite as well as the value of the halal meat industry (around £2.6bn a year according to Eblex) is why the meat industry is beginning to value the Muslim pound, especially at a time when veganism and vegetarianism is stemming rate of sales more generally.
And it’s not just the meat industry in the U.K. that has woken up to this demand. According to Al Jazeera, eight of the ten largest suppliers of global halal meat are non-Muslim majority countries with Brazil, Australia and India all leading the way.
In Australia, 500K people declare themselves Muslim. This growing demographic plus its close access to the South East Asian market (home to some of the biggest halal consumers), is why the country is such a trusted source of halal lamb and beef. As such it adopts one of the strictest halal programs in the world. New Zealand also proudly declares that all of their lamb is halal. Much of which is sold in U.K. supermarkets.
Check out next week’s blog for part two of this article, which looks at how big retail, the restaurant industry and influencers are part of the halal wake up call.
Is it a beer? Is it a wine? No, it’s actually a fermented tea…but its amazing properties will make you feel like a superman/ woman. Join us as we further define kombucha and ask interesting questions to the founder of Real Kombucha, David Begg, who has some exclusive news for us too!
What’s all the fuss about Real Kombucha?
Why does it have its own little thing going on, with dedicated followers and widespread adoption in the fine dining industry? We believe it comes down to the sophisticated depth of flavour, which means that it pairs well, and the carefully designed brewing process, which involves only a few natural ingredients, making the drink quaffable in quantity.
Why is it so appealing to the non drinking crowd?
Apart from the reasons above, it does sound quite cool…“Yes, I would like some Real Kombucha, rather than some unspecified brand/ drink doing an imitation of a spirit or a beer”…is what most hipster-type folk might think. Basically, it’s got it’s own little thing going on because it IS it’s own little thing. It’s a fermented tea! This means it is made by using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast aka a SCOBY. Some people rather affectionately call this SCOBY a mother, while other people like to call it a mushroom.
Calling the weird gelatinous creator of fermented, negligibly alcoholic, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea, a fungus or mushroom is actually misleading though. To use accurate scientific terms, the SCOBY is “a symbiotic growth of acetic acid bacteria and osmophilic yeast species in a zoogleal mat“. Thanks Wikipedia! But because that’s an awfully big mouthful, it naturally has more simplified names…
Some of our favourites include…
Cajnij, kargasok, spumonto, hongo, wunderpilz and teekwass. Because none of these sound very appealing, we can understand why the West settled on kombucha. But, out of the 80 names worldwide, where did kombucha come from? Well, the etymology is slightly uncertain, but it looks like it’s a mistranslation from Japanese. In fact, it’s not even a mistranslation, as kombucha in Japanese means kelp tea, which is a very different drink. Fungus tea in Japanese tea is actually kocha kinoko. Knowing us Western folk we probably thought we’d steal it and swap the names to make it more palatable. Or, more likely, it was an accident born out of ignorance. Whatever the case, if it gets that sweet booch into our lives, who’s complaining? And yes, booch is the current popular short hand name for U.K. devotees.
Blessed are the non-alcoholic drinkers for they shall inherit the earth
Being made of living bacteria, the SCOBY is able to grow and create tea like some beautiful alien matriarch. Although it’s not very beautiful itself, resembling a kind of bizarre flattened creme caramel, there is a beauty to its output and a healthy beauty at that. The drink is probiotic AKA it’s good for your little tummy and each drink is only 59 calories or so! When do we stop winning?
Not any time soon, as not only does Real Kombucha have the ability to taste like champagne, or a light natural cider, it also has the ability to taste like kombucha and to be enjoyed for being what it is – a funky little fermented drink with sophisticated flavours that you can drink in abundance.
Ok so let’s begin the Real Talk with Real Kombucha founder, David Begg, who kindly answered our questions…
“Why do you think people are more health-conscious these days?”
“I think there are a number of reasons, not least the fact that we’re able to understand in more depth the effect that the food we eat has on our bodies. Essentially, consumers are far more conscious these days, whether you’re talking about food or drink. People are demanding an understanding of the quality of ingredients, their source and traceability, as well as the production methods involved in all the food and drink they put in their bodies. Once upon a time we would buy our food from a shop in the village supplied by farmers within a 10 mile radius. We now ship produce and product around the world, so we need a way to be sure by the time it enters our bodies it is doing us good not harm.”
“Why do you think the youth are less inclined to drink alcohol these days?”
“Whether it’s through a behavioural change brought on by social media, or simply that we’re paying heed to the science around us and evolving, people are simply less interested in the big boozy night out. Sure, people still enjoy a session from time to time, but there’s a lot more emphasis on enjoying life in the moment. That’s certainly not what happened in my day, when a lot of weekends were spent waiting for the hangover to clear before the enjoyment started!
It’s worth pointing out that it’s not just ‘the youth’, either. While somewhere around 30% of young adults now say they’re teetotal, we’re seeing change across the generations. At Real Kombucha, we refer to this as the rise of the Modern Drinker. These are people who don’t follow the old trends. They’re looking for quality, but they’re really looking for choice.
If you look at the way that restaurants cater to the Modern Consumer, it’s all about choice. It’s not so long ago that the vegetarian option was the afterthought at the bottom of the menu, whereas these days I will often be halfway through my main dish before I realise that I have ordered a vegetarian or a vegan dish. We’re trying to encourage and empower the same thing in British pubs, where your choice is often limited to alcohol or something sugary and served with a straw. It’s that behavioural change on the part of the pub and the consumer that we’re really interested in.”
“What do you think are the major influences that affect our drinking habits?”
“If you’re talking about habits specifically, I think traditionally, and fairly consistently, peer pressure is probably one of the biggest drivers. I heard a great quote recently that said, “Alcohol is the only drug we have to apologise for not taking”, which is absolutely true. It amazes me that you can walk into a pub in 2018 and still hear people being teased and goaded for ordering a soft drink.
It’s also habitual, of course. You don’t necessarily need an outside influence to drink. It becomes part of your daily routine. When we say we want to change the way people drink, this is what we’re talking about. We’re not anti-alcohol – we just recognise that people want options. They want to be able to arrive home and pour a glass of something that has a complex, adult-oriented flavour; something that stimulates and maintains interest. When you decide to put down the wine bottle, for whatever reason, what choices do you have? That’s where a glass of really top-notch kombucha becomes very interesting indeed.”
“The British identity is quite bound up with heavy/ binge drinking. What are your predictions for how this identity will change in the near and far future?”
I think it’s already changing. As you’ve said yourself, ‘the youth’ don’t necessarily think in those terms anymore.
I think change is going to be driven by the main trends I talked about above. Alcohol is no longer going to be the prime driver of all social occasions. As meat is no longer a necessary component of every savoury dish, alcohol will be a choice rather than a necessity in our adult drinks choices.
I expect restaurant and bar menus to list a whole great range of drinks from full alcohol, to low ABV to non-alcoholic serves. Alcohol will be noted almost as a health warning, just like having three chillis on a dish says beware. But that range will not be full of sugary kids-focused soft drinks, but proper adult serves that just happen to be non-alcoholic.
And this could change the face of the Great British Pub. We have already seen great food becoming one of the prime drivers of success in modern pubs. Once pubs serve the Modern British Drinker with the choice they are looking for, the pub may once again be the hub of the local community, morning, noon and night.
But it is choice, not abstinence, that the Modern British Drinker is looking for. There are plenty of occasions that call for a really good session, but others where you just don’t want to drink alcohol at all. But more times you will find yourself flitting back and forth between a great craft beer, a beautifully crafted Real Kombucha and that stunning single malt to end the day. The difference is you will still be able to appreciate the flavour of that Islay at the end of the evening.
“You say you are part of the alcohol-free movement and that you are ‘really keen to change the way that people drink’ – what motivates you to shape people’s behaviour in this way?”
“I rarely drink, and the other members of our founding team are either completely teetotal or fairly health-conscious individuals. They’re not evangelical or boring about it – each to their own, absolutely. However, it means we know how dull it can be going out for a meal or into a pub and finding that your choices are limited to juice, sugary soft drinks or water. It’s not exactly a recipe for a great night out! So we’re motivated by the fact that we are creating an amazing-tasting drink that we want everyone to enjoy – we truly believe we’re offering the finest in in non-alcoholic fermentation – but also by the fact that we can reinvigorate things for non-drinkers who are ready to give up the tomato juice!”
“How did you get started with Real Kombucha?”
“I first tried kombucha when a great friend of mine passed me a glass of his home brew across the table over dinner. It was absolutely love at first sip. I couldn’t believe that his full flavoured brew was non-alcoholic. He and his wife had created a fantastic meal of salt cod, and the delicate smokey flavours of the kombucha really lifted the dish.
I had (almost) given up alcohol a couple of years previously. It wasn’t for any particular reason apart from it just seemed to be slowing me down. I would wake up in the morning, even after a single glass of wine, and feel a bit crap. As my wife is French, and her family is equally split between Burgundy and Bordeaux, we have always had some great wines in the house. But since being off the alcohol there was a really big hole in my foodie life. Water just doesn’t cut it with a great meal.
So Howard gave me some kombucha culture to try brewing my own, and my obsession commenced.
My first brew was quite serendipitous: we had been in India a couple of years before with the kids, and bought some great teas in Munnar in Kerala. Without really knowing much about tea at the time, I dropped some Silver Needle tea, one of the most exquisite (and expensive) teas in the world, into the brew pot. And after a week or so I got the most amazing flavours of rose and vanilla coming from the brew. And this was compared to the delicate caramel, apple and almond that had been the main flavours in Howard’s original oolong/black blend that I had tasted.
After those first few brews, I started a long process of experimentation. As my wife will attest, when I get into something I go quite deep! Tea, as it transpires, is as complex and as fascinating a world as wine. And every tea I tried gave really unimaginably different notes: even more complexity than you get from the fermentation of grapes or grain. Depending upon the teas used and the process followed, you can develop floral flavours of rose, lavender or mock orange. Fruit flavours can vary as broadly as pineapple, quince, apple, rhubarb and even banana. And you can develop smokey, spicy, and milky back notes. One of the most interesting we have in our back catalogue has extreme medicinal flavours, but I am not sure the market is ready for this quite yet.
We have to date experimented with around 150 different teas. We work with an incredible tea master, Will Battle who wrote The World Atlas of Tea, to identify and source our teas. He has introduced us to an enormous variety of teas and educated both our brains and our taste buds. Many of the resulting brews were horrible, but we also have a big back catalogue of brews that we will launch steadily over time.
But ultimately we were looking for a range of brews that would complement each other, and fit well across the different drinking occasions. Our Royal Flush is effectively our champagne, or full bodied white wine, Dry Dragon is our Sauvignon Blanc from a food pairing perspective, and our Smoke House pairs with similar foods to a medium red wine, but also serves as a beer on a warm summer evening in a country beer garden.”
“When did you first believe that Real Kombucha was going to work, i.e. be a popular product?”
Within Real Kombucha there are two clear defining moments: sitting across the table and tasting our first brew of a First Flush Darjeeling tea that became our Royal Flush. The flavour was spot on and really quite a revaluation at the time. The other moment was meeting Melania, the Sommelier at The Fat Duck, in late 2017. She gave us the confidence to really believe in the quality of our product.
“As the founder, what kind of future do you see for Real Kombucha?”
We will shortly be announcing two partnerships with important pub chains. To date we have been working primarily with very top-end restaurants, hotels and bars across the country. But working with pub chains gives us the opportunity to gain visibility across a much broader customer base.
Real Kombucha is a relatively new product in the UK market and we are unique with a focus on the on-trade as a non-alcoholic replacement for prosecco, sparkling wines and champagne. That gives us an enormous opportunity to change the way consumers are drinking but also gives us substantial challenges.
We are working closely with both of the pub chains to develop a very clear communication, training and activation programme. It is a big project to train all the bar staff, and communicate to and sample with hundreds of thousands of customers.
This is challenging but enormously rewarding. The Great British Pub has had quite a battering in recent years, and one part of this has been the fact that it doesn’t provide a compelling offer for health conscious and non-drinking customers. If we can be part of a revolution that puts the pub back in the centre of the local community, whether you are drinking or not, it will be a great success.
To find out more about the trend for drinking less, take a look at our no and low ABV drinks review here.
As things currently stand, by 2050 there could be more plastic in our waters than fish. This is quite an upsetting prediction. Not just for fish and ocean lovers, but for anyone with even a modicum of environmental awareness, which seems to be most people after Blue Planet’s watershed series last year…pun intended. With the programme being a catalyst for change across the restaurant industry over the last eight months, we thought we’d share our perspective on the single use plastic discussion.
What are the changes being made? Do they make a difference? What are the other challenges faced by the restaurant, food & drink industry? And, in terms of impact, how does the problem of single use plastic measure up against other global environmental problems?
What’s all the fuss about?
Mainly the unfathomably large amount of waste we’ve produced, the havoc it seems to be wreaking on the animal kingdom and the unknown effects of micro-plastics on humans. Since the 1950s we have produced 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste.
Of that, only 9% has been recycled and 12% incinerated. The rest has been left on nature’s doorstep with some going into landfills. However, most ends up in the sea, where salt water and UV light break it down into micro-plastics small enough to be consumed by and collect within fish.
The effects of these micro-plastics on fish are still being determined, but there is some evidence that they absorb toxic chemicals and then release them in an animal’s digestive system. Another study revealed quite a disturbing set of results whereby nano-plastic particles lodged inside fish brains made them eat slower and explore their surroundings less.
Although there is no evidence that links the harmful effects of micro-plastics to human brain tissue or human health in general, it does make one wonder what the future holds for the fishing and restaurant industry.
In terms of people’s current aversion to single use plastic, it is mainly the ‘eww’ factor and the effect on animals that has captured the nation’s hearts. This in turn is motivating the restaurant industry to ban plastic straws and introduce recycling measures, amongst other things.
The Blue Planet effect…
AKA the naughty school kids effect, is quite an interesting phenomenon to consider before moving on to what the restaurant industry has done, is doing and pledges to do in the fight against single use plastic and the drive for a sustainable future.
Sticking with the school metaphor…it is as if, prior to Blue Planet, we were all passing notes around about some piece of gossip. Except it wasn’t about who did what at the weekend, it was about the environment. We were all part of the rumour mill, sharing our tidbits like conversation fodder. Each of us trying to shock one another and perhaps ourselves into action.
Some of us even joined an after school club to try and make a difference or occasionally became an eco warrior on the weekend. But it took the headmaster (Sir Attenborough) to stand up in assembly and school us, with simple words and devastating pictures, for us to be collectively affected.
Collectively being the operative word here. Most people will have seen videos on social media or heard from a friend or learnt at school or saw in the paper that climate change is an issue and that we are screwing the environment, but because all these instances happened on micro occasions, as individuals or in small groups, we could ignore them.
However, when roughly a sixth of the country sits down to watch a television programme and talks about it with each other the next day, we all had to look each other in the eye, like naughty school children caught with our hands in the cookie jar. We had to collectively do something. So as the media got involved and the people resolved to change, the restaurant industry was forced to evolve to meet consumer expectations. But how much change has been made and is it for the right reasons?
Single use crackdown in the restaurant industry
Some in the food & drink industry have been espousing a reusable and recyclable way of life for some time now. Namely Borough Wines & Beers, one of our longest-standing clients, whose wonderful shops can be found across London, nationwide and online.
They pioneered “the environment (and wallet!) friendly wine and beer refill system” whereby you bring your own bottle or buy one of theirs and refill it from their lovely barrels. The barrels are filled using wine from large boxes and these boxes have a considerably lower carbon footprint compared to a 75cl bottle of wine. This is due to the manufacturing, storage and transport costs involved. And, as mentioned, the price of refill wine is slashed for the consumer (by about 50%) making it win win. Although, overall consumption of wine may go up!
Apart from small independent shops and chains, like Borough Wines and Beers, the use of reusable items is not hugely prolific. Unlike the replacement of plastic straws with biodegradable or paper alternatives, which has been widely adopted across the restaurant industry. The banning of plastic straws seems like a success story then right? But before we cheers each other with our coffee cups and paper straws, maybe we should look at what our cups are made of…Also, why haven’t straws and cups always been paper?
The truth is that even an easy shift like plastic to eco-friendly straws is ruled by economics. Previously plastic was the cheaper option, but now being environmentally friendly has its cost benefits. First, in terms of customer loyalty. According to the Sustainable Brands organisation “80% of consumers say that they would feel more loyal to brands that value community and environmental growth over money and status.” Second, in terms of ROI. The CDP produced a report showing how businesses get an 18% higher ROI when they have a CSR strategy against those who don’t.
The Green Pound
But does it matter that some restaurants may only ban single use plastics in order to capture the green pound? In some ways no, for ultimately as long as consumers care, it’s the end result that matters. But in some ways yes, because true sustainability is about changing the business model, so that purpose comes before before profit.
Purpose and profit must be going hand in hand, however, when the likes of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s get involved. The former has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it sells each year, which amounts to around 110bn plastic bottles. The latter plans to make all its packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025.
With these big hitters in the restaurant industry playing ball, single use seems to be on its way out.
Single use smokescreen
Although ethical spending has doubled in the last ten years and although there is extra limelight on being more sustainable, is it possible that the banning of single use is a smoke screen for most in the restaurant industry? It is hard not to say yes when one considers how less than 7% of the of U.K. restaurants are members of the SRA – the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
It is made even harder when one looks at the waste produced by the restaurant industry. According to the Green Restaurant Association, the average restaurant wastes between 25,000 and 75,000 pounds of food every year with the total amount of waste produced by the U.K.’s food and hospitality sector reaching 1m tonnes according to WRAP. By WRAP’s calculations 75% of that waste is avoidable and the worst offender within that group is the restaurant industry.
Food waste might not seem as bad because you think of it as biodegradable, but when you think of it in terms of manufacturing, packaging (hello again single use), transport and storage, its alarming impact starts to add up. For instance, the food wasted by the UK restaurant industry each year creates the same amount of CO2 as running 400,000 cars.
Now that we’ve begun to look at different factors affecting the environment it is worth noting how single use plastics are a relatively small problem to humans globally. Also, the single use catastrophe is mainly being carried out in Asia. This was proven last year by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research whose work found that ten rivers discharge 90% of all plastic marine debris and eight are in Asia.
Credit: Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters
But let’s put our single use finger wagging to one side as it appears there are environmental issues far more serious than single use plastics, at least in terms of costs to human beings. Trucost and the United Nations Development Programme have both released data on environmental costs and where plastic litter costs $13bn per year, the cost of overfishing, fertiliser run off and ocean acidification have been estimated at $50bn, $800bn and $1.2trn a year.
Also they found that if plastics were replaced with comparatively heavy wood and metal substitutes, the greenhouse gas emissions would quadruple. To put this into more real terms for the average UK shopper: a cotton tote bag should be used 131 times before it beats a plastic bag in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
It would seem from a macro point of view that the single use problem is simply the cherry on top. Hence perhaps why it has been so easy to tackle. Like an unpleasant cherry sitting on a very unpleasant sundae, it is the easiest thing to extract. When it comes to the layers and layers of other problems, which are all melting together to create a sticky armageddon-sized mess, we don’t know where to start.
The problems are so deeply entrenched and part of our lives. But one part of our behaviour we can change is to stop unnecessary single usage. Also, it is often the way, that after making one change you feel empowered to make another, so even if it is on an individual level and even if it is only a small step in terms of restaurant industry wastage, one has to feel that this is the beginning of something. This is a sea change as it were, because what we put into the sea has to change!
Education, incentivisation and mobilisation. These are the three ‘ations’ that need to be kept front of mind for restaurants and other businesses, as well as governments, schools and communities.
So there! JAMS has spoken. For now anyway. But keep your eyes peeled for our review of Petersham Nurseries, whose sustainability efforts are worth remarking on!
Team Tip – ecoffee make really great reusable coffee cups that are made from one of the most sustainable products on the planet – bamboo. And they look very pretty too!
Festibowl 2018 is over, with the final FridayNightPartyBowls session taking place on August 3, but because it so clearly captured the hearts of Londoners this summer, we thought it fitting to do a short review of what made it such a huge success and a lifestyle sport for the future.
Did someone order a heatwave?
Yes, climate change has reared its scary head, but that head has also been (un?)ashamedly pleasant…for where there is unusually consistent heat there are Londoners forced to seek out more and more outlandish ways to enjoy their summer evenings. And it doesn’t get more outlandish or quintessentially British than lolling on a beautiful bowling green surrounded by white garden parasols and colourful bunting that wafts the wry voice of a Master of Ceremonies gently lampooning all the goings on, dressed in bowler hat and braces. Welcome to Festibowl; a laid back and slightly tongue in cheek lawn bowls experience for 21st Century summertime revellers.
With a record-breaking heatwave there was a noticeable slowing down in the city, which might have lead to a more lackadaisical approach to lawn bowls, but that was certainly not the case in Finsbury Square this summer. In fact, games got pretty heated…
Whether it was a showdown between World Champion Ellen Faulkner and a competitive chap with beginners luck, a group of lads on a Friday night or a company summer party with tournament style play offs, people really got into lawn bowls!
This was mainly down to the way, founder Will Goy, adapted the game to make it shorter and more accessible for all.
By simplifying and speeding up the game, he aimed to do for bowls what 20:20 has done for cricket and was inspired by his time in Australia.
Down under he saw how bowls had become a new millennial sport as it gave people the perfect excuse to be outside playing sport as well as drinking beer!
This is where the summertime revelling elements of Festibowl start to play their part! Bowls is, of course, the reason people pitch up; it’s a novel, easy to play game where everyone can have a go, that sometimes gets competitive, but only ever in a sociable and fun way. The reason people stay, come back for more and have such a great all round experience is down to the fully loaded bars, delicious street foods and open air music.
The bars this year had sponsorship from Bombay Sapphire, Moet & Chandon, Jagermeister and Red Bull, which naturally led to some delightfully refreshing and energising cocktails. We especially liked the Bombay Bias – Bombay Sapphire, Elderflower, Lemon, Soda, Cucumber; The Spicy Back Bowl – Jagermeister, Ginger, Fresh Lime and the Festibowl Fizz – Moet Brut, Bombay Sapphire, Chambord. Moet & Chandon actually had a standalone bar from which people could order bottles of Moet Ice Brut, Moet Ice Rose, Moet Brut and Moet Rose to be delivered to their tables in crisp white buckets overflowing with ice accompanied by branded glassware.
The former is a regular at Finsbury Square, satisfying the local community and the Festibowl crowd with fresh, fast and filling wraps filled with everything from halloumi to pulled pork to chicken and guacamole. The latter is relatively new on the London food scene and so attracted a lot of attention from foodies and influencers.
Rightly so, as there Truffle Burger was the epitome of food porn and it didn’t taste too bad either. How could it not when it comprised of a beef and bacon mixed patty, raclette cheese, truffle mayo, fig jam and crispy shallots? Yes please and thank you!
But it wasn’t only Truffle London who had the carnivores salivating because there was an even newer street food shack in town – Carcass London. Appropriately named, these boys serve up “British Rare Breed Meats, Cooked over Smoke and Fire” and boy does their barbecue deliver.
We would recommend the Bone Marrow Brulees and their Dry Aged Onglet, Mopped in Beef Fat with herbs. There was a creamy and oozing Mushroom risotto provided by Truffle London for vegetarians in the mix, but not much for vegans we’re sorry to say. We are sure the Festibowl team will step it up for next year though.
Location Location Location
Last but not least, in the reasons why Festibowl was such a blast, is down to where it takes place. Not only does Finsbury Square boast one of the oldest bowling green’s in the country, but it is surrounded by beautiful buildings that give the setting a sense of grandeur.
So your bowling arena feels at once like an oasis of green, but also like a gladiator’s stadium. You’re in London or maybe even Rome, but you also feel like you could be having a long, lazy summer evening in the country.
Added to the feel and atmosphere of Finsbury Square is its prime central location. It’s close to lots of worker bees, looking for some refreshing post-work vibes and near enough to Shoreditch for further drinking and dancing when the venue shuts. All in all this made it perfect for office parties, date nights or just hanging out with friends.
With so much demand, we are sure Festibowl will be back next year even bigger and bowlder than before. There was certainly a lot of interest expressed for more weeknight and weekend sessions, so here’s hoping that lawn bowls really does becomes de rigueur in a Londoner’s lifestyle next year.
We certainly enjoyed running their PR and social media and wish the team the best of luck!
Check out our short review of Truffle London here.
© Photography by Jake Davis (fb.com/hungryvisuals) and William Goy