Last weekend we stopped in at the Pig near Honiton, which claims to be a ‘Pub with Rooms’ but is in reality too marvellously lavish for such a description. We had some wine and a light supper in the ‘Folly’ outhouse- a lovely, spacious orangery that’s more informal than the main restaurant: a beautifully thought through space with cool lampshades.
One of the most impressive things about the Pig, other than the decor, was the restaurant menu: much of their veg and herbs are grown onsite, but everything else is sourced within 25 miles of the restaurant. Impressive, and somewhat sprawling- this is what can be achieved when you cook from a prolific kitchen garden.
The menu at the Pig makes me realise that sourcing locally and eating seasonally are two massive joys of living in the UK. The Pig have the luxury of being near the coast, as well, but in reality most of the UK is on the coast, relative to most of the countries and regions that have influenced our hitherto diverse tastes as a nation. By contrast, I can imagine a 25-mile menu at a restaurant in Illinois or Nevada being a bit less prosaic. I suppose that when people don’t have a choice, the limitation of an environment to provide diverse/nourishing/abundant foods could be summed up as poverty. It makes me realise how rich we are in the UK.
The countryside around Honiton is also home to River Cottage, who expound the same values concerning local sourcing and sustainability as the Pig, and have been doing so for over two decades. Perhaps they represent the generation above the Pig, in this sense… not only the Pig, but Well Kneaded too! It seems that sourcing, craftsmanship and sustainability have all converged to form a growing social priority that is coming to be represented more and more commonly in the UK and overseas- a positive development that holds much hope for the future! The origins of this ideology and the one that it replaces are interesting: it seems to take time for people to realise what they've got. I’m still learning.
One of our principles at Well Kneaded is of multiple bottom lines: imagine finding a way of operating that, like an aeroplane taking off or a bird flying on thermals, enables everything to lift- employees are radically benefitted by their job; customers are benefitted emotionally as well as digestively because the staff are happy and skilled; society gets happier because of the ripple effect and the environment benefits because we take care over our sourcing and sustainability… This is the dream. Some days it feels like we’re leaping towards it; others like we’re crawling…
We were recently featured as one of five sustainably-minded street food traders in an article by Victoria Stewart for Foodism magazine. In the article she quotes Mark Jankel of Street Kitchen, who says, “Sustainability is not measurable, so one can only aspire to be better each day.” This is helpful, because aspiration doesn’t come out of guilt or pressure, but the freedom to aspire can help us realise that there are myriad possibilities out there to get hold of what’s good. Like Mark and Street Kitchen, we’re still learning. With sustainability, there is room to imagine, and, as Street Kitchen (try their burgers!!!!), River Cottage (read the first RC cookbook from 2001, especially the bit about catching cuttlefish!) and the Pig (visit the Pig!!!) teach us, what we might find is actually better and broader than we were probably expecting.
Image © spb.church - our friend Violet, who lives near the team in South London: she owns her own allotment and grows her own veg.