Earth Hour? Sounds like a variation on a Michael Jackson song…
It does, but it’s not. It started in Sydney in 2007, and has become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment. Millions of people take part each year, turning their lights off for an hour from 8.30pm.
Sounds like a lot of effort. It’s hard to get things done in the dark…
That may be so, but WWF, Earth Hour’s parent organisation, just released a report detailing just how much damage humans’ energy consumption is doing to the planet.
I know, I know. We’ve all heard about climate change...
Climate change means that certain ingredients will be harder to source (including onions, and they’re in everything). The report also says that cheese ploughman sandwiches and lamb stews will be affected, amongst a host of other British classics. Tikka masala and fish and chips were also mentioned.
OK, you’ve got my attention. What are we doing about it?
Well, the Sustainable Restaurant Association have launched a campaign to coincide with Earth Hour called the One Planet Plate. It sees each participating restaurant serve a dish that highlights how they are addressing the environmental issues in the food system. It will be the fourth time the SRA have teamed up with WWF for Earth Hour, and this year more restaurants than ever have got on board.
Let me guess… they’re all vegan cafes, and they’re serving lentils?
Wrong. The line-up this year is stellar, with participants ranging from high-street chains such as Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s and Wahaca, to independents such as Farmacy, Rawduck, Le Bab, Temper and Ceviche. There’s an interactive map to make it easier to find a participating restaurant, and it shows the dishes on offer, too.
What’s so virtuous about these plates, then?
Some recipes are designed to eliminate waste, such as prawn head crispies from London’s Moshi Moshi sushi restaurant. Meanwhile Ottolenghi head chef David Bravo will serve cured rainbow trout with pickled broccoli stems in his Islington restaurant to highlight the importance of sustainable seafood, while Nicholas Balfe at Salon is serving ‘broccomole’ as a sustainable alternative to smashed avocado.
But how are they going to cook it in the dark for Earth Hour - candlelight?
Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, but a few places are holding candlelight dinners to mark the occasion, including Caravan.
Who else is taking part?
BAO is creating special panda bear (the logo of the WWF) bao buns filled with Horlicks ice cream. Skye Gyngell’s restaurant, Spring, has got a reputation for being extra eco-friendly, so it’s no surprise that it is getting involved. Each day, the restaurant serves a three-course ‘Scratch’ menu, which aims to combat food waste by using parts of food that would have been thrown away otherwise. On 24 March the menu will be served all evening as opposed to just for the hour.