From Unilever Foodservice UK

We, the food industry, talk a lot about sustainability. And as an industry we have an undeniable influence over the future of food: where our industry goes, diners, farmers, businesses and even governments follow.

But, whilst we might talk about the growth of plant-based, sustainable sourcing and waste reduction, are we actually turning enough of this talk into action?

Whilst the global population – and with it the food industry – is growing steadily, so is the demand for agricultural raw materials. In order to be able to ensure supply for the future, we must endeavour to permanently procure sustainable raw materials.

The reality is that about 75% of what the global population currently consumes relies on just 12 crops and 5 animal species. when there are actually over 5,000 species of crops that we could be eating. The world’s largely cautious and unvaried diets are placing too much reliance on too few plant species. As a result, we are consuming earth’s natural resources at a rate far greater than Mother Nature can regenerate them.

By switching overused and over-cultivated ingredients for diverse ingredients, chefs can begin to better influence the way consumers eat and how future generations of chefs cook, for a better food future.

We’ve summarised 50 of the most powerful of these ingredients in our Knorr Future 50 Foods Report, created in partnership with the WWF. Not only is the Future 50 Foods list designed to highlight ingredients that will help deliver a sustainable future, but these ingredients have also been chosen for their positive nutritional credentials. With over 2 billion people suffering for dietary deficiencies across the globe, the need to change is now.

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Chefs can play a key role in supporting better food practices from farm to fork by choosing ingredients grown with respect for the earth and its oceans. Through getting to know where ingredients are grown, reared or sourced, chefs can ensure they are choosing ingredients with the lowest impact on the environment. Equally producers and suppliers should share a chef’s values in respect to sustainable sourcing, enabling our industry to lead by example by championing sustainable ingredients.

Creating menus which make the most of seasonal and local produce is also key. Doing so not only reduces the number of intermediaries between the chef and the farmer, but also helps to show people where their food comes from by championing farmers and connecting them to diners.

Chefs really are at the heart of the global food system. For sustainable sourcing across our industry and beyond to truly be achieved, we must all do our part. In leading by example, including educating and training the chefs of tomorrow on how to build sustainable menus, chefs can change the way the world thinks and talks about food across kitchens, classrooms and communities.

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