FEED PEOPLE WELL – SUSTAINABILITY SERIES: FEBRUARY
Good food should be both tasty and healthy. So how can we make menus healthier while keeping diners satisfied? Can we learn from this in feeding the entire planet? What role does organic play and how is HKORC supporting farmers? Which Hong Kong restaurants have already brought sustainability fully on board?
Christian Mongendre, founder of Treehouse, and Professor Jonathan Wong from the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre provided expert perspectives in this lively webinar with Heidi Yu-Spurrell, CEO of Food Made Good HK.
Great turnout from our Members and Partners!
MORE RESPONSIBLE MENUS
Heidi began by highlighting that over 2 billion people globally are obese with diabetes levels skyrocketing. The problem has spread to schools with 1 in 3 children now overweight. Restaurants have a role to play by serving healthy, balanced meals and smaller portions. The variety and colour of healthy seasonal produce can help replace high-sugar and animal-based dishes. Heidi noted that two thirds of consumers are willing to pay more to switch to healthier and more sustainable ingredients.
The Food Made Good Sustainability Handbook is full of useful tips on feeding people well. Heidi also recommended Feeding The World Well, a series of thought-provoking essays edited by Alan M. Goldberg.
Food has become cheaper in our supermarkets but there are many hidden costs. There is a lack of diversity in crops and animals, animals are treated inhumanely and laboured inconsiderately. Our current food system is creating severe health, social and environmental problems.
Feeding The World Well, a series of thought-provoking essays edited by Alan M. Goldberg.
HONG KONG’S ORGANIC FARMING SECTOR
Professor Wong, who is also Head of Biology at HK Baptist University, spoke about the rapid decline in Hong Kong agriculture from the 1970s. However in 2000, the Hong Kong government began encouraging organic farming. Switching to high-value produce is key to helping the local agricultural sector survive in the face of cheap imports.
HKORC (Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre) is an independent non-profit that certifies organic produce for local farmers at a minimal charge. Hong Kong’s organic farms face many challenges including outdated farming methods and equipment, high labour costs, lack of government subsidies, small plot sizes, and uncertainty caused by lack of long-term agricultural policies. Professor Wong concluded by highlighting the importance of organic agriculture within Hong Kong – ecologically, economically and culturally. Currently, an Institute of Bioresource and Agriculture is being developed, with funding from HSBC, to help train local farmers and develop much-needed professional skills and research in this field.
Organic Certification Seals from HKORC
THE CHALLENGES OF RUNNING A WHOLEFOOD RESTAURANT
Christian Mongendre is the founder of TREEHOUSE, a grab-and-go restaurant in Central. He spoke about being trained at a Michelin-level cooking school in France where he was only catering to small groups of 20 or so diners. Christian quickly realised that he wanted to make a bigger impact by feeding much larger numbers of people with high-quality food.
He also shared how when he was a child, his mother suffered from cancer which forced him to think deeply about health. Later, when training as a high-level athlete, he became further convinced of wholesome food’s value in promoting health – as the better he ate, the better he performed.
All this led him to return to Hong Kong, where he had been born, and co-found MANA! with its focus on wholefoods. Over the last eleven years, he has refined various techniques and practices to run as sustainably as possible. “I am so happy that the landscape is changing and it is much easier to operate such businesses here.”
The core values of TREEHOUSE include creating wholefoods but also minimizing waste. One practical measure is to use the whole vegetable from roots to leaf while creating more nutritional value. This has the double benefit of reducing costs while being kinder on the environment.
Treehouse flatbreads with a focus on Wholefoods
In the Q&A session with Heidi, Christian mentioned the high cost and sourcing difficulties of serving whole food cuisine – and how TREEHOUSE has managed to overcome these through a combination of resourcefulness and creativity.
The sustainability meet-up series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong food service community – chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads.
Inspired by our framework, the programme is curated to inspire the community in novel ways that let them introduce small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design and supplies. We will be organising talks delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars – Sourcing, Society and the Environment.
There was so much to learn from our speakers this month, a big thank you to all of them again. As always we also want to thank InvestHK and Fresh Accounting for making this event possible.
This content was created prior to our rebranding to Future Green, as of 28/11/22, when we were known as Food Made Good HK.
Interested in more?
6 steps to turning messy ideas into concrete next steps with The British Chamber of Commerce3rd November
From Healthy Kids Menu to Asian-Inspired Delights: SpiceBox Organics Revamps Catering Services, Championing Sustainability and Clean Eating in Hong Kong12th October