Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: recycling confusion and over-sugared infant meals

The news, reviews and trends from July 13-14, including the usage of silvopasture and Marcus Wareing’s rant about ready meals.

15 July 2019
childrenpackagingplasticready mealsrestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarkets

Food news

68% of packaging is not easily recyclable

Michael Gove has pledged to simplify Britain’s recycling system by introducing new rules about package labelling as well as uniform policies across the country. “Supermarkets have a clear responsibility to cut unnecessary packaging, but we are also fully committed to playing our part as the government,” the environment secretary told The Telegraph. “That’s why I have set out ambitious plans to end the confusion over recycling. Through our game-changing Resources and Waste Strategy, we will introduce consistent recycling for all households, as well as consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.” His words come following a Telegraph investigation into the weekly shop that found 68% of the packaging across four major supermarkets (Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons) was either unrecyclable or too confusing for families to recycle correctly.


Sugar rush for children just four months old

“Supermarkets and food brands, including Heinz and Cow & Gate, are selling products containing more sugar than Coco Pops for babies only four months old,” reports The Sunday Times. These companies are also contravening UK government recommendations against feeding infants solid food till after six months – though the European Food Safety Authority says the practice is safe. Last month, Public Health England released a report revealing that commercial infant food is the main source of free sugars in the diet of those aged four to nine months.


Marcus Wareing wants people to turn off Twitter

Almost half of all ready meals eaten in Europe are devoured in this country, and Marcus Wareing blames it on social media. The Michelin-starred chef claimed on Desert Island Discs last week that time wasted on phones means less time spent in the kitchen. “If we’re not careful we are going to lose the opportunity of learning how to cook,” he said. “We now as a nation need to remind ourselves to teach the next generation how to cook, so that they don’t consistently pick up those ready meals.” Wareing also criticised ready meals for Brits’ expanding waist lines, according to The Sunday Times.


Remarkable places with remarkable chefs

The Sunday Times previews upcoming BBC2 series Remarkable Places to Eat, which will take viewers on a tour of Venice with Angela Hartnett, Edinburgh with Tom Kerridge, Paris with Michel Roux Jr and San Sebastian with Nisha Katona. Fronted by TV personality and maitre d’ Fred Sirieix, the show debuts on Wednesday and purports to show big-name chefs’ personal insight into the cities they introduce.


Food trends

Is agroforestry the future of farming?

Growing crops and trees alongside animals could be the future of farming, according to an article in The Guardian, in a practice more technically known as silvopasture. “Studies from Africa, Brazil, Europe, Sri Lanka and elsewhere all show conclusively that interspersing trees, animals and crops can boost food production, but also build soil, increase biodiversity and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere,” writes the paper, quoting Patrick Caron, chair of a UN panel on food security and nutrition.


Cannabis oil captures over-60s market

The Observer looks at how CBD oil is being embraced by working-class communities and the elderly for pain relief. While the cannabis-derived product is legal, some critics are concerned that people are being duped into believing it is a miracle cure, as no official trials on its effectiveness have been conducted in the UK. However, that doesn’t appear to be stopping its rise, with the oil appearing in everything from supplements to snacks. Forbes estimates the market will be worth $20bn (£16bn) by 2024.


Food reviews

The Newell Restaurant, Dorset DT9 4EP

Food at this “quietly wonderful” spot is “rustic, hearty, the beauty encountered as it’s going down your neck, not fannying about on the plate,” writes Marina O’Loughlin, who sticks her spoon into cream of crab soup (“a super-classical, foamy-rich bisque, rosy with roe, chunky with local crab, otherwise unadorned”) and her fork into a “meaty tranche of turbot,” served with beurre noisette, parsley, lemon, capers and croutons.


Gezellig, London WC1V 7BD

Keith Miller praises the “clever use of herbs” at this modern European restaurant, from the “clean, sharp sorrel” served up alongside halved duck hearts to the “pungent lemon verbena” that accompanies white fish and pea shoots. This continues into the desserts, which include Frangelico-accented hazelnut ice cream and an elderflower and strawberry millefeuille.


Black Axe Mangal, London N1 2UP

Jay Rayner eschews the new and opts this week for a four-year-old London favourite where the food will “rattle your eyeballs.” The evening starts with a dish dubbed “crispy fuckin rabbit”: served with sweet chilli and apple, “the meat has been slow cooked, formed into a pleasing rectangle, then breaded and deep fried.” This is followed by the salt beef and sauerkraut steamed bun (“essentially a Reuben sandwich with new tailoring”) and green asparagus with bottarga (cured fish roe) and goat’s curd (“a rush of savoury and the sea”).

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