Sustainable food on the menu at Glasgow

Sustainable ramen and fish and chips are part of the “plant-forward” dishes being offered at the climate change conference in Glasgow.

Sustainable versions of fish and chips, ramen and other Scottish delicacies are fuelling negotiations at the climate change conference in Glasgow.

Delegates at COP26 are being served sustainable and seasonal dishes, with about 95 per cent of the food sourced from the United Kingdom, mostly from Scotland.

Organisers of the event, which is expected to cater to more than 20,000 people, are aiming to make the event as environmentally friendly as possible, with menus even showing the carbon emissions generated from each dish.

In an attempt to avoid food waste, ingredients will be able to be used in a number of dishes to ensure produce can be repurposed for other meals if necessary.

Reusable cups are also being used and it is estimated that this approach will save up to 250,000 single use cups.

The conference menus will also be “plant-forward” in recognition of the contribution that agricultural livestock make to greenhouse gas emissions, with the United Nations estimating about 14.5 per cent of emissions comes from livestock.

To reduce the carbon footprint, there will also be a focus on Scottish produce, which will be used in fusion dishes such as Loch Duart salmon ramen, reflecting the international nature of the event.

Menus from the conference show other dishes include woodland mushroom and kale ramen, and traditional fish and chips.

Suppliers include Edinburgh’s Mara Seaweed, which is produced without fertiliser, fresh water or soil; as well as Benzies carrots and potatoes, which are grown using recycled water, biomass for heating and wind turbines to power its cool storage.

SEC Food business director Kevin Watson said the organisation had worked hard to create low carbon menus that were accessible to all.

“We hope our sustainable food strategy will shape menus of the future as we all work to protect our planet,” Mr Watson said.

“As well as providing great tasting and nutritious food, our menus are focused on local and seasonal sourcing, with a plant-forward approach.

“We have been delighted to showcase and work with so many local Scottish suppliers and our teams are looking forward to supporting the event.”

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma said it was exciting to see innovation in the menus on offer and to understand the thought and effort that had gone into making the dishes healthy, sustainable and suitable for different diets and requirements.

“We very much look forward to giving our international visitors a flavour of the wide-ranging cuisine the UK has to offer,” he said.

There are estimated to be 1.5 billion cows on the planet, with each one capable of producing 500 litres (132 gallons) of gas each day.

In addition, livestock urine produces nitrous oxide, another powerful climate pollutant.

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre is one facility dedicated to trying to find ways to reduce emissions from cattle.

The facility, which is vetted by an ethics committee, is exploring research that includes selective breeding programs to develop bloodlines of animals that naturally produce less gas.

Sheep have been bred that produce 10 per cent less methane than average and researchers are now trying to produce similar results with cattle.

Other projects include putting emission-inhibiting additives in livestock feed and even developing a harness or mask with filters that capture methane before it leaves the animal’s mouth.

The facility’s director Harry Clark said perhaps the most exciting prospect being developed is a vaccine that reduces methane by targeting the microbes in the gut that produce the gas.

“It’s tantalisingly close, in the sense that it works in the laboratory but it doesn’t work in the animal yet,” Mr Clark told AFP, adding such a vaccine could be easily administered to flocks and herds worldwide, with an immediate impact on global emissions.

Researchers in the US are also experimenting with probiotics for cattle, while in India, scientists are adding supplements to feed — with the aim of reducing the amount of methane produced.

But critics warn this approach offers only short term benefits and “band-aid” solutions to major problems.

“Reducing methane output while breeding still more methane-producing animals ignores animal suffering, deforestation, and the increased risk of diseases — including zoonotic viruses — all associated with animal agriculture,” said Aleesha Naxakis, spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

During their digestion process, cattle produce copious amounts of methane — a gas that has more than 80 times the “global warming potential” of carbon dioxide, across 20 years according to the UN Economic Commission.

— with AFP

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