Peter Harden on SRA Sustainability Ratings
Restaurants are the epitome of civilisation. Or, to put it another way, a meal in a restaurant is not a necessity of life, it’s a luxury: in economist-speak a ‘discretionary purchase’.
There’s a fine line between civilization and decadence, and although the latter is fun while it lasts, if it lasts too long, it brings with it the seeds of its own destruction.
If the restaurant business is not to sow the seeds of its own demise, it needs to ply its trade with a sensible view to a sustainable future. Nowhere is this more evident, than in the dwindling stocks of certain types of fish and seafood and the vital need for responsible sourcing by restaurants. I want my children to be able to enjoy a hearty plate of cod ‘n’ chips just as I have. I don’t want our national dish to go the same way as the turtle soup so enjoyed by Londoners 100 years ago.
The current craze (and it’s a global one) for steak restaurants is something of a puzzle to me. As the risks to the planet posed by the rearing of cattle are ever-better documented, the more heartily it seems we all tuck in. Should we all be paying better attention to this clearly unsustainable rate of growth?
In our guide, our dearest aim is to give diners reviews and ratings to set their expectations so that when they spend their hard-earned cash in a restaurant that they won’t be disappointed (or at least in some cases, will only be as disappointed as we suggest they will!)
We’re proud to support the SRA, and hope that by adding SRA sustainability ratings to the restaurants we include, we can help set diners’ expectations as to which of their choices will ensure the trade thrives for decades, and hopefully centuries to come. It would be nice to think that it might play some small part in ensuring that dining out is the same civilized treat for all those restaurant-goers currently in high chairs, as it has been for all of us.