Worthing's Wonder Women
Sarah Pelham Volunteer development officer, campaigns
20th Sep 2012
'Wow, that's pretty impressive,' I say, as restaurant owner, Clare, presents her large, locally grown organic marrow. 'Does it turn into a carriage at night?' I ask, before shaking my head and realising no, that was a pumpkin.
I'm in the sunny seaside town of Worthing (making lame jokes); here to learn more about my Hidden Food Hero, Green Cuisine Restaurant, and its owner Clare McIvor.
I'd first heard about this self-defined 'ethical eatery' through word of mouth, from a local activist, and after tentatively trying my first ever beetroot and olive salad there, I was sold.
A foodie beacon, Green Cuisine is fighting the battle for a fairer food system on several fronts, locally - with its organic fruit and veg grown in Sussex - and globally, supporting Fairtrade. And they create nutritious, delicious meals (see salad comments above!), conscious of catering for veggies, vegans and coeliacs.
In a world where one in seven of us go to bed hungry each night, being waste-conscious should never be underestimated. So, battling the stereotype of the Brit embarrassed to take home leftovers, Clare says, 'I always encourage customers to take home a doggy bag. The rest goes to my chickens.'
'I've wanted to open a vegetarian restaurant since I was 17,' Clare tells me, 'it can be hard to get into vegetarian cookery; the majority of experience involves working with meat.' Despite this, she advises budding, ethically minded chefs to seek out the necessary skills and know-how. 'The opportunities are there, they're just…hidden.'
Ethical Eating Goes Mainstream
In June 2010, Green Cuisine opened, promising a 'values-led' approach to eating out.
The restaurant appeals to a wide audience. 'For a start, people love homemade cakes, good food and coffee,' Clare beams.
'I decided to serve fish - sustainably and locally sourced, of course - as a way of getting those who would traditionally shy away from "vegetarian restaurants" through the door.' Once inside, Green Cuisine plies such customers with vegetarian delights. So while technically pescatarian, the restaurant promotes delicious meat-free meals.
A Hidden Food Hero?
Well, yes. And, No. You see, to those in the area Green Cuisine is not so much hidden, as central to the community. Their partnership with local not-for-profit group Culberry Produce is just one example of this. The restaurant is a pick up point for the community group's veggie box scheme, providing affordable organic alternatives to supermarkets.
Sian has been a member of the Green Cuisine team for over a year and says working there 'has been a real eye opener. In the past, I've never even considered where food is sourced and why this is important. I've learnt a lot and really love how we're so part of the community.'
Green Cuisine is committed to creating a fairer food system for all.
So pour a glass of Fairtrade wine, make a toast and say Hip-Hip Hooray for this Hidden Hero.
And have a think - who's your Hero?
To find out more go to http://www.mentalaboutlentils.co.uk/