For eco-chef Tom Hunt, good food is about more than flavor. Speaking at a special event for the Food Sustainability Media Awards hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN), Hunt shared his personal story as a chef, food writer, and activist and his philosophy on good food that benefits society and the planet.
Hunt has spent his career working in London’s fine dining world. Although he’s had an interest in cooking since he was young, Hunt got his start in the business of food at the acclaimed River Cottage, where he worked under Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as a cook and food stylist. In 2009, Hunt started his own food company called Poco Loco Markets, a business that embodies his food philosophy in its approach to sourcing and food waste. Poco Loco has been recognized as a leader in the sustainable food scene in London—in 2016, it was named Restaurant of the Year by the Sustainable Restaurant Association—and Hunt has become a leading figure in the sustainable food movement.
The special event celebrated the second cycle of the Food Sustainability Media Awards. This program honors writers and multimedia journalists whose work raises awareness around issues of sustainability in agriculture, food, and nutrition. Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg is on the panel of judges for the awards along with other leaders in sustainable food policy, research, journalism, and advocacy including Marcela Villarreal from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and Mitchell Davis from the James Beard Foundation.
The evening opened with remarks by Luca Di Leo, the Vice President of Global Media Relations at BCFN, on the tragic circumstances of our current food system: “1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted every year, four times the amount needed to feed the 815 million undernourished people around the world.”
In conversation with Laurie Goering of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Hunt spoke on the theme of this year’s awards—food paradoxes. Paradoxes define the current food system: hunger and obesity, food waste and scarcity, and food and biofuels. A path towards a sustainable food system must resolve these challenging contradictions. Hunt believes that cooking at home is one way that people can contribute to a better food system. “We should eat for pleasure and enjoy our food. A large part of that is knowing where your food comes from. Then eat whole foods and cook real food. That is a huge first step.”
Following the conversation, Hunt shared a menu of three small plates inspired by these food paradoxes. One was a dish of “Rice with Sweets” to represent the paradox of Hunger and Obesity. Another was “Kenyan Green Bean Curry with Chapati” for the paradox of Waste and Starvation. And the final dish was “Corn and Rapeseed Oil Bread” for the paradox of agricultural systems producing food and fuels.
Through his work, Hunt represents the mission at the heart of the Food Sustainability Media Awards. Most recently, Hunt published a cookbook titled The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit, which provides a practical guide to home cooking that reduces food waste. Hunt is also the founder of Forgotten Feast, a charitable campaign that raises awareness around food waste issues by hosting large banquet dinners that are produced entirely from ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted.
The entry period for this year’s Food Sustainability Media Awards is now open. The application period is open until May 31, 2018. Visit the website for more information on the competition and past winners.