More Plants, Better Meat: Daylesford Organic
As an organic farm and meat producer, Daylesford Organic has always advocated for eating less, but better-quality meat. We spoke to Will Dennis, Head of Sustainability at Daylesford, about their sustainability principles, their organic offering and what the Food Made Good Standard has brought to their business.
Head of Sustainability Will Dennis is effusive about what sustainability means at Daylesford Organic – and rightly so. “It is the core of our business, one of our founding principles and a guiding light through our purpose statement: to live, eat and shop sustainably, ethically and in harmony with nature,” he says. Mentioning that we’re in the middle of multiple planetary crises, he mirrors our own beliefs at The SRA in saying that businesses have a responsibility to operate sustainably and work with others to be part of the solution. “It's why our customers come back to us and trust the brand.”
Operations at Daylesford have always been based on ethical practices, supporting the idea of eating less meat, but better quality. “As an organic farm and meat producer,” says Will, “we want to educate consumers about animal welfare, nutrition and the facts around the link between livestock and climate.” Cookery courses form part of these educational efforts, with a focus on showing how food is grown and highlighting the benefits of sustainable agriculture. Daylesford Organic was also one of the founding members of Agricology, an independent knowledge platform supporting farmers and growers to transition to more sustainable and resilient farming systems. Designed to provide useful, practical resources and advice without barriers, this platform is free of charge and open to everyone.
Seasonal and sustainable
With a food offering built on the belief that menus should showcase and champion plants that are in season at that moment (“sometimes just for a few weeks,” says Will), one of Daylesford’s biggest assets is their Market Garden, which produces an incredible 300 varieties of fruit and vegetables across the year, using organic principles. For anything that doesn't grow on the farm, they collaborate with suppliers that can trace provenance across their supply chain and account for social and environmental impact.
Taking the Food Made Good Standard only reinforced this ethos. The team at Daylesford is eager to champion high welfare, organic meat, “especially in a world where livestock is too easily (and mistakenly) villainised,” says Will. “The Standard has helped us to refine our storytelling and has given us the confidence to continue designing our menus around the best of nature’s available ingredients.”
Food Made Good at Daylesford
Daylesford Organic started following The Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2010 and decided to work towards the Food Made Good Standard in order to showcase their ethos around producing and sourcing organic, seasonal and local food and to gain the benefits of credible third-party certification. They found that the Standard provided structure and goals towards which they could work, and inspired them to build sustainability into their business in a more holistic way. “Food Made Good’s evolution over the last few years has challenged our teams to evolve across the environmental and social pillars, too. The recent version of the standard is incredibly detailed and provides a robust, comprehensive assessment of the business from all angles of ESG. There is a surprising equivalency to some of the global business-level certifications like B Corp.”
For businesses that are considering signing up to start the assessment, Will is quick to advise them to get started. “Don’t wait to have everything done before starting the assessment – the process itself will drive improvement.” He also recommends involving as many of the team as possible. “Buy-in is the secret to unlocking the highest ratings.”
What Daylesford does best
Will credits the Standard as having led to other plaudits: Daylesford Organic was chosen as the winner at the Sustainable Restaurant of the Year Awards in 2015 and as Small Group winners in 2016, shortlisted again in 2018. “Each time, we have seen positive press and customer interest, as well as unlocking new relationships with other restaurants,” says Will. “We also receive plenty of positive feedback from customers on the seasonality of our menus and the quality of our ingredients.”
“We are proud to have retained our Green Michelin Star as well as achieving B Corp certification this year,” Will continues. “Alongside Food Made Good and the Soil Association accreditation, we now have a strong set of frameworks to underpin our sustainability goals.”
Looking forward from this strong foundation, what’s next on the horizon? “The big target is our value chain,” says Will, “and working with suppliers and customers to align with our principles. Our sustainability strategy is all about reducing the impact of our operations while continuing to do what we do best: growing and sourcing the best naturally available ingredients.”
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