Food to Nourish (mind, body, soul and planet)

Interviewee: Hannah McCollum –  ChicP company founder

Questions: 

1. Why did you decide to focus on the sustainability issues surrounding food, and could you tell us a little bit about the environmental impact of food.

As a chef, I was hugely passionate about food waste. So I would always be turning my leftover vegetable dishes into dips, and hummus, when cooking for private clients, and I got a bit of a reputation for that. 

I wanted to make people more aware of the problems of food waste and to stop wasting food themselves. On top of that, I was watching a lot of tv on food waste, and witnessing British farmers having to send their produce back into the land and it was just such a huge waste not getting the most out of this produce.

 Farming is something I have always been hugely passionate about – I am a huge lover of nature and being on farms. So I really wanted to help British farmers, because I really believe that it is truly important to consume as much local and seasonal food as we possibly can.

 

2. What does eating “well” mean to you?

Eating healthily, in moderation and ideally food that is good for your body. Also, not eating too much meat and fish. 

In a nutshell, eating food that is good for you and the planet.

 

3. When we say ‘food to nourish’, does that evoke any thoughts or reactions for you?

Food that your body needs to function properly. It gives you energy, makes you feel well and energised and gives your organs what they need to operate well.

4. What are your main points of concern regarding modern food production and how that impacts our living planet? (looking at issues like palm oil, Fairtrade, GMO, chemical sprays, animal welfare)

Modern food production terrifies me; I absolutely despise it. 

It is resulting in death rates skyrocketing across the world because it’s causing many of the diseases we are now picking up. Cancer from pesticides, heart disease, organ failure is all from foods that are making us obese or is giving us the chemicals that are causing the diseases. 

I personally think that Palm Oil, which is not sustainable, should be banned. But the problem is that there is so much illegal food production happening, that it is sometimes underreported by governments. There need to be many many more penalties where anything like these illegal productions are happening.

I do find this whole topic really sad, and I think there needs to be more of an uproar, and more people need to be aware. Once consumers become aware it’ll have a huge impact on the industry, for at the end of the day if there is no consumer demand for GMO products, then these practices will reduce at a much quicker pace. 

 

5. What was the catalyst that ignited your environmentally conscious business? 

The catalyst was one time when we were on holiday, we were staying at a family friend’s villa, and we saw our friend’s mother had just done a full shop. She came back from the store and emptied the entire contents of the fridge, and then put the new one shopping into the fridge. And I was so shocked to see her throw all this food away – that’s where it all began. 

6. What advice would you give to someone attempting to eat more consciously?

I would always recommend eating less meat and fish. Meat and fish are products that are really unsustainable if they are not eaten from reliable sources, but these are hard to come by now and expensive when you do. So eating less meat and fish would be my number one piece of advice. 

Also, you don’t need meat and fish in your diet every day and there are so many amazing vegetable dishes that are overlooked – I actually think that vegetarian food is so much more interesting  to me in many ways. 

Secondly, I would advocate to try and eat seasonally and locally. If you are going to have chicken, try and make sure it is bought from a local farmer who has organically grown it. This is certainly better than having 2 avocados that have been flown across the world, to be ripened in high energy warehouses in the south of England. 

7. Do you come from a long line of innovative cooks, or are you the first passionate foodie in your family/friend circle?

I am the first person in my family to be in the food industry. My mum is a great cook, but it’s not her passion, and she’d much rather I cook an evening meal at home than her. So yeah, it is quite strange really where this has come from. I am certainly a really creative person, which does come through my family – my mum is very creative, so I just ended up experimenting in the kitchen.

 

8. What are the 3 ingredients that you just couldn’t live without? 

This is such a difficult one. I would say olive oil, lemon, and spinach … or parsley. 

9. Do you think events in the future will, like Wellenergy, have this type of rounded experience? Where food, drinks, music and activities are all top quality?

I definitely think that rounded events – top talk, food, music, drink – are the top of most people’s desires when it comes down to choosing festivals now. People want to go to a festival where they know they are going to get good quality food, where they can go and see the suppliers who have come – especially when they are local suppliers. 

 

10. How has it been for you, and the business, over the past year? 

Over the past year, it’s been quite good actually, considering the circumstances. 

Luckily food has been in demand, and hummus has done pretty well, especially in the first lockdown. I feel very lucky how we’ve done with all our customers and sales but food service has been a write-off in which we lost all of our sales there, but having a good retail year slightly made up for it. 

11. What’s next (besides Wellenergy on June 11th/12th) for ChicP?

I can tell you that we have some new projects which are being undertaken, some with a slightly different take on things and accessible to all. So we will see how that goes  

Watch this space, because you aren’t going to want to miss this! 

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