RSPB cafés win prestigious national awards with fresh, local food

Jamie Wyver

Friday 11 August 2017

Seasonal ratatouille at Arne

  • All eleven of the RSPB’s nature reserve cafés have gained at least the Bronze award in the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme serving fresh, local and honest food
  • Two of these cafés have also attained the Gold Food for Life Served Here award
  • The award scheme celebrates locally sourced, additive and GM free, sustainable food which meets animal welfare standards and makes healthy eating easy

When you visit an RSPB nature reserve café, you can now be sure that you can make healthy choices, and that what you’re eating and drinking is good for the planet. In total, all eleven of the charity’s cafés eligible for the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme have successfully achieved awards. Nine cafés have gained the Bronze award in the scheme, with two attaining the Gold award. 


As a conservation charity, the RSPB is keen to lead by example when it comes to serving food that makes a difference. This means reducing the impact of nature reserve catering on the environment, for example cutting the high carbon emissions usually involved in transporting food over long distances.


At RSPB Minsmere, the fresh ‘Marybelle’ milk comes from a local dairy just 12 miles away. It’s used in the café’s delicious lattés, and in their cream teas. RSPB Loch Leven’s tasty organic cakes are all made in-house. And at the Gold award-winning RSPB Newport Wetlands café in South Wales local family farms deliver organic eggs, bacon and sausages.


Chris Kent, the RSPB’s Catering Development Manager, said “We’re absolutely thrilled to have our cafés gain these awards. We champion local suppliers who share our values, and can help us reduce food miles. We also work with an excellent national supplier, Bidfood, which shares our passion for the environment. So when you visit one of our award-winning cafés you can choose to eat food that is good for you, good for the planet and good for animal welfare.”


Harry Greenfield, RSPB Land Use Policy Officer, said “The majority of the UK’s countryside is used for farming, so farmers can make a huge contribution when it comes to conservation. In fact many farmers make superb efforts to make space for nature on their land alongside food production. Knowing where food comes from and how it is produced means that we can recognise the great job that wildlife friendly farmers are doing.”


Rich Watts, Senior Food for Life Served Here Manager at the Soil Association, said: “Food for Life Served Here is seeing real growth across the visitor attraction sector, with caterers recognising that visitors place real value on eating local, fresh and honest food - Food for Life Served Here is a great way to demonstrate a commitment to honest, ethical and sustainable food and also helps venues to reduce their environmental impact by looking closer to home for produce. 


“The RSPB has done a fantastic job in achieving Food for Life Served Here across eleven of its sites, and it’s particularly pleasing to see some of those venues have gone the extra mile to achieve the Gold award level. It’s achievements like theirs that will encourage other big organisations to review their food offer – delivering good food on a large scale is achievable and we look forward to working more with the RSPB to build on their success.”


To attain the Bronze award, cafés need to have reached a certain set of standards. At least three quarters of the food on the menus should be freshly prepared on site or in a local kitchen. All meat served must be from farms which meet, as a minimum, the UK’s welfare standards. Due to its environmental impact, the RSPB aims to reduce the amount of meat consumed by offering tasty alternatives, however meat on the café Food for Life Served Here menus is UK farm assured through the Red Tractor scheme. 


Eggs should be from free range hens and menus must be free of any endangered fish featured on the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘fish to avoid’ list. Food is also free from additives like aspartame, MSG, artificial trans fats and GM ingredients. Finally, seasonal ingredients produced outdoors in the UK are used in the menus. 


To gain the Gold award, at least 15% of ingredients used by a café must be organic. Organic farming can benefit wildlife through sympathetic management of hedges and varied crop rotations, boosting numbers of birds and insects, for example. 


In addition to gaining the Food for Life Served Here awards, the RSPB’s cafés also serve bird friendly coffee grown specially for the organisation in coffee plantations in Nicaragua which make space for nature. At present the RSPB do not serve any tuna in cafés because there is not a catering source that covers all aspects of sustainability, for example fish stock status, fishing methods and bycatch. The RSPB continues to work with suppliers to improve sustainability standards to bring them in line with some of the tuna that is now available in supermarkets.


Find out more here: 6 Ways to make your shopping basket more nature friendly 





Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

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