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Celebrating World Book Day with Eco Chef Tom Hunt

To celebrate this year's World Book Day, we caught up with award-winning chef, food educator, writer, climate change activist and author of the book Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet, Tom Hunt. 

Tom passionately believes in a world with a fair global food system, where our actions when it comes to food benefit other people and nature. Through his work and his delicious recipes, he puts people and the environment first, but importantly without ever sacrificing pleasure or health. His manifesto, 'Root to Fruit', shows us all how we can play a role in the journey towards a more equitable global food system, and his book now provides the skills and knowledge we need to shop, cook and eat more sustainably.

This book is essential reading for anyone looking to approach food in a more climate positive way, and we can't thank Tom enough for taking the time to answer our questions (from a remote jungle in Panama!) for this, the World Book Day edition of our Doing Things Properly series. We hope you enjoy it and learn as much from it as we have. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found yourself promoting zero waste, plant-rich, climate positive cooking?

A life spent in food and agriculture has taught me the importance of our food system, from field to fork. This encouraged me to become an activist because I believe in a fairer food system that is accessible to all. I found myself promoting zero-waste, plant-rich cooking by creating a food waste banquet in 2011 with Tristram Stuart the author of 'Waste a Global Scandal' His team invited me to feed 200 people on Southwark Bridge using nothing but food surplus, I was amazed by the incredible produce I was able to source and by the impact myself and my team had not only the environment by saving hundreds of kilos of food from landfill, but by also donating that money to charity which in turn re-distributed thousands more meals. I quite quickly realised that food waste was just the tip of the iceberg, so after coining the term Root to Fruit eating to describe the idea of complete consumption, I started to broaden my food sustainability philosophy to be truly holistic and to cover every aspect of our food and it's impact on us and our planet.



Tell us more about 'Root to Fruit' and why it’s so important?

Root to fruit eating is my food sustainability philosophy - it's a whole food, plant-rich diet that has three key principles:

1. Eat for pleasure

2. Eat whole foods

3. Eat the best food you can

I believe if we can follow those values, we can learn to eat better food. 

What’s one thing we could all be doing weekly when it comes to more sustainable and regenerative ways of shopping, preparing and consuming food?

The one thing we can all do to reduce our environmental impact is to reduce our waste. This is one of the key issues with our food system and by simply practicing 'Root to Fruit' eating and using the whole vegetable or animal, then we will be able to make a difference instantly. 

As you know Doing Things Properly is something we work by, as well as talk about outwardly. What does ‘doing things properly’ mean to you?

To me, Doing Things Properly starts with believing in yourself and your ability to achieve what you want to achieve. 

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And finally, do you have any suggestions for how we can re-use or repurpose our ‘waste’ tea-leaves?

I have a few actually....

1. My grandma would always make two cups of tea with one tea bag - it works not only with green tea but with other teas which actually can be better on their second infusion.

2. I like to save up tea bags to boil them in order to make chai tea. To make chai you boil the tea for a long time to get everything out of it, so reusing tea bags is perfect for this one as there is no doubt a whole lot of flavour still in there if you give it some time.

3. I use good tea to make kombucha, but of course once you’ve made that first batch, you can always make a second or use the tea leaves again by drying them out and then using them as you would normally. 

Snap up your own copy of Tom's book Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet from your local bookshop, or head to Bookshop.org to order online. 

Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet by Tom Hunt is published by Kyle Books (£26). Photography by Jenny Zarins. 

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