In the opening episode of our new podcast series, Patrick Holden is joined by vegetarian cook and bestselling author, Anna Jones.
The conversation begins by exploring a question that is on the minds of many, ‘what should I eat to be healthy and sustainable?’. While Anna and Patrick’s responses to the question differ slightly, they remain for the most part united by a shared goal – the transition to more sustainable food systems.
Anna Jones has been a vegetarian for over a decade and is now widely celebrated as the voice of modern vegetarian cooking. In this podcast, she begins by explaining how her journey towards plant-based cookery began and why it made sense for her, both on a personal and environmental level.
Although now an organic dairy farmer, Patrick has a long-standing history of vegetable growing himself – particularly carrots! – and appreciates the fundamental role plants play in healthy, sustainable diets. However, he is keen to discuss the matter of provenance with Anna. Where does this ingredient come from? What kind of farming practices were used to produce it? How far has it travelled? Many of us are accustomed to asking such questions when it comes to meat or fish, but both Anna and Patrick agree that they are just as important when it comes to vegetables.
However, knowing where our foods come from can be quite challenging, particularly for people living in urban areas. Anna and Patrick celebrate the rising number of initiatives working hard to make local, seasonal produce more accessible in cities – such as Growing Communities in London, from whom Anna gets her weekly veg box. They agree, however, that there is still work to be done around issues of affordability and inclusivity.
What becomes evident throughout the conversation is that sustainability is an immensely complex issue, especially when it comes to food. Whether we choose to champion plant-based cooking or regenerative grazing, it is vital to approach the topic with a nuanced, holistic perspective. Ultimately, it is only by working together that we will build a food system that works for everyone.