Whether it’s for health, environmental or culinary reasons, the number of us choosing to buy organic has been steadily increasing for the past three years. There’s been a particular boost in the number of independent food shops specialising in organic produce, and even the supermarkets are adding to the number of organic products on their shelves.
In the world of fine dining, however, it’s sometimes a little more difficult to tell how much of what you’re eating is organic. It’s a given that the produce should be the very best, but unless it’s specifically stated on the menu that a dish is made from organic produce, should we assume that it isn’t?
Not necessarily, according to chef Adam Simmonds. He’s been cooking with both organic and non-organic food throughout his career, although he can’t pinpoint the exact time he started noticing it more on menus. ‘It’s difficult to say when organic first became popular in professional kitchens,’ he says. ‘It’s been an ongoing thing throughout time and there wasn’t really one point or moment that created or caused it. People eat organic food for a number of different reasons – it might be because of health or whatever – but I think naturally we’re just becoming more and more conscious of what we’re eating.’
While he certainly sings the praises of organic produce, Adam knows it would be difficult for a chef to use it exclusively in his or her cooking. That’s perhaps why dishes made with organic produce aren’t labelled as such on a menu – the meat may be organic, but the sauce made with non-organic ingredients, for example. ‘I’ll use some vegetables that are organic, some that aren’t, but when I’m serving a simple dish I’ll always choose organic because the produce simply has more flavour,’ he says. ‘When it’s something pure like a plate of vegetables for the restaurant there’s nowhere for the ingredients to hide, so they have to be the best.’