Sustainability Within the Hospitality Industry Q&A with Pershore Patty | Herefordshire & Worcestershire

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“While each county has its unique offerings, exploring both can provide a rich experience of  the diverse and sustainable food scene in our region.”

I was recently interviewed by journalism student, Emma Davies (Instagram @em_louise_22), from The University of Worcester, who for their final university project is creating a local lifestyle magazine focused on sustainability within Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
Emma asked me to recommend some local restaurants that are offering a menu in February, with a focus on sustainability. These will be included in the final magazine, along with the Q&A below. I will publish the full magazine later in Spring 2024, once Emma has completed the publication.
The Riverside Inn, Aymestrey
The Riverside Inn Aymestrey. Photo credit: Emma Davies

Herefordshire and Worcestershire are neighbouring counties with shared characteristics, but both have distinct offerings when it comes to sustainable food and independent suppliers. Local food blogger, Victoria Richardson, has enjoyed a 25 year career in hospitality, recruitment, events and marketing and she delves straight in to share her knowledge of the diverse and sustainable food scene in our region.  

Emma – Where did your interest in food originate from?

Victoria – I have always had a longstanding passion for dining out. Even as a child, the thrill of perusing menus and the joy of experiencing diverse culinary delights sparked my curiosity about the role of food in different cultures.

Emma – How did you become a food blogger?

Victoria – In 2013, my role as a Freelance Marketing Executive and Social Media Consultant provided me with the opportunity to share my knowledge with my network. My friends soon noted my deep appreciation for food and eventually encouraged me to venture into the world of food blogging in January 2017, when ‘Pershore Patty’ came into existence. My reviews ventured into local magazines and publications and eventually ‘Pershore Patty’ evolved into an award-winning platform, highlighting the finest food and drink establishments in and around the Three Counties. Over the past seven years, my blog and social media presence have become well-regarded locally, like my ‘Three Counties Food and Drink Guide’ Facebook group with over 8,500 members. These platforms combined offer a trusted resource for like-minded food enthusiasts seeking local recommendations.

Emma – Have you any plans in 2024?

Victoria – I continue to serve as a Freelance Marketing Specialist while also holding a part-time role as a Retail Marketing Manager in Worcester City Centre. This dual role keeps me closely connected to local stakeholders and ensures that I stay informed about the best places to eat and drink in the community for any occasion. I don’t tend to visit as many events as I did in the earlier days of starting my blog, however I enjoyed the Three Counties Food & Drink Festival at Malvern Showground last year. It’s a new festival which is returning for its second year in July 2024, with over 160 traders to celebrate food and drink in our region and beyond.

Emma – What characteristics do the two counties share?

Victoria – Herefordshire and Worcestershire both possess a strong tradition of local farming, contributing to the availability of fresh and sustainable produce. Both counties also host food festivals that celebrate local and sustainable food, providing opportunities to support independent suppliers. However, each county has its unique offerings and exploring both can provide a rich experience of the diverse and sustainable food scene in our region.

Pershore Patty at Three Counties Food & Drink Festival
Pershore Patty at Three Counties Food & Drink Festival

Emma – What unique offerings does Herefordshire boast?

Victoria – Herefordshire is renowned for its cider production and picturesque orchards, with many independent cider makers focusing on traditional and sustainable methods. The county’s agricultural richness contributes to a diverse range of local produce, including meats, cheeses and fruits.

Emma – Does Worcestershire offer anything different?

Victoria -Worcestershire is known for its Pershore Plum, a local variety of plum that has gained popularity and is often used in local products and dishes. The county also has a thriving brewing scene, with many independent breweries emphasising sustainability and local ingredients.

Emma – How can menus provide an insight into locally sourced food and a consideration for sustainability?

Victoria -Menus that change with the seasons suggest a commitment to using fresh, locally available produce and indicate that the restaurant considers the availability and sustainability of its ingredients. Dishes featuring local or regional specialties often indicate an effort to showcase and support local food culture and phrases like “locally sourced,” “farm-to-table,” or mention of local farms or producers suggests transparency and a commitment to sourcing from nearby sources. For seafood items, look for certifications such as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), which indicate sustainably sourced seafood.

Emma – Have you noticed an attitude shift towards sustainability within the hospitality industry over the past seven years?

Victoria -Consumers have become more aware of environmental issues through educational initiatives, which has increased the demand for sustainable, ethically sourced products. Restaurant owners across the two counties are recognising this awareness and prominent sustainability trend by prioritising eco-friendly practices which can save some businesses money. They are also responding to regulatory pressures from local authorities and Governments, to demonstrate corporate responsibility and embrace an awareness of supply chains and sustainable sourcing practices to attract and retain customers. However, the extent to which individual establishments have adopted sustainable efforts varies.

Eckington Manor, near Pershore

Emma – How can consumers make more informed choices about the food that they consume?

Victoria – Visit local farmers’ markets where you can directly interact with them to discover the seasonality of produce. Establishing a direct connection with farmers who grow our food can offer valuable insights into their philosophies and practices. Reading publications that cover topics relating to food production, sustainability and agriculture can help us stay informed. Cooking demonstrations, such as those held at Eckington Manor, emphasise the use of local seasonal ingredients and help deepen your understanding of the diversity of local produce and improve your cooking skills.

Emma – Cooking is a huge part of your daily life isn’t it?

Victoria – Despite the impression that I eat out daily, I spend many evenings at home and really enjoy preparing healthy and nutritious meals. I buy my meat from Stoulton Farm Shop near Pershore, and most of my fruit and veg comes from The Fruit Shack at St Peter’s Garden Centre or The Walled Gardens at Croome Court. I love browsing recipes from Waitrose, Jamie Oliver and Pinch of Nom and often create dishes from them.

Emma – Finally, do you think alternative diets are helping to save the planet?

Victoria – Vegan alternatives and plant-based diets are often considered to have positive environmental impacts and can contribute to efforts to address certain environmental challenges. Whilst these diets can contribute to environmental sustainability, broader systemic changes, such as sustainable agricultural practices and responsible resource management, are also essential to address global environmental challenges.