Arthur Potts Dawson: The “original Green chef” helping to change the dynamics of the food industry

Arthur Potts Dawson, the “original Green chef” as Jamie Oliver once penned him, has long championed sustainable practices within the food and catering industry from his creation of “sustainably aware urban restaurants”, being an advocate for “wonky fruit and veg”, making use of everything in the kitchen long before it became coined “zero waste”, through to founding a supermarket “for the people, by the people”.

Founder of The People’s Supermarket, a co-operative in central London’s Lamb’s Conduit Street, Arthur Potts Dawson has created a supermarket that is staffed by local residents which keep costs low and prices affordable.

Based upon the concept of the food co-operative and inspired in part by the Park Slope Food Coop in the Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn in New York, members of the social enterprise are required to pay a £25 annual fee and contribute four hours of their time every four weeks to working in the store. In return, members receive a 20% discount off their shopping in-store.

It is where you will find sustainable, locally-produced goods, as well as a selection of ethical brands which local people have an input into.

“Ethical has a deeper meaning than fair trade or organic,” Arthur Potts Dawson said in an interview with People of London. “I’m never going to take on the multi-chains but I’m certainly going to offer a co-operative solution to the problems of where our food comes from and why we have decided to buy it from there.”

The People’s Supermarket opened its doors in 2011. Since then, it has been documented on a Channel 4 TV series of the same name, and faced the threat of closure by Camden Council. Six years on it continues to thrive and is a co-operative success story.

Arthur Potts Dawson has worked alongside Britain’s most respected chefs, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, they too advocators of sustainable practices in how we consume our food, what we are consuming and where it comes from.

He also created two London restaurants, Acorn House and The Waterhouse, both of which  operated on an ecological shoestring, trying to minimise all types of waste.

The Waterhouse, located near Haggerston along London’s Regent’s Canal, had no gas for cooking. It was all electric, with cooling systems powered by heat exchange from copper pipes submerged in Regent’s Canal. A canal boat, moored next to the restaurant, housed one of the chefs who grew his own food. Roof-mounted solar panels provided hot water. The restaurant still exists today, although under new management.

The initiatives that Arthur Potts Dawson has developed over the years are inspiring and the more people become aware of and share stories such as his, the world is likely to see the emergence of many new businesses, some of which may be co-operatives and social enterprises, with ethics and sustainability at its heart.

The People’s Supermarket

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer specialising in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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