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Book review: Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint

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Book review: Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint

You may have heard that things aren’t exactly going well when it comes to the environment.

Douglas McMaster’s response to the possible end of life as we know it has been to open Silo in Brighton, a pioneering zero-waste restaurant where sustainability isn’t just a goal, it’s the whole point of the operation. Every element from farm to plate is considered – the latter is even made from ground-up wine bottles used in the restaurant. For those wondering how all waste can really be eliminated, Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint is essentially the big reveal – a radical book for the future of food which is itself, unsurprisingly, 100% recyclable.

It begins by stating, in block capitals, that it is not a cookbook. Indeed, it reads more like a feverish manifesto, opening with McMaster’s path from Michelin-star-hungry youth to disciple of the sustainability movement.

The core of the book provides a genuinely practical, how-to guide for all kitchens great and small to reduce, and ultimately nullify, their waste. McMaster has already both flooded his kitchen and set it on fire in his pursuit of the system behind Silo, so it is a gift to have his findings so clearly laid out.

It may not be a cookery book, but there are recipes. Because nothing McMaster works with is industrially farmed or processed, no ingredient is the same and thus intuitive cooking is required, rather than rigid rule-following. Techniques are more a matter of ratios than weights, while the photography shows just what is possible when you have the imagination and skill to celebrate ingredients destined for landfill.

He finishes with a list of conclusions that are closer to Descartes than Delia. The book’s stark, author-led approach is occasionally to its detriment – short, pithy statements are presented as black and white, when in fact there are often shades of grey among the scientific community, and some citable evidence would have elevated his argument. However, at its root is a fundamental truth and an innovative approach to one of the big issues facing not just our industry, but our species.

Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint by Douglas 01McMaster (Leaping Hare Press, £20). Try a recipe from the book – cucumber, oyster and stonecrop – here

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