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TALKING POINTS

Fighting climate change one bite at a time at Tong Chong Street Market

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In September and October, Tong Chong Street Market (TCSM) is collaborating with Zero Foodprint Asia, the NGO that helps solve climate change through farmers who grow food using climate-friendly regenerative methods. Food and beverage vendors at the Market have signed on to participate in Zero Foodprint Asia's 1% Pledge, joining a growing community of local restaurants and food purveyors that is donating 1% of every customer’s bill to Zero Foodprint Asia. Peggy Chan, former restaurateur and Executive Director of ZFPA, explains why this matters and how you can help restore the planet, one meal at a time.
“TCSM’s ongoing “Bite to Change” focus encourages everyone to incorporate small green changes in our everyday lives”

TCSM’s ongoing “Bite to Change” focus encourages everyone to incorporate small green changes in our everyday lives, such as eating less industrially-farmed meat, reducing food waste, and being more aware of where our food comes from. Each month, many likeminded vendors have been featured, and these two months, the Market has kicked it up a notch by partnering with ZFPA to extend our reach into the region’s food system.

As usual, the Market features trending and up and coming names in the local food and beverage scene – September and October vendors are: After You, APT Coffee, The Baker and The Bottleman, Fifty Fifty, and Lobster Boss.

Based in Hong Kong, ZFPA is an extension of the acclaimed Californian non-profit, Zero Foodprint (ZFP) that mobilises the food world, of which TCSM is a part, around agricultural climate solutions.

Three years ago, two American restaurant owners came up with a plan to mobilise the food and beverage industry to help solve the climate crisis. Their initiative, the non-profit organisation Zero Foodprint (ZFP), has since won the support of thousands of restaurants worldwide – and a James Beard Humanitarian award.

ZFP took a novel approach to food and climate change by, literally, digging into the roots of the issue: they partnered with restaurants to crowd-fund grants for farmers making the switch from extractive to renewable farming, encouraging a return to environmentally-friendly, non-industrial agriculture.

It works like this: the participating restaurants pledge to donate 1% of customer bills to support regenerative, sustainable farming. From its start in the US, the initiative has gone global. Here in Hong Kong, it’s spearheaded by Zero Foodprint Asia (ZFPA), which has launched a local version of the One Percent Pledge.

According to executive director Peggy Chan, ZFPA has already raised $1.88 million HKD – an impressive achievement in today’s challenging COVID-19 battered economy. Chan sees this strong support as evidence of the local food and beverage industry’s concern for sustainable food systems and carbon neutrality. “The restaurants who participated in the first twelve months have all stayed on again for another year. We also signed on our first hotel partner during this time, and now Tong Chong Street Market has joined,” she said.
“[Shifting] to regenerative agriculture would accomplish as much environmental benefit as offsetting the estimated impact from the restaurant’s operation”
ZFPA Executive Director Peggy Chan
“Bite to Change” is TCSM’s commitment to encouraging everyone to make small changes for the climate, so a partnership with Zero Foodprint Asia makes perfect sense for vendors – and for customers. “Everyone can and should participate in climate action in every meal,” said Chan. With so many participating food vendors just at their doorstep, it’s now easier than ever for the Taikoo Place community to participate in moving the needle on climate change. “1% is such a small and nominal fee that customers happily pay and contribute to restoring our planet,” Chan said.
Can collecting a one percent tariff really make a big difference in climate change? According to Chan and researchers at Zero Foodprint international headquarters, it can, absolutely. “Helping farmers shift to regenerative agriculture would accomplish as much environmental benefit as offsetting the estimated impact from the restaurant’s operation,” she said, quoting Anthony Myint, Executive Director of Zero Foodprint. When farmers change the way they grow food, the positive environmental change is established and continues for generations.
“When farmers change the way they grow food, the positive environmental change is established and continues for generations.”
Regenerative agriculture is the opposite of industrial agriculture. Instead of aiming for huge yields and using destructive chemicals and extractive farming practices, regenerative agriculture represents a “paradigm shift” according to Chan, “incorporating indigenous knowledge, modern research, adaptive learning, and a deep respect for farmer wisdom” to grow more nutrient-dense food in healthy soils that capture the atmosphere's excess carbon, thus helping to reverse climate change.

In Hong Kong, Chan explained, ZFPA has been able to use the 1% proceeds to allocate funds to eight farms in the region. They’re also partially funding and piloting a “Hospitality Food Waste to Compost” research project with Poly U School of Design beginning this month. With the continued support of Hong Kong restaurants, and especially from communities like Taikoo Place, more projects like these will become possible. “Building a regenerative community requires that we trust one another and build together,” she said.

To learn more about Tong Chong Street Market, check out this page, and keep up to date with more Bite to Change initiatives on Instagram and Facebook.

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