Curry masala restaurants at risk of closing down in London

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London: Who does not know curry in the UK? Solely identified with Indian food menu, curry has become a palatable source of ethnic food for Britishers. But it seems that things are changing now as the Indian food industry faces a threat of losing business in England.
NewsGram brings you an exclusive report by Reuters from London.

The great British tradition of going for a curry on a Friday night appears to be dropping by the wayside, with an estimated 12,000 curry houses disappearing. As Joel Flynn reports, culture, not just cuisine, might be to blame.It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

He has worked for years to be able to blend spices, but when it comes to customers, the Clipper and its curry competition are facing slimmer pickings than ever.

Business is down and changing tastes are to blame, according to Bengal Clipper owner, Mukit Choudhury. He said, “The old generation, they’ve gone back behind and the new generation took over the place, and since then I find the Indian restaurant is slowly, slowly coming down.”

Costs too are a big problem. While the price of a curry might barely have changed in the last few years or even decades, the weakness of the pound and the rising price of spices is hitting the bottom line. Rents in the capital, in particular, have also risen, but it’s staffing that’s the biggest worry.

SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Joel Flynn, said “Much is at stake and not just for the industry itself. Curry houses employ 100,000 people in Britain, many of them famously here on Brick Lane in London, and as far as sales are concerned, according to a government committee on curry, it’s worth more than 4.2 billion pounds a year.”

If current trends continue, the Bangladeshi Caterers’ Association expect up to a third of curry houses to go bust. But while many might publicly lament the dying off of a great British institution, restaurant footfall suggests curry might not be on the menu much longer. (image: Manjula’s kitchen)

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McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

McDonald's reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week

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McDonald's plans to open more number of UK branches. Pixabay

Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.

The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.

In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.

“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”

Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.

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The workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, McDonald’s has said. Pixabay

Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.

Also Read: COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Six of the 30 new drive-thrus that have opened across the country were in Peterborough.

The fast-food giant has brought in social distancing measures to keep workers safe, with staff receiving temperature checks before each shift.

The number of workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, the company has said. (IANS)

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Back to the Soil With Organic Farming

Here's the story of various people who have returned back to their soil, organically

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Many professionals have returned back to their soil. PIxabay

By Sukant Deepak

A banker from Canada, a resort director, a top executive in a leading IT company and a senior corporate communications professional with a major hospital chain. Defying all stereotypes and preconceived notions of farmhands, an increasing number of highly qualified professionals from both genders are quitting their lucrative professions and getting back to the soil in Punjab full-time,making responsible farming their way of life.

Using social media including WhatsApp to spread the word, participating in pop-up organic farmers’ markets across the region and organising day-long farm tours, these new-age farmers, compost kit makers and teachers are ascertaining that those wanting pesticide-free food grains don’t have to look too hard.

Rahul Sharma’s wife would always laugh when on a typical IT sprint meeting call, he would be discussing his project at Flipkart, and a few hours later, talking about manure collection with a farmer.

This organic farmer who now grows cereal grains, pulses, oil seeds, turmeric and garlic at his five acre farm in Kapurthala full time, insists that the ongoing lockdown has made people aware about the importance of growing their own food, and that too pesticide-free. “But yes, if the government is serious about providing nutritional security, then it must ascertain economic benefits to farmers so they can go in for sustainable agriculture,” he stresses.

For someone who started doing organic farming in 2016, the thrill that comes with growing safe food for others is unparalled.”The fact that there is a patch of land which is now free of poison, where life thrives, and that I am contributing towards healthy soil.”

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Rahul Sharma now grows cereal grains, pulses, oil seeds, turmeric and garlic at his five acre farm in Kapurthala full time. Pixabay

Not regretting his switch from a corporate IT job, which never allowed him to pursue his passions like photography, Sharma has now decided to streamline production and ordering process. “I have now a set rotation of crops which provide nutrition to the soil, as well as work well in the consumer market. I am also working on an online platform to make it easier for my consumers to order grains and be in touch with me,” he adds. He also lectures and interacts with school and college students at his farm about the importance of sustainable agriculture/lifestyle.

Shivraj Bhullar, who has a four-acre farm in Manimajra and grows a variety of seasonal vegetables, leafy greens and fruits left his cushy banker job in Canada to start organic farming on his piece of land in 2014 post volunteering at different farms across India to learn the ropes. “The organic farming convention that was held in the region in 2015 brought a lot of people together. Since then, the movement has been growing with greater awareness amongst consumers in this part of the country,” he says. For someone who has always been interested in Yoga and nutrition, one of the major factors that keeps him excited is the community around the organic farming movement in Punjab. “Farmers go out of their way to help each other out. It’s been a humbling and continuous learning experience for me,” he adds.

Planning to take his farm to the next level by installing a drip irrigation system and rain water harvesting for water conservation, Bhullar is all set to buy more animals so as to decrease his dependence on outside sources for manure.

Coordinator of the Chandigarh Farmers’ Market, Seema Jolly, who owns a five-acre farm in village Karoran in Punjab and grows vegetables,fruit, grains, oilseeds and pulses wants her farm to be a school for organic/natural farming, yoga and Ayurveda in the near future. One of the directors of the Baikunth Resorts Pvt Ltd, Jolly started organic farming in 2011 and there has been no looking back since then. “There is a certain joy in knowing that what you supply is not harming the consumer in any way,” she says. Instrumental in organising trips for school children to different farmers across Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, Jolly also helps small organic farmers with logistics and selling their produce. “The organic farmers market initiative, in July 2015 was a landmark in bringing relief to the marketing problems of organic farmers and encouraging more farmers to turn organic. Frankly, what is needed is small markets like these in all districts. It may take time, but people are bound to tilt towards organic if there is easy availability.”

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There are many people who own farms including Former National level hockey player Mohanjit Dhaliwal who has two farms. Pixabay

Former National level hockey player Mohanjit Dhaliwal who has two farms — one if Ropar and another in Fathegrah Sahib, the latter being part of permaculture food forest in ‘Sanjhi Mitti Food Forest Community’, has been involved in organic farmer for more than 10 years now. Talking about the roadblocks when it comes to shifting to organic, he feels, that the government’s policy of 100 per cent wheat paddy procurement has to change. “Farmers, who used to be entrepreneurs and solutions finders are now behaving like robots.Nothing is going to change unless policy makers get out of whole process.”

Besides holding regular workshops on permaculture which is attended by people from around the country, Dhaliwal, who is working on a forest therapy centre, adds, ” Our Eco library at the farm where anyone can read or borrow books on related subjects is quite a hit with both children and adults.”

Chandigarh-based Jyoti Arora, who supplies odour-free composters in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh to houses, hotels, institutions, municipalities, and engages with Swachh Bharat teams of different municipalities, says, “I also do a lot of lecture demonstrations to sensitise people and encourage people to go green. In fact, my farming is a by product of the compost generated from my domestic waste in which the produce comes solely out of the compost.”

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Everything changed for Diksha Suri, a former corporate communications head with a major hospital chain when she spent time at Auroville in 2004. “Being there and learning from experts started a journey of a more conscious approach towards the living greens and browns. I attended formal workshops and started experimenting an organic way of living,” says Suri, who, along with a friend set up Chandigarh’s first Nature Club in 2012.

From organising organic farm visits, forest walks and fossil sites for children and their parents, Suri says that she has been able to make hundreds of children conscious about what they eat. “A lot of them are now at ease with composting, growing vegetables, identifying birds, and more than anything, being in sync with nature. We now regularly hold talks and workshops on organic farming, composting, waste management, across schools, colleges and corporate offices in the region.”

Chandigarh-based Rishi Miranshah, who has made the nine-part docu-series ‘The Story of Food – A No Fresh Carbon Footprint’ which is available to watch online on Films for Action website and YouTube says, “Considering what chemicals have been doing to our food and the need to switch to organic, it was important for me to make this documentary which is an investigation, tracing the trail of devastations bringing us to the point where we are today. Food being the thread that connects us to life; and the way we obtain our food being that connects us to a way of life, the movie begins by examining our agri-culture, our very relationship with the land.” (IANS)

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Doctors Warn UK to Cut Meat Intake to Avoid Future Global Health Crisis

A majority of infectious diseases that have appeared in humans have been caused by tampering with animals

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Doctors have urged UK to cut meat intake to avoid a future pandemic. Pixabay

The UK needs to drastically cut back its meat intake to avoid a future global health crisis, a group of doctors have warned.

Plant Based Health Professionals (PBHP) said that the connection between major disease outbreaks and factory farming is being “swept under the carpet” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as they join a wave of experts urging people to go vegan, the Metro newspaper reported.

The vast majority of new infectious diseases that have appeared in humans over the past century have been caused by tampering with farmed animals and their habitats, including Swine Flu (pigs), Avian Flu (birds) and Spanish Flu (poultry).

Speaking to the Metro newspaper, PBHP founder and Consultant Haematologist at King’s College Hospital, Shireen Kassam, said that another disease outbreak was “inevitable if we do not move towards a plant-based diet”.

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Experts urging people to go vegan. Pixabay

In the UK, demand for cheap meat has fuelled a huge expansion of factory farming – a controversial process that often sees thousands of animals being packed into small, unsanitary cages.

This “provides the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential” as well as necessitating the widespread use of antibiotics in animals, “contributing to a crisis in antibiotic resistance among humans”, Kassam said.

“The last 100 years has shown that pandemics will continue unless we change the way we eat and how our food is produced.

“Disease is spread predominantly through confinement, we don’t have the land capacity to feed the 8 billion people on this planet free range.

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Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK. Pixabay

“We are in this race to find an antiviral, but other than HIV, there are very few viruses where there are very effective drugs available. (A vaccine) isn’t just going to save our problems, there is a risk of a mutation that could come back in a few years.

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“We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to change our land use to grow beans and legumes, we need a system change,” she told the newspaper.

Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK, while pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes are seen as risk factors in catching COVID-19, which has infected 252,246 peopled and killed 36,124 in the country so far.

Research from the University of Oxford last year found foods with the largest negative environmental impacts such as unprocessed and processed red meat, were linked with the largest increases in disease risk, while foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil) have among the lowest environmental impacts. (IANS)