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Food for Thought

When Firepot was still an idea in our founder’s head, we chose to turn away from the use of anything artificial. We've stuck to our guns. We use more vegetables, and in more generous proportions, than our competitors. We source our ingredients locally wherever possible, working with seasonal greens in several of our meals. Not only is the environmental impact of these local choices well understood, we know our suppliers and trust their commitment to quality. In doing so, Firepot is raising the bar in what’s available on the expedition food market. But we’re not doing that without continually searching for knowledge and inspiration. 

In April 2023, Chris van Tulleken published Ultraprocessed People, a bombshell exploration of declining human health in a world where highly processed, nutritionally poor foods are the ‘easy’ choice. He underlines the damage caused to our bodies by consuming artificial flavourings, synthetic chemicals and stabilisers. He paints a picture of a world where highly processed food is driving inequality, poverty, and deepening the climate crisis. It’s a powerful call to action: as a society, we need to make more conscious decisions about our food choices. 

We’re all reading Van Tulleken’s book at our Firepot HQ; it’s fascinating and myth-busting. It’s giving ballast to our development kitchen as we investigate new recipes for 2024, and why it matters to reinforce our commitment to good nutrition. Earlier this year, we launched Green Gumbo, a meal packed full of 12 different vegetables — all sourced from a greengrocer within walking distance of our West Dorset kitchen. It’s a meal which, like all Firepot recipes, puts taste first (it’s a winner of a highly coveted Taste of the West Award) but without chemical tricks, with its nutritional integrity supporting wellbeing, boosting the immune system, and contributing to optimal functioning of vital bodily processes. 

You’ve got seven different leafy greens; spinach, spring greens, kale, lettuce, green cabbage, watercress and parsley. Each of these contains a variety of antioxidants and insoluble fibres, which are good for digestive health and regulating blood sugars. They also are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C (for iron absorption), vitamin K, folate (B9), iron, calcium and potassium, all of which improve bone and heart health. Kale, spinach and watercress contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) — a type of omega-3 fatty acid usually only found in animal products — which aids cell functions and energy production. Another Green Gumbo staple is celery, which contains vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate, all supporting immune function and electrolyte balance. Garlic is another immunity-booster: it contains allicin, an antibacterial and antiviral powerhouse that helps the body fight infection. 

In short, Green Gumbo is the kind of food we like to think Chris van Tulleken would approve of: a sustainably produced, comprehensive source of vital nutrients for any adventure — whether you’re setting off on a DofE expedition, or crossing the polar expanses. But while a single meal might help reconnect mind, body and spirit, it’s not going to do all the work on its own. 

Here’s our reading, viewing and listening guide on how to educate yourself about better nutrition in 2024.

Firepot recommendations for 2024

On Instagram: Dr Rupy Aujla (@doctors_kitchen) combines expertise in medicine and nutrition, offering accessible and nutritious everyday recipes, from healthy salads to vegetable-rich curries.

The book for 2024: Professor Tim Spector introduces the ‘new science’ of eating well in his book Food for Life, which comes out in paperback in January 2024. As co-founder of the ZOE nutrition study (which also has its own podcast), Spector offers guidance on how to change the way we eat, explaining the properties of individual foods and how they benefit the body.

Podcast: In his ‘Feel Better Live More’ podcast, Dr Rangan Chatterjee explores how daily lifestyle changes can prevent illness. Chatterjee explores how, alongside exercise, food choices play a huge part in overall health.

On TV: The Netflix series ‘Live to 100 Secrets of the Blue Zones’ with Dan Buettner, investigates the highest populations of centenarians across the world, with the premise that the relationship people have with food is a key feature of longevity.

Date of publication: 28 November 2023