Ode / Conscious Dining

Most of us want to improve the world we live in whether that's helping others through a difficult time or cleaning up the environment. It's a rather overwhelming experience when you begin to understand and realise just how unbalanced the world has become. The "big" bad things going on like climate change, pollution, poverty, modern day slavery and so much more are daunting things that can leave us feeling as though there's nothing we do will really make a difference. I believe that's not true, every person can make a positive impact on the world around them. It may seem small in scale to the problem yet it's still a positive change that wouldn't have happened without you making those conscious choices.

There are multitudes of small ways to contribute positively to the world around you and one of the simplest and most effective ways is to become a more conscious consumer. Becoming aware of what you're buying and how it impacts the environment, the people who create the products and the communities that are affected. If we can demand better from businesses and invest our time and money on those that are doing things right than change is inevitable. We're not going to be perfect at this all the time but the more we keep trying and making small changes the greater the impact will be.

Over the years I've learned to have a great respect for food. Not just from a taste perspective but also how it's grown, sourced and cooked. A big part of that understanding has come from my passion for the ocean and seafood. I'm fortunate enough that I'm able to hunt & gather fresh seafood when the weather and conditions allow. It's taught me to be grateful for what nature allows me to take and the knowledge that what I'm eating is as sustainable as I can get. While it's rewarding to catch or forage your own food it's not always possible for most of us and a nice night out is more appealing. Fortunately the restaurant industry has some true leaders in conscious dining and recently I'd spent an evening experiencing what the Otago region had to offer for the autumn season at Ode.

Ode is a Wanaka restaurant that uses local organic produce, wild shot game meats and ethically caught seafood. Their approach to food is both thoughtful and delicious. Operated by Chef Lucas Parkinson, its been recognised as one of the Top 100 restaurants in New Zealand also receiving 1 Hat. Every Tuesday at Ode is Test night, allowing the chef's to try new recipes and get feedback to improve their dishes. Despite not knowing what we were in for we weren't disappointed at all with the 5 course experience.

While it's a small thing in terms of "big picture" impact choosing to dine where consideration is put into all aspects of keeping your food local, ethical and as sustainable as possible does have an impact locally and will down the line impact the rest of the world. Do what you can, wherever you are and whenever you can.

A big thank you to the staff at Ode, Wanaka for a wonderful evening.