One question I’ve often asked myself is whether eating out is a particularly ethical thing to do? This thought process is mainly driven by many of the staff that I see, meet or have even previously employed in hospitality.
The truth is that most employed staff are heavily underpaid. The Low Pay Commission estimates that 46% of minimum wage jobs are in hospitality, and there will only be a small percentage of people earning above the national living wage.
In addition to this, conditions can be tough, hours are often anti-social, and the job itself is rarely secure - zero hour contracts are common within hospitality.
It’s no surprise that depression and mental health are rife among hospitality workers. I’m no saint - even knowing this I often eat out at restaurants and in my past years running a food operation employed many of these lovely people.
There is an argument to say that at least the jobs have been created in the first place! This used to be my view, but I am now strongly of the opinion that if your meal is being made by someone who probably can’t afford to order the food themselves, then something is fundamentally wrong.
It’s every reason to continue to support small local businesses (with good hiring policies) and independent chefs. There must be a better way of buying food.
It’s important to say that there are some good businesses out there as well, who pay well and look after their staff. But I do wonder whether one day we’ll look back at eating out as a particularly barbarous thing to do in its current format.