Eco-Eats for the Whole Family – Gung Ho! Pizza
It’s the third time in six years that Gung Ho! Pizza has been crowned Beijing’s Pizza Cup champion, after taking out the 2018 trophy in November. The family-friendly restaurant is not only unique in terms of its pizza offerings, but also for it’s dedication to sustainable and fair trade practices as well as. We asked Gung Ho! Pizza what it really means to have ‘good’ pizza.
BJK: You’ve won the cup three years out of six. Why do you think you are so popular among the Beijing crowd?
Gung Ho!: At Gung Ho! we try to ensure the basics are solid – food standards and food safety – but the rest we like to keep fresh and moving with the times. Whether it’s what toppings go on our pizzas, our marketing campaigns or the more environmental stuff, we understand that if we don’t keep innovating, we can quickly become irrelevant.
And whilst good food is the basis to attracting a crowd, there’s a growing wave of consumers that buy into what a company stands for too. We were lucky to have the incredible support of the vegan community since we launched our house-made vegan cheese in March, as well as the social enterprise crew that gave us their votes because we’re a B Corp-certified company. For us, it opened up an interesting debate: how do you judge the quality of a product? On taste alone? Or should the way a product is made, the welfare of those who make it, the impact on the environment and the influence on the community also be taken into account?
What makes your menu special?
Typically, pizza has a bad rep’. Lots of dough, lots of cheese with subpar toppings! But at Gung Ho! we’ve always felt that it doesn’t have to be that way. From the start, we were all about sourcing better ingredients such as quality whole-wheat flour for the dough and premium ingredients for the toppings. Our antibiotic free, grass-fed New Zealand lamb pizza, for instance, has always been a best seller. Over the years, through personal choices but also through listening to the market, we’ve made our menu even more inclusive by introducing gluten-free and dairy-free options. The trick was to make these menu items seriously good and prove that even with the most of common foods – pizza! – you can eat healthier or in a more Earth-friendly way without comprising on taste. It’s also been incredibly gratifying to have people thank us, saying that they can now share a table with their friends, regardless of what dietary restrictions they may have.
You are the only B Corp certified restaurant in China – what does that mean?
B Corp is a certification that applies to any for-profit venture that meets strict environmental and social standards, from employee welfare to governance, environmental impact to influence on customers. B Corp stems from the belief that we don’t have time to wait for governments to solve all of the world’s issues and that business and consumers alike have a joint responsibility in creating healthier societies, communities and natural environments.
Can you tell us about your other initiatives in the Beijing ‘Green Scene’?
For the last 5 years, we’ve partnered up with Beijing Hikers to organize what are now known as the “Great Wall Clean-up Hikes”, where a large group of us pick up trash left on the trails by unconscientious hikers. We also have an annual Earth Day festival that we started in 2016 with our all-time hero Patagonia, as well as more “behind the scenes” initiatives such as working with large third-party delivery companies (who come to us by the way) to share ideas and work on packaging innovation solutions (still in the works!).
What are Gung Ho!’s hopes for humanity and our relationship with the planet?
We hope that one day being a B Corp business or a responsible citizen isn’t something out of the ordinary, or even “praised” for that matter, but the absolute, most fundamental norm. We hope we all remember that everything we have the privilege of consuming or coming into contact with comes directly from nature and that we should treat it with utmost respect and gratitude.
Your Green Gift Guide
Deck the halls and jingle those bells, Christmas is here, and what’s not to love about it? The tinsel, the trimmings, the sparkles, the mulled wine, time with good friends, and family and all that food! Yet it’s also a season heavy on consumption with the latest toys and gadgets flying off the shelf. Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet, and with a little imagination and effort, we can celebrate the season while caring for Earth and the people in it.
– Buy less. Make an agreement with your spouse and kids to limit the gifts to one or two items. If you can’t limit it that much, consider the 4 Gift Christmas Challenge: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.”
– Buy local, handcrafted products from small, local businesses, individuals and charities. Items sourced and made here cut down the carbon emissions resulting from transportation costs and well as provide an income to the vendor. Get yourself along to any of the Christmas bazaars, Farm2Neighbors, Rumble in the Jumble, or other fairs such as Yosemite or Riviera Chic, where you can find expats and locals who are making their own products. Think gorgeous homewares and linens, natural beauty products, handcrafted jewelry, artisan foods, and more.
– Services and experiences. Most people really have the material possessions they need, so services and experiences which they may not spend the money on themselves can be a fabulous gift. Massages, language or local handicraft lessons, cultural tours, ice-skating, concerts, shows – Beijing has so much to offer, check out the beijingkids blog for ideas.
Oh Christmas Tree!
Although plastic Christmas trees can be used from year to year, they are made from petroleum products and use up resources in manufacturing and shipping. After repeated use, they stop looking so beautiful and end up in the landfill where the plastic content lasts forever.
Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms especially for Christmas and replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality when growing, and can be recycled into mulch. They are also usually grown and sold locally, cutting down on transportation pollution. Support your local tree farmers and choose a live tree this Christmas.
Lower Your Winter Energy Consumption
It’s easy to keep living green over the winter, you can prepare your house for the winter chills and lower your energy consumption and decrease your carbon footprint.
– Put on a sweater and warm socks inside, and lower your thermostat or heating by a few degrees.
– If you haven’t done it already to improve your indoor air quality, seal the leaks around your doors and windows to stop the cold air coming in.
– Use your washing machine on cold wash, and consider drying clothes in a warm space rather than the clothes drier.
-As it’s darker and we use more lighting, change your light bulbs to LED bulbs. They last longer and are more energy efficient than regular bulbs.
–Turn off your electronics at the wall when not in use. Appliances like your TV, printer, microwave all continue to use power when in sleep mode.
This article first appeared in the beijingkids December 2018 Charity and Goodwill issue.
Photos: Kipp Whittaker, ND700, Adobe Creative Cloud