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We Are What We Eat

September 24, 2014
On the list of the top 20 hottest trends in food this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, are environmental sustainability, locally sourced and grown ingredients, and food waste reduction practices.   In fact they ranked in the top 11, to be completely accurate.  The American Culinary Federation, whose membership of chefs were the group surveyed for the annual trends report, reports that the focus on environmental sustainability and sustainable food practices are among the most important issues facing restaurants today.
Consumers are informed and educated about sustainability, they are aware that the drought in California will impact food prices and availability everywhere, and they are concerned about where the food ingredients on their plates comes from, how it was produced, and how healthful it is.  When obesity and diabetes are at all-time highs, people, especially Millennials, are looking to live long, healthy lives on a planet that will sustain its populations into perpetuity.
 As GreenWorksGov has written previously about Millennials, the “not-kids-anymore” generation is bringing its values into the workplace, and sustainability is one of them.  Certain practices will be expected to be commonplace, such as recycling, waste management that minimizes diversion into the waste stream, environmentally preferable procurement, green buildings, and so on.  Add to the list, a cafeteria or on-site food service vendor who offers locally sourced food products, seasonal vegetables, and healthy menu options.
The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Program offers food service operators help on how to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.  Another resource is the federal General Services Administration’s Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations.  The guidelines were developed with the Department of Health and Human Services.  They include healthy menu item choices, such as vegetarian entrees and 100% juice drinks, and sustainable food service practices, such as incentives for customers to bring reusable beverage containers and to buy organic, local produce.

Green teams looking to take their program up a notch would do well to research the information in these resources before approaching their on-site food services operator to discuss practical and economically-smart ways of improving the nutritional value of food offerings and adopting or increasing sustainable food and waste management practices.  Given that environmental sustainability, locally sourced and grown ingredients, and food waste reduction are the hottest trends in the food industry, your food services operator is likely to appreciate an enthusiastic partner. There’s everything to gain, but weight.  Read more.


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