Green Cuisine

Green Cuisine

Green Cuisine, what does it mean? I’ve discussed sustainability in the past, and felt it was time for a revisit. I have my own little formula for finding out were you stand on the green grid. Let’s see were we fit in the chart, what we can do to improve, and why it’s important. I’ll start in descending order, purple(bad) to green(good).

  • 5 RED everything you sell in your establishment is RTU (ready to use) or RTS (ready to serve) nothing is produced in house.
  • 4 PURPLE some items are produced in house, 80% are RTU or RTS , some things may require the addition of water…..lol
  • 3 BLUE about half your items are made in house, feature items, special sauces and maybe soups, most protein items are RTS and pre portioned.
  • 2 YELLOW about 20% of your menu items are processed, 80% are made in house. Some evidence of organic, sustainable foods being used.
  • 1 GREEN 90% of your menu items are made in house, with very little dependence on the food supply chain. most of your products are locally sourced, sustainable and organic….you may even be growing your own foods.
  • 0 SUPERGREEN 100% SELF SUSTAINED, EVERYTHING GROWN, FORAGED OR SOURCED LOCALLY.

There are two key reasons for moving to more sustainable gastronomy: one is because climate change is threatening our very food supply, and the other is that how we are currently producing food is contributing to climate change. The proverbial chicken and egg.

A few years back, the United Nations declared June 18th Sustainable Gastronomy Day in an effort to promote and encourage sustainable dining across the globe.

For many there’s the will to take action but not the know how to do it. So Chef’s Pencil talked to a few sustainability experts, chefs who have incorporated sustainable food practices, and researched specific steps chefs and restaurant owners can take to become more sustainability friendly.

“Sustainable gastronomy is the process of cookery that focuses on the ingredients’ source, how food is grown, the means by which it gets to the market, and eventually, to the plates of consumers. It is about choosing food that is both healthy to the environment and our bodies, a crucial aspect of sustainable gastronomy,” says Dr. Adenike Akinsemolu.

It is estimated that roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year, a clear motivation for thinking about reducing food waste to protect the environment. And a backdrop to this is the estimation that demand for food is likely to rise by 50% by the year 2030, while demand for water is forecast to surge by 30% and land use by 50%.

Sustainable dining out, and eating at home of course, is one way to reduce wastefulness of natural resources, both contributing to the protection of the environment and encouraging healthier eating habits.

Many people are refocusing their approach to food and rethinking what they buy, hence contributing to more sustainable food production and consumption. 

Designing a sustainable menu

  1. Reduce food waste: Food waste is one of the key issues and reducing food waste comes with tones of benefits.
  2. Keep it seasonal. This is one of the most powerful steps you can take toward sustainability.
  3. Offer more vegan and vegetarian options.
  4. Use less popular fish choices or those previously seen as ‘marine waste’.
  5. Be adaptable: be willing to change your menu depending on what is available.
  6. Design your menu to limit the number of ingredients and repurpose those usually thrown away.

Serving up

  1. Use smaller plates: Many restaurants serve way too large portions of food.  Reducing the size is not only more sustainable but can help prevent overconsumption.
  2. Customize portion size: Offer multiple sizes such as regular and lite. Portions can also be customized to meet the needs of individual clients or groups.
  3. Go trayless: People put too much stuff on their trays that they end up throwing away. And trays drive up water consumption by quite a lot (see video below).

Sourcing your food

  1. Buy locally: Support local farms and producers.
  2. Buy from farms that practice sustainability.
  3. Buy sustainable seafood: The basic rule to follow is, if they won’t tell you how or where they caught it, don’t buy it.
  4. Grow your own: Look around you for space you can use to grow things that you use a lot, such as herbs and salad greens. You could even keep bees in a roof garden. Perhaps use a cultivator.

Dealing with waste

  1. Buy what you need: Buy optimized quantities for your daily or weekly needs rather than oversupply and then throw food away. Pastry shops that put foods on display should make displays appealing, but just that – don’t overstock.
  2. Strictly manage stock and expiration dates: Monitor expiration dates, food color, and smell and move menu items up to prevent as much food waste as possible. Look into point of sale systems that have an automated inventory management application. Some even allow you automate your inventory down to the ingredient level.
  3. Create a waste log: Write down what you’re throwing away and why. After a few weeks you’ll hopefully be able to discover some trends and can start making program adjustments to reduce waste. For example, if you find that on a certain day of the week certain dishes from the menu are ordered less, you can start prepping fewer of those ingredients on Tuesdays.
  4. Utilize every part of your ingredients: For example, don’t only use the best cuts from pork, veal, use it all.
  5. Set up an in-house composter or worm farm for all the left-overs. Worm juice and droppings
    are used to fertilize the picking beds.
  6. Food donation: There are many organizations out there using what you might call waste to feed the homeless or food poor.
  7. Are you recycling? No excuses now – get a program sorted!

Check for water waste

  1. Monitor for leaky pipes and faucets.
  2. Only serve water to guests who ask for it.
  3. Make sure your dish washers are full.
  4. Thawing food in the refrigerator, not under a faucet.

Equipping your premises

  1. Buy sustainable equipmentEnergy efficient equipment may initially cost more but having it can pay off more in the long run. Look for things like low flush toilets, energy star appliances, and energy star refrigeration. Make sure all your equipment like POS systems, lights, and ovens are turned off at close of business every day.
  2. Use green cleaning products.
  3. Buy apparel and napkins from fair trade materials.
  4. Use little or no paper.
  5. Buy furniture made from reclaimed wood.
  6. For your interior design, work with local, environmentally conscious artists.
  7. Use eco-friendly solar, geothermal for electric use where possible.

Ditch plastic

  1. Use washable serving equipment, glassware or reusable dishware.
  2. Don’t sell water in plastic bottles.
  3. Get rid of plastic straws.
  4. Drop the cling film and plastic vacuums.

CONCLUSION

That is a pretty comprehensive list….looks daunting, no? Maybe start with one thing from each section….why, you may ask? Because, deep down you care, but have been led to believe it doesn’t matter. Clearly it does, take a look around, the world is in chaos. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is a little sweat equity, making your food = good economy. My food costs run at about 15-19% for high end fine dining….that’s unheard of in the average “fine dining” restaurant, and I use that term lightly. I prefer High, ethical cuisine over fine dining. If your establishment is looking to embrace some of there ideas, and your not sure were to start, feel free to contact me. I can help make you a more profitable, sustainable business owner. Cheers, and happy cooking!