I recently read an article on NRN (Nation’s Restaurant News) of Chef predictions for the top menu trends of 2014. As I scanned the list, it occurred to me that although they list ten separate trends, all of the trends roll up into three main categories. So here’s my “Cliff’s Notes” version of the top ten menu trends for 2014.
I like to believe that we’re all looking for ways to reduce our impact on our planet. So today I thought we’d explore ways that restaurants can reduce their effect on our environment, and possibly put some money back in their pocket.
Going green doesn’t have to be hard, intimidating, or expensive! In fact, you can make a difference by implementing small changes to the way you shop for food for your restaurant.
Locally Grown Sustains Your Restaurant
Buying produce and meat from farmers in your area significantly reduces your restaurant’s impact on the environment. Why? Because shipping ingredients, across the globe or even across the state requires large amounts of petroleum based products (oil & gas), and produces toxic air pollution from vehicle emissions. Partnering with food producers in your area reduces this negative environmental impact.
There is a wealth of other benefits to buying local. You lose less food to spoilage because fresh picked fruits and vegetables last longer than ones that have been shipped. They are more nutritious since produce starts to lose healthy nutrients from the moment it’s picked. Your purchasing dollars are contributing to the economic health of your local community, and that creates more jobs for your friends and neighbors.
Buying Seasonal is Better Eats
Did you know that some produce that is labeled as “fresh” is actually stored for months after harvest? I don’t know about you, but I was shocked (and grossed out) when I found out that apples are refrigerated and dipped in chemicals so they can be stored for up to 10-months after being picked!
Green is Sustainable
I think it’s important that we define what it means when we say, “going green” just so we’re all on the same page. Going green means creating a restaurant that minimizes the negative impact on the environment. You’ll often also hear this referred to as environmentally sustainable.
Sustainable Restaurants have a Competitive Advantage
People love supporting eco-friendly companies, and being truly green can give you a competitive advantage over rival restaurants. I say, “Truly green” because there are unscrupulous food-service businesses that advertise themselves as being sustainable when they really aren’t. In my opinion, these restaurants are doing a disservice to their patrons, and eventually the customers will catch on and abandon them for honest eateries that care about the environment.