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Diners are more conscious than ever before of where their food comes from. With this increase in awareness comes an increase in responsibility for caterers to be more mindful in sourcing produce and more responsible in how they operate and train their staff.
It is fashionable to put the environment first and to be known for doing so. The latest environment-friendly eateries and food products are popular with the trend in consciousness, and they get the most shares on social media. The health industry is huge at the moment with home-grown and organic being seen as the healthiest options and praised by celebrity health gurus.
Customers will more likely choose you to cater from because if you are eco-friendly, and at the same time, boost your company’s reputation while saving money along the way.
Our top tips will show you how…
• Go Vegetarian Where Possible
Going vegetarian is topical at the moment, with the M&S Christmas 2017 range containing more vegetarian dishes than meat.(1) Pret a Manger is also getting in on the veggie trend, opening up a chain of 100% vegetarian Pret a Manger cafes. There are sure to be many more big foodie names to follow.
Along with keeping vegetarian customers happy, this trend makes the public know that these companies are eco-friendly and forward-thinking. Animal farming uses more water, releases more greenhouse gasses into the environment and takes up more land than vegetable farming. If your catering business serves vegetarian meals, then you’re not contributing to these problems and your environmentally conscious customers will be impressed. Not only that, but meat is expensive, so cutting down will save you money.
• Choose Seasonal Menus
Making sure you use food that is in season cuts down on the resources needed to transport the food to the table. Why use expensive strawberries in the winter flown in from Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and Israel, when you could use sweet and local strawberries in summer and plentiful apples and blackberries in the colder months.
It helps to plan menus ahead and there are many different resources out there to tell you what is in season. Not only is using seasonal produce better for the environment, but it will make your menus more inventive and provide more variation.
Recycling at catering venues often requires very few additional steps. If you’re serving at a venue where servers bring food and drinks directly to the guests, train your staff about recycling and be sure they know exactly what they should set aside to be recycled.
If your event is relaxed and guests clear their own tables, simply place clearly marked separate containers out for recyclables.
• Reduce Waste
Aim to reduce waste in the kitchen by planning carefully and making sure you don’t over order on food quantities. If you do have left-overs, try to incorporate them back into the menu, or donate them to a local food bank. There are plenty of initiatives out there to help you and train your staff.
• Use Biodegradable Disposables
At outdoor events, your usual metal cutlery and ceramic plates may not be suitable. Biodegradable disposables offer an alternative to plastic foam and paper cups and plates.
Biodegradable products sometimes include PET plastic, which can also be recycled easily. Others are made with bamboo, which is sustainable as bamboo is an abundant plant.
• Swap Reusable For Disposable
While biodegradable disposables are great for when you need them, ideally you should be using reusable tableware.
If you have the space to wash dishes and linens, steer clear of disposables as reusing is the most sustainable option. Replace plastic straws, which take thousands of years to biodegrade, with paper straws and glasses that have been made from recycled beer and wine bottles.(2)
• Use Eco-Friendly Equipment
Energy-efficient equipment can often be slightly more expensive than standard, but in the long term, it is worth it.(3) By following our eco-friendly steps you should be saving money as well as the environment and you may be able to make enough savings to help purchase eco-friendly equipment as well.
Make sure the supplier of the kitchen equipment you buy from is recognized as a leader in supplying environmentally-friendly equipment and shares your ethics.
• Offer Free Tap Water
Customers always appreciate drink dispensers full of tap water to quench their thirst at an event. This prevents the need for bottled water, which creates an abundance of leftover plastic water bottles.
• Grow Your Own
Growing your own food, which will then be served in catering, is something to shout about and instantly adds a gold star to attract impressed customers.
If you are inexperienced, hire a gardener to look after your plot. Your chef will have a better appreciation for the ingredients they are using and are sure to be inspired.
• Choose Suppliers Carefully and Buy Locally
Choose your suppliers carefully and only buy from farmers who practice organic, free-range farming methods without the use of unnecessary antibiotics.
Also, think about food miles when sourcing ingredients and try to buy as locally as possible. Make it a goal to find a new local supplier every month. This will push you forwards with your sustainability goals and give you fresh new ingredients and menu ideas all year round.
Lasting and sustainable change is often not a quick fix, but by starting to make small changes now you will be part of a bigger movement to change the way we all think about food, our communities, health and the environment!
Initiatives such as Food for Life, a collaboration between Jeanette Orrey (Soil Association) and Jamie Oliver, encourage eco-friendly habits from a young age – the future of the catering industry!(4)
~Recommended: Biodegradable Disposables
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