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The state of the planet is now a big talking point for everyone, as we all take on the responsibility for making the changes that are necessary to save the environment.
We all play our part in causing the damage that has occurred, and so it is important that we all do our bit to improve the situation too, and that can be done through the use of sustainability. This is something which can permeate through all elements of our life, including the world of catering. So, what is sustainable catering and how can you achieve it?
Sustainability is a word that we have all become used to in the moves towards becoming more environmentally friendly. It refers to the idea of balancing social and economic priorities with environmental ones in order to achieve a better quality of life for everything and everyone.
It means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their own needs. It can mean conserving resources, reducing environmental footprints and attempting not to impact negatively on the environment.
It is clear that sustainability is important, but it can sometimes be difficult to understand how to apply it to real world situations. To achieve sustainable catering, it is important to think about the environmental impact of every step.
This means thinking about the type of ingredients you use, how they are made and how far away they travel from. It can also refer to the carbon emissions that are produced, the waste that is created and the plastic pollution that is left behind. By taking all of this into account, it is possible to make a move towards effective sustainable catering.
The food that you provide will play a big part in your sustainability, so it is important to choose wisely. Foods such as mushrooms are considered to be one of the most sustainable foods in the world because they can use the by-products of other crops as compost, use very little water and contribute low CO2 emissions, and therefore have an extremely low impact on the environment.
Pulses such as lentils, beans and peas also require very little water in return for a very high yield. In addition to this, they are also able to draw nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots, releasing it for other plants to use as fertiliser.
Mussels and seaweed are also sustainable. Mussels can be farmed in a way that lowers the impact on the environment, whilst seaweed gets everything it needs from the water around it, meaning there is no need for fertilisers and no pollution.
Cereals and grains emit low carbon emissions and require less water than animal products whilst organic fruits and vegetables prevent the overuse of chemicals.
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, watercress and broccoli are fast-growing and have low carbon emissions. Oats are also very sustainable as they can grow in the most inhospitable of environments and so not only use less water and fertilisers, but they can also help to replenish the soil.
Top Tip: If there is still some food left over, then why not consider offering doggy bags!
Choosing seasonal produce is very important when it comes to sustainable catering. Strawberries are lovely, but in this country, you won’t find them growing in many fields in January and so they either have to be imported or grown in energy intensive conditions.
By only cooking with food that is in season, you can cut down on the emissions used to grow and transport ingredients.
This is also why it is vital to pick things that come from local sources. Not only can this help to support other local businesses, but it can also reduce the number of miles that each ingredient has to travel, and the carbon emissions associated with this.
Food waste is much more of a problem to the environment than many people consider, as it can produce methane as it rots, which is much more harmful to the environment than carbon monoxide.
One way to reduce food waste is to be much more careful in the planning of any corporate catering. You should work out what an appropriate portion size is, combine this with the number of attendees and then only purchase and make what is needed. This helps to ensure that very little goes to waste.
If there is still some food left over, then why not consider offering doggy bags? Creating boxes of leftover food is always popular as people can take it home for their family to try or save it for the next day. It ensures that everything gets eaten and much less ends up in the bin.
In order to tackle waste further, you could look at using the leftovers in your kitchen to add even more to your menu. For example, the cucumbers that you use for a salad can be turned into pickles for use on a burger, whilst leftover vegetables are great in chillies, stew’s and stir fry’s.
Of course, catering is not just about the food you serve, but also how you serve it, and a lot of plastic waste can be created from the disposable and single use plastic packaging that is prevalent. To remain sustainable, try to make the switch to reusable items, or recyclable ones.
If you are looking for a way to make your catering more sustainable, then get in touch with Workplace Refreshments. As wholesale catering suppliers, we take all elements into consideration to ensure that we deliver tasty and diverse food choices which keep the needs of the planet in mind at all times. To find out more, give us a call today.