Green Meeting menu initiative: low carbon meals

Cheese= Greenhouse gasses (GHGs). Who knew, right? But cow milk, coming from the same many-stomached , fossil fuel eating, methane belching ruminants as beef (and, of course, veal), carries a heavy GHG load. Lamb, too!

Like it’s not confusing enough…Meeting Planner plates are already full of confusion with the local/organic/pesticide/herbicide stuff mentioned in previous posts. Still, these confusions don’t get us off the hook from responsibly reducing climate change impacts where we find them.

A beacon in the confusion storm: Consider the provocative work from Bon Apetit, the American company who has re-shaped their entire service concept to integrate sustainable practices. Their food calculator is perhaps more cute than a rigid delivery of hard science but it’s an impressive and helpful resource to provide context for the sustainable food discussion.

The takeaway for green meeting menu planners is to add ‘consider the climate’ to your menu planning checklist.  Some fundamentals:

  • Get and communicate accurate counts to reduce waste (and cost)
  • Regionally harvested fruits and vegetables in season.
  • Seafood from sustainable fisheries, preferably from the Zone closest to your event
  • Chicken from responsible farmers
  • Dynamism and creativity!

As confusing as it they can be, green meetings/sustainable events offer us the opportunity to evolve professionally and personally as we work to find answers to sustainability challenges.

Got better ideas? As always, we welcome your comments and hope to share your best practices!

1 Comment

  1. Great ideas!
    In addition to the above, when working with meeting planners, we also encourage the following to reduce the environmental impact of menu choices:

    * increasing vegetables, grains and legumes and reducing meats, seafood and poultry. Vegetarian does not equal bland!
    * sourcing grass-fed rather than corn-fed beef. As most people now know, the digestive systems of ruminants are designed for feeding on grass; a corn-exclusive diet leads to excessive gas and associated health problems. Moreover, grass fed beef simply tastes better.
    * Reduce portion sizes. We find that guests prefer well-seasoned, well-prepared meals appropriately portioned rather than ill-prepared, flavorless meals in mass quantities.

    Lastly, we encourage planners to consider not just what goes on the plate, but the presentation displays itself. Avoid the massive, wasteful and/or profligate displays of carved fruits or exotic plants (even if it does go to compost, great displays can be made without them). Gravitate toward recyclable, compostable or reusable natural servicewear and/or presentations (for example, we often use bamboo platters in presentation; they’re very handsome!).

    Greening of the culinary experience is highly customizable and destination specific. I counsel that you engage your venue’s chef and staff early and often!

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