Sustainability has become a hot topic in the food industry in recent years as consumers have become more aware of how the foods they consume affect their health and their environment. Many major food service providers have moved away from sourcing pre-made, pre-packaged, preservative-filled foods, and have begun to focus on sourcing more locally farmed fruits and vegetables, as well as ethically raised meats. This shift is largely due to the decline in the overall quality of the mass produced products we consume. As a result of mass production, the nutrient levels of fruits and vegetables have been reduced, meat and poultry quality has lowered, and seafood overfarming has depleted ocean resources.
These overproduced foods are readily available for consumption, and are found on the dinner plates of hospital patients, senior living residents, and resort guests across the globe. But this doesn’t have to be the case. For organizations that provide culinary services, it’s vital to consider where food is coming from in order to provide options that are in line with the wants and needs of a changing customer base. Here are a few ways to begin revolutionizing the way you think about food and improve your sustainability efforts:
Find local farms that practice regenerative agriculture
Regenerative agriculture is a farming method that relies on nature, not harsh pesticides or tilling practices, to produce food in a way that increases the health of the farmland. This method is critical to the carbon cycle, allowing the soil to rest between crops and drawing more carbon and nitrogen into the soil, helping to reduce the amount of carbon emissions that are emitted into the air. Additionally, this creates more nutrient-dense, soil which aids in the production of healthier foods. This is different from sustainable agriculture, which aims is to maintain natural growing systems, as the objective of regenerative agriculture is to restore the land and increase growth potential.
Purchase ethically raised meats and poultry
A major piece of finding ethically raised meats and poultry is identifying farms that are committed to the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-step Animal Welfare Program. Under this criteria, animals are raised without antibiotics, growth stimulants, or hormones, and without crates or crowding. GAP utilizes a rating system, which provides transparency for companies and consumers to better understand how the product was raised. This method ensures healthier animals, and a superior quality of meat and poultry products.
Source sustainable seafood
Due to destructive fishing and farming practices, many fish species are being depleted and the overall health of the ocean is being impacted. Partnering with businesses that follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines for purchasing fish and other marine products ensures responsible seafood choices that are eco-certified. Using only sustainable seafood helps organizations have less of an impact on the environment and ensures that their customers are only consuming the highest-grade of seafood that is better for their health.
As sustainability efforts continue to grow, it’s pivotal to start thinking and talking about these issues and the various misconceptions that surround the food industry. The food your patients, residents, and guests eat impacts not only their health but the health of our environment. By sourcing food from regenerative farms, meats that are ethically raised, and seafood that is sustainably sourced, you not only promote health and healing for your end consumer, but also positively impact the environment. These changes will help bring back the way food and animals were meant to be raised.
To learn more about how food can impact your customers