What Does Sustainability Mean for Foodservice?
In foodservice, if you’re not “going green”, you’re missing the boat (the sustainable fishing boat, that is). But what exactly does “going green” mean? It’s not an easy answer, because there are so many facets to sustainability, from reducing energy use, to simplifying water usage, to farming in a responsible manner. The bottom line is that sustainable activities in the foodservice industry all have the net effect of delivering the lowest possible impact to our environment and social systems. It’s like being the Avengers for a cleaner planet, and Foodbuy takes that role seriously.
For Foodbuy, we look at the entire supply chain, from the producer all the way to the chef. Our role is to manage and deliver sustainability results through verifying, sourcing, and tracking of products and manufacturers that are committed to sustainability. While Foodbuy is directly involved with back-end (supply chain) sustainability efforts, we support and help promote front-end (on-site) sustainability in customer operations.
In foodservice, the first step to a sustainable program is reducing waste. That applies to both food and non-food items (plastics, disposables, etc.).
Reduction of food waste
The United States as whole wastes more than $160 billion in food a year.* That is shocking. And that is why Foodbuy supports concerted efforts to reduce the amount of food wasted in customer operations. Here’s how:
- We support nose-to-tail cooking; that is, consuming many different parts of an animal so nothing goes to waste. The phrase, “If you’re going to kill the animal, it seems only polite to use the whole thing” was coined by London restaurateur Fergus Henderson.
- We recommend using and repurposing often-discarded parts of fruits and vegetables, i.e., the use of broccoli stems in broccoli cheddar soup or coleslaw. In fact, Foodbuy works closely with Compass Group (one of our largest customers) in driving the Imperfectly Delicious Produce program – a successful initiative that helps to educate chefs on how to use produce that isn’t quite perfect but very useful nonetheless.
Reduction of non-food waste
We’ve all seen the terrible images of huge masses of plastic waste floating in our oceans. To help prevent that, we support foodservice operations that recycle responsibly. Where possible, it’s recommended that operations utilize reusable serving items versus disposables. We also support buying in bulk, which reduces overall packaging usage. Composting is a great way to go if done correctly. Knowing what can and can’t be composted is key, and becoming familiar with your local composting facility is essential.
On the back-end, sustainability begins with a responsible supply chain. Partnering with suppliers who implement practices that respect farmers and animals is essential to Foodbuy. Using third party certifiers to ensure that workers and animals are treated humanely is vital.
Some of the larger back-end sustainability efforts in foodservice include hormone and antibiotic reduction in meat production systems; protection of oceans, rainforests and fish species from degradation and extinction; and improvement of working conditions for agricultural workers.
All of these back-end practices serve to nourish our communities and replenish our shared natural resources.
For Foodbuy, good sustainable practices are simply good business practices. We’re proud to be a sustainable hero for plant Earth. It’s the right thing to do. Besides, being an Avenger is fun.