Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Earth Day is every day

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Earth Day is every day

By Paul Schlienz

Earth Day is every day at a growing number of restaurants.

Local sourcing of food products, food waste reduction, energy conservation, sustainable seafood, environmental sustainability – you name it, restaurants are going “green” in a major way.

Just check the National Restaurant Association’s most recent What’s Hot culinary forecast, focusing on the responses of almost 1,600 professional chefs, who overwhelmingly opined that many of the top trends for restaurants, in 2016, would be related to sustainability

Customer expectations are driving these trends as much as restaurant operators’ interests and concerns.

“Diners want to know as much as they can about what they’re eating, especially when they’re at restaurants,” Jeff Clark, director of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve sustainability program said in a press release. “They want to understand everything – from the way a certain food tastes to how the farmer grew it to how far it traveled to get to the plate. Chefs and operators know this and are more engaged in telling their stories and acting in environmentally friendly ways. Our survey bears this out. The industry and its customers are seeking out foods that are not only flavorful, but also minimally impact the environment.”

Many, many Washington state hospitality establishments have seriously embraced sustainability in various ways.

Seattle’s Local 360 is sources its products from the most humane farms and most raw ingredients from within a 360 mile radius of Seattle. At this time, 90 percent of the raw ingredients used by the restaurant fall within the distance. Of course, there are some ingredients, like lemons, limes, coffee and a handful of others that simply don’t grow in the Pacific Northwest, and those ingredients are Certified Organic from the closest source possible.

“[Sustainability] means relying on and investing in immediate community and geological placement,” Stew Navarre, Local 360’s chef, explained in Eat in Seattle. It means utilizing our resources in an efficient and renewable manner that we find closest to us. It means dedicating ourselves to ensuring the health of our neighbors and loved ones by using the freshest, most naturally grown sources.  Local 360 believes that local produce, meat, and grains are more than mere vehicles for nutrients, but vital parts of the intricate system that supports our environment and the good folks who live here.”

Jumping over to Washington’s far western rim, overlooking a wild, unspoiled stretch of Pacific Ocean coast, is Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Lodge. Its green initiatives are too numerous to list, but we’ll crack the back of it.

Kalaloch’s Creekside Restaurant is a straw free Green Restaurant Certified eatery that recycles its kitchen oil for biodiesel. The lodge’s key-cards are 100 percent compostable, rain barrels are used for landscaping and the lodge even hosts regular clean-the-beach parties. Looking around at Kalaloch’s picturesque scenery, you’d be hard pressed to pick out the numerous items that are made from recycled or reclaimed materials.

“I’m proud to say our industry is taking notice and becoming more aware of the problem. Restaurant operators are really starting to change their thinking around food recovery and reducing waste.” Laura Abshire, the National Restaurant Association’s director of sustainability, said in a release.

If you wish to make your restaurant operation more sustainable, check out the National Restaurant’s Conserve sustainability program. It is a great resource with excellent ideas that are both good for the environment and good for your bottom line.