Making environmentally-friendly changes in the way any business operates is an easy way to care for the health of the planet and its population, but there are other benefits, as well. Restaurants, catering companies and other types of food service businesses are discovering that implementing greener practices in their business can also help them to attract more customers and become more profitable. If you would like to take both your food service business and your income to a greener level, the following information can help.
Seek Out Local Suppliers
Ordering the ingredients your business prepares and serves through a major distributor may seem convenient, but doing this wastes fuel, increases harmful emissions and makes it difficult to control the freshness and quality of the food. This is especially true for perishables, such as greens, vegetables, fruit and meat. In most instances, ordering these foods from standard restaurant distributors means buying foods that have been produced in large quantities by commercial producers who may be using one or more of the following:
- chemical and petroleum insecticides and parasite preventatives
- artificial fertilizers
- hormones and other artificial growth enhancers
- growing, harvesting and inspection methods that may put your customers at risk for e-coli, salmonella and other serious food-related illnesses
Instead, look for local suppliers within a 100 mile radius of your location. This will allow you to receive timely deliveries from local farmers who are committed to producing healthy, organic foods and save money because you are buying directly from the actual producer.
It may also be possible, depending on the regulations in your area, to have local growers pick up some types of food waste from your business for use as compost. This will add nutrients and enrich their soil while cutting down on the amount of waste your business sends to the landfill.
Offer a Seasonal Menu
Menus that do not account for seasonal availability create a major expense for restaurants, caterers and other food service businesses. For instance, offering menu items that require fresh strawberries in the winter means buying the berries at premium prices and often being disappointed in the quality after they have been shipped across the country.
create a greener menu based on seasonally available foods in your area. A seasonal menu allows you to utilize the freshest, most flavorful ingredients and use those benefits as a marketing advantage. Your customers will notice and appreciate the difference in the taste and appearance, and your business will produce a superior, more marketable product while saving money by purchasing from local growers and orchards.
In most areas, an example of seasonally focused desert menu selections might include:
- berries offered in the spring and early summer
- cherries, stone fruit and melons in late summer
- easily-stored, long-lasting ingredients, such as apples and pumpkins for fall and winter
In the same manner, meats, greens, root vegetables and other foods can also be utilized in menus as they are harvested seasonally in your area. By purchasing locally and buying in quantity when the foods are harvested, restaurants and other food service businesses get premium quality at a lower price point.
Teach Employees to Recycle
Another excellent way for food service businesses to save money and become more environmentally-friendly is to eliminate as many disposable items, as possible. Replace paper and plastic with good quality cloth napkins and table cloths, along with sturdy, attractive dishes, glasses, cups and flatware that will coordinate equally well with seasonal décor changes.
While you will no doubt need to continue to stock suitable disposable containers for serving takeout customers, opt for containers that will biodegrade easily, instead of foam containers that resist decomposition for 500 years or longer.
Additionally, make recycling mandatory at your business. To do this effectively, make sure that your employees have access to appropriate recycling bins and understand how to sort the refuse into them. Your local commercial trash removal service will help you choose the proper recycling containers and arrange to pick them up on a schedule that will be convenient for your business.