What a pleasure it was to deliver this interesting look at how we manage our food systems for meetings with Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems at the annual Green Meetings Industry Council Conference in Chicago this week. Andrea’s review of traditional agri-industry practices highlighted the ways in which our food systems are not sustainable in terms of how the animals are treated, the soil is diminished, and petroleum based fertilizers minimize the available nutrition we receive from the food we eat. There are options, including following a FLOSS (fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable) approach, which were further explored in practical terms by Chef Steven Ward of Doubletree Portland and Chef Vincent Lai of McCormick Place. They shared some of their best practices in working with local farmers and fishers to find food sources that met goals for sustainability as well as being conscious of available budgets. They also shared briefly their back of house practices that manage the inevitable waste generated with food service, and how they manage recyclables, compost and can share unused food in the community for those in need.
In a deeper dive session, we looked at practical tips for ensuring your guests are able to maximize their potential performance at a meeting by making the best short-term food choices. By short-term, we mean nutritious, low glycemic, low salt foods that provide sustained energy through the long days meetings inevitably bring, served at intervals that encourage maintained focus. Speakers should no longer need to dread the post lunch meeting spot. With our tips and planning tools, this won’t happen again.
With meetings and events, we can all work to be strategic in choosing destinations and specific venues and caterers that embrace food sources that take us back to basics – smaller farms, local and organic growers, and an emphasis on fresh, regional and seasonal food and beverage. Not only is this delightful for the guests, it makes sense for the planet. When we work together to manage guarantees, minimize waste, avoid disposables where possible, we can make positive differences that are good for everyone, including the planners. At Cantrav, we are fortunate to work in locations with Chefs who believe the same that we do and the positive comments on the food and beverage experience in Western Canada have been consistently excellent over the years we have supported meetings.
We are excited to plan healthy, “green” menus with you.