Big Sustainable Food Changes– Have You Jumped on Board?

Over the past few months, there have been a string of news articles detailing the ethical changes that some of the largest chain restaurants are making to their menus. Most recently, Taco Bell has vowed to be the first fast food chain to serve cage-free eggs by the end of next year. Prior to this announcement, McDonalds, Starbucks and Panera have all committed to the end of the use of battery cages in the next five to ten years. Perhaps the food chain world and the “healthy” movement are coming to a truce. Americans will likely never stop eating at these chains so they might as well start conforming to fit the needs of the masses – again.

An interesting thing about Taco Bell, and other food chains, is that they likely will not be pushing the additional expenses for sustainable food on to their customers. They have to maintain their fast and cheap reputation. They are still not Chipotle, nor do they want to be. Just the addition of terms like “sustainable”, “cage-free” and “cruelty-free” is enough to turn some heads and win back some business, even gain new customers! There will always be that percentage of people who vow never to eat at fast food chains. At the same time, there is the other percentage of people who only can afford such menus. And then there is the percentage who are part of this “green/sustainable movement” and can’t stop instagramming, tweeting, Facebooking about it. Can you say millennials? These steps are going to be talked about and consumed and bring these chains back to an approved status.

We can only hope that this movement continues and we won’t have to put “cage-free” on the menu and it will just be assumed.
I’ve become exhausted with some of these terms flooding menus and wondering who is actually adhering to them and who is actually respecting the actions they claim to be taking? If you have taken the steps to provide a conscious menu to your guests, how does your menu read? How do your servers explain the menu to your guests? It’s confusing constantly hearing “all of our food comes from local farms and is organic”. How will we know what is honest? How do we know if they ran out of organic, cage-free eggs or the grass-fed beef wasn’t available this week? We won’t…and that’s ok. There are plenty of other ways to show our guests that we care and are part of the movement.

Consider removing all of the buffer words that lie in front of the poultry, beef, and dairy items on your menu and instead putting a few sentences on top of the menu describing your collaborative efforts to buy organic, cage-free, and sustainable foods. This not only showcases your actual purpose behind the movement, but is direct and less exhaustive. Another great location for this literature is on your restaurant’s website, business cards, and gift card sleeves. One of the best places to share this information is not just through social media but food reviews. Invite reviews and bloggers to your restaurant and let them share the news from a first-hand perspective.

Show off your part the sustainable food movement!

Another action that communicates to your guests that you care is not just focusing on the expected items (think milk, beef, eggs and cheese), or even food at all. Switch your take-out containers and materials to become Styrofoam-free! This elevates your cuisine and continues to educate your guests.

Also, getting the labels in front of your guests will reassure them that you are in, in fact, taking strides to becoming more sustainable. You can’t give them a pound of butter or a half gallon of milk with a particular label on it, but you can start somewhere else – the bar. There has been an increasing availability of all-natural and organic wines, beers, spirits and mixes.

If you want to start taking steps towards becoming a more sustainable restaurant, please let us know. We are experts on how to make the most of your budget and help you make positive changes to educate yourself, your staff and your guests on how to become a more sustainable business.

Ray Camillo

Please follow and like us: