Congress Canteens go Green

17 Jan 2008

US House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, mandated a plan last spring to create an “environmentally responsible and healthy working environment” throughout the House. The plan incorporated energy efficiency, recycling and composting as well as a improving the sustainability of food available onsite.

Cafeterias were transformed last month with a revamping of menus to make them more local, organic and healthful. Catering manager Restaurant Associates says it now aims to offer food grown within 150 miles where it is available. As a result, nearly all dishes are produced from scratch with seasonal produce and a regularly changing menu.

Coffee available across the House is a shade-grown, Fair Trade and organic product. Seafood is from a sustainable source – based on standards maintained by a program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

In addition, all of the food service items are now 100 percent biodegradable, such as cutlery made from cornstarch. Plastic and foam containers have been banned – with the exception of drink bottles that are being recycled. Waste going to landfill has been reduced by around 80 percent, which has also significantly reduced garbage collection costs.

Later this year, local farmers will be invited to display their products during the lunch period to raise awareness amongst dinners about their produce and the origins of the food being consumed.

Thus far the Senate has no plans to follow suit, although their food service is not noticeably greener than it was a decade ago and it continues to run at a $1.3 million yearly deficit.

New York Times

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