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Are you wasting good food?! 5 ways to stop…now.

By Jack Kohane

“Every facet of our operation is viewed as an opportunity to improve productivity, reduce input costs and work towards sustainability,” says Corporate Chef Clark Lishman,  the chief creative officer of Ontario’s Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill, founded in 1992.

“Making green part of our every business decision creates efficiencies, increases our competitiveness, and benefits the communities where we operate.”

Lishman opts for ocean-wise, sustainable fish products; for his ingredients, seasonal items, and flavourings, he stays local as much as possible.

“Freshness on the menu is a big focus. Our restaurants provide house-made sauces and our food is cooked fresh to order, so sourcing locally is key to our strategy.”

He employs the latest energy-efficient back-of-the-house appliances to reduce energy bills and cut prep time.

He’s also taken a hard look at produce waste, re-examining what goes into the garbage. A composting program is now de rigueur at each Turtle Jack’s location. The chain’s sustainability action plan also covers recycling its deep fryer oils, using a paperless marketing campaign via email blasts to reach customers, and producing in-store printed materials, such as menus, made of post-consumer paper and environmentally-friendly inks.

Lishman also links up with his top food suppliers, such as Heinz Canada, conducting regular visits to their test kitchens.

Heinz Canada’s spokeswoman and sustainability team co-chair, Joan Patterson, says sustainability initiatives must be ongoing. “It’s a constant focus for Heinz. To keep it local, the tomatoes that go into bottles of Heinz Ketchup sold in Canada are grown from HeinzSeed by contract growers whose fields are within 100 km of our Leamington, Ont. factory.”

The PlantBottle Ketchup bottle, used by Heinz Canada (in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company), comprises up to 30 per cent plant-based material, and is as recyclable as usual.

Bill DiMento, High Liner’s director of sustainability, says his company embraces sustainable practices – from ocean to plate. “It’s a responsible business approach to meet the needs of present and future generations.” He hails High Liner’s accelerated move to reduce packaging sizes and use of low volatile organic compound inks and non-corrugated cartons for shipping.

High Liner promotes preservation of seafood stocks and works with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to survey all its source fisheries and aquaculture operations. “Foodservice believes that taking a proactive role in improving fisheries and aquaculture programs around the world is key to maintain a healthy resource. Operators call on us for guidance on sustainability best practices.”

Chef Lishman would agree. “Going green is the best way forward for foodservice. Sustainability isn’t an option. It’s the answer.”

5 top tips to reduce waste

  1. Measure accurately. Consider using scales to measure out ingredients and portions.
  2. Conduct a waste audit. Learn what issues and opportunities your kitchen may have. Take a look at sell-by dates, what’s been burnt or over-proportioned.
  3. Create a “specials board”. A daily list of specials can help to manage your food output.
  4. Employ accurate ordering and stock rotation. This helps to avoid ingredients going stale. Plan selective purchasing of deals and seasonal offerings and be mindful of the product state (fresh, frozen canned, etc.).
  5. Be creative. Think about using extra veggies to make soups. Meat trimmings or excess produce can always be used for chopped or bound salads with mayonnaise or salad dressing.