Category Archives: Green/Energy Efficient

Sustainable Restaurant Practices Outside the Kitchen

Our recent post, Environmental Sustainability Inside the Kitchen, outlined tried and true techniques for reducing your carbon footprint inside the fast-paced commercial kitchen environment. This post seeks to further elaborate on practices restaurants can readily embrace to continue sustainable efforts outside of the kitchen.

Sustainable practices are not only necessary for the well-being of the planet, but they’re also in demand. Nielsen reports that 75% of the millennial generation, and more than 50% of Baby Boomers, are willing to pay more for products and services that make a positive impact on the environment. From the dining room to the restroom and beyond, these options are easy to incorporate into day-to-day operations.

Sustainability in the Dining Room

Here are just a few ways your foodservice can enhance its environmental preservation efforts in the dining room.

Use recyclable or reusable cutlery and utensils.

Say no to single-use products such as plastic dinnerware, flatware or to-go containers. If your restaurant currently relies on single-use items, switch to products that can be recycled or composted. Most plastics won’t decompose in a landfill. Fortunately, some manufacturers, like Packnwood, have started making eco-friendly single-use items that are biodegradable.

Phase out straws.

It’s estimated that every day in America, consumers plow through more than 500 million straws! Most plastic straws are not heavy enough to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter, and too many end up polluting the ocean and harming marine life. Instead of offering every customer a straw, implement a new policy that only grants straws upon request. You may be surprised by how fewer straws you hand out.

PackNWood 210CHP19 Eco Straws

PackNWood Eco Straws, Central Model #18M-441, are made out of paper instead of plastic and are biodegradable and compostable!

Opt for cloth over paper.

Paper napkins are another popular single-use item that can be avoided, especially in sit-down establishments. Cloth napkins are washable and can be reused for years!

Replace old incandescent lights with more efficient ones.

Incandescent lights are not energy efficient by any stretch of the imagination. They operate based on heat, a piece of wire shielded by a glass enclosure that passes along an electrical current that gets so hot that light radiates. What does this mean in terms of energy efficiency? Less than 5% of the energy used is converted into visible light.LED light

LED lights (an acronym for Light Emitting Diodes), on the other hand, are a much better, sustainability-promoting solution. Instead of operating on heat, LED bulbs use diodes, a semiconductor device, to pass on the electrical current to produce the same lumens as incandescent bulbs while using a mere 10-20% of the energy. A lot of science talk, we know. Bottom line, they save energy, lowering utility costs and are a much more sustainable alternative. Another pro – they can last for years without needing to be replaced!

Print menus on recycled paper.

This is a very simple, yet effective way to make use of what would otherwise be trash while showcasing your commitment to helping the planet.

Sustainability in the Restrooms

In addition to the dining room setting, restrooms are another common area in restaurants where efficiencies can be implemented to reduce your carbon footprint.

Replace paper towels with energy efficient hand dryers.

It’s estimated that we use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year in the United States alone! Replacing paper towels with an energy efficient hand dryer is a sure-fire way to enhance sustainability. Many hand dryer manufacturers – such as Excel Dryer, manufacturer of the popular Excel Xlerator dryers – make both a standard and eco-friendly line of dryers, so it’s in your best interest to do a little research on each model’s energy consumption first. For more information on hand dryers, check out our buying guide here.

This video illustrates the difference between standard and eco-friendly hand dryers:

Offer hand towels.

If you’re looking for another alternative besides installing hand dryers, change out the trash can for a laundry hamper and replace disposable paper towels with hand towels.

Install motion-sensors for lights and fans.

This will ensure energy is only being used when people are in the restroom. Lights and fans left on all day substantially increase energy consumption and utility costs.

Additional Sustainable Enhancements

Add some plants!

Not only do they add some extra aesthetic appeal, but plants absorb carbon dioxide, keeping the air clean. Certain plants are better for indoor spaces, such as the areca plant, snake plant (also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue) or money plant. Whether you decide to add some in the corner of your restaurant or as a centerpiece on the table, they will purify the air and detoxify the space.


This relatively new term implies the reuse of a product for a different purpose. Some creative examples include:

  • Repurposing empty bottles to make tabletop vases or decor
  • Creating pet toys out of branded items – like old employee t-shirts – to donate to shelters instead of just throwing away

Company Car

If your business caters and uses a company vehicle to do so, invest in an eco-friendly car! Look for features like a lightweight design, high gas mileage, hybrid or electric mode, efficient air filtration systems, etc.

When it comes to implementing environmental sustainability within your restaurant, there are no limits. The more creative you allow yourself to be, the more options you’ll find. Don’t forget to share your efforts with your community to let your valued guests know you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint! Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with increased awareness and continual small changes, we can all make a difference!

Sustainable Kitchen Practices

Environmental Sustainability Inside the Kitchen

Decisions made by commercial businesses can have a huge impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 11% of total U.S. emissions are contributed by the commercial and residential sectors.

With increases in the millennial generation’s spending share, there is also an observable demand for sustainable offerings. Nielsen reports approximately 75% of millennials are willing to pay more for products and services that make an effort to positively impact and preserve the environment. Likewise, more than half of the Baby Boomer generation are also willing to support companies in this endeavor.

There are quick and easy changes that can readily be made to drastically impact the environment for the better. All it takes is a bit of knowledge, planning and implementation.

Sustainability Inside the Kitchen

Restaurants can immediately start incorporating environmentally friendly efforts inside their commercial kitchen space. As a quick example, no piece of commercial equipment is immortal. Sooner or later it’ll become outdated or will no longer provide the performance necessary to run an efficient business. There are options for ensuring the replacement process is as waste-free as possible.

When getting rid of an old piece of equipment, first consider selling it to a company specializing in the reuse, refurbishment or recycling of commercial products. Finding such a company is as simple as a quick Google search. Here are just a few:

Energy StarTaking a proactive approach when shopping for new equipment can also have a strong impact, not only on your business’s environmental footprint, but also on the bottom line. Implementing certain keywords, like Energy Star, into your search is a tried and true strategy. Products that are Energy Star rated have been purposefully designed to optimize resources so that less is consumed each time the equipment is used. Many Energy Star certified commercial dishwashers, for instance, use less water consumption per rack than their traditional counterparts, and are up to 40% more energy efficient. This not only assists in sustainability efforts, but lowers long term utility costs associated with the product. Depending on the state you reside, there may also be certain Energy Star rebates applicable to your purchase.

In addition for searching for that Energy Star label, there are several other factors to consider.

1. Water Consumption

When analyzing dishwashers and other high water-consuming equipment, look at how much water is used per rack. Energy Star depicts efficient water consumption at 0.89 gallons per rack, which means any amount up to that point is extremely efficient.

2. Natural vs. LP Gas

When perusing the options for commercial cooking equipment, you’re likely to see options for Natural Gas or LP (liquid propane). Though both offer their unique sets of benefits, LP gas actually provides up to two-and-a-half times more energy output than natural gas, meaning less is needed to produce the same amount. LP gas has also garnered the reputation of “green fuel” because of its nonexistent toxicity to the environment. Natural gas, on the other hand, is considered a greenhouse gas – a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. In other words, not an ideal solution for enhanced sustainability.

3. Conventional vs. Convection

Conventional ovens cook food by radiating direct heat from the top and bottom of the oven box to the food. Convection ovens heat by circulating forced hot air around the food. This more quickly and evenly cooks the product, making convection ovens the more efficient and sustainable option. Since foods can be heated quicker, the temperature can be set lower – typically by 25°F – thus consuming less energy.

4. Refrigerant Type

The type of refrigerant a piece of equipment uses is often an overlooked factor when searching for environmentally friendly products. Many products use refrigerants made of CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) which expel pollutants that can have a negative impact on the ozone. Instead, look for equipment that use less damaging HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) refrigerants. True is one major refrigeration brand that has embraced this change.

5. Cookware Size

The size of the commercial cookware used in preparing meals serves as another important energy-saving aspect. When utilizing an electric stove-top, be cognizant of the size of the pots and pans. If you’re using a smaller pan on a larger burner, you’re wasting heat. The US Department of Energy has found that so much as a 2-inch difference between pan and burner size could waste as much as 40% of heat.

Remember the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Perhaps one of the simplest ways your restaurant can be eco-friendly is by enforcing good recycling habits. Keep recycling bins accessible in your kitchen and be sure to recycle plastic and paper scraps, and anything else your local recycling center accepts. If the center requires recyclables to be separated, simply add another bin and mark it for such.

Rubbermaid 3 Stream Recycling Bin

Rubbermaid 3-Stream Recycling Bin; Central Model #972-5C3

When implementing new recycling bins, post signs that inform what types of items can be recycled to better ensure non-recyclables stay out. It is extremely important that your staff is careful about what they put in. If they throw in a material not listed, like certain plastics or food, the recycling plant may not be able to process the bin and your recycling efforts could be wasted.


The National Restaurant Association reports that restaurants throw away 10% of the food they buy. This translates to 15% (or roughly 20 billion pounds!) of all food waste in landfills. Composting is a simple and beneficial way to reduce food waste and avoid environmental harm. Benefits of composting include:

  • Returns valuable nutrients back to the soil, enhancing plant growth
  • Provides a natural fertilizer that won’t burn plants like some chemical fertilizers
  • Improves air circulation in the soil
  • Retains soil moisture, reducing the need to water as frequently

Food scraps in any restaurant are inevitable, but composting offers a way to rid of them while making a positive contribution. If your restaurant grows its own food, composting on site is a perfect opportunity to promote a better ecosystem. If your restaurant doesn’t have the need or desire to compost on site, find an organics collection service or other composting facility nearby to take in your food waste and properly compost it.

This hotel uses composting to process food waste as a way to reuse food scraps to enhance their restaurant quality:

Tidy Planet ROCKET Food Waste Composter from Tidy Planet on Vimeo.

It is as important as ever to promote sustainability in business practices, and restaurants have several unique opportunities to do so. By recycling the old and purchasing energy efficient equipment, your restaurant can significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Simply by instilling everyday habits like using the right size cookware or composting scraps and food waste can result in a substantial impact.

If you enjoyed this post on sustainable techniques inside the kitchen environment, you may also like our post on readily implementable efforts outside the kitchen, including eco-friendly enhancements to the dining room and restroom.

Restaurant Sustainability: Best Practices

Today’s restaurant goers care more than ever about where their food comes from, responsible business practices and social responsibility.  In short, they care about restaurant sustainability and they speak with their wallets.  Sustainable practices are not only good for the environment, they can also save you money.  With this in mind, we took some time to scour the web for the easiest ways to improve restaurant sustainability and have aggregated the best ones for you!

Restaurant Sustainability: Best Practices

  1. Source Local: According to, “purchasing food from a local vendor or farmers’ market means that the trip to your restaurant is shorter and less gas has been used on the journey”.  In addition, this supports local farmers and suppliers, and customers view this in a positive light.
  2. Cook What’s in Season: suggests changing your menu four times a year (once for each season) and rotating new dishes in every six weeks or so to accommodate ingredients with short growing seasons.  In addition, if you can grow it yourself, do it!
  3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: This is a very simple way to not only cut costs, but to improve your restaurant sustainability.  According to buzztime, you can: buy kitchen and bar mats made from 100% recycled materials; recycle wood boxes, cardboard and glass bottles; and opt for beverage and takeout containers made from recycled paper or compostable materials.
  4. Recycle Fryer Oil: You may not even have to go anywhere to do this.  According to “there are biofuel companies across the country that will pick it up and convert it”.  The win is two-fold here.  You recycle your old oil, and you provide a cleaner source of fuel.
  5. Don’t Waste Ice: It takes energy and water to make ice, so don’t just automatically refill ice bins. suggests waiting until the bins get truly low, and only adding as much as needed to get through.

These tips are among the easiest to implement and can begin having a positive impact on your sales and reputation in the community.  Little steps add up and make a big difference over time, so keep it up!


Energy Star Rebates

You work hard to build a successful restaurant, run a school cafeteria, or serve residents at the local nursing home. But the electricity and gas bills are making are making it hard to stay on budget. Energy Star products are engineered to use less energy and to have a smaller footprint on our environment. These products have the same functions as standard products, but do with using less energy. Plus, many Energy Star products qualify for large rebates!

Energy Star has a plethora of information available on their website for helping you know how these products can benefit your operation. Information includes a guide for cafes, restaurants, and institutional kitchens as well as an Equipment Savings Fact Sheet. But how large of a rebate can you receive? Take these few products as an example:

Central #515-174

Commercial Griddles

Lifetime savings: $1,100 (gas) or $1,300 (electric)

Benefits: Improved thermostatic controls and
high production capacity

Rebates: from $20 up to $1,500

In California, The Vulcan VCCG48 (pictured above), receives a rebate of $400


Central #440-019

Commercial Fryers

Lifetime savings: $1,200 (electric) or $4,800

Benefits: Quicker recovery for continuous production and
improved thermostat accuracy

Rebates: $20-$1,900

In Pennsylvania, the Pitco 40D (pictured above), receives a rebate of $1,400 Per Fry Pot. With a sale price of $885, that puts  $515 in your pocket!


Central #894-350

Glass Door Freezers

Lifetime savings: $2,000-$4,300

Benefits: Improved fan blade design and uniform
cabinet temperatures

Rebates: $25-$1,000

In California, the TurboAir TGF-72SD (pictured above), receives a rebate of $1,000.


Energy Star products range in their lifetime savings and their rebates. Rebates will also vary greatly by state. Be sure to check the rebates available from your state’s energy website. Have further questions? Speak with one of our helpful product consultants at 800.215.9293 and browse our website to see all of the great Energy Star qualified products we have available!


Grow it Yourself! Hopping on that “Hyperlocal” Bandwagon

Spring has sprung and gardens are beginning to bloom. If you’ve ever thought about growing your own ingredients, or hopping on the urban farming bandwagon, this is the perfect time of year to start!

A trend among sustainability-minded establishments seems to be growing their own herbs and produce. This urban agriculture trend has taken big cities by storm, encouraging the ideal of growing local products in heavily populated areas instead of purchasing ingredients from national suppliers.

What are the pros of growing your own ingredients?

Consumers love knowing where their ingredients come from – not to mention supporting their local community. In fact, “hyperlocal” foods (foods grown by the restaurant themselves) has been a major trend for the last few years now.

These foods are often viewed as healthier and fresher, and there is a financial incentive to growing your own. One of the largest expenses restaurants face is the cost of goods. This could easily make or break newer businesses. Growing many of your own products cuts this cost down significantly, and it adds to the appreciation of where your food comes from.raised garden bed

Where to start…

If you’re new to urban farming or growing your own ingredients, we suggest starting small and working your way up. Raised beds are a great idea for beginners, especially if space is an issue. Raised garden beds are usually three to four feet wide and constructed of a solid wood frame, and almost any crop can be grown in them. For more benefits and instructions on constructing raised garden beds, check out this great resource.

You can also garden certain products, like herbs and spices, indoors. The most popular herbs for indoor kitchen gardens include:

  1. Thyme – spicy and clove-like; good with meats or vegetables because it lightens the profile of the dish, increasing the balance.
  2. Chives – thin, hollow leaves with mild onion flavor; great for a garnish.
  3. Mint – sweet, cool and refreshing; great for savory dishes.
  4. Sage – rich flavor with notes of citrus; combines well with other spices such as thyme.
  5. Basil – aromatic with scents of pepper, anise and mint; adds richness and depth to sauces and dressings.

One of the benefits of trying your hand at herb gardening is that many, like lavender and rosemary, thrive under less than ideal conditions.

Tips on Growing

If you’re growing your own herbs, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Soil and Light Requirements

The soil doesn’t need to be rich for herbs, but must be able to drain well. Also, make sure they receive at least five hours of direct sunlight a day.


Most herbs require about 1-inch of water a week.


Most herbs don’t require fertilizer unless you have remarkably poor soil.


Cutting leaves and stems will allow your plants to become thicker, fuller and more productive. It is recommended that you harvest early in the morning when essential oils are strongest before the sun warms the leaves and releases them.


Certain herbs require deadheading the blooms as to maintain plant productivity. Basil and mint, for instance, both benefit from having the flowers pinched back before they mature.

Cleaning Up

After the first killing frost in the fall, pull up the annual herbs like basil. In the spring, cut back dead stems on perennial herbs like mint, and prune overgrown ones by removing about one-third of the plant before new growth begins.

window garden

Urban farming and herb gardening are both fun and rewarding, providing a great opportunity to save money while growing fresher products. For more tips, check out our GIY – Grow It Yourself – board on Pinterest!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our posts on Farm to Table: What is It? and Earth Day and Your Restaurant: Ways You Can Help!

Earth Day and Your Restaurant: Ways You Can Help

Happy Earth Day! While everyone is being a little more cautious about the environment today, there are ways for your restaurant to be cautious 24/7, 365 days a year. Implementing a sustainability program at your restaurant doesn’t have to be hard, and can save a lot of money down to road. The best part? Helping our Earth become a better planet to live!

Sustainability Tips for Your Restaurant

The National Restaurant Association outlined three simple solutions for Earth Day:

  1. Create a start-up and shut-down schedule
  2. Fix leaky sinks
  3. Donate leftover food

Creating a Schedule

Creating a start-up and shut-down schedule will reduce overall energy use. You can find outlets online that provide free start-up and shut-down schedules, which helps operators only use equipment and lights when necessary. The NRA states, “Shari’s Café & Pies, a chain with 100 locations across the Pacific Northwest, implemented this similar strategy and has saved $4,145 per year per location.” Now that’s a lot of energy savings!

Leaky SinksEarth Day

Fix your leaky sinks, I repeat, fix your leaky sinks! A small drip can actually add up to thousands of gallons of water going down the drain, each year. That can end up costing your restaurant hundreds of dollars. Why let that money go down the drain (literally) when you can simply fix your faucet!

Leftover Food

Any leftover food that you accumulate at your restaurant, please donate it. The NRA states that more food reaches landfills than other type of municipal solid waste. It is estimated that 25-40 percent of the food that is grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be consumed.  If you’re unsure of where to take your leftover food, there are many nonprofit organizations out there that would be glad to either take it for you or let you know of a deserving charity to drop it off!

Energy Star Equipment

Installing ENERGY STAR equipment at your restaurant can add up to big savings. These products are certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. Central offers hundreds of ENERGY STAR products that not only save you money on your energy bills but are also top rated in their specific categories! Browse through our ENERGY STAR rated products by clicking here.

Earth Day Promotions

While you can use these promotional ideas for Earth Day, they are great for using all year long to help save the environment and energy!

Dine out with the lights out

Turn off the lights for your breakfast and lunchtime hours to save energy and cut down on electricity usage. When it starts to get dark, light candles for not only an energy-saving option but also create a beautiful ambiance for your customers!

Free trade-in with use of reusable mugEarth Day

Have an offer for a free drink or cup of coffee if customers bring in a reusable mug/bottle. Reusable drinkware is essential in putting a dent in the vast number of bottles and cups that go in landfills around the world.

Free item or percentage off when you use a reusable bag

You could make up a similar offer like the reusable mug one above, but this time have customers bring in their reusable bags. If you’re a grocery store, deli or bakery – this opportunity is perfect for you! Offer them a percentage off once they show (and use) their bag!

Select a menu item that you can donate all of the profits to Earth Day donations

Create a special dish that is made from only local ingredients and steer it towards an Earth Day theme. Using these ingredients encourages others to buy locally and save nonrenewable resources like gasoline that are used in the process of getting the goods from place to place. Have this dish be special and donate all of the proceeds to Earth Day donations.  You could even get literal with the “Go Green” theme by having specially crafted green food for donations!

Give anyone who bikes, carpools, walks or uses public transportation to get to your restaurant a percentage off for using a green method of transportation

It’s as easy as it sounds – if a customer uses a green method of transportation to get to your restaurant or business, give them a percentage off of their order. It’s important to reward the people who thought about their eco-friendly options before they came to your restaurant!

Bring recyclable items (plastic bottles, cans, paper) to your restaurant and receive a certain amount off of their meal

Have customers bring in their recyclable items, and if they donate a certain number they can receive an amount off of their meal. This allows people to get rid of their recyclables the proper way, without just dumping them into the trash. Call your local recycling company for pickup or drop the donations off at their site.

Eat Outside if it’s nice

If you have an outdoor dining area – utilize it! Celebrate the environment you’re working to protect on Earth Day, and enjoy the great outdoors! Of course, you have to watch the weather beforehand to do this idea, but use your best judgment! It’s finally spring so customers will be itching to get out and enjoy the weather and you can use this opportunity to increase your profit if you add extra outdoor dining seating! It’s a win-win for everyone!

Remember, we should be going green all the time! If you’re looking for some eco-friendly supplies or ENERGY STAR rated equipment shop Central! Have questions? Give us a call at 800-215-9293 or chat with us live!

Creating a Zero Waste Kitchen

Every person in the food service industry should strive to have a zero waste kitchen, but many don’t because it can take a lot of work and seems costly. Obviously having a zero waste kitchen will never be 100% perfect, but it’s important to get as close as you can. To achieve zero waste, you need to “prevent as much of an operation’s waste as possible and divert the rest to its highest and best use,” states Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine in their webinar on zero waste kitchens.

Where to Start

The first part to create a zero waste kitchen is to understand your local landscape – outline what you are doing and why. Measure where your foodservice operation stands currently, set goals and communicate with everyone in your company. You’ll need to explain why you’re trying to create zero waste to your team to help them understand and get the job done along the way. When your team works hand in hand, it becomes easier to identify and eliminate waste blind spots.

How to Reduce Waste

FE&S’ webinar suggests that you mazero waste kitchenke sure you have the necessary infrastructure, which is key. You also need someone to spearhead the cause and take leadership by starting with simple steps and building from there. Creating a zero waste kitchen is a shared responsibility so you need everyone to get involved.

Christy Cook, Senior Manager at Sustainability Field Support Sodexo, states “We have a big goal that 100% of our partnerships should have a waste reduction program in place by 2015. Creating a waste toolkit allows us to identify steps to implement that are unique to wherever site managers are located to reduce waste.” They also include practiced around source reduction, which is huge.

The Pittsburgh Pirates operate a zero waste kitchen – how do they do it? They start with a commitment from the top, such as reusable items for the employees (like drink cups), including a sorting center in the ballpark for composting and recycling, as well as using a trash compactor for recyclables. Sissy Burkhart, Cleaning Operations Manager for the Pirates, explains, “You really have to think outside the box sometimes and think how this can be recycled or reused. [For example] Sometimes employees will bring in used clothing to give to the less fortunate.”

Joe Carbonara, Editor in Chief of FE&S Magazine, described that the zero waste process “doesn’t start at the loading dock and end at the kitchen door.” Eliminating zero waste takes place in every facet of a foodservice operation.

It Takes a Team

The process to create a zero waste kitchen works best when it starts from the top down, starting with key leaders in management to help carry the message and its importance. Finding another leader to help you with your waste management efforts will only move the process along faster. Sissy detailed the three lessons she’s learned, “It’s all about the people, communication is key and beware of greenwashing. Make sure you’re not getting the fake [green] products. Many companies say [they’re] compostable, but really aren’t because there’s real plastic underneath so it can’t be composted and ends up in the landfill.”

“The ability to compost and recycle varies greatly by region so make sustainability a part of your operation’s core beliefs – once everyone sees the impact, the partnership becomes stronger and you can do more,” explains Christy on overcoming obstacles.

Tips, Tricks and More

The city of Irvine, California has some great tips for restaurants wanting to create a zero waste kitchen.

First, reduce your overall use by being creative witzero waste kitchenh customers and employees. Offer customers a discount if they bring their own mugs, containers, or bags. For example:

  • “Have employees use permanent-ware mugs or cups for their drinks instead of disposable ones
  • Use health department-approved, refillable condiment dispensers instead of individual packets
  • Buy regularly used items in bulk or in their concentrated form
  • Ask your suppliers to take back shipping boxes for reuse or recycling and to keep you informed about new and existing products that are packaged in ways that can reduce waste.”

Second, the article states to recycle and buy recycled.

  • “Set up a rendering service for your grease waste, fat or used cooking oil.
  • Set up a recycling program at your restaurant by contacting your waste hauler or speaking with your property manager. Remember that recycling costs less than trash disposal.
  • If you serve beverages in cans or bottles, place a recycling bin in the dining area for your customers’ empty beverage containers.
  • Donate old uniforms to thrift shops.

The city of Irvine also suggests to get feedback from your employees on how to operate more efficiently to prevent waste and to keep customers informed about your new zero waste policy, “Place signs around the store letting customers know how they can help in your effort to go ‘Zero Waste’”. Another way to eliminate food waste is donating the leftovers to charity, which you can read more about in next week’s blog!

Ready to Start?

Here’s a list of resources that can help your foodservice establishment create a zero waste kitchen!

Farm to Table

Farm to Table: A Healthy Menu Trend

Food trends come and go, and many can be very unhealthy – Bacon. Cupcakes. Bacon cupcakes? While they may sound amazing, it’s nice to know there are some trends that are actually good for you!


According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, on average, fruits and vegetables travel almost 1,500 miles before being sold to a consumer. In addition, 39% of fruits and 12% of vegetables are imported from other countries. In order to keep the produce from spoiling during transit, it is often harvested before it is fully ripened. This does not allow the produce to absorb all the nutrients from its surroundings.  According to the USDA, this causes the produce to lack nutrients that would be present if it were allowed to ripen on the vine.

Locally Grown – Better for All

What else is bad about food traveling so far? It’s not good for the environment. The average 18-wheeler would burn about 500 gallons of diesel fuel in a 1,500 mile trip. Also, when produce is imported in, it doesn’t help the local economy from the sale of farmed food.

One of the best places to start finding locally grown foods is a farmers’ market. Here you can find not only produce, but artisan cheese, local honey, and hand crafted beer and wine. You may also find local farms have roadside stands or established stores that are open year round. You will be able to find local beef or chicken, as well as fresh farm eggs for your farm-to-table menu. An app called Locavore can help you find local food that’s in season. It’s free, and also features seasonal recipes. You can also find a seasonal ingredient map from Epicurious to find out what’s fresh in your area.

Farm to Menu


Central carries lots of options for your favorite recipes!

If your establishment is participating in the farm-to-table movement, there are many options to showcase your locally produced dishes. Be sure to highlight any local meats, cheeses, or produce on your menu.  Search through our website to find just the right dinnerware, flatware, and drinkware for your recipes and craft beer.

Recipes to Try

Note sure where to start? Here are a few recipes you can try with fresh produce as a main ingredient.


Feel free to share any great recipes or ideas on how your establishment is taking part in the farm-to-table movement!