What’s trending now?
Gone are the days when fast food was all the rage. Even slow food is on its way out of fashion. These days, people want to trust their food, and they want the best of both fast and slow food. More than anything, consumers want something healthy, affordable, and something that does not adversely affect their community, or the world as a whole. Enter the sustainable restaurants of the future.
Why it’s important?
According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, 30-50% of all food purchased in developed countries is thrown away, either through preparation methods, or simply from not being consumed in time. Those are staggering statistics when the same countries regularly screen advertisements begging people to support starving children in the developing world.
But, it is not just wasted food that raises eyebrows. These days, there are websites that will calculate your personal carbon footprint, and yes, you will pay an additional fee to the airline to offset the emissions from your flight. Grocery stores have now become a recycling point for batteries and light bulbs. At a point in history when consumers are constantly being told to reduce their electricity and water consumption, conservation is clearly a concern.
Consumers, or at the very least, businesses, are clearly becoming more conscious about the effects of their luxury spending on the world around them. And restaurants, in an attempt to keep their patrons are pre-empting the attack they will soon be under for ineffective and wasteful practices.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is leading the way to promote local sourcing, environmental protection, and fair labour remuneration. Based in the United Kingdom, they have just opened their membership doors to international restaurants who meet their sustainability criteria. Diners who have grown to distrust just about anything on the market that is not endorsed by a renowned source can breathe a sigh of relief.
What’s the butterfly effect
On the plus side, diners will start to see new options on the menu at their favourite restaurants; these are likely to include seasonal items sourced from local farmers. The fresher the food, the higher the nutritional content, and this is excellent news for local producers.
In addition, restaurants will look to reduce their waste. If they cannot do this through preparation methods, it will be through increased donations to shelters and orphanages who depend on community handouts. In the widest world of possibilities, the better the food and care at these centres, the less likely its people are to turn to a life of crime, but this is probably pushing the extremes.
New build restaurants will need to turn to sustainable building materials which make more effective use of the elements and natural power sources. Take McDonalds, for example. They’ve just opened their first steel frame restaurant in Cape Town, complete with energy reduced LED lighting. The entire restaurant was designed to heat up or cool itself in less time, using significantly less energy. And of course, the international hamburger chain has created more jobs in the process.
But it is not roses for everyone. The packaging and shipping industries stand to lose some revenue when farmers can depend on their local restaurants for business. And once consumers begin to trust only SRA approved restaurants, it will be a tough game for new players on the scene.
Big names are leading the pack. Companies like McDonalds, and even Virgin Atlantic want to lead the trend. Virgin is currently undergoing a process to ensure that their in-flight meals are sustainably produced, and they are having their worldwide catering services rated.
The global hot spots
The United Kingdom is seriously pushing for sustainable restaurants, so much so that even local pubs have managed to become members of the SRA. But as the organisation spreads and diners have something they can trust again, this is one trend that is sure to spread internationally extraordinarily quickly.
By: Katie Schenk
Katie is South African by choice, but she’s proud of being American too. She’s a writer, a producer, and a momma. If she can shut off – she sleeps. Her interests include advertising, home economics, entrepreneurial processes, South African idiosyncrasies, and rugby. (Really.) She’s also a fan of Tudor history – but there’s nothing trendy (or trending) in that.
Image credit: fullinsight.com