Cook, Serve, Enjoy – and Save the Planet?

Green Spotlight:  Notes from Nancy Grant

Cooking and serving lots of tasty foods from the deli kitchen takes great recipes and attention to the tiniest details. That includes thinking about energy use, water consumption, and ways to prevent waste.

Deli manager Jill Webster says the job’s easier because she’s surrounded by helpful “green thinking” team members.

Valley Natural Foods co-op general manager Susan McGaughey believes in purchasing the most energy-efficient kitchen appliances available that save money in operating expenses in the long run. Today’s co-op kitchen features large stand mixers, slicers, a high-tech convection oven, plus a ten-rack “combi” oven that can steam and bake different kinds of foods at the same time. Such multi-tasking is simple with programmable controls that help prevent energy waste.

Webster also counts on her keen-eyed deli staff members to turn off equipment when it’s not needed. Webster says her team members are also especially good at noticing dripping faucets and leaks, then fixing problems promptly to conserve water.

Ordinary day-to-day maintenance plays a big role in being energy wise, too. Webster follows a regular schedule to keep vents and all equipment parts clean and operating at peak efficiency.

Webster is especially pleased that deli shoppers can get involved in making “green” choices, too. The self-service area includes responsibly produced paper items for take-out orders. For shoppers who want to enjoy food and drinks on-site, Webster offers real glassware and serving dishes that can be washed and re-used again and again. That reduces trash going to the landfill, another planet-friendly strategy.

Energy journalist and blogger Nancy S. Grant is a member of the Cooperative Communicators Association.

Click here to read the Valley Natural Foods Green Report 2010.

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