Low-Impact Food and Beverage

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The HyCube at Marriott Orlando World Center
(Photographer: Jeff Herron)

Once we start meeting again, fresh, healthy food and beverage that includes organic items will be important although it may be served differently.

Buffets may be out for the time being, but hormone- and antibiotic-free dairy and food grown regionally will always be in for functions. Call it green, organic, or sustainable, no matter what label it wears, this is a burgeoning trend in today’s food and beverage. The emphasis is on farm to table.

There are ways to make your F&B functions safe.

With the focus on safety, water can still be served out of jugs and this is best for the environment. Meeting professionals committed to the environment have made it clear they don’t want to switch to plastic bottled water due to the pandemic.

Environmental and safety issues aside, it is estimated that that serving water from large pitchers or containers instead of using water bottles can save from $5 to $10 per guest per day, depending on the venue. Tracy Stuckrath, CFPM, CSEP, CMM, owner, thrive! meetings & events recommends not pre-filling water glasses; they should be poured when requested, on an individual basis.

Food and Beverage: In Season is Best

Choosing food in season from the local area is one of the easiest ways to make an F&B function healthier and more environmentally friendly. Not only will produce be fresher, but it is also a great way to incorporate the flavor of the region into your event. It also minimizes the transportation impact on the environment.

A staggering statistic from a study by Worldwatch Institute is that the typical meal has traveled between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table. Worldwatch, an environmental and social policy research institute based in Washington DC, details the lengthy journeys much of the nation’s food supply takes and reminds us to consider all the containments food can come into contact with along the way.

Today, meeting professionals want to choose ingredients found closer to home. Orlando World Center Marriott is in an ideal position as one of its highlights is HyCube, a 25-foot-tall hydroponic vegetable garden that features “pick-to-plate” ingredients. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando and JW Marriott Orlando highlight products from their very own Whisper Creek Farm that grows fruit and vegetables and raises ducks, quail, and honeybees that produce more than 300 pounds of honey a year.

Outdoor functions are particularly appealing today. The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort reports an increase in inquiries about meal functions held on its three miles of private beach.

And properties, such as the MGM in Las Vegas, have an advantage with several properties, enabling them to offer a group dinearound experience.

Today, safety and cleanliness have taken center stage and is food for thought.

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