Democratic Convention catering challenge: serve it up green
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Colorado caterers are cheering eco-friendly requirements for menus at events hosted by the Denver 2008 Host Committee during the Democratic National Convention ” but some see them as a challenge.
A request for catering proposals for events sponsored by the Host Committee asks the following:
– No fried foods.
– No individual plastic containers for liquids.
– Reusable, recyclable or compostable plates.
– Local or organic food, or both.
– Food should in “at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white.”
“Blue could be a challenge,” joked Ed Janos, who owns Denver’s Cook’s Fresh Market. “All I can think of are blueberries.”
Organizers’ commitment to going green during the Aug. 25-28 convention is laudable, caterers agree.
“I think it’s a great idea for our community and our environment. The question is, how practical is it?” said Nick Agro, owner of Whirled Peas Catering in Commerce City.
“We all want to source locally, but we’re in Colorado,” Agro said. “The growing season is short. It’s dry here. And I question the feasibility of that.”
Agro said using organic and local products will raise prices.
“There is going to be sticker shock when those bids start coming in,” he said. “I’ll cook anything, but I’ve had clients who have approached me about all-organic menus, and then they see the organic stuff pretty much doubles your price.”
Parry Burnap, “greening” director for the nonprofit host committee, said the request involved months of work with caterers and will serve as a blueprint for making Denver a greener city long after the convention.
“We are hoping that everything we are doing for greening (the convention) has some legacy value,” she said. “It takes some creativity because some of these things are more expensive.”
Convention composting is a process in the works, Burnap said.
“Maybe in 20 years, there will be better analysis for us to make better choices,” she said. “One we are talking about now is, is it better to compost or to recycle?
“If you are using a cup for a beverage, is it better to be (plastic) and back in the materials stream, or compostable, biodegradable waste and go into the waste stream or compost? There are no definitive answers.”
The host committee hopes to devise a carbon-footprint calculator that will measure the environmental impact of each event and suggest a fee that would go toward a carbon-offset fund.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.