Earth Day 2010. Today’s celebration and acknowledgement has seen many changes over the past 40 years. When the movement began in 1970 by a small group of students on that
The first category is comprised of complacent individuals who will pay the day no mind what so ever, and shrug off the entire concept. These are also the people who think Global Warming is a hoax; they toss their paper out the window, and on occasion empty their car ashtrays in grocery store parking lots.
The second category plays host to those who take today passionately, stop to pick up a piece of paper, crush their plastic water bottle before recycling, and live for eighteen to twenty four hours as though they were really making a difference. Tomorrow they will awaken, go to work or school or stop at Starbucks and will act as they did yesterday.
The third category is the one that matters. This is the category that keeps the world alert. And to join this group takes work and commitment. The members of this category realize the importance of a greener lifestyle and the responsibility of what making a commitment to EARTH Day actually means.
Every restaurant owner in the country should fall into this category. Membership is open. There are no dues, no credit checks, and no applications. And, since membership is so easy we all have a professional responsibility to join.
But it is not only the Earth as we know it that we need to focus on saving. We need to begin focusing on the diets and the lives of our customers. And once we strip away the glamour of concept, theme, ambiance and frivolity, we actually do have their live in our hands. If that doesn’t have a bearing on recycling, what does? As restaurant owners and chefs, our lives and businesses are based on preparing fuel and sustenance for the human race.
That certainly takes the glamour out of the business, doesn’t it? Suddenly the theme, concept and ambiance are stripped away and we now appear seem like nutritionists locked in small offices in the hospital cafeteria developing special diet menu for the patients in the cardiac ward. Well, face reality: That’s where many of our customers end up after eating the food we prepare.
Earth Day beginnings focused on saving the environment. And we can play a major role in that if we adopt the programs available to restaurants and other small businesses. But we also need to think of our customer’s health more when designing menus and preparing meals. We have a direct responsibility to our customers to help them live a longer, better life. We should be helping people who will be around to enjoy that future. Do we really want to help to extinguish our own customer base?
And we need to address the responsibility, daily. We need to take a bit of the passion we have for that crispy fried chicken entr?e and redirect it towards healthier, longer lives.
I am not preaching to put the heart symbol back on the menu. That was not a great idea. It was definitely one step away from the nutritionist’s office. Yet, if we purchase prepare and present entrees using healthier, fresher ingredients we will be fulfilling our responsibility.
As professionals, we really shouldn’t need anyone to legislate the amount of salt we use in our kitchens. Laws demanding calorie counts on menus are more than we ever bargained for when we signed that lease. But if people who know nothing about food can suddenly pass legislation to control our ingredients then face it, we are doing something wrong.
Recycling cans and plastic should be a daily practice. But we also cannot lose focus that our first responsibility really does have to do with our customer’s health and enjoyment of life.
It’s our first obligation. And often the last thing we think of. So on this, the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day, make a commitment to work harder to prepare healthier food.
It may make the planet a better place just because your customers may live longer to enjoy your restaurant and your company.
If you don’t recycle, start,
Break down all your boxes.
Use less cans and salt.
Don’t up sell overweight Mr. Johnson another Chocolate Malt.
Spend time at the Farmer’s Market, buy your produce there.
Their quality is better, their prices fair.
Crush your plastic containers. Use recycled cups.
Take the whipped cream off the Frappucinos in the morning,
Those kids are only pups.
It’s Earth Day 2010, a time for reflection and retention
And when tomorrow comes, don’t forget, its still Earth Day,
Have a good one. Go crush a bottle.