Eating for a Healthy Planet
There is no human activity that has a greater impact on the environment than food production. Our species consumes half of the planets available fresh water (mostly for food production) and consumes half of the Earth’s annual biomass (plants and animals). To this can be added tons of toxic chemicals, dams and diversions which have done serious damage to the world’s river systems and coastal areas, soil loss, and deforestation. A major energy consumer, the average food item travels 1400 miles to reach an American citizen’s table. On the flip side, both sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, and farmer’s markets are experiencing rapid growth. Xanterra, Zion’s concessionaire, has set the pace for purchasing local, organic food wherever possible. There story is given below. You can make a huge difference by growing your own garden and shopping for locally produced food. Of course organic produce and hormone free, humanely treated animal products are highly desirable when available.
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What began in 2000 with a company wide seafood policy—to ensure Xanterra serves only sustainable seafood in its 64 restaurants—has grown into a nationally acclaimed sustainable-cuisine program.
In 2000, Xanterra began recommending fish from Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable fisheries and those that were harvested using sustainable practices, following guidelines developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch protocol and the Audubon Society’s Living Oceans Seafood Guide. The company also stopped serving four species of seafood—Chilean sea bass, Atlantic swordfish, blue fin tuna and shark—because the survival of those species is threatened by over-fishing, or they are harvested in ways that damage the environment.
Xanterra then became the first U.S. hospitality company to be granted the “Chain of Custody” certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. Xanterra also joined the Chef’s Collaborative, a national network of more than 1,000 members of the food community who promote sustainable cuisine.
Since then, Xanterra’s sustainable cuisine menu offerings at many locations have grown substantially, including the additions of:
- Oregon Country Natural Beef, a cooperative of family-run ranches where cattle are raised using the most sustainable practices possible, including eliminating growth hormones and feed additives and maximizing the use of natural resources like water and vegetation.
- Niman Ranch pork and Montana Legends beef, produced from hormone-free animals fed natural feeds and grazed using low-impact methods.
- Wine produced from organically grown grapes or by using other sustainable agricultural practices. A full one-third of the wine list at the Grand Canyon Lodge is comprised of wines produced using sustainable agriculture or organic farming techniques.
- Marine Stewardship Council Certified Wild Alaskan, sustainably harvested salmon.
- Organic produce, grass-fed beef and local Ohio-raised chicken.
- Farm-raised trout, tilapia, bison, elk and venison.
- Abalone produced by Abalone Farm, a California facility that uses state-of-the-art sustainable practices. Due to the rapid decline in the coastal wild abalone population, commercial abalone diving is illegal in U.S. waters. Abalone Farm operates an aquaculture facility that grows abalone without harming resources.
- Silk brand organic soy milk.
- Organic Fair Trade Certified Coffee, grown without pesticides and harvested in a way that supports wildlife and migratory bird habitats, using a shade growing method that requires only partial cutting of the rainforest.
The Fair Trade certificate means that it is purchased from local farmers at a fair price.