Latest Episode

EPISODE 28: Recycle. Upcycle. All I Want To Do Is Ride My Unicycle!

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

Fresh off the heels of our three-part series titled “The Chef’s World View“, we’re taking a completely different direction. In this week’s episode, our investigators look at the state of affairs of recycling practices in the United States: The good, the bad and the ugly of American habits and the environmental price we pay.

 

WILLIAM: I remember, long ago, when I was just a child, going to the circus with my mom and dad. Back in the day before OSHA became involved. There were unbelievably crazy and often dangerous stunts executed by the circus performers—especially the clowns—who did nutty and treacherous tricks.

 

There was this one clown that I remember clearly. Let’s call him “bozo” for dramatic effect, okay? No, not the Bozo the Clown. THIS bozo’s claim to circus fame was to ride a unicycle in wild fashion. Every time he came out, the unicycle’s seat was higher and higher! He juggled; he threw knives; he tried to run over the other clowns…I was on the edge of my seat!

 

Eventually, as he was going around the ring faster and faster with the seat on its highest setting…BAM! He was down like a shot! Yes, he was a real “bozo”!

 

But, you know what they say…The show must go on! And it did. The poor guy was partially carried, partially dragged off into the back somewhere. I had no doubt he was hurt.

 

PATRICK: Why exactly are you telling me about this childhood trauma? We’re investigating sustainability. Has our blog’s theme changed without my knowledge, Agent Neal?

 

WILLIAM: Think about it…Americans are in many ways like the bozo on the unicycle; we keep going around and around, higher and higher, faster and faster making this recycling thing a part of our daily lives.

 

PATRICK: That’s a good thing, right? More and more Americans are thinking about their impact on the environment and more and more of us ARE recycling!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, spurred on by environmentalists and politicians with good intent, the American public is embracing recycling with a vengeance. Now those “little blue bins” are everywhere! And we keep them full, too!

 

Recycling Blue Bin

 

PATRICK: I think I see where you’re headed with this…

 

WILLIAM: Why are those little blue bins so full?! Just like the clown…round and round we go! Consume, consume, consume!

 

PATRICK: Yes, Agent Neal. Single-stream recycling has caught on fire since folks could “feel good” about being Green…without a lot of effort, that is. We don’t have to sort our recycling.

 

Remember when we used to put everything in the trash and it “magically” disappeared—not realizing the landfill crisis we were creating? Today, we throw all of our recyclables into that little blue bin and, again, it all disappears. Then, rewarding us for our efforts, we see “made with 100% recycled materials” labels on everything! MAGIC!

 

But, what many of us are unaware of is that someone behind the scenes has to separate all the recyclables we’re tossing into that blue bin…and that costs money. And don’t even get me started on the contamination issues associated with single-stream recycling!

 

WILLIAM: Can you imagine if the recycling movement of the 90s had proclaimed multi-stream recycling as the only way to go? The general public may never have taken it on. No matter how sustainable many of us “want” to be, being required to sort paper, plastic, aluminum, etc., is a hassle. Most people avoid hassle!

 

PATRICK: That’s an unfortunate reality, Agent Neal.

 

Here’s something else I uncovered on the topic of nationwide municipal recycling programs and the ubiquitous blue box. What was once a profitable enterprise for municipalities around the country has now become a HUGE money-sucking albatross!

 

WILLIAM: How did THAT happen?

 

PATRICK: As eco-minded citizens have done such a good job of creating mountains of recyclates (yes, this is a word), processors can’t keep up.

 

Some municipalities now actually have to PAY to have these materials disposed of…Yes, that’s right…PAY to throw away!

 

WILLIAM: Totally tragic!

 

PATRICK: And then there’s the question of business profitability for the processors who take on the monumental task of dealing with single-stream recyclables…the task, and the cost, of separating all that material.

 

Now, this is a bit of a touchy area, but here goes…

 

Depending on who you speak with, the large recyclable processors either ARE or are NOT making a profit. There are just a few players, so they do the lion’s share of business. And here in Georgia, some of those processors are “importing” recyclables to produce their “environmentally friendly” products.

 

That begs the call-to-action for Georgians to recycle even more, and more responsibly, but that’s a topic for another investigation.

 

Honestly, the real question might be: What level of profit can ever be made…if we keep recycling so blindly? There’s so much more to this story!

 

Economic factors indicate that profitability from recycled products and materials ebbs and flows much in the same way that any commodity does. Much in the same way world markets and economies dictate use of any product, sometimes the business of turning recyclables into useable materials is good and sometimes not so good. The trend, of late, unfortunately is that it has been not so good.

 

WILLIAM: So, that leaves us Americans with a question; Are we riding the recycling unicycle with the seat too high?

 

In other words, as individuals, should we be more focused on NOT filling up those lovely blue bins? Are we supporting products made from recyclables first in our daily purchases? How can we get off the unicycle and become part of the recycling solution through less consumption?

 

PATRICK: Great cultural questions. Nobody wants to crash and burn!

 

To be continued…

 


 

If you make a conscious choice to purchase products made from recycled materials, please share with our other readers what you’ve found to be the method to make such purchasing the easiest? Do you read every label? Do you purchase only certain brands? What’s your best trick in purchasing to keep more out of the landfill? Please share your suggestions (and ask any questions) in the comments section below.

 

Join us again soon for another episode of The Green Files.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: American Recycling Has Stalled

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: The Byzantine Empire

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Ocean Dumping

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 27: The Chef’s World View – Part III

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In the third installment of this series, our investigators get ingredient-specific and source-specific, looking into the mind of a chef when tasked with being innovative. Join us as we get down with some culinary calisthenics!

 

WILLIAM: Do you remember when crème brulee was considered innovative and every dish in every restaurant had truffle oil in it?

 

PATRICK: Oh, yes. Those were the days!

 

WILLIAM: Those were the days? Did you really say “those were the days”?! Please tell me that my investigative partner wants those days to return. Really? I mean, REALLY?

 

PATRICK: Well…there’s always room for traditional eating and celebration of other cultures, yes?

 

WILLIAM: True. But as you know, back when those culinary trends were happening over here in the United States, Europeans had been dining with marvelous food like that for centuries. Most important, much of the foundation for modern culinary mastery came from European chefs who supplied amazing dishes as part of a culture…the key word being “culture”.

 

White Truffle

 

PATRICK: Well, something tells me you are about to weave in sustainability here, aren’t you?

 

WILLIAM: You bet! Part of the culinary culture that originated in Europe, and for that matter many other parts of the globe, completely embraced sustainable farming, sourcing and food production as a normal way of life within their craft. And in certain areas of the world, sustainable practices are part of the tapestry of a culture.

 

Livestock strains are bred for pure lines of quality, “grass fed” is often the only way to feed grazing livestock and “locally produced” is in fact as local as local can be. The chefs know where the best ingredients come from and they make it their business to get their hands on the best raw ingredients!

 

PATRICK: You are so right. It reminds me of the pig and truffle kind of thing. No, I am not pushing truffle oil again. But with truffles, even the pigs in the Piedmont region of Italy know the exact “source” for amazing white truffles. An extreme example, but worthy I believe since they are the ultimate source expert – a specific expertise called upon by human cooks since the ancient Babylonian times. The nose knows!

 

WILLIAM: Yes. And I must admit, even after ribbing you a bit, I still love white truffles! But I digress…

 

One of the most important topics related to sustainable sourcing is the production of organically grown and hormone-free protein. We have profiled the local beef of White Oak Pastures and other sources for local chefs. But to most great chefs, it is ALL ABOUT THE FLAVOR and variety.

 

PATRICK: True. So, tell our readers what some of the main protein ingredients are that chefs seek?

 

WILLIAM: From a flavor perspective, there is no comparison between a farm-raised salmon and a wild salmon. There is also zero comparison between pasture-fed pork and pork stuffed full of man-made feed.

 

The interesting thing about flavor profiles in protein is that sometimes a person will taste something “wild” or pasture-fed for the first time in their lives, and it is VERY different than any previous experience. Sometimes this turns the “first taster” off, but in many instances the taster has an epiphany.

 

Chefs who understand this engineer their dishes to appeal to the finest flavor characteristics of an ingredient and masterfully blend seasonings and ingredients to highlight exactly what will be most well received.

 

PATRICK: What are some of the most powerful examples you’ve experienced of this dynamic?

 

WILLIAM: Years ago in my early culinary career, I took a trip to California wine country. I had the chance to eat at renowned Chef Bradley Ogden‘s establishment The Lark Creek Inn. His claim to fame on his hand-written menu that night was local morel mushrooms. I had cooked with them many times before, but mainly with the dried version, not fresh ones.

 

The waiter brought them to the table and proceeded to expertly introduce and showcase them to customers. He even offered descriptions of how they were harvested nearby. I was blown away by not only the fresh appearance of the delicate mushrooms, but also by the intensely fresh, earthy aroma they exhibited. It was almost as if they lived and breathed the soil and water they had come from.

 

Of course I ordered them and in a few minutes, my appetizer of fresh morels was placed before me. Imagine the combined smell of fresh warm butter, rich toasted nuts, some delicately grilled beef and maybe a hint of shallots in the air. It was utterly intoxicating.

 

When I inquired as to the exact preparation, I was told they were simply sautéed in clarified butter and that there were NO other ingredients except the tiniest amount of sea salt. As a chef myself, this was one of those moments that will never be forgotten. I learned in one bite what the typical American dining public also has been learning these last few years: natural, sublimely fresh, locally sourced and simply prepared ingredients have no relationship to most of the food we consume on a daily basis.

 

I was thrilled and disappointed all at the same time. As a young culinarian, would I be able to make my own important statement about the “food disconnect” we’ve had in our culture? Could I be a champion for respect of the Earth’s natural bounty? I have spent the last 30 years trying to figure it all out.

 

PATRICK: That’s an eye-opening example of how one chef and one dish can influence so many things by the choices they make and the methods they use. My hope is that everyone we touch with our investigative work – and with the stories you have shared today – might look at chefs from a slightly different perspective. Maybe they’ll see them as vehicles to empower cultural shifts in the ways we eat by highlighting how and why they source ingredients.

 

WILLIAM: Agreed.

 

PATRICK: Agent Neal, I’m feeling like reservations are in our future.

 

WILLIAM: What do you mean?

 

PATRICK: I just heard about a new restaurant that opened where the chef grows, at her own farm, much of what is served. I believe I need to investigate some ingredients very, very carefully. And some wine pairings too!

 

WILLIAM: Sounds like all this talk of morels and crème brulee has made you hungry. Me, too. Let’s go!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Please share with us and other readers how you go about getting to know your local farmers? How do you go about researching a restaurant’s claim of sourcing local ingredients? How do you determine whether or not an establishment is greenwashing their sustainability claims?

 

Join us again soon for another episode of The Green Files.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Chef Holly Chute

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Chef Linton Hopkins

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Growth Hormones in Beef

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 26: The Chef’s World View – Part II

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

Welcome to Part II in a 3-part series we’re calling, HEY YOU, WHAT’S FOR DINNER?“, which has a very specific agenda. Your Special Agents have made it their mission as foodies to help readers learn about the attention paid to food sourcing, the outlook for their long-term global viability and how chefs around the world are becoming some of the most ardent voices for sustainability. Today we’re exploring the chef’s world view. Plan on discovering information that will inspire you and learn about some incredible foods, all the while having fun with your favorite Green Team!

 

WILLIAM: I learned something interesting the other day from Chef Ashley Mitchell our Executive Sous Chef at Affairs to Remember Caterers. The Sales team was attending one of our many new menu items tastings. In these meetings we learn about, vet and refine new dishes that we plan to offer to our clients. The discussion was steered toward the concept of “local, farm-to-table” food sources and their place within our line of products. She mentioned that the real momentum in the hospitality world toward purchasing locally produced raw ingredients in restaurants, hotels, institutions and by caterers like us derived largely for reasons other than public demand.

 

PATRICK: Let me guess, somewhere along the line a situation developed where “the money talked and the California-grown veggies walked“, right?

 

WILLIAM: You called it right, Agent Cuccaro! Once the major foodservice distributors found out that they would SAVE MONEY by NOT sourcing and shipping cross-country, or in many cases even across continents, then the local farms and producers all across the nation started to get their attention. Of course, you have our revered farmers and producers whose mission it is to improve the world by producing local and organic foods. But, you also have many more farms run by folks simply trying to make a living for their family, the same as they have been for years.

 

So, this focus shift by the foodservice conglomerates became very good news for the local producers all across the country. Now they are sought after and many have even achieved notoriety, whereas before many were mostly anonymous.

 

PATRICK: I would imagine that when the big distributors get in the mix, they have great purchasing power that would benefit the local producers. But, I am sure it comes with a price.

 

WILLIAM: True. The jury is still out on the overall impact and price paid by the local producer who gets picked up by the big distributors. But clearly, demand for locally grown and oftentimes organic locally grown is way, way up.

 

PATRICK: American food culture in general is changing day by day for the better. As applied to food, restaurants and the chefs that make them successful, sustainability is no longer something on the wishlist but something on the primary checklist of most forward-thinking operators. Clearly the foodservice industry and its supply chains are trying to adjust and keep up with this burgeoning demand.

 

Affairs to Remember's on-premise Chef's Garden

 

WILLIAM: The info I garnered from Chef Ashley made me look into the overall sustainable mindset of some of the world’s most respected chefs. I wanted to know how their selection of ingredients had an affect on the local farming community and the supply chain in general. I also wanted to know how the menus they write have evolved and if they now mostly conceived from locally sourced ingredients.

 

As I did my investigating, several things stood out as common among these culinary giants.

 

First, without exception, the whole concept of sustainability was tied directly to how chefs view the world in general AND, interestingly enough, how they feel about the people who work for them. The fact is, kitchens are labor intensive operations and a certain degree of “entry level” inexpensive labor is required for financial success.

 

Beyond providing jobs for the individuals who perform these necessary tasks for restaurants and the like, chefs typically donate a significant amount of time and resources to their local community. Food banks, fundraisers, vocational schools and charitable organizations are often supported by well-known chefs who offer their talents on a variety of local community projects.

 

PATRICK: I’m not seeing the connection. How does this relate to sustainability?

 

WILLIAM: Bear with me here…

 

Think about our food culture and how it has shifted. Yes, locally sourced food, healthy living AND community involvement are all tied together in the broader sense for the positive perpetuation of human sustainability.

 

But who benefits most from the community involvement of these superstar chefs? In many places around the world, it is the entry level folks—the local labor pool whose demographic populates the hospitality world in a very big way. These successful chefs know that by supporting the community, in a very holistic way, they are in turn supporting the very same folks they work side-by-side with every day of the week. They know that one of their main labor support systems must be sustained so their success depends on this all coming full circle.

 

But here is the DIRECT tie-in to being Green and sustainability in general from a chef’s world view…

 

Many of these community projects are directly related to being Green, sustainable initiatives, local sourcing and of course the massive culture shift toward the “farm-to-table” mega movement. In our particular craft of special events, the “Farm-to-Party” mentality is rich and touches many, due to the volume of people we serve.

 

PATRICK: Wow! Good stuff. When our investigations unearth rare gems of insight and knowledge about the foodservice industry, it gives me a real appreciation for our craft. This information,  Agent Neal, gives me a deeper glimpse into what I call the sincerity of “a call to serve others” that most chefs possess as a natural part of their DNA.

 

WILLIAM: Looking at things through the lens of an investigator allows us to think through a person’s true motivation for what they do and how they do it. But even if you are not in the hospitality industry, there are many things individuals can do to support local farming and to be a part of the sustainability movement. Here’s a list from FoodTank that demonstrates How We Can Support the Local Food System.

 

PATRICK: For sure! Agent Neal, let’s get back to chefs, food sourcing and Green for a second… Who would you say is a role model for chef-driven, culinary-oriented sustainability?

 

WILLIAM: In Episode 25 we referenced a few folks, such as Barbara Kingslover and Chef Thomas Keller. But hands down, one of the most inspirational chefs who works tirelessly to promote sustainability is Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill. Take a few minutes and watch this poignant and humorous look at the local and global food supply: Chef Dan Barber: How I Fell In Love With A Fish.

 

PATRICK: It is not often I get so enthralled as I did listening to Chef Barber. That presentation is a jewel.

 

WILLIAM: My investigations have uncovered some other great knowledge about the way chefs write menus.

 

PATRICK: I can hardly wait wait and I’m getting hungry already! Tell me what you uncovered, Agent Neal.

 

WILLIAM: Another common thread running through the minds of and influencing the world view of powerhouse chefs is the never-ending search for something unique. What sets one chef’s dish apart from another? Usually it’s either a unique technique OR in our case unique ingredients.

 

PATRICK: So what makes an ingredient unique? Is it something unfamiliar? Is it something with unusual flavor? Is it the pedigree?

 

WILLIAM: It’s all of the above! But let’s take a look at the element that seems to be influencing menus worldwide more than any other: pedigree. The source usually drives all of the positive elements a chef searches for.

 

PATRICK: Let me take a crack at this one. Flavor, freshness, uniqueness and price…is that correct?

 

WILLIAM: Right again, Agent Cuccaro! When chefs write menus incorporating these critical elements into their dishes, quality comes naturally. A perfectly ripe heirloom tomato from a local source, fresh milk from the local dairy lovingly made into hand-pulled mozzarella, aromatic basil from an on-premise chef’s garden, cold-pressed olive oil and aged balsamic…heaven on a plate! This is just a simple example of a dish everyone can relate to.

 

But, as chefs “up the ante” on their menus, all sorts of amazing things happen. Savvy local producers begin to see the names of their businesses and farms on menus as a sign of quality. Commerce is generated and the ripple effect to other local businesses becomes viral…and all because a chef decided to use a particular tomato. So you see, chefs wield some formidable power and deserve the respect they get when searching for ways to be sustainable.

 

PATRICK: Who are some of our local producers who have become “heroes” to chefs here in the South?

 

WILLIAM: Will Harris of White Oak Pastures immediately comes to mind. He was a pioneer in Georgia when it comes to the grass-fed method of feeding livestock. His meat products are highly sought after. A very interesting documentary on his farm and philosophy was done a few years ago and I recommend giving it a watch to learn about his family and his importance to our local chefs: CUD

 

 

PATRICK: Yes, he is a hero for sure. Speaking of grass-fed, check out this website that is a handy link to a consumer seeking grass-fed products, which drills down to the state level, including Georgia: Eat Wild

 

Agent Neal, this has been a terrific investigation. My goal for the next episode is to dive into specific ingredients and see how trends take shape in food. I want to give our readers some inspirational recipes and ideas for entertaining, as well. So, start your wheels turning, okay?

 

WILLIAM: You bet! I am working on a fantastic menu right now for an important industry event in the fall. Chefs Ahmad and Ashley have been tasked with coming up with something highly creative, yet accessible, to be served to some of the Southeast’s best chefs and restaurateurs. I an hardly wait to collaborate and build the framework of amazing style and excellent service around their menu. This is a perfect case study for us all!

 

To be continued…

 


 

How well do you know your local farmers? Do you get to know the farmers when you visit your local farmers market? Are you more likely to order a dish on a menu when the protein and produce are locally sourced? Please share with us your thoughts on this episode in the comments section. Thank you!

 

Join us in TWO WEEKS, on June 23, for the final installment of this 3-part series.

 

NOTE: Our special agents are frequently undercover for in-depth investigations. They will be reporting in every two weeks.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood WATCH

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Chefs Collaborative

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: GMOs

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 25: The Chef’s World View – Part I

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

Welcome to the first in a 3-part series we’re calling, HEY YOU, WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”with a very specific agenda in mind. Your Special Agents have made it their mission as foodies to help readers learn about the attention paid to food sourcing, the outlook for their long-term global viability and how chefs around the world are becoming some of the most ardent voices for sustainability. Plan on discovering facts that will inspire you and learn about some incredible foods, all the while having fun with your favorite Green Team!

 

WILLIAM: Back in the early 80s, while I was working in Europe as a chef, someone said something that has stuck with me all these years. You may remember in Episode 10: The Uber Tuber I mentioned the mother of the chef I worked with and her amazing garden from which we ate many a great meal. Well, one afternoon we were chatting. I was rolling out some almond dough for an amazing apple tart we had on the menu, telling her about how back in the States I had learned to make a similar dessert called tarte tatin in iron skillets and how it was one of my absolute favorites.

 

Tarte Tatin
 

PATRICK: I love that one, too! Caramelized apples on crispy pastry, a little ice cream on the side and you are reminded that there IS a heaven!

 

WILLIAM: Well, then she said, “So, where did the apples come from?” I simply answered that I didn’t really know, but that, “Just any Granny Smith apple would do.”

 

She looked me straight in the eye for a second, took a deep breath and said, “Chef William, it is criminal to not know where your apples came from! How could you have true pride in the dessert you were making if you did not really know what you were working with! This is a purely criminal culinary act!

 

PATRICK: What happened next? What did you say to her?

 

WILLIAM: I was actually in a mild state of shock. Not only because she was dead serious, but also because as I broke it down in my mind for days, months and now years later…I realized that she was right! Here was a woman who simply could not get her head around NOT knowing that she either grew the apple herself, knew the person who grew it or at least knew where the orchard was that produced it. That was her “quality control” method, her excellence meter, her truest comfort factor.

 

PATRICK: She taught you a good lesson, Agent Neal. So much of what we consume has a pedigree that is absent from our minds even when we take the first bite. As we have investigated in many episodes, if we really KNEW the sources of our food, we would and should view them differently.

 

WILLIAM: This very profound concept of understanding your food is forming the backbone of a global food movement. At the front line are chefs who in every corner of the world are becoming less of a cutter-chopper-cook and more of a sourcing expert. The connection between food source and quality has been prevalent in cultures for as long as mankind has existed, but the modern world lost its path with the invention of agribusiness.

 

PATRICK: Along the same lines, I would say that broader subjects include the effects of culture, climate, economics, conflict, etc., on world food production and supply.

 

WILLIAM: True and yes. I want to investigate this as we produce this 3-part series.

 

PATRICK: For sure! Agent Neal, let’s get back to chefs, food sourcing and Green for a sec…Who would you say is a model for culinary-oriented sustainability?

 

WILLIAM: One of the first names that usually pops up with the general public is Barbara Kingslover who wrote the epic read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where she documented her family’s journey into producing everything they ate, for an entire year! She did a brilliant job of connecting with the average person and family life. On a professional level though, Chef Thomas Keller of the famous “The French Laundry” in Napa Valley would be at the head of the class. His restaurants have served as sustainable templates for operations worldwide.

 

PATRICK: An amazing place! I look forward to getting into this subject deeper and deeper over the next couple of episodes! Keller is a master of sourcing, for sure.

 

WILLIAM: My investigations have uncovered some great sources, some great facts, and of course I hope that they will inspire us all! I might have even discovered some new recipes to share! How about a locally sourced menu for 150 people…sound good?

 

PATRICK: I can’t wait. and I am getting hungry already!

 

To be continued…

 


 

What restaurants to do regularly visit because you’re a fan of their sustainability initiatives?

 

Join us IN TWO WEEKS on June 9 for Part 2 in our 3-part series.

 

NOTE: Our special agents are frequently undercover for in-depth investigations. They will be reporting in every two weeks.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Global Food Production

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Save the Oceans, Feed the World

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: War Colored Shades of Green

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Episodes

EPISODE 24: The Anniversary Issue

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

We’re officially 24 episodes strong! That’s right folks, we have an anniversary to celebrate! Six months of Green blood, unpolluted sweat and the most pristine of tears have been shed to keep you informed about all things Green! As you now know, not only do we investigate, but we educate and advocate. So, let’s take a retrospective look at the last few months of our passionate work to see where we have endeavored to make a difference.

 

WILLIAM: Well, Agent Cuccaro, this has been an amazing journey, watching our ecologically oriented investigations unfold! What has been your favorite part?

 

PATRICK: “Ecologically oriented”? I would say we are far more than that, Agent Neal! How often do you see a blog written from a purely investigative angle–PLUS we talk of everything from craft beers and Green weddings to government waste and corporate polluters? Nowhere, say I, nowhere!

 

WILLIAM: As I wipe a tear welling in the corner of my eye, there is no other special agent I would ever want by my side as we tell the world about “Chicken on Drugs” or about “My Politicians Need a Good Spanking­”. In fact, Patrick, there is nobody I would want by my side more than you when navigating the “Could-a, Would-a, Should-a…. the Green Commitment” since there are few people more committed to the sustainable lifestyle than you!

 

PATRICK: Why, thank you, sir! And one of the things I am most proud of is the fact that even when the public outcry came to HAVE YOU committed, I resisted the urge of so many and convinced them that you were not completely crazy!

 

WILLIAM: The tears are flowing now, Patrick, simply gushing!

 

PATRICK: Looking back over the time we have worked on this project, I’m proud of much of it. Our message has been a “call to action”. Right out of the gate in, Prologue: EPISODE 1, we talked about making a personal connection to being Green and why our lives should involve moving towards sustainability as a way of helping our families and the planet.

 

We RECYCLE!

 

 WILLIAM: We touched on that theme several times thoughout the past few months. Do you remember in EPISODE 20: How to Keep The Martians Out Of Your Green Home we connected the economic struggles many Americans faced over the past few years to how sustainability is affected by the ultimate “Green”: money?

 

PATRICK: Connect with folks in the pocketbook and they perk up–that episode certainly got some attention! The other episodes that got lots of notice were the ones that kept our politicians on their toes. In EPISODE 4: Bringing The Food To You we touched on what food miles were and what they mean to us from the perspective of carbon-offset. On some levels, this was a set up to the discussions about transportation dollars spent by our various government agencies in EPISODE 22: Baby You Can Drive My Car. In several episodes we talk about the role of government, since they provide the framework of regulations that help or hinder sustainability. I am sure that the local officials under the “gold dome” are on-notice that we ARE watching!

 

WILLIAM: But at the same time, Agent Cuccaro, we were very clear about the individual’s role of accountability. The ballot box gives us the only true power we have to control what our elected officials do or DON’T DO!

 

PATRICK: For sure! There is nothing like sending a strong message loud and clear to where it will have the desired effect!

 

WILLIAM: Hey, here is another strong message we have embraced in our blog: WE LOVE FUN, WE LOVE FOOD, WE LOVE GOOD LIBATION, WE KNOW HOW TO THROW A PARTY!

 

PATRICK: You bet we do, and our readers can count on our passion to deliver relevant info on sustainably oriented food, chefs who walk the Green walk AND, my personal favorites, craft beers and great wine! I loved discussing in EPISODE 6: Of Trappist Monks and The Modern Day Green Revolution the way sustainability was a practical way of managing life in ancient times. Many of those “ancient” principals still serve as inspiration in modern times.

 

WILLIAM: Yes, and we had fun when we talked about fine wines in EPISODE 7: Grapes with a Green Pedigree and then turned right around in EPISODE 21: Of Fine Wines and Disposable Cups: My Bordeaux vs. Your Bamboo to poke a Green finger into how to eat in style with disposables AND stay committed to sustainability! Now THAT takes some investigating, doesn’t it!

 

PATRICK: That was some really fun and some well-lubricated investigating for sure! How about from a chef’s perspective, William, which of our episodes has inspired you to be gastronomically Green?

 

WILLIAM: Of course I loved sharing the story in EPISODE 4 about crisp fall apples and educating my son about food miles. But from a culinary perspective, I really loved EPISODE 10: The Uber Tuber where I described the making of a rich and hearty stew!

 

PATRICK: That was a mouth-watering episode for certain!

 

WILLIAM: I can just smell the succulent aromas of the fresh beef, delicately caramelized organic vegetables, rich herbaceous broth and wine simmering now…

 

PATRICK: Stop it already! You’re making me hungry!

 

WILLIAM: That is generally the idea in the catering biz, you know!

 

PATRICK: Speaking of ideas and of catering or special events in general, the info we shared in EPISODE 17: The Party Season Begins! profiled a couple of great Atlanta venues available for hosting events, but we also talked about entertaining at home, all with a flair for Green living.

 

WILLIAM: Food, sustainability and parties! I am super excited by the direction we will be taking the next few months with our investigations.

 

In the next episode we begin a great three-part series called “A Chef ‘s Journey Toward Sustainability”.  We will be taking a look at specific ingredients, resources, inspirations and valuable tools that the world’s chefs employ in their goal of being sustainable.

 

PATRICK: That sounds really fun, Agent Neal, and I’m looking forward to these assignments. I encourage our readers to “brush up” on the last 24 episodes so they are ready to hit the ground running on the next 24!

 

WILLIAM: Thanks for all the great support and laser-like knowledge you bring to our work. I am sure the best is yet to come from our collaborations! Go, Green Files!

 

To be continued…

 


 

What “Green” topics would you enjoy learning more about? In other words, on what topic(s) or subject(s) would you like to see our Special Agents investigate and report? Please share with us in the Comments section below, or on our Social Media channels.

 

Join us IN TWO WEEKS on May 26 when we begin a new 3-part series that profiles some amazing things happening in the culinary world related to global and regional sustainable food sourcing, why certain ingredients are sustainable and some are not, as well as a treasure trove of Green facts.

 

NOTE: Our special agents are frequently undercover for in-depth investigations. They will be reporting in every two weeks.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Scott O. Seydel

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Our Blog Readers

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Television (certain aspects)

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 23: The Athlete’s “Green”

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 22, Patrick and William examined the progress of tax dollars spent on various transportation issues and how those decisions directly affect sustainability. This week join them as they take a look at the outdoors, healthful living and exercise as it relates to a commitment to Green living.

 

WILLIAM: What a GORGEOUS day outside today!

 

PATRICK: Yes it is! I’m looking forward to a brisk run in the park later today.

 

WILLIAM: My kids love, love, love playing outdoors in the woods and yard, so I’m excited to get out and get active with them! They really love it too when we head to a fun park or to the river or anywhere green.

 

Kids Playing Outside

 

PATRICK: We are lucky in Atlanta to have a significant number of green spaces. Many metro areas don’t have half the parks and open spaces we enjoy. It makes it hard to get out and exercise if there’s no place to go. Running in the city is okay I guess, but the exercise freak in me really comes out when I run at the park or at one of our travel destinations offering green spaces.

 

WILLIAM: I know what you mean about cities filled with grey buildings…concrete jungles, as they say. Thank goodness for the folks at Trees Atlanta. They have done an effective job of planting trees all around areas of the city where concrete rules and green is lean! It really helps to “freshen up” a street or cityscape when it’s laced with something alive and green.

 

PATRICK: It is interesting that you used the term “freshen up” the city environment by creating more urban forest. We all know how plants and trees create oxygen. But there are so many other benefits to trees anywhere they are! Just ask The Tree People.

 

WILLIAM: You’re not calling on “tree huggers” for our investigation are you? I love tree huggers, you know, but some of our readers who don’t self-identify that way might write them off as eco-radicals.

 

PATRICK: Nope, no radicals looking for attention here, just some everyday folks who do a great job of illustrating the many ways that trees benefit us other than just providing oxygen for our run. They happen to be proponents for those of us who like to breathe—in other words, everyone!

 

Here’s one example: When you think about it, trees help diverse groups of people come together. Tree plantings create an opportunity for community involvement and outreach. Camping and hiking, birdwatching, hunting, leaf watching…all of these activities would be less exciting or even non-existent in certain climates without an abundance of healthy trees.

 

WILLIAM: And each one of those activities has another benefit. It helps us to keep our bodies healthy by being active, maybe even bringing out the athlete in all of us!

 

PATRICK: Nothing like a great hike to let you feel refreshed and oxygenated!

 

WILLIAM: Hey, did you know that an acre of trees can produce enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for one year? Good news to those of us who appreciate breathing!

 

PATRICK: But the reality is that each generation is affected more and more by global deforestation. At the local level we need to do all we can to promote anything that will save trees and plants from unnecessary destruction. Supporting local planting programs whenever possible is a start, but beginning with teaching our youth about how plant life works to our benefit is critical for the future. Planting something is ideal for kids to learn more about the deep and important connection we have to flora and fauna.

 

WILLIAM: That is so true. Project Learning Tree has a fantastic green education initiative called Green Schools Program. It’s where children learn a broad spectrum of environmentally savvy info. Public and private school systems around the country are embracing these types of programs, and positive things are happening.

 

Earlier we were talking about being athletic, and we’ve mentioned staying active as part of a healthy Green lifestyle. Childhood obesity and early onset diabetes are just a few of the plagues our youth is experiencing as a result of huge shifts in lifestyle over the years. The digital age, for all its benefits, has put a big hurt on playing in the back yard, riding a bike and “running over to the neighbor’s house to play outside”.

 

Did you know that obesity in kids has more than just the obvious consequences? A recent post from the Mayo Clinic details many potential problems for inactive kids well beyond cardiovascular. A couple of these scary issues are ones that I have personally faced, both as a kid and as an adult over the years, battling my own weight. Sleep disorders have caused me to look at my health much more closely. Emotionally, as a fat kid, life was often hard. Even though I was active, I still got picked on due to my excess weight.

 

PATRICK: Hey, my own nickname was “Fatrick”, so I can relate. Times have surely changed, William. In my day, it was square dancing. Today, youth athletics are an important part of raising kids for many reasons. But let me shift gears a bit.

 

What would happen if the tastiest foods out there for kids and adults were produced by the best chefs and caterers our nation has to offer? Wouldn’t that push us a long way towards some positive lifestyle changes? Some well-prepared food made from locally sourced, sustainable ingredients can replace ANY man-made supplements out there and create fuel fit for an athlete!

 

WILLIAM: Do you mean replace the proverbial birthday party cake and pizza with healthy tasty veggies and cookies laced with wholesome organic grains and natural sugars?

 

PATRICK: You bet! Regardless of the age birthday being celebrated, these gourmet treats served up at a lovely park, at the lake, at the beach, anywhere green will make you want to run around and breathe in the fresh air!

 

WILLIAM: Sounds like a plan!

 

That reminds me that as detectives and as fountains of info for our readers, we should always “bring it home” with some useful and inspirational information. As a grad of The Culinary Institute of America, I found out about another terrific sustainable initiative that ties together many elements of thought and action to help our Green efforts. We’ve noted a new program from this prestigious school called “Menus of Change” in our Revealed sidebar, so I hope our readers won’t miss it!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Please share with us and other readers in the Comments section below what are some of the things you do with food to educate your kids at home about healthy eating and “Green” eating? What’s their favorite post-sports, post-play, post-work snack that you enjoy making most?

 

Join us IN TWO WEEKS, on May 12, when we celebrate our BIG six-month anniversary of The Green Files. William and Patrick will fondly look back at previous issues to check in on the progress and successes of several topics.

 

NOTE: Our special agents are frequently undercover for in-depth investigations. They will be reporting in every two weeks.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Menus of Change

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Trees Atlanta

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Global Deforestation

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 22: Baby You Can Drive My Car

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 21, Patrick and William looked at recyclable materials used by the foodservice industry and how using them may or may not map onto our goal of living a “Green lifestyle”. This week, our special agents look at a subject that is top of mind this time of year: TAXES. We as taxpaying citizens wonder how those tax dollars are used to promote Green concepts and initiatives…

 

WILLIAM: I’m depressed today, Agent Cuccaro, really depressed. Can you offer some Green thoughts to lift my spirits?

 

PATRICK: What has you feeling blue instead of Green today, Agent Neal? It isn’t “Tax Day”, is it?

 

WILLIAM: Well actually, yes, taxes are never much fun, but necessary. It’s how my tax dollars are being squandered that really gets to me. Particularly when it comes to the environment. True, there are tax-funded programs that are helping Green initiatives, but they seem to disappear as quickly as they become law!

 

PATRICK: You must be referring to the electric car issue as an example, correct? Can you believe that the State Senate of Georgia has ended a tax break for citizens purchasing electric cars while keeping similar breaks in place for businesses. In the very last minutes of legislative sessions, the Georgia House and Senate passed House Bill 170, which effectively ends the handsome benefits to new electric car purchasers. In addition, they tacked on a new $200 annual “license fee”, which is equivalent to the fees required for large SUVs.

 

Electric Car

 

WILLIAM: Wasn’t the original bill intended to help fund the state’s backlog of road projects, and doesn’t building new roads cause more driving, more traffic, and, therefore, more air pollution?

 

PATRICK: Probably not, Agent N. It’s a chicken and egg thing. But just as building new schools does not “cause” more students or studying, building roads probably does not “cause” more drivers or traffic.

 

Both schools and roads, like other public infrastructure and housing, are built to accommodate an ever growing population and economy. But despite gains in population and vehicle miles traveled, the nation’s air quality has actually improved as a result of improved focus on efficient road systems, efficient engines and of course many other technologies designed to help off-set pollutants—specifically, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics between 1970 and 2002, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 73 percent, nitrous oxides (NOx) by 41 percent, particulate matter (PM) by 50 percent, and carbon monoxide (CO) by 62 percent. NOx and VOCs are precursors to ozone deterioration and associated with Greenhouse gasses and climate change. As levels of VOCs and NOx continue to decrease, so will ozone and Greenhouse gases.

 

But the science points to many other ways we can reduce gas-powered emissions. Road improvements are helpful, but not nearly as much as reductions in single-occupant gas-powered vehicles.

 

For example, have you ever really investigated other parts of the globe that have successfully reduced emissions and done so in consistent measurable form? In almost every situation, the real help came from well-designed and well-used public transportation systems.

 

WILLIAM: I do know that cities like Paris, London, New York, Chicago and others have incredible mass transit systems. Where has the greatest impact been made?

 

PATRICK: Most of the significant environmental advancements are a direct result of tax dollars spent on non-fossil fuel transportation systems. Imagine if each one of those cities you mentioned was inhabited solely by car-driving commuters? Not only would the streets be more clogged, but so would our lungs.

 

WILLIAM: Speaking of lungs, I recently ran across this little tid-bit in my investigations. Did you know that according to the World Trade Organization 2013 statistics New Delhi has the worst air quality in the world? Factors include not only transportation emissions, but construction, industrial emissions, dust created by unpaved roads, and even population as contributing elements. New Delhi is on top, followed closely by Doha in Qatar; Kabul, Afghanistan; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

 

PATRICK: Note the absence of developed transportation systems?

 

WILLIAM: I sure do and it just makes me want to focus on more solutions at home.

 

PATRICK: At home in the US, Travel + Leisure Magazine compiled an excellent list of America’s Greenest Cities. They were ranked by taking into account everything from pedestrian travel and great restaurants to alternative power sources and recycling programs. Published in the April 1, 2015 “Green Travel” section, there were highlights from a lot of fantastic initiatives these cities used to positively impact the quality of life for their taxpayers.

 

WILLIAM: Like everything else, it starts local and spreads nationally and hopefully around the globe. For those of us who genuinely care about the ecology and quality of life, we know that paying attention to local tax dollars spent in an environmentally sensitive manner is the responsibility of each and every taxpayer.

 

PATRICK: Well said, Agent Neal. Are you feeling better now that we have “talked it out” a bit? Am I as helpful as your therapist? Or shall I say, any of your therapists?

 

WILLIAM: Take it easy there, Agent Cuccaro! My best therapist is our special agent readership! And yes, I do feel better having some more facts under my belt. But now I am off in a rush!

 

PATRICK: Where are you headed now, Agent Neal?

 

WILLIAM: I’m headed out to the “Don’t Sit in Your Car and Idle” rally down at the local post office. As the taxpayers line up around the post office block tonight and tomorrow, my team of Green ambassadors will be talking to them about how to positively influence their local politicians to be more GREEN!

 

PATRICK: Don’t call me for bail money when the Feds round you up for trespassing!

 

WILLIAM: Not to worry. We have plenty of donuts and coffee for the coppers! They love us!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you make your Green voice heard at the polls? Do you drive an electric or hybrid car? Are you using part of your tax refund to do something Green? Please share with us in the Comments section below…we’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic!

 

Join us next time when we’ll take a look at “green space” and how environmental factors affect our ability to play, recreate and exercise. But don’t worry too much…there’s good news, too!

 

NOTE: Our special agents are going undercover for some in-depth investigations and will be back in two weeks.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Georgia Commute Options

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Atlanta Bike Share

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Transportation-related Air Pollutants

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 21: Of Fine Wines and Disposable Cups – My Bordeaux vs. Your Bamboo

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 20, Patrick and William presented their investigative results about the shifts in the “Green revolution”, changes in the residential building industry and about how we consumers have altered some of our habits. This week they focus on the food and beverage industry,  about how “food culture” has been positively affected by sustainability and how as a nation we are striving for new levels of awareness.

 

PATRICK: William, do you like going on picnics?

 

WILLIAM: Of course, who doesn’t?

 

PATRICK: Me for one. There’s something about the smell of bug spray, paper plates and wine from a plastic cup that’s just unsettling to me.

 

WILLIAM: I’m shocked! Leading the active life you do, Agent Cuccaro, I would presume that you’d be a regular at the park, have a well broken-in picnic blanket and an entire closet devoted to the equipment needed to picnic in style!

 

PATRICK: Nope. Give me china, fine flatware, crystal glasses and a dining room table, please. No bugs and no disposables for me! How about you?

 

WILLIAM: Well, like many Americans, I’ve learned that picnicking is an art. Whether it’s at an outdoor concert, tailgating, a family outing or a romantic alfresco dinner, the tools of the trade have come a long way, and sustainability has piggy-backed on the trends.

 

PATRICK: Although it’s not my thing, I cannot ignore the trends when in the midst of a full-fledged investigation. According to TrendHunter.com, a website dedicated to tracking worldwide pop culture and consumer trends, there are six very BIG trends in picnicking, the most relevant to our field of expertise being extravagant posh picnics. As a luxury caterer—one with a strong focus on sustainability—there are major opportunities.

 

WILLIAM: How right you are. Picnics aside, we have seen disposable products in the catering industry do a “360” with intense movement AWAY from polystyrene products—the most infamous brand known as Styrofoam—non-compostable materials and environmentally harmful products overall. Fallen leaf bamboo and palm fiber products, corn-based utensils, as well as biodegradable plastics have appeared in the foodservice industry disposable products supply chain in a big way.

 

Bamboo Plate

 

Consumers have demanded more “environmentally friendly” packaging. Sustainablefoodservice.com has an extensive list of resources for many of the leading industry products. For the average consumer, many of those products can be ordered online. But keep in mind one important factor: Even the processes by which some of the products are manufactured still use potentially harmful chemical agents and binders to help items, such as plates and utensils, hold their shape. These chemical substances can leak into our food, and the jury is still out on just exactly how Green these items prove to be.

 

PATRICK: As we say, “Not everything about Green is black and white.” But most of those products are certainly the result of huge environmental advancements compared to the manufacturing methods used in the past, even with some of the potential pitfalls you mentioned, Agent Neal.

 

And let’s not forget about a whole different angle on this topic. Items that are re-used over and over, such as glass and china plates, might make more “Green sense”. For example, over time the carbon footprint of a china plate might prove to be far less than a compostable plate that is used once and disposed of. But the question is one of specific usage, volume, delivery systems, cleaning products used, etc. These factors when investigated thoroughly become a Green subject that is truly not black and white.

 

WILLIAM: So many of our Green issues are complicated. But here is something that is NOT complicated and is a song I sing almost every time we investigate. If we as consumers become informed, employ efforts toward making better sustainable choices and combine this all with a sense of pride in entertaining, we are having the proverbial cake and eating it too.

 

PATRICK: How do you mean that exactly?

 

WILLIAM: Well, Agent Cuccaro, as you know, many of our investigations have shown us that consumer choice and preference have a fundamental effect on our culture of living.

 

The food sense of Americans has multiplied times 100 over the past couple of decades. The emergence of The Food Network and the meteoric rise of food oriented media outlets has proven that. Along with this development, food manufacturing practices, distribution systems and the overall style of the American diet has changed. In the United States, we can actually say now that we have a true “advanced food culture” and that it compares favorably on numerous levels to other popular food cultures around the world. Along with this development has been the emergence of sustainable food sourcing, the focus on more environmentally friendly foodservice products.

 

PATRICK: Most importantly, the conversations about food have changed and seem to now always be “seasoned” with a hint of the desire to be sustainable. Last episode we talked about how corporate entertaining is almost at full speed again, albeit with a focus on the value for their spent dollars. But along with the emphasis on value has come corporate demand for Green practices applied to entertaining, meetings and major events. This is a direct result of the population growing as “foodies” and an enhanced understanding of the environmental impact.

 

WILLIAM: The restaurant and catering industries have changed along with the times. A few municipalities around the country have mandated certain Green health codes and practices, such as mandatory recycling in Seattle, Washington. I would love to see the day when this is nation-wide AND used as a part of the criteria for licensing restaurants, caterers and hotels.

 

PATRICK: I believe that the momentum is in the right direction, but it will be a very long time before we have mandatory recycling across the nation. The fact is that money talks and unfortunately,  many business owners and legislators take the short-sighted view that it’s more expensive to have a comprehensive recycling program in place than it is to simply dump waste in a landfill.

 

WILLIAM: Well, that won’t stop me or any of our readers from doing the right thing. We all know the day will come when our Green Revolution will prevail!

 

PATRICK: For sure! Now it’s just about that time, Agent Neal, for a great glass of Bordeaux. Round up some beverage ware and let’s have a glass or two of France’s version of Welch’s grape juice.

 

WILLIAM: We don’t need the glasses, Patrick, I have some great new biodegradable plastic cups in my desk drawer!

 

PATRICK: If you think I’m going to drink this fine elixir out of plastic, you are insane!

 

WILLIAM: Such a wine snob! Okay, I’ll get you the crystal…but YOU wash the glasses tonight, Mister!

 

To be continued…

 


 

When you’re eating on the run or going on a family picnic, do you think “Green”? How deeply does sustainability permeate your day-to-day life? Please share with us in the comments section below what your greatest challenge in “Going Green” has been.

 

Join us next week just before “Tax Day” when your agents will look at how your tax dollars are spent and in some instances wasted on ineffective transportation projects. They also investigate other regions of the world with progressive transportation policies and practices that are having a positive environmental impact.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Verterra

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Atlanta Airport Recycling Program

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Why are polystyrene products so yesterday?

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

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Episodes

EPISODE 20: How to Keep the Martians out of Your Green Home

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 19, our Green team of investigators shook up things by calling out our elected officials on their bad ecological “behavior”. As we all continue to look for more ways to “Green up” our lives, William and Patrick discuss something personal this week; our homes!

 

PATRICK: You should see the HUGE delivery truck down the street at Hannah Solar!

 

WILLIAM: Solar panels, inverters and racking, oh my!

 

PATRICK: That’s right, Agent Neal. Hannah Solar, as well as several other companies that specialize in alternative energy throughout the country, are on the move!

 

WILLIAM: Why do you think we’re seeing so much movement in the Green industry, Patrick? It seems everywhere you turn now you see a push towards what we so faithfully investigate and discuss with our readers: All things Green and sustainable.

 

PATRICK: Let’s take a step back for just a second and look at one of my theories developed after years of walking the Green walk. Do you remember the economic “housing bubble” of 2006?

 

WILLIAM: Who could forget it!

 

PATRICK: In the years leading up to that period of our economic history, the world was becoming more and more environmentally aware. Greenhouse gasses, energy production, pollution—all of these concerns began having an effect on us culturally. The Green movement was empowered, and citizens around the globe were learning and reacting to new information brought forward in the media and at coffee table conversations.

 

WILLIAM: And then the bubble!

 

PATRICK: Yes, that’s right. Suddenly the nation’s collective focus was shifted to more pressing matters having to do with the American economy. People were losing jobs and their homes, the stock market was reacting and financial priorities changed almost overnight.

 

As a result, it’s my theory that a lot of the Green momentum in the United States—and to some degree, the world—was suddenly lost. It wasn’t that average everyday people didn’t care; it just became time to focus on financial survival, and a push toward a Green lifestyle took a back seat.

 

WILLIAM: It almost seems as though the environment and the household budget suddenly collided. I see where your theory might have some weight there, Agent Cuccaro.

 

PATRICK: I believe so. And now here we are several years later having come out of a lull in Green thinking. Many parts of the economy have improved, and certain important elements to prosperity—such as consumer confidence and investment—are flowing Green…ecology Green, that is.

 

WILLIAM: The hospitality and dining business has endured though this rocky patch in our country’s economic history. Not only has our industry survived, but is has prospered.

 

PATRICK: That is certainly true. The corporate world is entertaining at full speed again, albeit with a discerning focus on the value for their spent dollars. The client’s investment portfolio that was paying for a wedding or mitzvah is not as volatile anymore. The spirit of entertaining is up, and people want to celebrate.

 

WILLIAM: Along with healthy, sustainable entertaining comes a refocus on one’s home. During improved economic times, we humans tend to do some “nesting” as well as feeding our urges to get out and BE entertained.

 

But the proclivity to “nest” is what I’m focused on now. I want to live in a “Green home”, and I don’t mean one populated by Martians!

 

PATRICK: That’s what I love about our collaboration, Agent Neal. No matter the sustainable subject we investigate, you ALWAYS seem to come up with, well, a “different” way of looking at things.

 

Martians? Seriously? You haven’t met any lately, have you? Don’t nod “yes”…you might scare me.

 

WILLIAM: What I HAVE run into are several “sleuth-worthy” topics in the area of managing a Green household. For example, are you aware that more than 90% of all household cleaners, air fresheners and maintenance solutions are proven to be highly toxic to humans? And yet we still favor the poisons over good old elbow grease when it comes to cleaning!

 

PATRICK: My Italian grandmother used wine vinegar to clean everything. She lived into her nineties, too! I wonder if that was due to less exposure to toxins in her lifetime than our generation OR if it was the olive oil and wine she cooked with that aided her long life?

 

WILLIAM: Probably both! Any hoo, one of the best resources to learn about toxins in the home is the Environmental Working Group website. A treasure trove of info, this organization has created national awareness, empowered civil action and driven consumer choice by its hard look at our polluted world.

 

PATRICK: Yes, they are certainly rock stars in my book.

 

WILLIAM: Agent Cuccaro, are you aware that each and every home we live in has its own fingerprint? More precisely, a very specific carbon footprint?

 

PATRICK: Yes. Every drop of fuel used to build, transport materials or even the daily energy expenditures of our home create that footprint.

 

WILLIAM: The good news is that all over the world folks are getting into reclaiming or recycling materials used to build homes, furniture and, of course, art. In Sanpatragano, Italy there is a career mentoring program that uses wine barrels “upcycled” into furniture and art. There was an exhibit of the work at The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) called Barrique: Wine, Design & Social Change that featured the fruits of their “Green labor”.

 

Right in our own back yard is a company called Lifecycle Building Center that has made a thriving business by selling recycled building materials. Their business model dictates putting some of their profit back into the community by funding various inner-city projects. Great stuff!

 

Lifecycle Building Center

Lifecycle Building Center (Photo: Travis S. Taylor)

 

PATRICK: Those are two excellent examples of how man can create something from virtually nothing–by putting people to work, re-using items that would become landfill and helping to “Green up” the economy. There are also exciting things happening with sustainability in manufactured goods.

 

WILLIAM: You are so right! It’s a natural extension of life to want a healthy, efficient and stylish place to live. Homebuilders around the country have seen huge shifts in consumer choice toward homes built with environmental sensitivity.

 

For example, after investigating The Top 10 Advances in Green Residential Building, I was blown away by how far we’ve come in a short period of time. My favorite advancement is the technology of intelligent window design. The sciences of liquid crystal, suspended particle (spd) and electrochromic technologies incorporated into how a window is made can actually save tremendous energy and even eliminate having to dust blinds or buy curtains.

 

Think of window panes that change appearance from frosted to light to dark automatically as temperature and weather conditions change.

 

PATRICK: I want sunglasses like that. As a Special Agent, I feel entitled to them.

 

WILLIAM: Yes! Other advances in areas such as solar technology, Green flooring, natural paint products and even recycled building products like mycoform building blocks have changed not only how we build homes but how we live in them.

 

PATRICK: The consumer who is proud of the sustainable nature and style of their home is a happy consumer. A happy consumer wants to entertain or be entertained, so that’s where we as Green party makers come in!

 

WILLIAM: Green style is “in”. Saving energy is top of mind. Sustainable food sources are no longer a trend but a demand. The Green shift is taking on momentum again at a cultural level, and the ways that we design and enjoy our living spaces are experiencing renewed focus.

 

PATRICK: Part of living a Green and sustainable life—and at the same time being happy—is dictated by our living environment, and we create that for ourselves. Have a party. Have a BIG party! Celebrate friends and family. Celebrate the resources that provide you with healthy, natural ingredients that gifted hands can turn into culinary masterpieces. Celebrate your household solar panels–they’ve done their part to save precious energy so generations to come will thrive. And never, ever forget, “Una cena senza vino e come un giorno senza sole“.

 

WILLIAM: There you go speaking that crazy Martian gibberish again!

 

PATRICK: That’s not Martian, you silly sleuth. That.s Italian! What I said in Italian was “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine!

 

WILLIAM: Words to live by! And believe me when I tell you, THEY know how to live!

 

To be continued…

 


 

How aware are you of your home’s carbon footprint? Have you incorporated “Green” features into your home? Have you plateaued or are you continually “Greening” your home? Please share with us in the comments section below what you’d done to Green your home and what’s still on your Green wishlist. When hiring a caterer for a special event, do you always ask about their sustainability practices?

 

Join us next week when your agents look at various products and sustainable decisions that are rapidly influencing our culture as a nation. The agents take a look at some items used by the food industry and how certain hospitality organizations are ramping up daily on the “Green revolution”!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Design for Healthy Living | MODA

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: EcoManor

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Toxic Cleaners in Our Homes

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

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Episodes

EPISODE 19: My Politicians Need a Good Spanking!

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 18, your favorite investigators filled us in on eco-tourism and just how great of an economic and ecological impact it can have. In this week’s episode, our agents take the politicians to task over logic, the economy and yes, of course, the environment.

 

WILLIAM: These days, Patrick, it doesn’t seem to take much for me to get really annoyed with local politics. In fact, a series of local laws up before the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate have flustered me to distraction.

 

PATRICK: What’s going on, Agent Neal? I think that our local state government has been doing a fairly good job these last few years, at least at the City of Atlanta level. We don’t seem to hear too much about others’ work, so things must be going famously, right?

 

WILLIAM: That is part of the problem, Agent C. You and millions of other folks have a perception that “no news is good news” when it comes to politics, but I am here to tell you that we all had better pay attention.

 

PATRICK: For example?

 

Georgia Capitol Building

(Photo: Travis S. Taylor)

 

WILLIAM: Well, are you aware that many laws considered by the State House and Senate have a direct impact on our local environment and local economy?

 

Senate Bill 139 would ban local governments from regulating plastic bags in their community—neither a ban nor usage fee would be allowed. SB 139 passed the Senate by only a 4-vote margin earlier in the legislative session. It then passed the House Agriculture Committee and has been pending in Rules since then.

 

SB 139 is expected to be voted on by the Georgia House by this Friday, March 27. So there is only a small window of opportunity to call our State Representatives and urge them to vote “No” on this bill.

 

How disappointing is it that special interest groups in our state can manipulate the outcome of eco-legislation that can help protect our resources…and that our elected politicians at the state level allow it to happen? It is incredibly frustrating, and many of our duly elected officials should be eco-shamed.

 

PATRICK: Yes, this one in particular was a wakeup call. It felt a little like that “warm beer in July” kind of feeling when I heard about it. Yuk!

 

WILLIAM: What it really sounds like is that they need a “good spanking“! That is to say they need to hear our voices at the polls, in the messages we deliver to them and of course by the power of our purse!

 

PATRICK: That reminds me of something that has really stuck with me over the years. My father always taught me that, “The power we think a certain politician may have over us is minuscule compared to the collective powers we know we have over them when united in a cause. Best of all, they know it.”

 

WILLIAM: Agreed. We have seen examples of where a collective segment of the populous has made united decisions to consume organic or natural foods. Big business and therefore the politicians aligned with these business interests. They listened. A clear example of this is the McDonald’s franchisees’ recent move toward sustainable beef for use in their thousands of restaurants.

 

PATRICK: Great example.

 

WILLIAM: But here is something else that gets me concerned and makes me want to unite for change. Many political decisions these days from local, state and even national levels seem to be devoid of logic. I’m talking simple, basic, ethical, common-sense logic. Polluted water, polluted air and the logical relationship of these harmful situations to the health and economic hardships as a result are simply missed by modern era politicians. Worse yet, the logic is ignored, often because money is involved.

 

PATRICK: What other pieces of legislation are out there that might be considered to have a Green effect? Where can we learn more about what our elected officials are doing right OR doing wrong when it comes to the environment?

 

WILLIAM: One of our best resources is Environment Georgia, which is a citizen-based watchdog group that monitors ecological issues statewide. I have found them very fair and balanced in their approach, offering credit where credit is due, but also not pulling any punches when the need arises.

 

PATRICK: Once again, an example of people pulling together to be sure that Mother Earth gets treated well.

 

WILLIAM: Thankfully, many industries are environmentally responsible. Take for example the craft beer industry. As event-makers, we tend to have a special place in our hearts for businesses that supply our clients with products designed for food and beverage enjoyment. If you recall, we wrote about some of the local craft beer operators in EPISODE 6 and showed how they work toward ecological goals in their operations.

 

But unfortunately, a great piece of State legislation such as the Beer Jobs Bill – SB 63, which is designed to expand jobs AND to empower microbreweries to grow and prosper, has political detractors. It is disappointing that although the bill passed, it did so in typical “Gold Dome” political fashion: It was a “watered down version” of the original legislation, placating the major distributors. The fight continues on something that the majority of voters want, but we all have to wait. UPDATE: Beer Jobs Bill – SB 63

 

PATRICK: We have the power, through education and the voting booth, to make important changes.

 

WILLIAM: Yes, we have a responsibility to empower our readers with information that will make them first curious, second informed, third motivated and fourth to take action. The power of calling or writing to our politicians and making our voices heard should not be underestimated.

 

PATRICK: How true. Action from an informed voter is better than a good spanking for the politicians!

 

WILLIAM: Nothing like a good “whack” at the ballot box to get their attention!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Are you helping to shape your local environment at the polls? Please share with us in the comments section below how you stay up on environmental issues. When hiring a caterer for a special event, do you always ask about their sustainability practices?

 

Join us next week when your Agents investigate a growing industry: Green Homes. William and Patrick will look at how the new industry of Green home inspections, alternative residential energy sources and how our culture of home design is evolving.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: GreenLaw

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Congressman Hank Johnson

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Acid Rain

 

 

 

 


 

Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

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Episodes

EPISODE 18: Eco-tourism…Not for the Faint of Heart

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 17 our “sustainability sleuths” talked all about the rejuvenating spring season. This week they go on the road again learning about one of the most exciting segments of the travel industry: eco-tourism!

 

WILLIAM: Yahooooooo! Savanah, here we come!

 

PATRICK: What in the world are you talking about, Agent Neal?

 

WILLIAM: I’m headed to good ol’ Savannah, Georgia, for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade! You can’t get any more sustainable than hundreds of thousands of gallons of “green” water floating down the river, now can you? Oh, wait…I think that’s Chicago. But, from what I’ve read, Savannah tried to dye their river green in 1961, but with less than stellar results. But boasting the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the nation and being the festive sort they are, they do dye their fountains green in observance of the holiday!

 

PATRICK: Did you get an early start today on drinking some locally crafted green beer or are you just uninformed?

 

WILLIAM: What, pray tell, do you mean? Green water MUST be better than brown, Agent C! But actually, I was just kidding. You know how serious I am about water! If they really did dye the river I would be investigating the incident immediately!

 

PATRICK: Yes, I do Agent Neal, and you are certainly dedicated to your water intrigues. Speaking of which, are you going to zip down to St. Simons Island while you’re on the coast? Or, only about 20 minutes north of St. Simons Island is one of the gems of the South, The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, which has earned a TripAdvisor GreenLeader Gold Level designation. It’s an all-inclusive hotel that sits on a private barrier island off of the Georgia coast. With more than 10,000 acres of maritime forest and marshlands, guests have the pleasure of exploring the island with the help of naturalist guides.

 

WILLIAM: Sounds amazing and a really great suggestion. As long as I don’t have to put even a toe in the ocean, a pond or a green river, I’m good.

 

PATRICK: Afraid of sharks? Gators?

 

WILLIAM: You bet! But let’s talk about one of my most passionate subjects, ecotourism. I love how the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has really amped up their support of ecotourism in our state. Opportunities abound to visit all sorts of amazing locations, learn about the local ecology and immerse in nature. Do you want adventure? Ride the rapids on The Chattooga River. Want zen relaxation? Go to a barrier island and chill. Want some challenging exercise while seeing the best of the mountains? Hike the The Appalacian Trail Georgia.

 

PATRICK: Essentially William you seem to be talking about some great activities close to home. But don’t forget about the really exotic locations around the world that are some of the most fabulous eco-destinations. I would venture to say that most people would put a tour of  The Galápagos Islands at the top of the list for environmentally educational destinations. Other countries, such as Costa Rica, have a thriving tourism trade built on ecotourism. The city of Queenstown, New Zealand is a tremendously popular “dream destination” for ecology and outdoor sports-minded people.

 

 

WILLIAM: As we often do, let’s break this whole concept down a bit and investigate the Green facts. One area in which I find interest is just how positively a local economy can be affected by a thriving culture of Green tourism. Another aspect of importance to me is how much of the revenue generated in one of these destinations actually goes back to funding protection or cleanup of a location.

 

PATRICK: Great questions, William. My investigations have yielded some pretty interesting facts. When an area begins to thrive and tax revenues start to increase, government pays attention and seeks to preserve the source of that revenue. When local businesses thrive as a result of a steady influx of people interested in the local ecology, employment rises, fewer barriers are in place to dissuade new business startups and, best of all, the cycle does exactly what we want: It becomes a sustainable community with an ecology-minded population.

 

According to PLOS, Public Library of Science, a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication, a recent study documented that in the U.S. alone, more than $600 billion dollars is generated by ecotourism! This is a stunning statistic to me. On a more grassroots level, this well-written article on the subject describes some of the real human effects, aside from just money.

 

WILLIAM: Here is another way of looking at ecotourism, Agent Cuccaro. Suppose we put some common urban activities in the same category? Maybe even come up with a new concept called “eco-urban-tourism”? That’s to say, certain activities can be organized in such a manner that you are utilizing Green concepts, technologies and practices while on a tour.

 

It could be that your version of an ecotourism trip starts out with a trip to The Chattahoochee Nature Center, then heads to a great walking tour, such as The Roswell Ghost Tour, all followed by a great dinner on the “Roswell Restaurant Row” at one of the establishments featuring locally sourced suppliers. You’ve learned something about the local ecology, you have spent time walking rather than burning fossil fuel and you’re supporting a local Green restaurant. Now that is eco-urban-tourism if there ever was such a thing!

 

Barrington Hall, Roswell GA

Barrington Hall in Roswell, Georgia (Photo: Travis S. Taylor)

 

PATRICK: And—Presto!—there is now, William! That is a great term to describe something that’s simple, Green and fun. Another activity that could relate to our core identity as investigation-oriented caterers is to create some walking tours for the foodie in all of us. Any ideas?

 

WILLIAM: You also meant the green-beer-drinking, green-river-watching, going-to-Savannah-for-St.-Patrick’s-Day cool caterers, right? After all, the event IS your namesake, even though I personally wouldn’t categorize you as a “saint”.

 

Imagine this: We could borrow one of our friend’s electric car for the journey. A few meals on locally sourced cuisine, a few blocks walking around with binoculars checking out the local birds (pigeons) and we have our very first customized eco-urban-tour!

 

PATRICK: Your imagination is, shall we say, interesting? And a little bit dangerous!

 

WILLIAM: No guts no glory, Agent Cuccaro. Ecotourism, and now eco-urban-tourism, are not for the faint of heart!

 

To be continued…

 


 

What’s your ideal eco-tour? Please share it with us and our other readers in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when your agents talk about the power of the vote. Using the backdrop of some local legislation named “The Beer Jobs Bill SB63” to get the investigation flowing, William and Patrick talk about how a sustainable lifestyle can be directly affected by how our politicians behave.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: G Adventures

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Peachtree Food Tours

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Trash

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 17: The Party Season Begins

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 16, William and Patrick buzzed over some bee facts and taught us just how important bees are, not only to flowers, but to the dining table and the world’s ecology. This week they take a look at the upcoming spring “party season”, how we get ready and the environmental connection. 

 

Spring is Nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’.” – Robin Williams

 

WILLIAM: Good day, Agent Cuccaro. How are you today, sir?

 

PATRICK: My, my, my, aren’t we a little formal today, Agent N?

 

WILLIAM: Yes, I am, Patrick. I can’t help it. Spring party season is just around the corner and I’m just itching to flash around town in my tux attending all the spring galas, weddings and parties! In fact, I’m attending the big gala at The Fox Theatre, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the successful “Save the Fox” campaign! I can hardly wait!

 

The FoxTheatre - TOURS

Photo: Travis S. Taylor

 

PATRICK: Hey, wait a minute! You are not a guest at that event or any other Affairs to Remember parties, agent Neal. You are the caterer, the expert planner, the designer extraordinaire, the agent of sustainability at many, but NOT a guest!

 

WILLIAM: I know, but to excel, it’s really important to be in the mindset of a guest. This is a key element to our event craft, wouldn’t you say?

 

PATRICK: Point well taken.

 

WILLIAM: One of our strengths at Affairs to Remember is an awareness of the deep connection between the guest experience and how we operate. So, the way I look at it, it is critical to walk in the shoes of the guests!

 

PATRICK: You’re right on target. And our clients’ guests are as excited about spring as we are about sustainability! Gardens are starting to bloom, the bees are doing their important work and parties are popping up all over town!

 

WILLIAM: And along with the party season comes planning. Lots and lots of planning, that is. Schedules are coordinated. The word “diet” takes on new meaning. The house needs painting. Gardens are prepped. Invitations are sent and received.

 

So, let’s break it down, Agent C, by each one of the activities I just mentioned. What if every one of our readers made a commitment to take these normal activities and layer in some Green practices?

 

For example when scheduling trips or outings this year, wherever you go, perhaps visit a local organic farmer’s market. Or maybe visit a sustainable farm. It’s possible that the location you weave into a vacation has some sort of interesting natural science museum or renowned nature preserve. This could benefit not only you, but your kids or other family members.

 

PATRICK: I like the sound of that. Fernbank Museum of Natural History has world-class exhibits dealing with the ecology, and they’re constantly innovating what they present to the public.

 

Also, we should mention the museum’s other life, which is being one of the most sought after special event venues in the Southeast for large fundraisers, weddings and parties.

 

WILLIAM: Yes, it is a gorgeous spot for an event! But as we spring forward, perhaps this year the diet on which you embark takes on more emphasis on “Greening up”. Organic produce, focus on limited natural meat products and emphasizing fresh products, not pre-packaged or frozen. And what if when you put that fresh coat of paint on the house this year, you first do some research. Not only try to find the best product for your home, but make sure it’s a more Green product than other more traditional paints.

 

PATRICK: And remember to dispose of those paint cans, leftover paints and cleaning supplies in an environmentally responsible manner. Atlanta Paint Disposal is one local resource.

 

WILLIAM: And that garden we have been talking about, it’s never too late to start your own personal composting. There are great contraptions out there for assistance in making rich compost from organic refuse created in our home kitchens. Check out local sources for innovative products to help you, like the Farmer D Organics Signature Composter. Talk about a nice garden tool!

 

But also, think of this… How fantastic would it be to have some friends over for dinner and cook for them something you grew yourself? Guy Fieri and his fancy outdoor kitchen have nothing on you! Or how about gifting someone you care about with vegetables you harvested and canned? You GO, Martha Stewart!

 

Martha Canning Tomatoes

 

PATRICK: Love the inspiration!

 

WILLIAM: These things are fun to do, and they become something I call “He He!” or “habitual efforts helpful to the environment”. That is to say that in everyday life there are little habit adjustments–and big ones, too–that we can make that, over time, have a measurable impact. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Buy organic apples for lunch rather than commercial ones. Recycle your paint, your electronics, your batteries…not just the everyday plastics and aluminum.

 

PATRICK: Speaking of plastic and aluminum, can you imagine the amount of bottles, cups, plates and other disposables that get used during the spring party season?

 

WILLIAM: Take a minute to contemplate this… According to the Georgia Restaurant Association, restaurants in our state alone generated over $16.5 billion dollars of gross revenue. That is billion with a “B”! Think about the portion of those dollars that went to items that use glass, plastic or aluminum in their delivery systems–alcohol products, sodas, and bottled waters, to name just a few.

 

When you begin to follow the money and realize the sheer number of plastic and aluminum products used by the hospitality industry, it can stagger the imagination. This $16.5 billion dollars, my fellow agent, does NOT even account for recyclables used by hotels, event venues, caterers, and even businesses and schools.

 

PATRICK: More and more, contemporary establishments in the foodservice industry are incorporating environmentally sane habits into their systems and culture. These restaurants, hotels, caterers and other foodservice operators are busy developing new and innovative methods of hospitality waste management, methods of saving energy and, overall, the industry is paying much more attention to sustainability.

 

These establishments have learned that with new systems in place, they can be more efficient, save money and be “more Green”. But the big lesson for these forward-thinking hospitality folks is that they have found new and PROFITABLE customers who appreciate their sustainability initiatives.

 

WILLIAM: Although the terms “farm-to-table” and “slow food” have been at times over-used, there is still a significant and ever-increasing population of consumers who want sustainable habits to be a part of the culture of where they spend their hard-earned money. Me included!

 

PATRICK: Yes, they do, and I count myself as one of those who makes the same demand, more and more. This is not a trend–it’s a megamovement!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Please share with us and other readers in the comments section below what aspects of Green you’re going to incorporate into your spring events–special occasions, parties and even home life.

 

Join us next week when William and Patrick investigate another subject that comes up in the spring: Travel. They’re going to check out “eco-tourism”, which you might be surprised to find is in your own back yard!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Sustainability at Emory

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: CSAs

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Not Knowing Where Food Comes From

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 16: The Buzz Word

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 15, William and Patrick looked toward the warmth of spring to investigate some popular celebs who “go Green” in their daily lives and who planned sustainable weddings. They also highlighted a local treasure, the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This week, our special agents look at the connection between bees, our food system and ways to expand our commitments to environmental responsibility.

 

PATRICK: What in the world are you doing over there in your office, Agent Neal? What is that crazy buzzing noise?!?

 

WILLIAM: I’m buzzing, Agent C! I just got my new issue of “Beekeeper’s Weekly“, and I’m imitating the sounds of the quite fearsome African bee!

 

PATRICK: Seriously?

 

WILLIAM: No, silly sleuth! You left the door open this afternoon and I’ve got bees buzzing around my glazed donuts!

 

PATRICK: Well, don’t kill any of them because each and every bee preforms a vital function in the environment, and we would starve without them!

 

Bee in our Chef's Garden, Thai Basil

Photo: Travis S. Taylor

 

WILLIAM: What do you mean? I feel an Agent Cuccaro investigative dissertation coming on…

 

PATRICK: You bet, and here is what I have uncovered about bees…

 

They’re a critical part of nature’s delivery service, of pollen that is. Pretty much everyone is aware of the process of pollination and its importance to the plant, tree, fruit and vegetable world. But there are much bigger and more important facets to the equation, all directly related to sustainability.

 

WILLIAM: One of our trusty vendors here at Affairs, John Batson of Batson Consulting Group, who happens to keep bees as a hobby, laid some interesting stats on me. More than 211,000 beekeepers maintain about 3.2 million honeybee colonies in the United States. Commercial beekeepers often use their bees for pollination of crops rather than for honey production. In fact, one-third of our food production is the direct result of pollination by bees.

 

He also told me about some of the problems bees face in modern times and the effect it is having on global health. Pesticides that have long been used to control bugs that damage vegetables, fruits and other edibles have ravaged bees over time. And if that wasn’t enough, even some chemical and non-chemical compounds commonly used to protect commercial bee colonies from bacteria and mildew have just become too much over time. “No bees = significant food reduction”—that is the potential crisis.

 

PATRICK: Right you are. As I understand it, there are other factors stacked against bees that you might not know about (one example). For instance, the cumulative impact of many chemicals other than pesticides, many of which are considered benign on their own, can create a toxic brew for bees and other living creatures.

 

The past decades have seen a large portion of the worldwide honeybee population experience colony collapse disorder, and it seems to be getting worse. Variations in weather naturally play a factor in many areas of the world. But, land development, which removes bee habitat, has accelerated colony destruction, as well.

 

But here is where it gets scary: Bees have survived this planet for millions of years, but their steady decline is an environmental indicator of what humans could face if certain things don’t change course. This recent article puts it in context: Bees and the Environment

 

On another note, if people can’t make the connection of colony collapse disorder to their dinner table, then maybe espousing some of the wonderful health benefits of raw honey will help them understand the importance of bees.

 

WILLIAM: I love local honey. I have enjoyed honey in my tea and on my toast for years! Love that stuff!

 

PATRICK: Raw honey and the crystal clear processed honey you find in the store are as different as compost and man-made fertilizer. Raw honey is filtered, but not pasteurized like commercial brands. In raw honey, nearly all the healthy enzymes, nutritious compounds and probiotic bacteria remain intact making raw honey one of nature’s “superfoods”. In commercial brands that line the shelves, there is little to no health benefit because these substances have been cooked out, so some sources report.

 

WILLIAM: I’ve heard that if you eat local raw honey on a consistent basis that you won’t suffer from allergies. Is any of that true?

 

PATRICK: Like so many other things, the real answer is, “It depends”.

 

Some studies, over the past few decades, have shown evidence that when raw honey containing pollen from your area is taken in small doses over time, the body gradually develops immunity and tolerance to pollen related allergens.

 

At the same time, other studies say that yes, local, unprocessed honey does contain small amounts of pollen from the environment, however, the pollen in honey is mostly from the flowers where bees are found and that flowering plant pollen is less likely to cause allergy symptoms, and honey has lesser amounts of allergenic, airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, which more commonly affect people.

 

This scenario reminds me of our tagline—”Not everything about Green is black and white.” I’m a skeptic here. As usual, I pay close attention to who funded the study I’m reading and I’m not a doctor so, I’ll leave the treating of severe allergies to the specialists.

 

WILLIAM: I wonder though, with the rise in popularity of “home grown” practices like gardening, support for farm-to-table eating AND even with urban farming and beekeeping, won’t we help bees in some way directly or indirectly?

 

PATRICK: I suppose, but as we have spoken of in other investigations, it’s the collective impact of a majority that can create positive change and healing of the environment–but that’s a double-edged sword.

 

Our consumer appetite has pressured farms to produce–in any way that increases their yields. That’s not always harmonious with what Mother Nature has in mind.

 

WILLIAM: I wonder what some of our local farmers and vendors who supply us with raw products have to say on the subject?

 

PATRICK: I am sure they would validate the importance of bees to their crops, and I imagine that they are very concerned.

 

One of my favorite local growers is 3 Porch Farm, just outside of Athens. I single them out because they grow edible flowers and herbs. Part of their inspiration comes from the nationally recognized Floret in Washington State, which is known as a classic example of a small family-owned and operated flower farm that has made it big.

 

For local and national businesses like these, and hundreds of others, flowers are critical to their commerce overall, and bees are there to help ensure that there is a healthy bottom line.

 

Bumblebee pollinating a flower

Photo: Travis S. Taylor

 

WILLIAM: Once again, when the connection is made to the pocketbook AND to health AND the dinner table with environmentally safe practices, THEN people take note.

 

PATRICK: Yes they do and yes they should.

 

WILLIAM: So, Agent C, we will have to be more cautious and take care of honeybees in the future because of their importance to our environment.

 

PATRICK: Yes. Hey, can I have one of those donuts now?

 

To be continued…

 


 

If you have the room or balcony space, are you willing to plant bee-friendly flowers and not use chemical pesticides? Which is your favorite organic, local honey? Please share with us and other readers in the comments section below!

 

Join us next week as William and Patrick discuss their latest investigations in the world of sustainability and how our lives are directly impacted. Next, they dig deeper into the garden of knowledge and continue to discuss how we humans get ready for the advent of spring!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Beekeeping Class at the Garden

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Pollinators

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Ignoring Colony Collapse Disorder

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 15: Preparing to Spring Forward

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 14, our agents discussed recycling and how we can contribute to changing the tide on waste by rallying for positive environmental change. This week, Agents Patrick and William inspire us to get ready for spring.

 

WILLIAM: Hey Patrick, I feel the need to brag about one of my best traits—my green thumb!

 

PATRICK:  I wish I could relate to that—I can’t grow a thing now that I’ve given up on chemically enhanced growing methods. Hey, Agent W, I’m freezing right now. Why are we talking about green thumbs?

 

WILLIAM: Because the warmth and renewal of spring is just around the corner!

 

PATRICK: Yes, sir! It won’t be long before I can shed some layers for my morning jog and be free! Wow, it was coooooooooold this morning! Brrrrrr!

 

WILLIAM: Yes it was, and I noticed some of the young plants had started to peek out from the ground last week. I hope they don’t get frost bit.

 

PATRICK: Atlanta is known for its rich blooming season, and I know many who cover their azaleas with trash bags religiously to keep them from getting nipped by frost.

 

WILLIAM: I wonder, what do you think they do at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this time of year to prep for spring? I’ll wager they are at full speed.

 

PATRICK: You bet they are! With warm weather come droves of folks browsing the blooms, and Atlanta Botanical Garden is a popular wedding destination all year, especially in spring, fall and even in winter. But the connection of lush gardens to weddings has a long history. Some of the most sensational weddings in the last few years, and some of the most “infamous”, happened while tip-toeing through the tulips!

 

WILLIAM: Tell me more!

 

PATRICK: Well, the first one that pops into my mind—Jennifer Lopez and husband number three Marc Anthony, which was a huge Hollywood styled wedding in a garden. But not all “garden weddings” are alike.

 

Ashley Tisdale, who first rose to fame on Disney‘s High School Musical films, used wooden farm tables covered with lace table runners to display soft garden roses at her reception, which gave it a country chic style. Actress and supermodel Kate Bosworth did something much more organic and rustic on a ranch in Montana. Both served a menu that was completely organic and threaded many sustainable practices throughout the style and execution of their big days.

 

By contrast, one of the most interesting garden wedding aficionados has been female crooner Avril Lavigne who married rocker Deryck Whibley, her boyfriend since she was 19. You would think these young punk-inspired entertainers would do something crazy!

 

Not so. They tied the knot in a gorgeous outdoor garden setting at a California coastal villa. It was as classic as you could get with amazing English garden-inspired floral designs. Great wedding, bad relationship. Marriage #2 was to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger at Château de La Napoule, a reconstructed medieval castle on the Mediterranean Sea in the South of France. Again, amazing gardens and amazing classic style.

 

WILLIAM: The common tie in to our Green discussions, Agent C?

 

PATRICK: All of these high-profile brides and grooms served their guests with sustainability in mind. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a perfect setting for a sustainable wedding here in our fair city.

 

WILLIAM: That’s fascinating. Affairs has done some glorious weddings at Atlanta Botanical Garden.

 

Atlanta Botanical Garden Wedding

Atlanta Botanical Garden Picture This! Photography

 

And we love that space! A planner I recently worked with had pulled some information and found some excellent resources for a sustainability-conscience wedding from Black Sheep Bride. Between a great setting or venue and a bit of research, a bride can add some very good sustainable elements to her plans.

 

PATRICK: Black Sheep Bride is a terrific name for a website and it has some inspiring info! But back to the spring season. Have you ever taken one of the gardening classes hosted by Atlanta Botanical Garden to sharpen that green thumb of yours, Agent N?

 

WILLIAM: No, but I’m interested!

 

PATRICK: The Garden has a wide variety of classes available for adults, everything from “Tai chi in the Garden” to beekeeping and everything botanical in between. One of the classes I am interested in is the Summer Vegetable Garden, but they also have an introductory class called Basics of Edible Gardening for those who are just getting started with growing some of what they eat.

 

WILLIAM: Weeding and watering, weeding and watering. That’s all I seem to do in mid-summer these days. But, I LOVE IT! I’m looking forward to some succulent heirloom tomatoes this year!

 

PATRICK: Me, too! Remember that the technology is there for your watering needs. Catch that rainwater, be responsible for using only what you need, and save some money all at the same time!

 

WILLIAM: Good info, Agent C. It’s never too early to start planning for spring and summer gardening. Just about the time we turn the clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time is when the gardening cowboy hangs up his plow. I like to “fall back” on some canning and cooking using up all of my rich harvest!

 

PATRICK: Don’t forget to turn over your compost regularly, too, Agent N. We wouldn’t want the natural chemical reactions in the decomposition of organic materials to be slowed down and deprive your garden of rich nutrients!

 

WILLIAM: You are once again getting all scientific on me, Agent C.! It’s all worm dirt to me! It’s time for me to drive back to headquarters and get started planning our next week’s episode. I’m inspired, are you?

 

PATRICK: Absolutely, I am! Let’s get into bees next week, okay? You know, with spring just around the corner, the birds and the bees will be working furiously to prepare just like we are for the advent of warm weather!

 

WILLIAM: My pleasure. I’ll stop on the way back to headquarters and pick up some local honey.

 

To be continued…

 


 

Have you been considering starting a garden in 2015? Or are you planting something new in your established vegetable garden? Share with us in the comments section below what you’ll be growing this year…we’d love to know!

 

Join us next week as our dynamic “meanie Greenies”—aka Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal—talk about bees and how important they are to the food chain, local farmers and the environment.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Gardening Classes in the Garden

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Conserve and Jeff Clark

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Irresponsible Water Waste

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 14: Now You See It…

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 13, Agent Cuccaro relayed several facts about the chicken industry, showing us as consumers just how powerful our purchasing power can be. William will now tell us about one of his most personal and important investigations. Sometimes things don’t appear as they are in reality, so this week William and Patrick go undercover to find out the truth about a local municipal recycling program and discover how that plastic bottle you use may end up in our oceans.

 

PATRICK: Agent N, I’m still spinning from all that important material we uncovered about my drugged up chickens! Thanks for highlighting those facts and helping our readers to be more informed. We have made the purchasing adjustments in our home and feel much better as a result.

 

WILLIAM: Good stuff, Patrick! It feels great when we can have some power as a consumer. So regarding that county recycling truck I followed… Well, I didn’t. Not yet anyway.

 

PATRICK: Why in the world not, Agent N? You’ve got the tracking skills of a pedigree bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out Green posers, waste and abuse of the consumer!

 

WILLIAM: My reasoning was simple really. Those were some friendly dudes hanging off that truck…they were working hard, too! I just didn’t want to get anyone upset, so I chickened-out on the surveillance. Natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free chickening-out, of course!

 

PATRICK: So, just exactly how are you going to explain this to your kids? You had this whole surveillance plan in place so you could teach them about “where that plastic bottle goes”.

 

WILLIAM: Agent Cuccaro, I did my research. And further, I tapped into my kid’s school lessons. When I spoke to my son about “where all the recycled materials go”, I was surprised! He actually told me a pretty accurate tale of what is supposed to happen with various recyclables, from a first graders view, that is. I was blown away that the schools seem to try hard to offer some “Green Ed” at a very young age.

 

PATRICK: Yes, they are certainly ramping up that type of info in schools. But what are we, shall we say, “mature” folks to do when it comes to truly understanding the recycling processes where we live?

 

WILLIAM: As a taxpayer in your district or municipality, you can be sure that in the last few years some sustainability initiatives have been developed. The City of Atlanta, for instance, way back in 1978, began a program called Keep Atlanta Beautiful, which acts as an advisory board and community organizer to move sustainable practices forward on a municipal level. It’s an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., which most “mature” Americans will remember because of this guy:

 

 

PATRICK: I remember him well! It was a strong message the first time I saw it and it’s still just as compelling in today’s world. Actually, the message may be even more critical now considering how the planet has been harmed in so many preventable ways. Those tears he shed are real.

 

WILLIAM: Yes, for sure. So many areas around our city, our state and across the country have various organizations that expend tremendous energy and gather untold  resources to help Green causes. They often have helpful materials or can provide resources that educate caring individuals who want to be part of the solutions.

 

Many have fantastic volunteer programs in place, too, some of which can get the whole family involved. Keep Atlanta Beautiful has an amazing Community Recycling initiative in place that offers outlets for folks to recycle everything from electronics to paint. It’s not just plastic, cardboard and Styrofoam anymore!

 

The long and short of it is really this:

 

It comes down to the individual and their practices of sustainability in their daily lives. So, listen up, Agent C, because this is where I bring it back to being personal for me as an individual and for my family.

 

As my son and I talked things over, I couldn’t help but think where in fact do MOST of the potentially recyclable materials around the world end up? Rivers and oceans, that’s where! So many nations, both developed and undeveloped, have really scary practices in place that dump millions of pounds of assorted waste into the sea, or in some instances, into their primary water source! Insanity on the loose! I can cite some pretty extreme examples in China and a few other countries around the world.

 

Read this: How Much Are We Trashing Our Oceans?

 

PATRICK: Wow, that is some depressing stuff, Agent N. I would much rather have heard about you getting into a brawl with those recycling truck dudes you mentioned!

 

WILLIAM: I am sure that would have been entertaining, but entertain this: My son, one individual at seven years old, KNOWS that it is bad for Mother Nature when we don’t make the individual efforts to recycle at home or anywhere we occupy space in our daily lives. Our schools, our workplace, anywhere we consume are great places to apply some planet-saving steps to our daily process. At a young age, he has started to grasp reality and WANTS to apply that tremendous energy to what is fundamentally the right thing to do.

 

PATRICK: From another angle, many of the things we have discussed in our articles from the inception of The Green Files collectively could make a difference if practiced daily. Like buying locally. Encouraging the availability of organic foods at the places we shop. Build a garden or plant a tree. Recycle and repurpose everything you can.

 

But most importantly, let your tax-paying voice be heard on a local level that sustainability is not only important and trending larger every day, but that in fact we expect our municipalities to put the programs, tools and funding in place to facilitate citizen participation in all things Green.

 

WILLIAM: You are so right, Agent C, about the collective force and energy that can actually make a difference…locally and globally! Now I just hope that those bins of household materials that we sort make it to the right places to convert the garbage to something new and useful. I don’t want the slight-of-hand that says, “Now you see it, now you don’t, so it really doesn’t matter”. I want measurable results and I want them for my kids’ futures.

 

PATRICK: Well, it sounds like your son might be following in your special agent shoes, wouldn’t you say?

 

WILLIAM: Absolutely! He wants me to install a tracking device on that recycling truck the next time they drive by!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you know what happens to your recycling? Have you ever investigated where the recoverable materials you’re diverting from landfills is actually going? Please, share with us in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal talk about the super exciting arrival of spring…and how to plan for it with “Green” in mind.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Georgia State Arbor Day

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Chattahoochee Riverkeepper

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Trash In Our Oceans

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 13: Chicken on Drugs

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 12, our special agents were on a roll. Not only did they expose the pitfalls of packaged food labels, but they also got on a bit of a health kick! This week, Patrick and William talk about other potentially hazardous practices employed by the food production industry…

 

PATRICK: Well, I’m happy to say, Agent N, that I have successfully embarked on a bit of a diet this New Year. Yep, healthy veggies, lots of water and plenty of lean chicken—the foundation of a nutrition plan that has helped me to shed a few pounds. And half the wine—just temporarily, mind you.

 

WILLIAM: Great job! I’m working on it too, Patrick. The water consumption thing is important for sure…most of us don’t really drink all the water we should.

 

Funny thing, but many people don’t know this about the water in Atlanta: We have one of the highest rates of kidney stones in the country, which is directly tied to the mineral content of our local water. The water I drink is tap water, but I’m careful to filter it for that very reason.

 

You know they say the pain from a kidney stone is only a bit less painful than childbirth. Wow! No thanks–I’d rather not find out!

 

PATRICK: I have a question about that William……Who are “THEY”?

 

WILLIAM: What do you mean?

 

PATRICK: Well, it seems that every time someone gives advice, offers words of wisdom, or otherwise tells you what to do, it’s always followed up with: “You know THEY say…blah, blah, blah.”

 

So, I want to know just exactly who this “they” person really is! Are “they” a certified expert? Are “they” someone with supreme knowledge well above us plebeians? Are “they” some kind of clairvoyant to whom we should pay attention?

 

WILLIAM: That is an excellent point! I have never really looked at it that way, but then again, I’m proud to say we often don’t see the world the same way! That, Agent C, is precisely what makes us a dynamic and well-balanced team!

 

PATRICK: Agreed.

 

WILLIAM: So, let’s get down to the reason we are here today. Let’s talk about my recent investigation into that chicken you’re eating so much of lately.

 

We know all about the hormones added to beef, in milk, etc., but for some reason chicken always seems to escape the attention paid to those who care what is fed to animals in our food chain. Chicken is a horror story, but a horror story with a happy ending where the good guys win!

 

PATRICK: I’ll bet you’re referring to the tons of antibiotics and vaccines pumped into the eggs even before they hatch! Can you even begin to visualize that? UGH.

 

Eggs

 

WILLIAM: Yes, it all has to do with money, and lots of it. The poultry producers are incentivized to grow those birds as fast as possible to harvesting weight, and hedging their bets against costly diseases in advance is the reason for this massive inoculation.

 

PATRICK: Logic dictates that the problem is the same in chickens as it is with over-doing it with antibiotics in humans. The little bugs we try to keep away simply become resistant to the antibiotics and vaccines over time, which then creates “super bugs”. A real problem for people, especially kids, our elders and those with compromised immune systems.

 

WILLIAM: True! The massive coops used to house thousands of birds being grown for our tables are ripe for disease due to the filthy conditions. But here’s the good news or the “knight in shining armor”, when it comes to chicken. Sales of antibiotic-free chicken have soared over the last few years. Growers, like Purdue Farms, and grocers are learning through the power of the purse what consumers want, and we want chickens free of these additives.

 

Even the fast food industry has paid attention. National chains such as Chipotle have built an entire brand around marketing the fact that they use hormone- and  antibiotic-free chicken in their kitchens.

 

PATRICK: Supply and demand, Agent N, supply and demand! Our commerce system is governed by this simple principal, so it IS a happier ending when people use their purchasing power for change.

 

WILLIAM: Our use of healthfully-raised chicken in the catering world, the authenticity of which is monitored by our chefs, has accelerated in the past few years, and I see a day coming very soon when every bird we prep will have a traceable and healthy pedigree.

 

PATRICK: Yes, Affairs to Remember is certainly leading the way in several areas of Green catering for Green events, but weaving as many natural ingredients into our recipes has always been a focus for the company.

 

WILLIAM: Every time I collaborate with our culinary team on designing the right menu for my clients, I’m struck by not only their enthusiasm for Greening our product, but also by their extraordinary knowledge of local resources. Case in point and in relation to this discussion, we’ve found Ashley Farms to be a reliable go-to supplier for hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken.

 

PATRICK: Switching gears here for just a sec…All of this investigating we have been doing on the food chain and the misleading practices of the food industry makes me wonder how many other sustainable practices are subject to the same shell game?

 

WILLIAM: Funny you mention that. Remind me in our next episode to tell you about the garbage and recycling practices of the county where I live. Over the holidays one of my kids asked me about exactly WHERE all the recycling items were going to end up after they were picked up. He asked me, “In the garbage?” It really got me thinking…Do I really know where all those plastic bottles, cans and cardboard go after they leave our carefully separated bins? Are recyclables actually being recycled?

 

PATRICK: Lemme guess. You followed the recycling truck again, didn’t you?

 

WILLIAM: You bet! You can be sure I’ll do anything to give my kids the important info they need, and we owe it to our readers!

 

PATRICK: I’m excited to hear the rest of this story.

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you know how your protein is raised? What research resources do you use to confirm your protein’s “healthy” authenticity? Please, share with us in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore what happens to recyclables after they leave the curb.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Urban Coop Tour

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: How do we get to Green?

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Why haven’t we caught on? It’s worked before!

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 12: Got Healthy? Really?

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 11, Patrick quizzed William about one of his upcoming sustainability oriented brides. In this next episode, they continue along those same lines and explore some healthy habits related to food, exercise and the coming of spring.

 

PATRICK: I just finished off that last little bit of the killer stew recipe you gave me! I made a “mongo” batch full of all sorts of goodness. The beef I used was hormone-free and lean, the veggies were local and the tummies were so happy!

 

WILLIAM: So, Agent C, was that stew finished off before or AFTER you went to the gym?

 

PATRICK: Uh…I followed up with a trip to the gym. The stew had already warmed me up, so I worked up a good sweat.

 

WILLIAM: Speaking of sweating, have you tried to read the label on one of those supplement bottles lately? Or for that matter, just something off the shelves at the grocery store? Most of the time the listing of preservatives, stabilizers and whatever else they can think of will make you feel like you just ran a few miles. Scary, too. Seriously…what’s going on here?!

 

PATRICK: Agent N, we talked about green posers before, but I am sorry to say that the food manufacturing industry is one of the biggest offenders. From items labeled “natural” to out and out lies about the origin of certain items, the FDA has not done their job regulating labels to the benefit of the consumer.

 

WILLIAM: In our world today, so much has to get our attention to keep pace. I think these manufactures COUNT on us all being too busy to really read the labels. If we did, and I do, they would be out of a job, and they should be!

 

PATRICK: Sing it loud and clear, Agent N! I agree with you! Now you are climbing onto one of MY favorite soapboxes!

 

I work at living a sustainable existence as much as I can, and I believe that many others do, too. Every time I walk through one of the Atlanta’s farmers markets I feel like many of those around me feel the same way.

 

The odds are not in our favor unless we MAKE them favorable odds. So, taking the time to read and understand food labels is part of that. Here are some of the biggest label pitfalls to healthy eating:

 

Made with Whole Grains – If whole wheat flour is the third ingredient listed behind other flour products or worse, a filler product, then you can be confident that very little of the good stuff resides in that loaf of bread calling your name.

 

Made with Real Fruit – Shocking lie. In fact, the majority of manufactured food products with this label actually refer to what the USDA considers another form of sugar: blended not surprisingly with corn syrup. In other words, you just bought candy.

 

Contains Fiber – Straight from the folks you really can trust (to a degree) Good Housekeeping: Most fiber in our pre-packed food is actually synthetic with such lovely benefits as actually LOWERING GOOD CHOLESTEROL and do not help your body excrete anything, but a stomach ache.

 

WILLIAM: Holy Organic, Batman! I had no idea!

 

PATRICK: Most people don’t, Agent Neal. That is why, since everyone has a little bit of  detective in themselves, we simply MUST investigate further to keep our families safe! Education is power when it comes to health and sustainability.

 

WILLIAM: We all want these things to be easier, but when it gets right down to it, taking a couple of extra minutes to read labels while shopping isn’t so hard. Just like it makes sense to strive for fitness daily. Hey, are you still doing the Piedmont Park Conservancy fitness programs these days?

 

PATRICK: Yes, they have some great things happening at the park. Check out this link for some of the activities using the park as the backdrop. Our readers can even make it a weekend thing, if their schedules allows, by taking a brisk walk at the park and then attending the Piedmont Park “Green Market” we mentioned in Episode  5. I’m so excited that Green Market reopens next month!

 

Piedmont Park Fitness

 

WILLIAM: Great idea! You could also incorporate a few other activities. Perhaps start at Atlanta Botanical Garden for glimpses at the best of flora and fauna, take the walk around the park, hit the Green Market and then do like the Trappist Monks do and head out for a nice chilly craft beer!

 

PATRICK: I like the way you think, Agent N.!

 

WILLIAM: All this talk of food labels and lies has reminded me of something…remind me to tell you about my “chemically addicted poultry”. No, I’m not kidding!

 

To be continued…

 


 

What sustainability considerations factor into your exercise routine? Share with us in the comments section how you think Atlantans could make their workouts and exercise programs more sustainability minded.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore…there’s no easy way to say this…when they explore “chicken on drugs!”

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Fitness Program at Piedmont Park

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Atlanta Farmers Markets

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Date Label Confusion

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 11: The Green Wedding

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 10, William and Patrick talked about how to brighten the winter months with a great winter stew made from delicious “uber tubers”. In this newest episode, talk has turned to a trend in weddings that is now becoming mainstream…sustainability!

 

PATRICK: I tried your stew recipe…Wow! It was just the ticket to add some warm and cozy to a cold winter’s day! Thanks for sharing, and I am excited to “investigate” some other recipes in the future with you. Hint, hint.

 

I spoke to Chef Ahmad the other day and he mentioned that you two are collaborating on some interesting, fun ideas for a Green wedding coming up this season. Tell me more!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, we came up with some terrific menu ideas using our local sources. Chef has done such a great job forging relationships with our sustainable suppliers and local farmers that it’s a pleasure to have so much to work with. It’s a really nice feeling to know that we are always well-supplied with produce in peak season—raw materials that come from the local area—and can “source” with confidence.

 

PATRICK: I know that our culinary team loves what they do; that is clear.

 

WILLIAM: Yes they do, Agent C.

 

So, my client’s wedding is in June. As you know from our investigations over the years–even before we started blogging–June is a peak produce season. When we talked about some of her favorite food memories, she mentioned that her dad grew heirloom tomatoes. And her fiancée had mentioned that he loves “all things cheese“.

 

When I was later talking with Chef Ashley, she had a brilliant idea! “Why don’t we do a Chef’s Table presentation during the cocktail hour that is filled with various local cheeses, some awesome heirloom tomatoes and an assortment of condiments for the guests? Imagine having some lovely olive oils and perhaps some artisan salts for the perfectly ripe, sliced tomatoes, and some local honey, homemade jams and great breads to eat with the cheeses!

 

BRILLIANT!” I said, and when I told the bride, she was so excited! Not only did we hit a really positive note with the suggestions, but she loved the fact that we offered her something unique that she “never saw at one of her girlfriends’ weddings.” Really good stuff!

 

Bamboo PlatesPATRICK: That reminds me of some of the positive changes we made several years back here at Affairs to Remember to keep in tune with responsible sustainability practices. Our total and complete elimination of polystyrene products for one, not to mention the reduction in harsh cleaning materials and company-wide recycling and composting programs that have set an industry standard here in the Southeast.

 

We have seen so many of the industry suppliers come around to offering Green-oriented products, as well. For example, there are some cool and environmentally safe disposable service ware options available now at reasonable prices. Fallen leaf bamboo plates and vessels are very on-trend, and they’re compostable.

 

WILLIAM: Compostable yes, but after lengthy investigations by our culinary and operations teams, not as “Green” as one might think.

 

PATRICK: What do you mean?

 

WILLIAM: It actually might be more environmentally sound to re-use china or glass plates over and over, washing with soaps that have less of an impact on the Earth and saving the energy that would be used to transport disposable products to our facility in exchange for the energy used to actually run the china in the dishwasher.

 

PATRICK: That makes sense on many levels. I suppose if a client has that particular “earthy” look in mind, the bamboo or other compostable might be good, but they should know the true tale. Better catering through investigation!

 

WILLIAM: You bet, Agent C! So, back to the very engaging bride I was working with…She knew she was in great hands from a menu development standpoint, but one of the other criteria important to her was to minimize waste generated by her event. I assured her that many of the venues we work in around the Southeast have adopted recycling in their bar programs, which divert thousands of pounds of glass and aluminum from landfills. When one thinks of the amount of bottles and cans generated by 200 guests at an event, it’s really quite stunning.

 

PATRICK: Something as simple as our standard practice of using pitchers of water rather than dozens and dozens of bottles of water for bar service has made a big impact.

 

WILLIAM: When I mentioned the many things we do on a daily basis at Affairs to “walk the walk” when it comes to Mother Earth, she was happy. I asked her if she had spoken to other caterers or event designers about these things that are important to her, and most of them stumbled. “You could tell it was not something ingrained in their company culture.” she said. “It was clear almost from the beginning of interactions with your company, William, that you guys were the real deal when it comes to responsible Green practices, and that means a lot.”

 

PATRICK: Love that! I am sure that has made a difference for her as a bride who has “braved the storm swirl” of planning a wedding.

 

WILLIAM: You bet, Agent C.! We will definitely have to circle back around to highlight her wedding in a future episode. I think we are just getting started with a true “Green design” to her special day and as innovators, just getting warmed up!

 

PATRICK: Speaking of “warmed up”, winter is the time many of us hit the gym, go on a diet and get ourselves healthy in anticipation of spring. Maybe we should investigate some health oriented Green practices over the next episode or two.

 

WILLIAM: Great idea! I am on that diet you mentioned, but it sure is hard being around all this seriously delicious food all day long. Even the employee lunch is over the top! But you know what they say, Agent C.

 

PATRICK: No, what’s that?

 

WILLIAM: NEVER trust a skinny caterer!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you take sustainability into consideration when planning a special event, at home or work? What questions do you ask your caterer before you sign the dotted line?

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore some healthy habits related to food, exercise and the coming of spring. If any of that even remotely resembles your New Years resolutions, this is an episode you won’t want to miss!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Lifecycle Building Center | Shannon Goodman

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Sustainable Shelter” at MODA

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Not Knowing Where Your Food Comes From

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 10: The Uber Tuber

In Episode 9, William and Patrick helped guard you from the plethora of “Green posers” out there in the world. In this episode they take you in a new direction…how to make the doldrums of winter months into “warm and cozy”!

 

WILLIAM: All this talk of past holiday parties and Green posers has gotten me a bit depressed, Patrick. I really need a boost this time of year, particularly with the weather being a bit cold and rainy recently!

 

PATRICK: Agent Neal, perk up! This is a great time of year! The New Year brings a fresh start, people take on new ways to improve their lives, businesses set themselves up for greatness with new plans and on top of it all, you have winter stew!

 

WILLIAM: Winter stew? What in the heck are you talking about?

 

Chefs Garden - kohlrabiPATRICK: What warms the cockles, brightens the dreary day and otherwise fills your tank like a hearty winter stew when it’s rainy and cold Agent Neal? Stew I say, STEW!

 

WILLIAM: You know, you’re right, Agent C. Thanks for the inspiration! Nothing like those “uber tubers” from the winter months to make a great stew! I just love the richness of organic carrots, spicy turnips, sensual golden beets and herbaceous parsnips! And who can forget the King of All Tubers: The Potato!

 

PATRICK: Yes, potatoes come in every size, shape, color and flavor it seems these days. You know what else comes in a multitude of tones, hues and shapes? Mushrooms.

 

Hey William, what is your favorite stew?

 

WILLIAM: I have a good one! But first, let’s set the stage. You know, we caterers always have to create an “experience” for people to enjoy. If not our families, then a couple hundred of our clients’ best friends or business associates.

 

PATRICK: Amen brother! I mean Agent! Amen!

 

WILLIAM: Stews are great for crowds. I remember the “staff meals” when I lived and worked in Switzerland. These were really a “family dinner” we shared just before the restaurant opened. The entire restaurant team of about 20 sat down to break bread together. The Chef’s mom had a great garden and he always shared what she occasionally brought by the restaurant with his employees. His family raised much of what they ate when they were growing up and I loved hearing the stories he would tell us about “living with” a garden. This was actually one of my first experiences with “home grown” and one that made a huge impression on me. In the fall and winter, it was usually some “uber tubers”!

 

PATRICK: I see a stew coming!

 

WILLIAM: Yep! When he made stew for us, he showed us, or shall I say “reinforced,” the importance of caramelization in cooking. In other words, while building his stew, he gently caramelized or browned the turnips, onions and some of the other veggies, which imparted a lovely almost sweet richness to the broth.

 

PATRICK: It sounds like caramelization of the natural starches or sugars in the raw veggies right?

 

WILLIAM: Precisely!

 

PATRICK: In fact, we all recognize that when a veggie is plucked fresh from the soil shortly before cooking that all of the natural vitamins, healthy enzymes and of course the elements that make up veggies like starches and fibers are all at their peak. So naturally these elements are there for us to benefit from, if we know how tame them!

 

WILLIAM: Brown the meat, remove. Brown, the veggies, remove. De-glaze.

 

PATRICK: Sounds like a cooking class…

 

WILLIAM: It is really quite fun leaning how to build stew in the winter. I made one over the holidays with some great lean beef shoulder, some amazing golden beets, a few baby potatoes, some other “uber tubers” and of course some great red wine and whole cloves of garlic. It was dark and rich and full of chunky goodness.

 

PATRICK: Sounds amazing! Sounds like a party! Let’s get some good crusty bread to dip in the stew, maybe a salad to start—with some of those beet greens and some winter kale? Now all we need is a fantastic bottle of red and a few dozen friends to have a warm and cozy experience on a cold winter day!

 

WILLIAM: Thanks, Agent C.

 

PATRICK: I think you should share a stew recipe with our readers sometime in the future. I am sure they would love to brighten their days and warm up to what sounds like yummy goodness!

 

But William, here is the thing…We do live here in the South and spring for us is just around the corner, weddings are being planned now and soon thoughts will shift from stews to fresh budding flowers and gorgeous warm weather meals! Can you say “risotto with spring mushrooms”? Wedding season will be here before we know it!

 

Speaking of which, how is the planning going with your “Green-oriented” bride we spoke of recently?

 

WILLIAM: Which one? So many of my brides seem to request some elements of sustainability at their receptions these days. That, Agent C, is precisely why they come to Affairs to Remember!

 

PATRICK: I am looking forward to hearing more, Agent N.

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you plant a winter garden? Share with our other readers in Comments section below your best tips for a bountiful harvest from a winter garden. What surprised you about winter gardening?

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore how to make a wedding reception a Green special event!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Fernbank Forest Guided Tour

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Teaching Your Kids to Garden

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Not Composting!

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 9: Uncovering the Green Posers

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 8, William and Patrick introduced you to a unique local fair trade coffee roaster and shared some of their favorite facts on coffee and food. This episode serves to protect you from the “Green posers”—to help ensure your hard-earned dollars are well-spent.

 

WILLIAM: I went to a neighborhood holiday party not too long ago and had the experience of being a guest—for once!—instead of running the show. That was fantastic!

 

PATRICK: Yes, let’s set the record straight on that one. OK, full disclosure here, I’m writing this blog because I want more dinner invitations! Most people who are friends with chefs and caterers don’t invite us to dinner because they worry that we’ll be critical. Just the opposite—we’re usually so happy to be on the receiving end that you could serve us anything and we’d LOVE YOU!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, absolutely! That was definitely the case recently, until I found out that my neighbor had hired a “catering company” that said the menu was sustainable and the ingredients organic. They even stated that the herbs were from the garden in their own backyard!

 

Click me to see "The Top 10 Questions Most Caterers Hope You WON'T Ask"

 

PATRICK: So where was the problem with that, Special Agent Neal? You and I have always loved our other local catering friends.

 

WILLIAM: Look, nobody can ever dispute the need for “clean” food and, therefore, the case for organic and carefully sourced ingredients. But the problem is simple. Several of the products were not really organic, and some actually came from a “big box membership store”. There is nothing local or sustainable about imported, conventionally grown summer veggies in the dead of winter or the obvious food miles traveled by that cheese display! No thought was put into local sourcing, AT ALL! And to top it all off, the “caterer” was really someone’s uncle!

 

PATRICK: OK, I get the fact that some of the representations were false, but what is really being uncovered here? My uncle is a killer cook!

 

WILLIAM: The double whammy is what must be uncovered! First, if someone holds themselves out as providing Green and sustainable products and services, then they should be authentic. The purchaser deserves the real thing. There’s no place for Greenwashing. Ever. Besides, in our city and in the Southeast in general, there are terrific resources available just about any time of the year if you look for them.

 

Secondly, the unlicensed caterer, in this case someone’s well-intentioned yet naive uncle, most likely cooks in his home. And that means that they aren’t inspected by the county health department. And that also means that they’re not likely to be ServSafe Certified, which is an essential part of any food handler’s core training. PLUS, most unlicensed caterers carry no business insurance that protects the client and the client’s guests. What happens if someone gets sick from their improperly prepared or improperly transported food? That would certainly put a damper on anyone’s holiday spirit, or for that matter any time of year.

 

PATRICK: It’s SOAPBOX time! To top it off, they probably don’t have workers comp insurance either. Can you say “lawsuit”? And most of these unlicensed operators don’t pay any taxes. So, it’s actually a triple-whammy in my book: Greenwashing, putting guests at risk, and not paying taxes.

 

WILLIAM: The public deserves authentic, safe and REAL choices.

 

There’s more to this story.

 

PATRICK: That’s right, Special Agent Neal. We’ll definitely investigate this one further, and I’ll try not to get on my soapbox again, but there are no guarantees. Right now, I can’t stop thinking about winter veggies…

 

To be continued…

 


 

Have you ever suspected that you have been the victim of something represented as Green, organic or sustainable that truly was not? Please, share with us your experience(s) in the comments section below.

 

See our list of “The Top 10 Questions Most Caterers Hope You WON’T Ask” by clicking on the cabbage above!

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal explore how to make dreary winter blues into a spectacular event…how to make winter veggies a celebration!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Environmental Working Group

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Elemental Impact | Holly Elmore 

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Clients Getting “Taken to the Cleaners”

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 8: The “Beaning” of (a Green) Life

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 7, William and Patrick guided you through great wine pairings and touched on the craft of creating sustainable beers. Join us this week as they discuss the nectar of life, the fuel of the workday, the libation of the gods…COFFEE!

 

WILLIAM: All this love of libation has made me thirsty for a pick-me-up…No, let me rephrase that—I need a great pick-me-up!

 

How about let’s grab a cup of “Joe”, Special Agent Cuccaro? And donuts, too! Oh, wait a minute—donuts are a food group for most college kids, as is coffee nowadays. You would think that with all the lattes some of these young folks inhale, nothing would be left in the coffers for tuition!

 

But you know, Patrick, we are SPECIAL AGENTS who CATER for goodness sake! So, how about a fresh blueberry muffin? Or better yet, how about a chocolate laced croissant?

 

PATRICK: Yes, and this Special Agent is feeling the need for speed! Give me some fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee to start my engines! And I will skip the muffin or croissant, Mister. You know I’ve been on a diet since the last two blog posts.

 

WILLIAM: And you know what they say when it comes to talking food, wine or sustainability: “Go BIG or GO HOME!” If we are going on a coffee journey today, we are going to go BIG.

 

Nothing is better than the aroma of freshly brewed coffee from high-quality beans. I’ve always said that a person who dines eats first with the nose. The aroma of fresh food hits one’s sense of smell long before the palate stimulates the appetite. Well, the same in many similar ways is true for coffee.

 

My favorite coffee is our new one at Affairs…Beanealogy. We served very good and very “responsible” coffee B.B. (“Before Beanealogy”), but this stuff is superlative. Clients consistently rave about the coffee at their event.

 

PATRICK: I love the story behind Beanealogy’s particular process. It’s a classic Southern story about being “dirty and nekkid.” Got your attention?

 

DIRTY!

 

Coffee is processed in two forms—washed and natural. Natural coffee is called “dirty” because it’s not washed. The washing process takes the mucilage off the bean creating a crisper cup of coffee, but the more natural “dirty” process leaves the beans with mucilage intact, creating a sweeter tasting coffee. Gotta love that sweet coffee!

 

NEKKID!

 

Coffee is “Nekkid”—Southern slang for “naked”—when it has not been stripped of the natural sugar on the beans. That sweet-sweetness helps to create a bold, big-bodied cup of goodness with a very rich aroma.

 

WILLIAM: Don’t you love it when the sustainable-minded have a little fun with a serious mega-trend? I do. At the same time, it sounds like Beanealogy is pretty intense about their coffee! I mean, just looking at the contributing factors that led to our decision to serve Beanealogy is quite impressive. Their coffee is:

  • 100% Arabica Coffee
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • USDA Organic Certified
  • Bird Friendly Certified
  • Shade Grown, and the bottom line is it’s…
  • Sustainable Coffee

 

Hey, Agent Cuccaro, if our readers want to try Beanealogy coffee, aside from creating a special event with Affairs to Remember Caterers, they can stop by JavaVino, a terrific neighborhood coffee and wine house in the Poncey/Highland area.

 

It’s owned by the wife and husband team Heddy and Steve, and Heddy is the sixth generation of her family to be in the coffee business. JavaVino is a fun location where our readers can kick back to read The Green Files, enjoy a great cup of sustainable coffee, with breakfast or a scrumptious dessert!

 

PATRICK: Good stuff, I agree. What’s your favorite food to have with coffee? I’m thinking mine might be just a simple Italian-style biscotti. I love to dip, bite and sip.

 

WILLIAM: I have to say that I love a great biscotti, too. But what really gets me to my happy place is coffee and CHOCOLATE! Give me anything chocolate with a great cup of coffee and heaven envelops my soul.

 

For instance, our Deconstructed “Twix Bar” and coffee! Yum!

 

 

Deconstructed Twix Bar

 

 

Pass that pot over to me, would ya? My first cup is kicking in, and I need a refill!

 

PATRICK: Sounds like you have found the true “Beaning of Life”, Agent Neal!

 

WILLIAM: You are a very disturbed Secret Agent, Mr. Cuccaro. Accurate, but disturbed…

 

To be continued…

 


 

What does coffee mean to you? What is your favorite coffee experience? What goes best with coffee? Donuts? Biscotti? Wild, abandoned…chocolate?

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal shift their focus to a new type of Green investigation: Uncovering Green “Posers”.

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Beanealogy

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Chef Ahmad Nourzad & Chef Ashley Mitchell

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Coffee Shops That Don’t Recycle

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 7: Grapes with a Green Pedigree

 

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 6, William and Patrick found common connections between the Trappist Monks and contemporary ideas of sustainability. And guess what? They managed to have fun and tie in some good food to the concept! They’re on a roll, so let’s see where they take us today. Sonoma Valley, anyone?

 

PATRICK: OK, I admit it. I’m unabashedly American, but when it comes to wine, I might as well be European, because A) I drink wine like one—which is to say A LOT—and B) my favorite wine is from the Burgundy region of France. Montrachet is my all-time fantasy house wine—”fantasy” being the key word here.

 

All this by way of saying that I’m not yer average cheap wino. Life’s too short to drink shabby wine. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel all the way to the South of France to find some good juice.

 

Now this is one of those wines that even other competitive growers and wine producers admire because of its amazing Green pedigree. Korbel Winery Organic Brut, America’s best-known sparkling wine producer captivated our Green community by introducing their first Organic Brut in 2009.

 

It offers classic, crisp Brut-style flavors at an affordable $15.00 retail, so as an entry level sparkling wine this is perfect for weddings!

 

WILLIAM: I love some bubbles, by Jove! Bubbles mean life! Bubbles mean celebration!

 

Many of our brides want at the very least a bottle of great bubbles to pop with their cake! Crisp brut style wines (not sweet) are sensational with post-ceremony hors d’oeuvres—I’m thinking brie with a hint of raspberry…or maybe our passed shrimp with a light orange-cinnamon glaze. The crisp tartness of a great  sparkling wine sweeps through your palate and blends nicely with the sweetness of the fruit, the creaminess of the cheese and even works to enhance the seafood’s natural saltiness.

 

By the way, in case some of our readers are wondering why we are talking in terms of “sparkling wines” rather than “Champagne”, the reason is simple: Only those sparkling wines actually made in the Champagne region of France can be called “Champagne”. All other sparkling wines produced around the world, in places like Spain, Italy, Australia, etc. are just that, “sparkling wines” or cava or Prosecco or what have you.

 

We love Sonoma Valley, and for a variety of reasons, these detectives chose American-made bubbles! But we need other wines when we entertain. My favorite recommendation for my wedding AND corporate clients is to do the research, and try several lighter reds such as a good pinot before they select what they want to serve their guests. Most dinner entrees such as beef, salmon and even a hearty chicken can match well with the right pinot noir.

 

One of my all-time favorite organic finds has been the Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir. Cooper Mountain is a leader in organic pinot noir—they make a half-dozen or so different organic pinots to showcase their unique terroir. The Reserve is a blend of the best of the vineyards, and it gives you a relatively complex and well-priced wine at $21.00.

 

The wonderfully light omega oils in salmon are in some ways like the lovely fats in dairy—say, the brie we mentioned earlier. When you understand those types of ingredient characteristics in a dish, you can easily learn how acidity and tannins can “season” your food as you dine with great wines. Practice and experimentation makes perfect! And happy!

 

PATRICK: Thirsty. Hungry. But I digress…

 

One of the everything-old-is-new-again things that I love about this discussion is—similar to the Trappist beer history—many wines from around the world have always been sustainable. It’s just that nobody made a big deal out of it. Like our grandparents’ family gardens. They just did it because that’s the way it was always done.

 

Vineyard

 

WILLIAM: I have always been fascinated by that simple fact, Patrick. It seems like many elements of “Green” really are simple: basic working the earth with your hands, clean soil, clean water, sun, good air, and the result: a great garden, some excellent foods, and in this case, some great wines.

 

PATRICK: Growing up in Oklahoma means I know what things like okra and strawberries and pecans taste like at their perfect moment. I love those memories, but I wouldn’t have minded growing up in Italy or France and having similar memories about wine!

 

WILLIAM: Oh, yes! As you describe these garden gifts I can practically taste them right now. Here in the New South, great gardens abound. Even though we’ve recently had some cold, rainy December days, I can almost taste those sun-caressed vine ripe tomatoes Chef Ahmad whipped up for our clients last summer!

 

But, now I am the one who digresses. Tell me more…

 

PATRICK: Well, Agent Neal, about that wine, organic wine vineyards are not rare. With the right research, any consumer can “Green-up” their beer and wine selections.

 

Here are two quick websites to help folks learn the basics on the topic of pairings, which we investigated the past two episodes:

 

WILLIAM: And now that all the beer and wine is gone, I’m looking forward to a great cup of coffee!

 

PATRICK: That would be Beanealogy’s USDA organic certified coffee, right William? Thanks for the shameless segue into our next little get together—COFFEE!

 

WILLIAM: Ah, yes…the “fuel of life”. I can’t wait to talk about “The Beaning of Life”! Great title, Agent Cuccaro!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Have you ever indulged in organic wine? How about high gravity Trappist-style beer? Do you support your local brewery? Please, share with us which, and why, is your favorite local brewery in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate some amazing coffee as the perfect antidote to their beer and wine tasting!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: SweetWater Brewing Company

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Georgia Grown

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Plastic Wine Corks

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 6: Of Trappist Monks and the Modern Day Green Revolution

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 5, William and Patrick examined the reasons that local is good, but they’re reminded that Not everything about Green is black and white. This week they talk food, sustainability and craft beer!

 

WILLIAM: I have always known a lot about food pairings with wine, but I was unaware, until the last few years, of how easy it is to match some great craft beers with food.

 

We are fortunate here in Georgia to have several very good craft beer breweries and chefs across the South have embraced them as the great food-friendly libations they are, not just an after-work delight. Check out this map and be prepared to be amazed: Craft Beers on the Road

 

PATRICK: I feel a road trip coming on! With a designated driver that is!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, absolutely! MY suggestion is that we plan the trip geographically, incorporating a few beer-oriented meals into the mix!

 

Hey Patrick, do you know the story of the Trappist Monks and the beer they made?

 

A fundamental tenet dating back to the 1600s requires monasteries to be totally self-supporting. Trappists, like many other religious people, originally brewed beer to feed the community in order to achieve that local self-sufficiency. Nowadays, Trappist breweries make beer to fund themselves and their favorite causes.

 

One other tidbit…these monks were quite the entertainers! Early day caterers, you might say. Being in the party business, as we are, we can certainly appreciate that the monks often created large feasts for groups of 500-plus people and did so with only what they sourced locally, grew or hand made. They prepped, they set up, they served, AND they cleaned up! Just like our business! “Farm-to-GREAT-party.”

 

Today, these Trappist groups have evolved and have cultivated sustainable habits. This tidbit of history is amazing from the perspective of modern sustainability and the food miles we have examined in previous episodes. When dedication to local resources is consistent, there leaves no reason for Greenwashing.

 

PATRICK: I like to think of it as Greeniculousness. Some of the Green claims that companies now make are nothing short of Green-Ridiculous. They’re Greeniculous!

 

WILLIAM: But not so for these beer brewers. I have tried a few of the Trappist craft beers from Belgium, and they are very different than what we are accustomed to. Locally, Red Brick Brewing Co., SweetWater Brewing Company and Monday Night Brewing produce some amazing seasonally brewed and environmentally conscious craft beers for our community. That’s if you consider beer a “food” for the sake of “food miles.”

 

PATRICK: I actually consider beer a food GROUP, but go ahead…

 

WILLIAM: Me too! A majority of the beverages that they produce are consumed nearby, and that reduces their carbon footprint. Also, our local brewers work with various non-profits, further supporting our community. You sure can feel better about drinking beer when you know the money made is having a positive effect.

 

Along those same lines, SweetWater Brewing is a major supporter of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, which our great eco friends Laura Turner Seydel and husband Rutherford started back in 1994. This organization monitors the river diligently for increases in pollutants and is responsible for vital conservation efforts that protect Atlanta’s primary water resource. Makes sense for a brewery, right? Good water = great beer.

 

PATRICK: I don’t really need a reason to feel good about drinking great local beer, William, but you’re right. It’s like a terrific vintage of wine, you know there is history behind it, you know lots of people received work AND enjoyment from the product over the years…and all that without a huge environmental impact. That is precisely the connection to Green authenticity—no Greenwashing or Greeniculousness here!

 

So throw me some examples of some great beer and food matches.

 

Red Brick-Poached Shrimp

WILLIAM: OK, how about at the next party let’s do our cocktail shrimp that’s poached in Red Brick Brewing Company’s seasonal Brown Beer, spices, sea salt and citrus? It takes the cocktail shrimp to a whole new level of flavor! Eat a few of those with the matching brew and it really makes flavor sense. Some folks claim to use local ingredients, but this dish is what it is because of local ingredients.

 

PATRICK: Love that shrimp! Love that beer!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, and best of all, we only have to walk across the street to get the brew for shrimp-poaching!

 

Another great combo: American IPA (Indian Pale Ale) with spicy foods. I love a great chipotle and lime grilled chicken with Red Brick’s “HopLanta“, the one with the frog on the label! Take a bite of chicken, hop around like a frog from the heat, and then cool it off with the IPA. Brilliant!

 

PATRICK: Interesting visual, William!

 

WILLIAM: Yes, but I know my stuff when it comes to great libation and great food marriages.

 

Here is an interesting flavor profile…Red Brick recently made a limited release of a beer infused with a dose of green tea. I really don’t know how to describe it to you without almost sounding like I’m describing wine! It had a flowery nose, but a rich earthiness where the tea enveloped the hops and pulled them out almost as though they were young and green, like saplings. Does that make sense?

 

PATRICK: A little over my head, but I definitely want to try that. And yes, it sounds like you are talking about wine. But the things that excite me about your description are the food possibilities to pair with such a unique brew!

 

WILLIAM: Exactly! It had me stumped for a while…or for a few bottles, I should say. Then it hit me…duck confit taco with finely shredded winter slaw and a dose of peppers for light heat! It was an ethereal combo!

 

Try me, ask me about some other combos. Whatcha got?

 

PATRICK: What about sustainable wines? Have you heard about the Benziger Bella Luna Pinot Noir 2009? Let’s talk about a subject where we can really UNCOVER the dirt on some great wine and food mysteries!

 

WILLIAM: Sounds kinda “shi-shi” to me compared to my humble little local brews. And expensive, too! But I am super excited to get into some wine with you as we investigate AND as we sample!

 

PATRICK: Ha, ha! Warming up the corkscrew now, Detective Neal. You’ll be surprised at the wine values and amazing food pairings I uncover for our loyal readers, William. But that’s next week, just in time for the holiday break and the New Year!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Are you “crafty” about your selections of beers and food? Are you an oenophile? What the heck is an oenophile? Please, share your thoughts on oenophilism with us in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate some vineyards, producers, food and wine pairings that put some FUN into being Green!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Red Brick Brewing

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Bill Bolling | Atlanta Community Food Bank

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Food Labels

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 5: Bringing YOU to the FOOD

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 4, William and Patrick examined the reasons that understanding “food miles” are important to you and your family. Join them now as they explore the flip side.

 

WILLIAM: Wow, Patrick, you look so much better than you did last week! I guess those “organic” aspirin helped the headache you had, huh? The truth about “food miles” will give anyone a headache, that is for sure!

 

As I have learned, the distance a product travels farm-to-table—or in our specific case, since we live in the special events world, “farm-to-party”—and the corresponding carbon footprint, can be a very, very big deal. As a chef, as a foodie and as a father,  I have become an avowed locavore, now that my learning curve has revealed some real truth on the subject.

 

PATRICK: Yep, I’m loving that locavore thing, William. Now if we could just find a way to cook kudzu, we’d be heroes. Well, I guess we’d have to do more than cook it. As caterers, we’d have to find a way to make it actually taste great. And of course as a health nut, I’d want my local kudzu to be grown organically, dang it.

 

WILLIAM: I see a shredded kudzu slaw in a light grapefruit vinaigrette with toasted pumpkin seeds and dried cherries in your future…

 

PATRICK: And then just think, William, overnight one of our biggest problems—the increasing population growth of scary kudzu sculptures—would become one of our greatest assets! There’s even a food trend named after this concept. People who eat invasive plants and animals to lessen the devastation that those invaders do to their local environment are called invasivores. Like Chinese Mysterysnails at Potato Creek.

 

WILLIAM: Uh…ICK. That’s just wrong, guy. I’m really not so fond of any dish with the word “mystery” in it.

 

Back on the locavore front…everything about being a locavore appeals to me. For a caterer, nothing tastes better than freshly picked local produce—a chef’s dream. Plus it keeps dollars in our local economy, and it encourages farming—a saintly profession that is increasingly showing a decline in the United States. Which is a shame because some of the young people entering the farming industry are having a blast…have a look at this video:

 

 

PATRICK: Got it. Local is Good. Local is Good. Local is Good. If we just keep repeating that mantra, someday it will drown out the noise of these reality checks…Is buying direct from the farmer an efficient and sustainable way to feed ourselves? What demons must we slay to get our hungry hands on that local produce?

 

WE can end up being a part of the inefficiency of the food distribution system. Think about this: Most of us have to drive past a dozen grocery stores to get to our nearest farmers market. That accounts for additional petroleum consumption that would be saved if we had simply shopped with our local grocer.

 

WILLIAM: You just made me think of something related to events, Patrick. Many of my clients, both bridal and corporate are actually VERY conscience of how the design and logistics of their celebration has an effect on the environment. And more often than not, specifically the  food miles that are involved. To these folks, local sourcing is super important!

 

But stick here with me…Let’s say for, example, that you are a corporate client conducting a regional sales meeting and you have people coming to town from various states. Similarly, you may be a bride with several family members and friends coming to your wedding from all over the globe! If you think of the travel miles and therefor the carbon footprint involved, the very LEAST you want to do as a food consumer is to buy local to off-set at least a fraction of those miles, wouldn’t you?

 

PATRICK: Yes, precisely! And in those two scenarios you mentioned, William, we are talking large groups of people often—100 +or more. Many miles traveled and large quantities of raw materials and ingredients that traveled to get there too.

 

And here’s another piece of the puzzle…Not all parts of the country are meant to cultivate all foods. We’re lucky to live in Georgia, where there’s a terrific variety of produce that can be grown. But even in Atlanta there are weeks when I think I’d rather become a permanent juicer—NOT!—than eat more of those dark leafy greens.

 

WILLIAM: Need inspiration? Want to get motivated? Need a model to learn from and apply in your own personal way? Two words: Barbara Kingsolver. She wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, a remarkable book, and she’s a true local-foodie.

 

She came to the realization that she’d have to leave Tucson, Arizona, for Virginia to have a realistic shot at her commitment to eating locally grown food exclusively for a year. Growing local agriculture in places like Tucson is a drain on precious water resources. There, importing part of their food supply is essential, at least with current water technologies.

 

PATRICK: Yeah, so in case you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Atlantans have some of the highest water bills in the country. But wait. Within 10 years, we’ll be in the middle of the pack. “Water Wars” will be erupting across the nation—we are simply ahead of that awful curve.

 

WILLIAM: How are we going to water our kudzu? Oh the thought of shriveled kudzu twisting in the dry wind…

 

PATRICK: You should really see someone, William, about that imagination of yours. Well…moving on…Just recently, Las Vegas passed a set of new water rates, and guess who isn’t picking up a big share of the cost increases? Well, I’m not calling out any names, but try walking down the Strip without getting splashed.

 

The “Splashers” are still seeing relatively low rates. What about the local homeowners and my fellow caterers and restaurateurs? Well, we’ll just call them “The Splash-ees”.

 

WILLIAM: Precious resources. Water. Fertile land. Farming talent. All reasons in my book to buy locally. Not to mention the added benefit of the three “f”s…

 

PATRICK: Easy there, boy…careful.

 

WILLIAM: The three food “f”s, you silly detective! FLAVOR, FLAVOR AND MORE FLAVOR!

 

We will never abandon our beloved Saturday morning strolls through our favorite farmers market. Don’t you just love the “Green Market” on Saturday mornings in Piedmont Park? You should have seen the amazing golden beets I got there recently. They were rich and earthy and a perfect pairing with a little dressing and some Chevre from Sweet Grass Dairy. Green Market has finished for the season, but fortunately Atlanta has a number of year-round farmers markets!

 

Let’s just be conscious of the advantages and disadvantages of those markets vs. the mega-marts, and let’s make a commitment to be smarter about what we buy.

 

PATRICK: And I’ll, uh, pass on the Chinese Mysterysnails, too, thank you very much!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Are you a locavore? Do you travel distances just to get to a farmers market? Have you ever questioned the true Green value in that? Please, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate the mystifying practices of Trappist Monks. Marvel as they reveal the amazing Green practices of our local Brewmeisters!

 


 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Emory Farmers Market

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Barbara Kingslover

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Pink Slime

 

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 4: Bringing the FOOD to YOU

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 3, William and Patrick asked: “Can green be SEXY?“, and they proved that it could be, judging by William’s date night! But, the 3,000-plus mile trip that a Washington apple takes before reaching your plate doesn’t sound like the journey William’s apple took last week, does it?

 

The American desire to have access to all types of fruits and vegetables year-round may be one of our biggest Green challenges. Today, our Special Agents further explore why understanding “food miles” might be important to you and your family.

 

PATRICK: My head has been spinning all week. I thought this Special Agent gig was going to settle a lot of issues for me—not create new ones.

 

I had pretty much decided that organically grown produce is better than conventional locally grown produce, based solely on the nutrition and health issues. And now you tell me that the United States cultivates only 2% of its fields organically, and that my organic apple might have had to travel halfway across the country before it lands in my hand.

 

Can you say petro chemicals? Can you say big ol’ carbon footprint? Uh-oh!

 

WILLIAM: Exactly. Balancing our health concerns, there’s this huge environmental bear-in-the-corner called “food miles“. Floating food across the ocean, flying it through the air and driving it across our roads create an over-sized carbon footprint. Even a casual “road trip” can be a factor.

 

This past fall, my boys and I took a drive up into the mountains. It was an awesome day with killer weather and a crispness in the air that reminded me of biting into a crisp fall apple. We passed dozens of roadside stands that had apples calling our names!

 

One of my sons said, “Hey Daddy, why did we have to drive all the way up here for apples?” So for the sake of keeping this educational and enlightening, I won’t bore you with details, but we had an entire conversation about food miles…at a six year old’s level, that is!

 

Getting down–or some may say “up”–to his level brought it home to me how the daily choices that we make can contribute to massive accumulation of carbon, simply through our benign actions. In this case, a drive in the country with the kids!

 

So just imagine…

 

Someone in Georgia who wants to eat strawberries in December is helping that along by creating a demand for fruit that’s not locally in season. Sure, it might be in season somewhere, but to enjoy strawberries in Georgia in the winter, we’re talkin’ major food miles.

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

Don’t believe it? Here’s a startling statistic: With all the lush land in Hawaii, they still import 90 percent of their beef, 67 percent of their fresh vegetables, 65 percent of their fresh fruits, and 80 percent of all milk! Unbelievable!

 

PATRICK: Confusion. Spinning. Headache. Did the poor kid get an apple?

 

WILLIAM: Yes, yes, yes, of course! An apple and a lesson! OK, forget about food miles. Let’s just go for some low hanging fruit, pardon the pun. How about each time we shop at our favorite farmers market we commit to buying two or three Georgia-grown foods? If your head still hurts after that, just add some of those new-fangled organic aspirin to your grocery cart!

 

PATRICK: And we haven’t even discussed how many extra miles some of us drive just to get to one of those farmers markets. How many grocery stores do we pass, how many gallons of gas do we use, to get our Farmers Market Food Frenzy on – like that roadside stand you drive by sometimes!?!

 

As always, we say, Nothing about Green is black and white. We know that “food miles” add to our carbon footprint…and what about these “people miles” we’ve heard of?

 

WILLIAM: Next week, Patrick. It seems like this subject—although not all black and white—really can be elemental to a six year old because he truly understood where apples came from after our adventure.

For the two of us however, we will continue to unravel the mysteries. For now, take some of those organic aspirin…and gimme two while you’re at it. I’ve got some excellent cider I brought home from the mountain trip to wash it down with!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you consciously shop for Georgia-grown products? Is it important to you to support your local farmers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, please.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents­­­­ Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal continue their investigation—this time, Bringing YOU to the FOOD.

 


This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Decatur Farmers Market

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Will Harris III – White Oak Pastures

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: E. coli

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 3: Can Green Be Sexy?

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 1 and Episode 2, William and Patrick posed the question, “Which is best—an apple grown organically or one grown locally?”

 

PATRICK: William, this Special Agent gig is wearing me out. I keep looking for easy answers, and there aren’t any.

 

WILLIAM: As you’ve said, Patrick: Not everything about Green is black and white. We can agree, though, that “food miles” count when it comes to sustainability. So let’s talk about LOVE, my friend! Let’s talk DATE NIGHT!

 

PATRICK: OK, Romeo, does this have anything to do with that gorgeous bunch of kale and other greens I saw on your office desk?

 

Kale

 

WILLIAM: You betcha! Last night was date night at the old homestead. My wife is so proud of our organic garden—she actually went out and picked kale to decorate the table. It was great! Do you remember when Chef Ahmad made gorgeous wild salmon for the Green wedding we did not long ago? The bride loved the dish, and I did something similar for my wife. But, instead of a side salad, I used some more fresh kale for a flavorful side dish. Now THAT was SEXY Green!

 

PATRICK: I suppose you are going to weave the apples in here somewhere, aren’t you?

 

WILLIAM: Right again, Special Agent Cuccaro! I wanted to finish off the meal with a super-light dessert, so I grilled some local apples with a brown sugar glaze and fresh whipped cream…then added a little graham cracker crumble on top for good measure. Easy and delicious regardless of the apple’s pedigree, food miles or pesticides used! Just kidding about the last one there; I did wash the apples first…with a GREEN scrubby pad! Get it? “GREEN” scrubby pad! Ha!

 

PATRICK: Seriously…?

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you eat strawberries in December? Apples in March? Watermelon in January? Would you be willing to sacrifice those luxuries in order to make your carbon footprint smaller? Please, share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

 

Enjoy “William’s Fresh Kale Bake” recipe here.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents­­­­ Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal continue their investigation of Bringing the FOOD to YOU.

 

 


This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Atlanta Botanical Garden

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Marvin Gaye

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Date Night Leftovers Packed in Styrofoam

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 2: The Mystery of the “Green” Apple – SOLVED?

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In Episode 1, William and Patrick posed the question, “Which is best—an apple grown organically or one grown locally?

 

DEAR SPECIAL AGENTS: For the last two weeks, you’ve been sharing ways to make better choices about living a sustainable lifestyle. Ideally, everything that my family eats would be local and organic, but that’s not always possible—sometimes I have to choose between one or the other. Can you help? – SIGNED: Confused-but-Committed-in-Atlanta

 

WILLIAM: Confused, you have asked a fantastic question, and we’re going to give it our best shot today.

 

There is absolutely NO doubt, I’m a sucker for a farmers market or roadside stand.  Maybe it’s the chef in me, or it might be my love of gardening, but when I drive by a stand loaded with beautiful produce, I just have to pull over.

 

Grant Park Farmers Market - Freewheel Farm

 

I get such a kick out of watching my kids eat samples of the fruits and vegetables we discover on our trips. I can see their wheels turning—it’s here where they start to understand that food isn’t something that comes flash-frozen out of the mega-mart freezer.

 

I get really excited when schools use gardening in their lesson plans. It’s a commonsense way to ensure healthy food and eating habits for generations to come.

 

And the taste! There’s nothing like biting into a fresh apple that was picked just yesterday in the North Georgia Mountains. It might not be organic, but when it comes to flavor, I’d pit it against any organic apple that has to make its way to us from California, no matter how great the pedigree.

 

PATRICK: And that, Confused and William, is at the core, pardon the pun, of this puzzling question of “local versus organic.” Do the health benefits of an organically grown apple outweigh the flavor of a freshly picked one? Does taste trump health?

 

My answer is that health always trumps taste. I have memorized the Dirty Dozen—the 12 vegetables and fruits that typically have the highest pesticide residue—and I always try to purchase them organically grown. As for the rest of the Non-Dirties, if I can’t find them grown both locally AND organically, then I have to know my local farmers. If they practice healthy, sustainable farming methods, that’s what I’ll buy hands down. If not, I go organic.

 

On a side note, there’s an app for The Dirty Dozen.

 

By the way, Agent Neal, those apples that your kids sampled at the roadside stand…if they’re not organic and you don’t know anything about that farmer, they’re probably on the Dirty Dozen list!

 

WILLIAM: So lemme get this right. Rather than eat a non-organic local apple, you’d choose an organic Pink Lady apple that was grown in Western Australia, loaded onto a container, hauled to a ship, floated across the ocean, hoisted onto a truck, and driven across the United States to a distribution center that then dropped it off at a grocery store 21 days later? You’re really telling me that’s better than snatching one up from a roadside stand that was picked four hours ago?

 

PATRICK: Ah, well, since ya put it that way…I think maybe we need to talk more about “food miles”.

 

WILLIAM: That traveling apple story wore me out. Next week, Patrick, there will be no stats. Next week we have some fun…Let’s talk about sexy apples and DATE NIGHT!

 

To be continued…

 


 

Do you have any favorite local farmers that you trust with your family’s health and nutrition? Please, share your favorite(s) with us in below comments section.

 

Join us next week when Special Agents­­­­ Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate the burning question: Can Green be Sexy?

 


This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Riverview Farms

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Captain Planet Foundation

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Grocery Store Shelf Space

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

EPISODE 1: The Mystery of the “Green” Apple

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

In our PROLOGUE, William and Patrick spoke of commitment—taking one small step toward a more Green and sustainable lifestyle. Not so easy, you say?

 

DEAR SPECIAL AGENTS: Last week, you spoke of making a commitment to a green lifestyle, and I’ve done that. Ideally, everything that my family eats would be local and organic, but that’s not always possible—sometimes I have to choose between one or the other. What’s the lowdown on local versus organic? — SIGNED: Confused-but-Committed-in-Atlanta

 

WILLIAM: Dear Confused, I have a simple one-word answer for you, and that is…Arghhhh!!!

 

Going Green. Sustainability. Local versus organic. Farmers market versus mega-mart. It all leaves us just a little perplexed. Actually, it can be baffling.

 

PATRICK: I’m with you on that. But I take my Special Agent status very seriously, William, so we need to get un-baffled pretty quick, and we need to answer Confused‘s question…

 

Confused, in our world of special events, we have found that not everything about Green is black and white. It’s our job as professional “event people” and serious Special Agents of Green to make some sense of it, though—if not only for ourselves, then for the sake of our future millions of readers! And you!

 

WILLAM: So here’s the deal. From the bride who has a sustainable vision for her reception, to the CEO who has a big picture bottom-line strategy in mind…being Green can be an imperative.

 

People from all walks of life have a stake in this.

 

As a father, I want to make the right choices for my family’s health and nutrition. But at the same time I want my choices to be environmentally friendly, and the choices that we’re given on this journey to Greenocity aren’t always consistent with those goals.

 

PATRICK: “Journey” is the key word, William. Well, “Greenocity” is a pretty good word, too, but that’s another episode…

 

There is a learning curve here for all of us—even some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry have fundamental questions and disagreements. Really smart, well-intentioned people differ on some of these issues.

 

The GREEN AppleFor instance, one debate that’s going on pits organics against “food miles”—the number of miles it takes for your food to get from the farm to your table. In other words, do we focus on health—organic farming is widely considered a healthier option…or freshness—the fewer “food miles” an apple travels to reach market, the fresher it will probably be.

 

WILLIAM: My head’s doing that spinning thing again. You told me when I took this Special Agent gig that you knew how to make that stop.

 

Some of my clients ask me to design and produce Green events, and that’s one of my favorite challenges. Interpreting my client’s vision is my Number One accountability. But the sheer volume of factors to consider in Greening an event can be overwhelming.

 

Apples and organics and food miles! Are these things truly important to the typical person or organization that wants to do something good for the environment?

 

Since I’m in the business, I consider it my duty to figure out this quandary, but if you’re a typical person who’s focused on going Green and you’re out there on your own, it’s expecting a lot. Too much, don’t you think? Food miles! REALLY?!?

 

Hopefully this blog journey that we’re on, Patrick, will fill in some of the blanks for our readers—AND for us.

 

PATRICK: OK, William. Lets ask it plainly of our readers:  Is the fact that an apple is grown organically really that important? Or is a more sustainable choice the purchase of an apple that’s grown conventionally in the North Georgia Mountains?

 

Only more questions today, Confused. Still no answers.

 

Just remember our mantra, William…Not everything about Green is black and white.

 

WILLIAM: Yes, I’ll remember. And I’ll remember that “The Truth is out there.

 

To be continued…

 


 

When you have a choice of purchasing something organic or local, do you always go in one direction? What governs your decision? What are your thoughts about that apple? Tell us in the “comments” below…

 

Join us next week when Special Agents­­­­ Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate the pros and cons of local vs. certified organic produce.

 


This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: Georgia Organics

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: Affairs to Remember’s “Green” Clients

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: Food Distribution Systems

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Episodes

PROLOGUE: Could-a, Would-a, Should-a…The Green Commitment

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?

 

The Truth is out there…so we’re told.

 


 

DEAR SPECIAL AGENTS: Ideally, everything that my family eats would be local and organic, but that’s not always possible—sometimes I have to choose between one or the other. What’s the lowdown on local versus organic? — SIGNED: Confused-but-Committed-in-Atlanta

 

PATRICK: Dear Confused: Searching for the truth is serious business—especially when you’re a home meal planner or a Special Agent who’s charged with making sense of Green technical stuff. Like me. Couple that with the fact that this Special Agent (that’s me!) is about as technically-oriented as a ham sandwich, and…well, as you can imagine, this is gonna be an uphill challenge.

 

By the way, since childhood it has always been my dream to be a Special Agent. Now that I actually am one, I can tell you that it’s a lot more hard work than I thought it would be. And not nearly as mysterious and SuperFly. Where’d all the cool stuff go?

 

So to our millions of future readers who wish to live a more sustainable, Green lifestyle, I now reveal Step One in the journey: Make…a…commitment!

 

And to those same millions, I now unveil our most lethal weapon in our fight against Greenwashing and Greeniculousness: Special Agent William Neal.

 

WILLIAM: Thank you, Special Agent Cuccaro. And may I start by complimenting you on your sunglasses? Now THOSE are cool!

 

PATRICK: I’m not wearing the sunglasses anymore. Look at the banner photo, William. We changed that wardrobe choice so that our readers could see the intensity of our eyes, remember?

 

WILLIAM: Oh…sorry. Right, we 86’d the sunglasses.

 

PATRICK: In the meantime, we do have our cool trench coats which, by the way, aren’t really going to work for me in Atlanta in the summer!

 

WILLIAM: Back to our confused questioner and that commitment thing, I’m gonna make it personal. Confused…for me, it boils down to one fundamental question. Do I really want to be Green?

 

Maybe. Maybe in the kinda-sorta way I always wanted to go to the gym. Both are the right thing to do, but one day I woke up and realized that after all the mental mind games were over, I had never made it to the gym and I had never changed the things that needed changing. I know I could-a walked more, would-a gone swimming every morning, and should-a lifted those weights. I’m guilty.

 

...and then my kids came into the world.And then my kids came into this world. And my perspective shifted. It lit a fire under me to make more positive choices for myself, my family, and ultimately the planet. I guess I realized that if I was going to teach my kids the things that I thought were important, then I would have to be “the real deal”— and that would require a mental shift.

 

So I made a commitment. Hey, Patrick, back me up would you? Throw down on the factoids! Then you can count on me amping it up on the FUN FACTOR! You can BE SURE that I know how to throw a party!

 

Patrick: OK. I can do that.  Did you know that since we started our Legacy Green program at Affairs to Remember Caterers, we have reduced the stuff we put in the landfill by 83%!?! The food industry is one of America’s largest contributors to landfill. By changing our “habits” at Affairs to Remember, we made a tremendous impact. As a matter of fact, we are celebrating today the diversion of 500 tons from Georgia’s landfills–that’s ONE MILLION POUNDS! Technically speaking, that’s a lot of stuff!

 

Think of it this way, William…If everyone took the time to make a few eco-adjustments of their own, the collective impact would make a huge difference in the world.

 

So, Confused-but-Committed-in-Atlanta, we haven’t fully answered your question YET, but hang with us for awhile.

 

To be continued…

 


So whaddya think? Are you committed to sustainability? What is ONE single habit that you can change or already have changed? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate The Mystery of the “Green” Apple.

 


Each weekly post will feature what we affectionately call “The 3Rs”. Check out the sidebar for our “Revealed“, “Revered“, and “Reviled” columns.

 

This week’s 3Rs…

 

What is Revealed?

 

REVEALED: What is Revealed?

 

 

 

 

What is Revered?

 

REVERED: What is Revered?

 

 

 

 

What is Reviled?

 

REVILED: What is Reviled?

 

 

 


 

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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