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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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]

 

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