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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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]

 

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