What is a better menu?
“Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally appropriate, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritionally adequate , safe and healthy; while optimising natural and human resources” FAO
Longtable Project has been running Better Menu workshops with our founder members to support a progressive move towards a more sustainable food industry in Cape Town and identify opportunities to communicate these changes. Better menus contribute to sustainable diets within restaurants. They also influence consumers and support and contribute to alternative food systems.
A menu is devised by chefs and restaurateur to satisfy customers and produce revenue for the establishment. A better menu will meet these objectives and help reduce environmental impacts while supporting the people who contribute to the production of the menu as farmers, producers, staff and communities.
A better menu is also a work in progress – everyone can have a better menu. A better menu reflects food choices and a myriad of actions that result in the consumer experiencing a dish of food.
Menus can be changed to incorporate local, seasonal and organic food. Food for the menu can be sourced from local producers or be grown by the restaurant. Ethical considerations can guide choice of suppliers. Food waste can be composted for the use of the restaurant or passed on. Restaurants can support the establishment of supplier hubs. Water and energy savings can be introduced. Energy and water saving equipment can be used. An integrated waste management system can be used to control the full spectrum of waste. Recycled and second-hand furnishings and equipment can be used. Staff can be paid fairly and have good working conditions. Through employing people, supporting local food economies and involvement in specific projects, communities are supported. These interventions can be communicated to educate and draw in customers and other stakeholders.
Restaurants do not act in isolation and are part of a bigger system encompassing suppliers, farmers, middlemen, other restaurants, customers, staff and local communities. Better Menus impact on all these stakeholders by moving to more sustainable food choices.
We have had workshops with founder members, The Vineyard Hotel, Delaire Graff, ElBurro, Fresh at Paul Cluver , Crush Cafe and the Table at De Meye to look for collaborative opportunities for Better Menus and find ways to tell these stories.