Major Concessioner Expands Sustainable-Cuisine Program

Major Concessioner Expands Sustainable-Cuisine Program

It has been three years since national park and resort concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts first announced an aggressive company-wide seafood policy that promoted the use of sustainable seafood in all of its 64 restaurants as well as its catering and employee dining operations. Since then, the company's sustainable cuisine menu offerings have grown substantially, including the additions of Oregon Country Natural Beef; Kurobuta Pork; Kobe-style Beef; wines produced using sustainable practices; organic soy milk; farm-raised trout and abalone; locally grown produce and hormone- and antibiotic-free elk, bison, chicken and venison.

The company made the decision in 2001 to introduce a policy to guide positive seafood choices. At that time, Xanterra began recommending fish from Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable fisheries and those that were harvested using sustainable practices, following guidelines developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch protocol and the Audubon Society's Living Oceans Seafood Guide. The company also stopped serving four species of seafood -- Chilean sea bass, Atlantic swordfish, bluefin tuna, and shark -- because the survival of those species is threatened by over-fishing, or they are harvested in ways that damage the environment.

The initiative was among the first in a series of sustainable cuisine programs at Xanterra foodservice operations. Today, the company's offerings cover a broad spectrum of food and beverage including seafood, meat, poultry, wine, coffee, produce and soy milk.

"Our employees throughout the country are tuned in to local sustainable cuisine opportunities, so we are often finding new and innovative ways to use food that is harvested using practices that protect the environment," said Tim Stein, director of food & beverage for Xanterra Parks & Resorts. "From the beginning, our goal has been to educate our guests and employees around the country about the importance of making environmentally responsible cuisine decisions. Xanterra has greatly benefited from the steamroller effect of increased awareness and the resulting ideas for additional initiatives."

Xanterra's sustainable cuisine programs now include:
  • Serving wild Alaska salmon instead of farmed salmon in several national park and resort restaurants.

  • Becoming the first U.S. hospitality company to be granted the "Chain of Custody" certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. The certification guarantees all of Xanterra's wild Alaska salmon menu items can be traced to their source, assuring consumers that the salmon is from a fishery that has met the Marine Stewardship Council's stringent environmental standards.

  • Becoming a corporate member of the Chef's Collaborative, a national network of more than 1,000 members of the food community who promote sustainable cuisine. The Chef's Collaborative educates chefs and consumers about local sustainable products and practices and also works to improve the quality and taste of sustainable food products. Several restaurants and Xanterra employees are also members of the Chef's Collaborative.

  • In partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., offering organic Fair Trade Certified coffee in many of its restaurants. The growth and harvest of organic coffee beans are completed in a way that supports wildlife and migratory bird habitat, and the beans are grown without the use of harsh pesticides using a "shade-growing" method that preserves the rainforest and protects bird habitats. The Fair Trade certificate means the coffee is purchased from local farmers at a fair price.

  • Offering Oregon Country Natural Beef at Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and other park foodservice facilities. Oregon Country Beef is a cooperative of family-run ranches. Each participating ranch commits to raising cattle using the most sustainable practices possible including eliminating growth hormones and feed additives and maximizing the use of natural resources like water and vegetation.

  • Serving Conservation Beef in Yellowstone restaurants. The beef is produced from cows raised on natural grasses on the Western range. No growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the animals. Meat is dry-aged to enhance flavor, and the program supports wildlife habitat conservation in partnership with the Nature Conservancy.

  • Featuring Snake River Farms Kurobuta Pork and Kobe-style Beef at the Silverado Resort. Both products are produced using all-natural production methods. American Kurobuta Pork is raised on small family farms in the Midwest using no extenders, sodium or added water. Kobe Beef cattle are raised in a natural environment and fed a varied diet of barley, golden wheat, straw, alfalfa hay and Idaho potatoes. Their feeding program runs three times longer than traditional beef and is hormone free.

  • Offering Niman Ranch pork in Yellowstone restaurants. The pork is produced from animals raised on sustainable lands and fed hormone-free, natural feeds. Niman Ranch adheres to a strict code of husbandry principals.

  • Offering organic produce, grass-fed beef and Ohio-raised chicken at Maumee Bay State Park Resort in Oregon, Ohio.

  • Serving wine produced from organically grown grapes or by using other sustainable agricultural practices at the Silverado Resort, Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and several other Xanterra restaurants. A full one-third of the wine list at the Grand Canyon Lodge is comprised of wines produced using sustainable agriculture or organic farming techniques. Silverado Resort's wine list includes offerings from members of the Napa Sustainable Wine Growers, a group of winemakers in Napa Valley who adhere to a variety of strict sustainable practices.

  • Offering farm-raised trout, bison, elk, and venison in several restaurants.

  • Serving abalone at the Silverado Resort produced by Abalone Farm -- a California facility that uses state-of-the-art sustainable practices. Due to the rapid decline in the coastal wild abalone population, commercial abalone diving is illegal in U.S. waters. Abalone Farm operates an aquaculture facility that grows abalone without harming the earth's natural resources.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the largest national park concessioner in the U.S., operates lodges, restaurants and other concessions at national parks and state parks and resorts. The company operates concessions in the following locations: Yellowstone National Park, the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Death Valley National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Everglades National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial; and at the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif.; Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and eight Ohio State Parks.
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