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Eating your greens: Serving up sustainability

Steve Short, CEO Atlasta

Steve Short, CEO of Atlasta, shared his thoughts on sustainable food and business.

Lunch was delicious, a buffet style table full of chicken pesto sandwiches, sliced beef tenderloin sandwiches, fresh greens with caesar or raspberry vinaigrette dressing, different types of breads and cheeses, and pasta and potato salad.  However, the best part about it may have been the two speakers.  (Not to take anything away from the food of course)

Steve Short, the CEO of Atlasta Catering & Event Concepts in Phoenix, spoke about the evolution of his company.  How at first it was simply about the bottom line, but within the last few years he has worked to make it sustainable.  In fact, Short claims his company may be as little as two years away from being a zero waste food business.  He was joined by Colin Tetreault, the director of sustainability at Atlasta who has a Master of Art’s from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

At first glance it seems odd to think of how food, sustainability and business coverage may converge.  However, within minutes of the presentation it became pretty clear.

Tetreault provided some stats from McDonalds, and their production.  This type of information could be gathered on just about any business and it is pretty fascinating.

These numbers are for worldwide production:

  • 75 burgers a second are sold
  • Equalling approximately 1,296,000 pounds of ground beef per day
  • A 2,000 lb steer yields about 400 lbs of ground beef
  • That equals approximately 3,240 cows in a day
  • It requires 8 lbs of feed for every 1lb of beef produced

A number of different story ideas could be generated from these numbers.

According to these two gentlemen there is often quite a bit of confusion involved with “going green” in the food business.  Organic certifications can be very confusing, coming in a number of different levels.  Even at a local farmers market products shouldn’t be labeled “organic” as it is a copyrighted part of FDA regulation.  Stories could focus on that confusion, the certification process, and the legitimacy of the certifications.

A story could focus on genetically modified organisms.  What are the pros and cons?  Is there a lack of labeling and awareness to these sorts of products?  Obviously with a population of 6.8 billion it almost seems to be a necessity, and for the first time over 50 percent of that population are living in urban areas.

The growth in popularity for organic products is leading to a change in the use of  land as farming practices must be altered.  It changes the transportation, production, and consumption of these products.

Company profiles on local businesses striving to do the same as Atlasta.  So often businesses to the least they can for simple advertisement.  “Going green” at a restaurant often means changing the lightbulbs, but many companies out there are looking to make a difference and are waiting to be found!

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