Eat Your Greens: Eco-Friendly Menu Ideas
Green your menu for an environmentally friendly wedding
By Allison Boyer
Weddings create a larger carbon footprint than most people realize. In order to combat the negative environmental impact, you can make simple changes. In fact, finding sustainable choices for your menu isn't as hard as you may think.
While your guests are waiting for you to finish your wedding pictures, offer them some appetizers to curb their hunger. One great green option is to have a raw vegetable spread. Fill it with bite-sized selections from your favorite local farmers and accompany them with cheese made with milk from humanely treated cows. You can also serve sweet appetizers: Rent a chocolate fountain and use fair trade chocolate and sliced fruit from your local farmers market.
Seafood Main Course
Seafood is a popular menu option, but be sure you know where your seafood is coming from. If you want to serve shrimp, choose domestic wild-caught species such as South Atlantic white shrimp or Oregon and Key West pinks. Other sustainable seafood options include wild-caught Alaskan salmon; U.S. line-caught mahi-mahi; U.S. Pacific cod and halibut; and clams, oysters and mussels farmed in the United States. Local seafood can also be a good option because it requires less gas to transport. Be sure to check the endangered species list before making a selection.
Contrary to popular belief, there are readily available meats produced in an eco-friendly manner. The labeling, however, can be confusing. First, look for a caterer that uses meats that are certified organic. By U.S. law, animals used for organic meat production cannot be fed with anything that isn't organically grown or that contains animal byproducts. Additionally, the animals cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics, and they must have access to outdoor living spaces. Meats that are organic are better than "natural," which means that the meat has no artificial flavorings, colors, preservatives or other ingredients but makes no promises about how the animal was raised or what it was fed. Beware of meats labeled as "sustainable" because there are no regulations about how this word is used. You may also see labels such as "no added hormones," "no antibiotic use" and "no meat/animal byproducts," but remember that meat that's labeled organic encompasses all of that and more.
Fruits and Vegetables
When choosing side dishes, try to work with a caterer who uses local produce. If not, keep in mind the best and worst produce choices, in terms of the pesticides typically used to farm them. Your best choices include onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus and sweet peas. This is because these items do not naturally attract pests and pesticides aren't usually needed to grow them. Worst choices include peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines and strawberries. These naturally attract pests, and farmers often use pesticides to control this. Also, buy fruits in season. If you buy them out of season, they will be shipped from elsewhere and increase your carbon footprint.
Yes, even your bar can be sustainable. In 2005, Allison Evanow created the first completely organic spirits line in the United States with Square One vodka. Since then, a number of other manufacturers have been certified as organic alcohol producers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Organic beer and wine are now easily available and you can even find organic champagne or sparkling wine for toasts.
More and more cake decorators are realizing the benefits of going green. Your eco-friendly wedding cake doesn't have to be any less delicious than a wedding cake from another bakery. Request that your cake be made with eco-friendly ingredients. If you are decorating your cake with real flowers, remember to use environmentally friendly ones.
About the Author
Allison Boyer has been a freelance writer for more than five years, including articles about weddings.
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