MPI Event on May 11th

At the most recent MPI-NJ event that took place on May 11th, 2011, the scene was a perfect setting for the topic that Gary Giberson presented. Starting off the night with various cheeses and wine tasting, the Laurita Winery added a sense of “green” that can be hard to find in New Jersey. Gary Giberson, Executive Chef at The Lawrenceville School and Founder and President of Sustainable Fare presented an eye opening topic on green sustainability. He used examples from the practices he uses in his own setting and informed all attendees how easy and simple making eco-friendly changes can be.

The first part of becoming a sustainable company is looking at the amount of waste you produce. Small actions can make a big impact. For example, if an establishment orders fish from a supplier, asking the supplier to deliver intact fish on ice can reduce a wasteful amount of plastic that normally would come with packaged and cut fish. Gary even provoked an interesting thought of the amount of space that waste takes up. For example, if you’re paying for a dumpster to haul away your trash every day, crushing cans after use can allow more room for waste, thus reducing waste removal costs. Gary saved $15,000 by buying a can crusher to maximize the space available in the dumpster outside The Lawrenceville School.

Another major point that Gary made was about local and “organic” produce. As the “Green” trend grows, green-washing (advertising green practices without really following the standards) is more common than ever before. He emphasized to Meeting Planners that we must research companies and ask questions before we choose to buy their products. USDA Organic seals  do not necessarily mean that the produce is truly organic, researching and asking questions are important when choosing products and suppliers.

The one point that I took away from the presentation was the point about making changes in your office or corporate environment. There is no need to make a total change over night, just making a 1% change in your actions every day or week can gradually add up to a complete change in a year. This point was important to me because it was realistic. Companies want to practice sustainability to have a better image and some times cut corners, but making small changes day by day can really aid in the transition from wasteful to a zero-waste environment.

Gary Giberson, a professional chef for nearly thirty years, is a leader in sustainable dining. He joined The Lawrenceville School as Executive Chef in 1998, and began to develop the School’s sustainable dining program in 2003. In 2007 he founded the food service company Sustainable Fare, L.L.C., with a focus on integrating sustainable food systems. Gary has recently been invited to join Michele Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative and attended the 2010 White House event.