Sustainable Cuisine at Yellowstone National Park
Sustainable cuisine’s impacts don’t stop at environmental sustainability. One of the most significant and far-reaching effects of a commitment to sustainable cuisine is the multitude of ancillary impacts that sustainable food choices have on local economies and community development. Keeping food dollars local creates jobs, builds community, protects habitat, and maintains a farming and ranching heritage—all critical values in our rural western communities. To support continued market transformation and support such assets, Yellowstone National Park Lodges collaborates on a daily basis with agricultural vendors to incorporate local foods into menus wherever possible. Meeting the demands of YNPL’s quality standards while finding producers who can service Xanterra’s high peak-season volumes can be challenging for a small business. Our Food & Beverage department has been instrumental in helping to build the local infrastructure to support otherwise undeveloped markets and achieve mutual quality and sustainability goals with such enterprises.
- Xanterra has a serious commitment to serving our employees and guests healthy and sustainable cuisine whenever possible. In 2014, approximately 38% of our total food purchases were sourced according to at least one sustainable attribute. These purchases cover guest as well as employee dining provisions. Our goal is to achieve 75% sustainable sourcing by 2025.
- Sustainable options consider: local/regional production regional (e.g., Western Sustainability Exchange partner), eco-certified (e.g. Fair Trade, USDA Organic, non-GMO and Rainforest Alliance), antibiotic- and hormone-free, responsibly harvested, animal welfare and vegetarian attributes.
- All of our dining menus utilize icons to highlight sustainable choices and some of the producers who we work with. We regularly refresh our menus, as detailed in this recent showcase of culinary options at Yellowstone National Park Lodges.
- YNPL’s sustainable food program partners with hundreds of local producers in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and surrounding areas. A key to boosting local economies has been YNPL’s relationship with the Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) in nearby Livingston, Montana. WSE is committed to connecting producers with food purchasers to stimulate sustainable and healthy food systems and strengthen rural communities. The benefit of this partnership is demonstrated by the many new producer relationships that Xanterra has cultivated. The impacts that related purchases have had on these small businesses are significant and help stimulate local market access to high-quality and environmentally preferable products. WSE’s livestock considerations include: no hormones or antibiotics; low-stress handling; produced in the region; USDA Certified Organic; Sustainable Stewardship Practices (habitat conservation, etc.), grass-fed certified; and non-GMO seed or feed.
- The Director of Food & Beverage Services for Yellowstone National Park Lodges serves on the Western Sustainability Exchange’s board.
- Examples of sustainable cuisine include local fare such as: teas from Tumblewood Teas; flour and bread products from Wheat Montana; goat cheese from Amaltheia Organic Dairy; lamb from Wolf Ridge; natural prime rib from Harris Ranch; Idaho potatoes; healthy, grass-fed game such as elk and bison; trout from MT Trout Culture in Paradise Valley; produce from Market Day Foods; and a variety of regionally made beer and wine options.
- In addition, the Wild Alaskan Salmon on our menus meets standards for well managed and sustainable harvesting. Chilean Seabass, Atlantic Swordfish, Shark and Bluefin tuna are not served in the park as they are either a threatened species or are harvested in a way that damages the environment. Overall, we strive to only source seafood that is on the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “good list”.
- Instead of selling fossil fuel-based plastic bottles of water, all of our to-go food services offer alternatively packaged, recyclable water bottle products.
- We continuously reduce the amount of solid waste generated from dining operations in restaurants, delis, cafeterias and other food service areas through the increasing use of bulk condiments. In addition, disposable food and beverage to-go items are made from biodegradable and industrially compostable materials (e.g., paper, corn starch or polylactic acid, or PLA equivalent). Includes containers, utensils, plates, cups and paper products for guests at Concession Facilities.
- We contributed to the National Park Service’s Food For The Parks initiative, including a case study report and the strategic Roadmap publication for best practices in concessions management.
- In 2015, Yellowstone National Park Lodges was honored as a recipient of a National Park Service Environmental Achievement Award. The recognition was a direct result of our successes partnering with and contributing to local, sustainable food providers.