YELLOWSTONE RESTAURANT OPERATOR XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS STRESSES SUSTAINABLE CUISINE AND FRESH, SEASONAL CHOICES
Serving fresh and sustainable foods in Yellowstone National Park requires a good measure of hard work, a large helping of commitment and a dash of creativity. For restaurant operator Xanterra Parks & Resorts, this approach is part of it ongoing commitment to serve better food while supporting the company’s environmental mission.
“We are always trying to increase the amount of local food or food produced in a less impactful way,” said Lu Harlow, Xanterra’s director of food & beverage. “We look at where food is produced and how it is processed.”
Since 2006, the amount of food purchased from local and/or sustainable sources has grown to close to one third of the company’s total food expenditures.
For Xanterra in remote Yellowstone where the nearest large cities are many miles away, the definition of “local” is within a 500-mile radius instead of the farmer’s market in town to which many people are accustomed. Recently Xanterra dropped a local producer because the food was transported several hundreds of miles for processing and then returned that same distance.
Last year the company purchased fresh salmon and other fish for the Lake Yellowstone Hotel dining room from the Montana Fish Company in Bozeman, Mont. All seafood purchased from Montana Fish Company is approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program as a best choice or good alternative for sustainability.
For several years Xanterra has purchased coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Offering organic shade-grown Fair Trade Certified coffee, Green Mountain is recognized as one of the greenest producers in the world, emphasizing fair trade and sustainable growing practices.
Xanterra serves Wolf Ridge Lamb and Wool lamb products from Pray, Mont. Wolf Ridge practices state-of-the-art, managed grazing techniques that ensure efficient use and nutritional development of the pastures. According to the company, its sheep have a voracious appetite for all native grasses and brush, including knapweed as confirmed by this year’s participation in a Sheep Grazing Demonstration Project sponsored by Upper Yellowstone Watershed Basin and Park Conservation District.
Amaltheia Dairy from Belgrade, Mont supplies organic goat cheese. In 2005, Amaltheia received its organic status through Montana Department of Agriculture and the USDA. That same year Amaltheia started selling composted organic manure to local CSA’s, gardeners and garden shops. In 2008, Amaltheia was awarded an Ecostar Award for its endeavors to become a totally sustainable farm. Amaltheia was also working with professionals developing a wind power project to assist in generating power.
Xanterra’s efforts to purchase from sustainable fishing, farming and ranching operations are supported by the Western Sustainability Exchange, the Marine Stewardship Council and the Animal Welfare Institute. Sourcing several of these items helps to support more than 350 family farmers and ranchers in nine states.
Additional sources of local or sustainable food include:
- Serving organic whey-fed pork from Belgrade, Mont.
- Serving farm-raised game.
- Purchasing ground beef from various Montana ranchers.
- Purchasing natural beef.
- Serving locally made truffles from Kitchen TLC in Bozeman, Mont.
- Carrying organic legumes from Timeless Farms in Conrad, Mont.
- Serving beer from breweries in Wyoming and Montana.
- Serving wine from Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
- Offering Silk brand organic soy milk in restaurants.
- Serving assorted local desserts, toppings, dressings and bakery items.
- Purchasing local produce such as potatoes, tomatoes and basil.
Xanterra acknowledges there is still significant room for improvement in its food sourcing. With nine lodges and 12 foodservice facilities throughout the park serving more than three million visitors each year, there will always be products to research and purchase from more local or sustainable sources.
In addition to restaurants and other foodservice facilities, Xanterra operates nine lodging facilities, gift stores and activities in Yellowstone. General reservations for accommodations, tours and activities can be made by calling Xanterra’s Yellowstone reservations at 307-344-7311, toll-fre at 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375) or online at www.YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com.