My research on the ‘greenness’ of the golf industry has continued. My first three posts included the environmental policies of six large golf equipment manufactures and a golf cart and maintenance equipment company. But golf courses are not all about golf. Most golf courses have full service restaurants onsite and even those that don’t sell some type of food products. So this time my focus is on the two main food distribution companies in Canada – Sysco and Neptune.

Sysco is the world’s largest foodservice marketer and distributor and their website claims that because of the scale of their operations in the foodservice industry they are able to influence the sustainability of the entire chain. The company is working to reduce the environmental impact of the energy used in their distribution system by introducing fluorescent lighting in all warehouses and the use of triple pallet jacks for efficiency. They are also altering the inputs required to produce their paper products and cutlery. Sysco works closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Agriculture around the world and the World Wildlife Fund to develop and promote sustainable practices and to audit the agricultural practices of their suppliers. Suppliers must also comply with social audits that cover ethics and work practices. In the United States, both Sysco and their employees support Share Our Strength the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating childhood hunger.

Neptune Food Service is a division of Gordon Food Service (GFS). Founded in 1897 the company continues to be a family owned and operated business. Their ‘Good for You’ philosophy claims to bring healthy, environmentally friendly, and sustainable products and services to their customers and communities by balancing health and indulgence, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. The philosophy includes 13 claims, nine of which pertain to the quality of the food itself with the other four related to business practices such as the use of biodegradable packaging materials. GFS Canada has put in place its own set of national standards for foods labeled as ‘organic’. These standards must be met regardless of whether the product is grown in Canada, the United States, or imported from other countries. In order to choose environmental responsible products GFS uses ‘Environmental Choice’, North America’s most widely recognized and respected certification of environmental leadership, setting standards and certifying products in more than 120 categories.

Both companies appear to have made a commitment to environmental sustainability in some way but it still seems to me that if more restaurants and more individual households began to practice the ‘100 mile diet’ or even a ‘local province’ or ‘local country’ diet then there would be less need for such large foodservice companies in the first place. While this may not always be practical and is definitely not what our society, including myself, has grown accustomed to I am interested in finding out more. Stay tuned.

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