Today sustainability is a way of life for both businesses and consumers. Recycling is commonplace, lights are switched off and food is locally sourced, occasionally organic, and seasonal - or is it?
This week, as we launch our annual focus on the environmental agenda and hospitality's impact, we take a look at the renewed interest in locally sourced produce and ask whether it really is sustainable.
Only a few months ago the ash cloud from Iceland grounded flights and - as well as causing no end of trouble for hoteliers - brought into focus our reliance on imported produce.
Although air freight only accounts for a small percentage of fresh produce in the UK, it's still shocking that 60% of the fruit and vegetables we eat are from overseas. We examine whether self sufficiency is possible, and take a look at what more can be done to http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/30/335352/tackling-sustainability-issues.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">minimise the carbon footprint of our food](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/30/335330/how-reliant-is-the-uk-on-imported-food.htm).
Staying with supply, leading chef [Raymond Blanc discusses the issues surrounding the spiralling food costs ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/30/335331/raymond-blanc-reconsiders-the-cost-of-going-organic.htm)faced by all professional kitchens in the UK (page 32). He asks how any business striving to serve organic produce can do so without passing the cost on to the consumer.
Blanc's aim at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons was to achieve 80% organic and biodynamic produce by 2014, but he fears this could now be too ambitious. Later in the year we plan to hold a forum with Raymond and other chefs to find out how businesses are managing their costs.
Meanwhile, [we visit Coworth Park](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/30/335339/Coworth-Park-opens-with-luxury-green-credentials.htm), a property at which guests can enjoy a luxury experience without being significantly troubled by their environmental impact. With willow grown on the estate used in the hotel's biomass boiler, heat loss and gain managed by solar glazing, and both food and furnishings locally sourced, the hotel is a fantastic example of low-energy luxury.
Subsequent issues of Caterer this month will look at the industry's responsibilities in terms of the newly introduced CRC energy efficiency scheme, provide tips on how to make sure your staff follow through your sustainable solutions and examine the steps the UK's most eco-conscious caterers are taking to reduce their environmental impact.
[Viewpoint: Tackling sustainability issues >>
James Stagg, Content Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper