Last semester I took a wine course at the university, and throughout that time we had several speakers introduced to the class, and one was Brian Hamilton of Southbrook Vineyards from Niagara-on-the-lake. He spoke about biodynamic and organic practices at their vineyard, which led me to my interest in researching this topic a bit further.
With the increasing popularity of organic products, the wine industry is starting to embrace environmental consciousness of being organic or biodynamic. Some large names in Ontario, such as Southbrook Vineyards and Tawse Winery are leading the way for a sustainable wine industry through biodynamic and organic processes. In order to be a biodynamic or an organic winery, it takes much more than just avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
What are organic wines?
Vineyards that have organic agricultural practices in place will often go much further than just the sustainability of their grapes. They generally have a vested interest in the health of the soil, as well as animal and human health. Organic winemaking techniques exclude the use of any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Instead, many organic winegrowing processes will focus on the fertilization of crops through means of compost, manure, and creating compost teas. Many viticulturists will avoid herbicides through the dependence on mechanical weeding techniques, or precise maintenance of the ground surrounding the vines. Like many other organic food products, they cannot be genetically modified, and certified organic wines will not have any added sulphites. It is essential that certified organic grapes be used in the winemaking process in order for the vineyard to be able to place the term ‘organic’ on their labels. Many wineries that are certified organic will also have environmentally conscious bottling practices, such as using vegetable ink on their wine labels.
What are biodynamic wines?
Biodynamic and organic wines share many similarities, but biodynamic practices take the whole vineyard and winemaking experience one step further. Southbrook Vineyards, a leader in biodynamic and organic wines in Ontario simply puts that biodynamic wines “emphasizes the balance and interrelationship of a farm’s soil, plants and animals to grow low-impact, vibrant crops, including grapes.” It strictly prohibits any use or additions to the wine such as aromatic yeasts, bacteria, enzymes, acid adjustment, or sugar adjustment. This type of viticulture practice emphasizes the balance with nature, and views the entire vineyard as one interrelated system. Many vineyards will go further than just having grapes on their plot of land. Some will have sheep grazing through grass, or chickens that roam at the bottoms of the vine to eat any insects, which is a natural form of controlling any pests. It is also common practice for biodynamic viticulturists to create compost to be used on the vineyard, as well as aligning winemaking practices to the moon, planets, and stars energy. The creation of compost is essential to biodynamic practices in order to protect the soil from erosion, as well as to keep a balanced level of humus to retain nutrients for the crops. The spin-off effect of having a rich, well-balanced soil reflects quality in the wine, as well as in the earth.
Who ensures that standards are maintained?
In order to be a classified as a biodynamic vineyard, it is essential to be certified through a recognized association. Demeter is the international governing body that implements and manages biodynamic agriculture practices. Vineyards such as Southbrook Vineyards, who is Canada’s first winery to be Demeter certified, must follow very strict guidelines and procedures that are set out, which are inspected on an annual basis. Demeter’s Biodynamic Processing Standards ensures that there is an “unbroken chain of accountability from the farm (vineyard) to the finished product.” Demeter’s international website has a biodynamic wine FAQ, which addresses many finite details of the certification process, or recommendations by Demeter to become certified. http://www.demeter.de/node/4175
Similar to biodynamic practices, there are strict regulations within the vineyard that need to be monitored. Pro-Cert Organic Systems is a leading certifier for organic practices within the agricultural sector, including viticulture. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes Pro-Cert Organic Systems as a certifier of organic products. Vineyards that are certified as Pro-Cert Organic will have regular annual inspections done, as well as unscheduled inspections or audits to ensure consistency and compliance with standards and regulations.
To view more information on Southbrook Vineyard’s Green Story on becoming biodynamic, follow this link: http://www.southbrook.com/our_green_story
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- Julie Moroz
My name is Julie Moroz and I am a 4th year student at the University of Guelph, majoring in Human Resources Management. I am the newest addition to the UGSRP team for Summer 2013. I will be working alongside Professor Bruce McAdams as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. Although majoring in HRM, I have strong work experience in the hospitality and food industry. I have had the opportunity to work in many restaurant settings ranging from banquet halls to family oriented restaurants, and can understand the many issues our industry faces. I possess a strong passion for the environment as well as a keen interest in the hospitality and food industry. I enjoy staying up to date on current industry issues and trends. Over the course of the summer you will see me posting actively on the UGSRP blog, as well as on Twitter (@SustainableRest).
The projects that the UGSRP team and myself will be completing over the course of the next few months will have a large focus of research regarding take-out packaging in restaurants. Our goal is to study the current implications to the environment, and moving forwards what can be done to allow this sector of the restaurant industry to support environmentally sustainable services. Additionally, other projects this summer will focus on wine education and purchasing decisions. Stay tuned for other research work we will be completing this summer.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com for any questions or other information. For daily updates and current industry news, follow us on Twitter @SustainableRest.
This past Monday April 29th UGSRP held its ‘Tipped Out?’ forum at George Brown College in Toronto. Speakers at the event included academics, restaurateurs and a member of provincial parliament. The audience of industry members and students was treated to a two-hour passionate discussion about this very controversial subject. Here are some of the highlights.
Beaches-East York MPP, Michael Prue started off the day by discussing his newly proposed Bill 49. As quoted by Prue during the forum, the bill mentions, “No employer may take any portion of an employee’s tips or gratuities.” Prue stated the goal of his bill is to “help the servers of today”. Prue acknowledged that this bill would not end tip sharing, but rather make tipping practices more fair in the restaurant industry. Prue wrapped up his presentation by emphasizing how firmly he believes that the practice of employees having to give a portion of their tips to the owners is ‘wage theft.’
Professor Mike von Massow from the University of Guelph’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management spoke next about his experience, thoughts, and research on the topic of tipping. He started off his talk by stating that in Ontario most servers make an average of $20 per hour after ‘tipping out’ at the end of a shift. He expanded on this by saying “severs are not making minimum wage” and that the amount they make has actually hurt kitchen workers ability to earn a decent wage. Von Massow went on to discuss his research study conducted by himself and Professor Bruce McAdams, also of the University of Guelph. Their findings show that 85% of severs believe ‘tipping out’ to be a fair practice. Additionally, the data found that 75% of servers that were asked said that their employer had some type of system for tip sharing. Von Massow shared that servers consistently stated that people in the back of house are under valued for their work. He ended his discussion by stating, “we are finding ways to deal with an imperfect situation.”
Chris Klugman is the proprietor of Paintbox Bistro, a social enterprise in Toronto’s Regent Park. Klugman started off his talk by asking the audience to think about the following, “What does the restaurant of the future look like?” The pursuit of this question is what motivated Klugman to open up Paintbox Bistro. At his restaurant Klugman employs a system of tip pooling that sees gratuities distributed equally amongst all front and back of house staff. Klugman shared with the audience that he provides wage incentives for his employees for each semester of culinary school they complete.
Another unique perspective on tipping was presented by Jay Porter, owner of The Linkery restaurant in San Diego. Porter explained to the audience that at The Linkery they add an 18% service charge on the total of the bill. Any additional money left on the table, or ‘tips’ are taken and donated to a local charity within the community. Since moving to to this model 6 years ago the restaurant has experienced a variety of customer reaction. Porter stated that a good amount of people have embraced the flat service charge. It seems they welcome the idea of not having to face the social stigma of tipping, or even just doing the math. There has also been reaction at the opposite end of the spectrum. Some people, almost always male, are offended by the idea of paying the flat fee and often comment that they always tip higher than the allotted 18%.
Porter also had shared his severs reaction to the fixed service charge and the impact on their wage. He said “most servers like it because they are sharing with the kitchen, and it makes everyone more money because food quality is better.” Porter left the audience with a common question he always finds himself asking, “what type of experience do I sell?”
Lastly, Yasser Qahawish of Guelph, Ontario’s Artisanale spoke passionately about his thoughts on tip sharing. He started off by stating that tips are split in the following way at Artisanale, 60% goes to the front of house, 30% goes to the kitchen, and the last 10% goes into a fund which is strictly for career development, emergencies, and other unforeseeable costs. Qahawish shared, “service is not the only element of a dining experience, and there are other contributions.” He added, “I want the service to be as good as the food.” Qahawish lastly mentioned that if the standards are higher, we should be able to charge more for service.
To end off the forum, Bruce McAdams the moderator of the forum posed a question to Qahawish, Klugman and Porter. McAdams asked “In a perfect world would any of you move towards a system where there is no tipping?” Qahawish said, “Yes, better wages are better for everyone.” Klugman shared “Yes, I would have liked to have had that when I was a chef because at the time it was very unfair.” Porter added, “Yes, a higher minimum wage is needed to make an acceptable standard for all.”
Stay tuned for the video coverage of the event, which will be posted on our blog shortly.
For our latest updates and current news, follow us on Twitter @SustainableRest
Congratulations to PJ’s Restaurant in the Atrium at the University of Guelph for ranking as one of Canada’s Greenest Restaurants for the second consecutive time! This past year has been quite eventful for the student-run restaurant as they have also achieved the Level 2 Certification from LEAF!
LEAF Reveals its 2nd Annual “Canada’s Greenest Restaurants” List
LEAF is proud to announce our latest list of “Canada’s Greenest Restaurants“ in recognition of Earth Day, an annual day dedicated to globally celebrating Earth’s natural environment.
LEAF is once again celebrating Earth Day by shining a light on Canadian restaurants that have made a commitment to be as environmentally responsible as possible. Our 2nd Annual “Canada’s Greenest Restaurants” list helps customers choose eating establishments that are doing their part to reduce the impact the restaurant industry has on the environment.
LEAF is pleased to recognize the following companies that are working with LEAF to reduce their environmental impact in 10 key areas of sustainability:
With increasing pressure by the public for companies to adopt environmental and sustainable programs, restaurateurs are quickly recognizing the value in LEAF certification.As the only nationwide environmental and sustainable certification program for the Canadian Foodservice Industry, we’re looking forward to adding many more restaurants and organizations across Canada to the list in 2013. There are tremendous environmental and financial benefits to being a LEAF member, including a reduction in energy, water and waste costs.
Anyone can help by visiting a LEAF certified restaurant in your area, or by asking your favourite restaurant to be greener by becoming LEAF certified!
If you are around campus during the Fall 2013 semester, be sure to book a table by visiting http://www.uoguelph.ca/pjs/reservations.
Save Monday April 29th, 2013 in your calendar, you do not want to miss this free event, discussing the issues surrounding tipping in the hospitality industry.
A BIG THANK YOU to our event partner George Brown College Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts and also to all the speakers who are providing their time and thoughts.
Please see the below flyer for information pertaining to the upcoming UGSRP event: ‘Tipped Out?’ Forum.
Stay tuned for speaker bios and detailed information!!
Hope to see you all there!
-The UGSRP TEAM
Congratulations to Pj’s restaurant for recently achieving Level Two Certification from LEAF. (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice) http://leafme.ca/ LEAF is a non-profit third-party organization which offers certification for restaurants and food service facilities that meet and adhere to strict environmental criteria. LEAF helps restaurants reduce their environmental impact, and makes it easy for diners to identify green restaurants. LEAF provides a benchmark to measure the environmental sustainability of foodservice establishments in Canada. When conducting an audit LEAF evaluates the foodservice establishment on the following 10 areas of adherence to sustainable practices:
1. Food purchasing and menu items.
2. Restaurant supplies.
3. Energy use and performance.
4. Water usage.
5. Building and location.
6. Furnishings and decorative items.
7. Chemicals use.
8. Waste and recycling.
9. Employee uniforms and training.
10. Policy, employee health and innovation.
Here are some of the comments made in the LEAF report that was conducted on site back in October of 2012.
“Many schools, including Universities, are attempting to get students away from fast food with its typically high fat and high sugar content, and expose them to healthier meal choices. PJ’s is exemplary in this avenue, by teaching their students about local and nutritional food choices and preparation. This is evident on their daily menu as there are always ample healthy food choices, including a vegetarian and a vegan option.”
“This is another strong performance area for PJs. A full 18 points was awarded for having implemented a system for both pre- and post- consumer composting. PJs has already undergone pre- and post- consumer waste audits, and seen a 10% improvement , allowing for another 9 points.”
Last semester a class of 4th year hospitality students at the University of Guelph were asked to come up with a socially innovative idea that related to hospitality. Working with a partner, the students were challenged to prove the feasibility of their idea and be prepared to present their work to their peers. Students found the work challenging and engaging. Not only were they asked to flex their creative muscles but they were also required to relate social issues to the business world for the first time in their student career.
Here is the story of two of the students, Emily Ronzio and Maria Johnston. Their creation “Cafe Marly” looked to solve two social issues, children’s hunger and food waste.
We are currently completing our final year in the Hotel and Food Administration program at the University of Guelph. Throughout our studies over the last few years, we have gained extensive knowledge on the hospitality industry that we will take with us into our future. It is now in our final year, however, where we are really able to apply what we have learned, and to engage ourselves in certain issues and topics in the hospitality industry, and think strategically to solve real life problems; this has proven to be so much more valuable than we anticipated. For our fourth year Co-op class, HTM 4300, we were given the assignment of coming up with and presenting a ‘socially innovative’ idea. We were challenged to think creatively and outside the box to come up with a solution to a social issue. There were no limitations on this assignment, which actually made it a bit more challenging. After doing some research, we found two issues that were evident in our greater community. These issues that we chose to focus on included food waste in the hospitality industry and malnutrition in children. Both food waste and child malnutrition are substantial issues in our society. Our solution to these problems was to create Café Marly.
Café Marly is a specialty sandwich restaurant located in Toronto, and is open seven days a week during lunch hours only. The Café offers a wide variety of fresh ingredients to customers, including fresh breads, cheeses, vegetables, and meat and alternatives. Customers are able to completely customize their own sandwiches, adding whichever ingredients they wish. Café Marly also offers “Our Favourites” menu, which are some of our favourite combinations of sandwich items. These are just suggestions to help the customers, and can be changed in any way. None of the sandwiches are premade; they are all made to order. This is done to reduce potential food waste of unsold sandwiches. For every sandwich sold at Café Marly, a nutritious lunch is given to a child in need at a local school in Toronto. To start the program, we will work with just one school and provide every student in a couple classrooms a nutritious lunch. Once the program has grown, we will start to reach out to more classrooms and more schools.
Café Marly will sell their gourmet sandwiches at an increased price, to help cover the cost of making the children’s meals. Many specialty sandwich restaurants sell gourmet sandwiches for about $6.00 -$8.00. We have increased these prices to $10.00- $12.00 per sandwich. After doing a breakdown of all of Café Marly’s costs, we calculated that this price difference would cover the cost of the more simple children’s sandwich, and a healthy snack to go with it.
We have also taken into consideration, the fact that many people have dietary restrictions and allergies, and because of this, gluten free, vegetarian, and lactose free options are all available at Café Marly as well as for the children’s meals. Therefore, as much as possible, children’s meals can be made using Marly’s unsold sandwich ingredients to further eliminate food waste. Children’s meals are prepared at Café Marly every weekday morning and delivered to the respected school for lunchtime.
We presented our social innovation, Café Marly to our peers and asked them if they would be willing to pay the higher price for a specialty sandwich knowing that with the purchase of the sandwich, a nutritious meal would be given to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have a lunch. There was an overwhelming response that our peers would be willing to pay the higher price. Due to the positive response, and after our own reflections on our innovation, we feel that Café Marly would be a successful solution to the issues set forth. This was much more than just a school assignment, it made us realize that we really can put our ideas into action and make a positive difference in our community.
Emily Ronzio & Maria Johnston