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Posts Tagged ‘fresh local food’

Building a Healthy Meeting Breakfast

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Stop! Before you exit the hotel breakfast buffet line, what’s on your plate? Breakfast is intended to be the biggest meal, but also serves a purpose to feed our brain for a high performance day. In the Spring issue of Meeting Discoveries, the article The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings, elaborates on research by Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems who discovered best meeting practices when it comes to food and Executive Chef Craig Mason who witnessed positive changes in meeting attendees first hand at The National Conference Center.

How do you build a healthy meeting breakfast?

  • Cut-out the pastries or cut-them in halfdanishes, muffins, sugared cereals and white breads are loaded with unnecessary sugars and white flour that “fog” your brain, not allowing you to perform at your full potential. If your meeting venue serves muffins, request they bake smaller portions for a muffin that is half the size. You can also request the chef use pure honey (with out fructose corn syrup) instead of sugar to sweeten the muffins. Please keep in mind, these requests should be made months in advance to the Food & Beverage department of the hotel or conference center. As Executive Chef Mason says, “If they’re not willing to work with you on this, then there are probably many other facets of the meeting that they also won’t be willing to work with you on either.”

  • Proteins with a balance of carbohydrates - The best way to start your day is with protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and Choline, a chemical building block for learning. Served on a whole grain bagel to sustain energy and you’ve created the perfect breakfast. Turkey bacon is another healthy protein to be eaten in moderation. Hard-boiled eggs on break stations are also a nice gesture.


  • Lighter is better than none – If you’re a light breakfast eater or don’t usually eat breakfast, it’s still very important to eat food with your brain in mind (no pun intended). Yogurt, granola, and bananas are all known to improve cognitive functioning and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces happiness. Light is also key to staying awake when it comes to lunch servings.


Keeping these concepts in mind at breakfast – lower sugar intake, smaller portions, less white flour and more whole wheat, balance between carbohydrates and proteins such as eggs, and a light breakfast is better than none – you’ll be on your way to a more productive meeting. To learn more about how menu choices enhances mood, learning and performance in meetings, read “The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings“. What have been your biggest lessons learned in terms of meeting foods? Have you found best practices that work for your attendees or ones you’ll avoid?

    Farm-to-Fork: Greening Hotels & Campuses

    Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

    Are You “Connected” With Your Food?

    “People want to be connected to where their food comes from…” It makes sense and is evident at restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets that are current with consumer trends.

    The idea of being connected to local Virginia food was among discussion at Friday’s Farmers Forum. Panelists included Matt Lohr – Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, Kurt Krause of The National Conference Center, Christopher Carpenter of Washington & Lee, Derek Kilmer of Kilmer’s Farm Market, and Emily Manley of The Local Food Hub.

    Important Topics of Discussion – you’ll be surprised to learn some of things we did…

    • Matt Lohr, Virginia Department of Agriculture: “People want to be connected to where their food comes from…”
      • Deptartment of Agriculture partners with chefs and restaurants (in DC and VA) to provide local Virginia products.
      • Their Farm-to-School initiative encourages schools to purchase food locally. 30% of food at Ferrum College is locally grown.
      • They also give opportunities for producers and farmers to apply for grants.
    • Kurt Krause, The National Conference Center, Virginia: “All dirt roads lead to success…”
      • Believes in providing local fresh food to guests but the needs of the conference center will require help from the farmers, such as 1 ton of potatoes on a budget.
      • Menu tastings at the conference center feature local food items and the guests love this. It proves there’s a growing interest in knowing where your food has originated from. Kurt hopes provide local food for all meals.
      • On the weekend, one 800 space parking lot at the conference center sits empty. Can this parking lot be the granddaddy of farmers markets? It would prevent farmers in WV, Loudoun County, and other nearby counties from traveling to D.C. every weekend. Farmers like this idea as time is one of the most valuable things!

    • Christopher Carpenter, Washington and Lee University (W&L), DC: “People love good food; they deserve good food.”
      • The wine industry in Virginia has created an economic renaissance and now local foods will.
      • As special projects coordinator and a current chairman of VA Food Systems Council, Chris Carpenter has transformed W&L’s dining services into providing 35-45% local goods including milk, ice cream, produce and more.
      • How is it possible to purchase mass quantities on a budget for a campus or hotel? W&L creates their own sauces and dressings rather than purchasing; this creates money in a budget for food that is local.
      • When you eat local your eating patterns change. Their homemade ice cream from Homestead Farms is more filling; it doesn’t have air like most processed ice creams. “Students love it, but eat less of it because of this.”
      • Vine-ripe tomatoes at the store have 70% less nutritional value than VA grown tomatoes.
      • College students are the most concerned about the health of America- students from other campuses continuously call Chris to help integrate healthy local items into their school’s dining services.
      • When we bring out-of-state companies to do work, 43 cents of every dollar goes out of state, when it’s in-state production 78 cents of every dollar stays in the community.

    • Derek Kilmer, Kilmer’s Farm Market, WV – “Farmers want to be farming…”
      • Farming is a full-time job. Between accounting, marketing, traveling to farmers markets, planting, harvesting, and finding vendors – at the end of the day, farmers need time to farm.
      • His parents operate the family farm and Derek utilizes his business skills to find vendors. Derek is in charge of supplying WV & DC schools, as well as the VA Hospital with produce.

    • Emily Manley, Local Food Hub, VA – “Specialization of food origin creates values to the product…”
      • Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA pairs farmers with practical vendors.
      • The non-profit organization works to keep the identity of farms – by making sure people know where the produce is from. Local Food Hub doesn’t mix one farm’s carrots with the carrots of another farm. People want to know where their food is from and they want to taste it too!

    As a hotel, school, restaurant, conference center, or other type of facility – what are you doing to bring local farm foods into your menu? How do you manage your budget?

    Other great resources:,, and

    When It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere… Know these Green Traveling Tips

    Friday, October 22nd, 2010

    It might be 5 o’clock somewhere, but when it comes to what’s in your glass, don’t fake the ingredients. How eco-friendly is your drink?

    Not only have green trends emerged in recycling and food packaging but it made it’s way into the produce aisle encouraging families to choose local farm to table ingredients. Now green initiatives are a common topic for drinks.  Wineries saw this trend and predicted wine-drinkers would be choosing the eco-friendly wine over non-sustainable wine. Vineyards acted before they were left behind and adopted green initiatives to harvest organic grapes and bottle the wine in eco-friendly packaging.

    Many vineyards haven’t had the chance to jump aboard with these efforts before the “green train” hit the distilleries.  Distillers are experiencing a trend of consumers choosing organic alcohol or other local distilled spirits. After 300 years of importing goods, consumers are becoming fascinated with consuming items that are local.  Promixity is key in today’s world of consumers – which is commendable because it reduces a company’s carbon footprint by generating less gas emissions.

    Hop ‘N Vine, established as NCC’s wine bar traditionally serves seasonal selections from DC’s wine country.  The wine bar’s team is excited to offer 3 local spirits distilled at Catoctin Creek in Loudoun County. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, now you’ll know where your drink is from when you’re at the Hop ‘N Vine. Here are three local organic and kosher certified spirits from Catoctin Creek if you’re in the DC, Maryland, or Virginia area:

    1. Mosby’s Spirit- an unaged rye whisky that works well with cocktails using whiskey but also cocktails wanting vodka like a Bloody Mary.

    2. Roundstone Rye- a traditional rye whiskey made from 100% organic rye – meaning no wheat or corn to dilute the rye flavor – it has lots of sweet flan and caramel flavors.

    3. Watershed Gin- a smooth organic gin and the most popular of the three.

    Traveling or in your own city? Ask  for a locally made drink – you’ll reduce your own carbon footprint by choosing a local distilled spirit. For anyone interested in learning more about these locally made products visit,

    Trends in “Green” Meeting Snacks

    Thursday, October 21st, 2010

    Trends in the hospitality industry are always changing, especially in food & beverage.

    In September, The Food Channel posted the Top 5 Snack Trends:

    1. Chips and dip: off-beat brand chips and dips that are healthier and spicer.
    2. Small and sensational: mini-versions of the real thing so you’re free to graze, i.e. sliders
    3. Health drinks: exotic teas, fruity organic waters, carbonated fruit drinks, and antioxidant smoothies.
    4. Nuts: all types of nuts whether its mixed or a granola bar of nuts.
    5. Unordinary Fruit: mangos, kiwi, goji berries locally sourced

    What about the top snack trends in green meetings?

    Top Green Snack Trends:

    1. Bulk Dispensers: Ordering snacks in mass quantity to place in bulk dispensers rather than in individual wrapping helps to eliminate unnecessary packaging.
    2. Organic Drinks: Organic Starbucks coffee available on all break stations for meeting attendees.  Not only does it have a health aspect, but an environmental incentive as well.
    3. Nuts + Spice: Mix the nut trend with spices and you have one of our most popular break station snacks, nuts with wasabi peas.
    4. Food For Thought: Food that will help you retain what you’ve been trained. Executive Chef Craig Mason works with his team to come up with fresh local food items known to stimulate the brain such as bananas, strawberries, and blueberries.
    5. Fruity Drink Concoctions: Fruit juices with actual whole pieces of fruit. On break stations, you’ll find a variety of juices – cranberry, apple, and grapefruit and now we’re noticing a trend in dropping whole fruit into the drinks (such as cantaloupe, cranberries, grapes, or bananas).
    6. For Fun – Edible Eating Utensils: We haven’t tried to eat them, but these eco-friendly utensils have an extra green advantage to them, they can be consumed – just depends how hungry you are that day.

    Fruity Drink Concoctions

    Nuts + Spice