Locally-Sourced Colorado Menu
As part of the National Park Service Healthy Foods, Healthy People initiative, food vendors in national parks are offering healthier, locally sourced menu items in addition to its greasy burgers and fries. The rules apply to private companies looking to operate restaurants and food stops under concession from the federal government.
This is old news, though, to the vendor in Rocky Mountain National Park. Its single concession-operated food service outlet at the top of Trail Ridge Road has had sustainable food in mind for more than five years.
“It was one of the things that was asked for when they bid on a contract in 2007. They had to answer how they would provide a more healthy menu,” John Hannon, who manages concession operations at the park, told Boulder Weekly.
In addition, Xanterra, a private company that operates Rocky Mountain National Park’s concession option, uses only corn-based biodegradable utensils. And they recently announced that they’re ditching plastic straws, which are a huge source of plastic waste in landfills and one of the top 10 water debris items.
Xanterra’s director of food service program at Yellowstone National Park, Lu Harlow, notes that her company has had a long-standing commitment to sustainable practices and organic, local foods.
“We put a lot of our focus on supporting local economies,” Harlow said.. “What can we do to help keep people in their family farms, finding food produced within 500 miles, grown without hormones and antibiotics?” Xanterra is also helping local producers gain the needed certification to become a supplier for national park restaurants, he adds.
But don’t worry, meat-lovers. The fare won’t be all kale burgers and arugula salads.
“Park visitors are going to see really tasty choices that are healthy for them, with sustainable attributes, some regionality and a softer environmental footprint,” Kurt Rausch, a National Park Service contracting specialist who helped develop the new guidelines, said.
Visitors to Mesa Verde will find options like elk shepherd’s pie, tri-colored tortillas with breaded turkey strips, prickly pear red pepper jam and local trout. Oh, and don’t forget the Colorado-brewed beers.