Monday, June 28, 2010

Greening the Restaurant Industry: Water

The food thing was a little uneven on this trip to Vancouver.

There were high hopes and lots of good intentions--Lord knows those rarely amount to anything, and this trip proved no exception.

We drove out to Koon Bo based on a post in Chow Times. We got there at 9pm. It was packed, and the food on the tables looked great.

"I'm sorry we're not open"


It was 9pm, the restaurant closed at 10.

"We can't serve you. Our chef went home early tonight."


The next failure was self-generated. It was a choice between arriving 2 hours early to see the Schlippenbach trio at the jazz festival, or going to Phnom Penh Restaurant and risk being one second late for the show--a risk I wasn't ready to take. So a salad bar in Yale Town it was. They did have a nice cheese spread back stage, though.

That said, there were some food joys. It would appear that they've upped the ante with shwarma and falafel on The Drive. Taste of Paradise at 1399 Commercial Drive, in what was well past the 11th hour, came through with attention, value and friendliness as well as an immaculately prepared meal.

The best meal of the entire trip? The water fountain at the lodge in Manning Park. Oh that Manning Park water is good. Every time we drive through, we fill bottles.

I love me some fancy water. I'm more of a bubbly water enthusiast, but there really is nothing like a good, still water. Water in the Okanagan is hard, and occasionally (depending upon where you live) needs boiling in order to be consumed safely. We all know that this will soon be the rule, rather than the exception, and so when there are those boil water advisories, or a thick layer of mineral build up inside the tea kettle, or a faint bleach smell, we don't really put up too much of a fuss. Yet when set against water from Manning Park, you can't help but pause and meditate upon water's fundamental role in life, let alone cooking.

Speaking of water, what about grey water? You all know what grey water is right? In my "short-sleeved" capacity within the food economy, I spend a little more time working the hose (so to speak) than many of my "long-sleeved" colleagues. It's nothing less than shocking to think of all the water a restaurant uses in a day. And by "use" I mean send down the drain to where ever water goes when it is sent down a drain.

Certainly there's the technology to get more utility from the water used to, say, cool a Cambro filled with hot soup (or warm a frozen pork shoulder, or wash off the dishes before the dishes go into the machine that washes the dishes). Can't that all be diverted through some filters and into a tank?

From there, that water could be used for all kinds of things. I'm thinking irrigation, primarily, if not for our beloved grapes, than for other "cruder" plants and non agricultural landscapes, like those surrounding the restaurants where we work.

Speaking of the restaurants where we work, most of them have enough square footage on their roofs that collecting the rain water makes sense as well. Where as "grey water" is (for now) disqualified for consumption, people, plants and animals all over the world depend entirely on rain water. While the thought of drinking water that came from the sky rather than a plastic pipe might make the more genteel customer shudder in revulsion, plants of all kinds seem to do just fine with it.

If you think the war(s) over oil have been gruesome, the coming war(s) over water promise to be infinitely more so. And if you think the propane bill is a doozy, just wait until water is totally commodified to the same extent.

And on that happy note, stay tuned for the next instalment of Greening The Restaurant Industry here on Okanagan Daily Special!

1 comment:

  1. You know. The owners of said establishment at which we work does have solar power to heat some of the water. Even if it is only to appear green while spraying the hell out of the valley. Perhaps something like a grey water system could be taken seriously by them, if presented to them in the right way. I'm sure being the only winery in the okanagan that is running with solar and grey water programs would really appeal to the "green" crowd that seem too travel so much through the area. I mean, yes, doing it as a selling point may not be the most ethical reason to start a program such as the one of which you speak. However, it could be a start.

    what are the costs associated with getting up and running with a treatment plant for something like "waste" water?