Exercise and healthy foods tend to align, except when it comes to watching pro sports. We're far more likely to expect popcorn, peanuts, nachos, and corndogs from stadium vendors than anything resembling a healthy choice. Until now, that is. Green Sports Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have just released their first study on concession food at pro sports venues, and the results are clear: sustainable food is on its way to pro sporting arenas and stadium.
"Champions of Game Day Food" is a new initiative featuring 20 North American sports venues that have devoted themselves to doubling down on stadium food. Healthier, more sustainable options will be the new norm at your local stadium, and this with the goal of bringing these practices into the eyes of the common public.
“By modeling smart food practices, these iconic sports teams are showing real leadership that is influencing their millions of fans as well as the important food providers that supply their concession stands,” says Gabriel Krenza, NRDC Strategic Food Advisor and report co-author. While interested parties have been paying attention to these practices for quite some time, this movement will target portions of the population who have not yet had the occasion to learn about sustainability and sustainable food practices -- and hopefully, with a bit of help from the home team, they'll be bringing these practices to their own kitchens.
So what kinds of changes are we talking about? There are two major ones. The first is an overhaul in the ingredients themselves, with more local, organic, antibiotic-free, and plant-based options, as well as more sustainable utensils, like the compostable utensils now used by seven venues. Five venues have even installed on-site gardens to help them serve super-local options.
The second is related to waste practices: efficient kitchen equipment is installed and used for stadium food prep, unsold food is donated, and composting practices are put into use to ensure that even after the ball game, the winning methods are in use.
Is Your Favorite Team Joining the Cause?
So far, the 20 participating sports teams include the following, according to the association's press release:
- St. Louis Rams: 100 percent antibiotic-free, humanely raised, and grass-fed beef hot dogs and burgers are served at Edward Jones Dome.
- Florida Marlins: Approximately 10,000 pounds of unused prepared food at Marlins Park is donated to local senior homes annually.
- New York Yankees: 278 compost bins at Yankees Stadium help fans compost ballpark-wide, advancing the Yankees’ zero waste goals.
- Dallas Cowboys: AT&T Stadium sources its USDA-certified organic produce from nearby Paul Quinn College’s student-run farm.
- Seattle Mariners: 100 percent of all beef and pork served at Safeco Field is raised without antibiotics or hormones.
- San Francisco Giants: AT&T Park features vegetarian and vegan meal options in every concession area, earning the ballpark first place in PETA’s 2014 Vegetarian Friendly MLB Stadium Rankings.
- Philadelphia 76ers/Flyers: Nearly 100 percent of serviceware at Wells Fargo Center is compostable.
Sonoma Raceway, Host of NASCAR: The raceway was the first North American racetrack to plant a two-acre organic garden onsite and uses a herd of nearly 3,500 milking sheep to mow the raceway lawns without any industrial equipment.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: 125 hydroponic garden towers grow one acre of organic food onsite at Amalie Arena to feed Lightning players and fans.
- San Francisco 49ers: 30 percent of all Levi’s Stadium produce is USDA-certified organic and more than 20 percent of the menu is vegetarian.
- San Diego Padres: 100 percent of used cooking oil at Petco Park is recycled and donated as biodiesel to support local public transportation and school buses.
As you can see, each team gets to make their own choices as to what the most important steps to take are.
Want to make sure your favorite team is participating, or just find out more? Learn more about the global green sports movement at greensportsalliance.org and by following the association at @SportsAlliance.
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