Sustainable Eats at Grand Canyon National Park

July 12, 2014

travel and foodRestaurants in Grand Canyon National Park are nearing their goal of getting half their food products from sustainable sources by 2015. In a press release, Xanterra last week announced that more than 40 percent of the food served at the park's South Rim facilities now meets its own sustainable standards.

Since there's no food production inside the park, Xanterra (the private company running food concessions in the park) partners with producers outside the park, trying to find products produced within 500 miles and from certified organic and fair trade sources.

In Grand Canyon National Park, more than 40 percent of the food served in restaurants and foodservice outlets operated by Xanterra South Rim comes from sustainable sources with a goal of reach 45 percent in 2014 and 50 percent by year end 2015.

“The South Rim region, located on the Colorado Plateau, is considered high desert,” said Matt McTigue, executive chef for the Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C, operating three full-service restaurants, two food courts and three snack bars, including Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Canyon. “Currently active farming and ranching do not exist inside the national park in an effort to preserve and protect the natural resources. However cultural history dating back to 1905 indicates that the famed El Tovar Hotel when it first opened did have its own greenhouses for growing fresh herbs and flowers, a milking barn, poultry barn, a herd of Jersey cows, and full butcher shop. Today these items are sourced from partners outside of the park boundaries.”

Local and sustainable products used today include the following:

  • Dairy products from Shamrock Farms in Phoenix
  • Vegetarian Tepa burgers from Local Alternative in Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Eggs from Hickman’s in Glendale, Ariz.
  • Joy ice cream cones from Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Bread from Holsum Bakery in Phoenix
  • Tomatoes from Wholesum Harvest in Nogales, Ariz.
  • Produce from a wide variety of Arizona farms
  • Hormone and antibiotic free Chicken from Red Bird in Phoenix
  • Arizona Stronghold wines from Cottonwood, Ariz.
  • Carlson Creek wines from Willcox, Ariz.
  • Beer from Grand Canyon Brewing located in Williams, Ariz.

Prominent sustainable items coming from outside the local region include:

  • Grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free steaks and ground beef from Harris Ranch
  • All natural Pork from Niman Ranch
  • Grass-fed bison from Western Buffalo
  • Seafood from sources that adhere to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch protocols
  • Coffee certified by the Rain Forest Alliance from Royal Cup
  • New Belgium beer from Fort Collins. Colo.
  • Wines from vineyards certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

“An essential component to our success occurred when we brought our staff into the process,” Chef McTigue continued. “Now everyone is engaged in the act of sourcing sustainable products that will support our program. Additionally, our guests are becoming more aware and interested in the storyline of sustainable food and want to know where the items come from, and it is our goal to provide them with this information so they can make well-informed and healthy dining decisions.”


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