Friday, August 26, 2011

Food for (green) thought

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

This is the second in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at our sustainable food programs. -Ed.

When it comes to eating sustainably, it’s about more than being organic, grass-fed or cage-free. Through our food program, we delight and support Googlers as well as uphold our company’s health and environmental values. And it’s a job we relish, because food is such a defining part of our unique culture. Our cafes and microkitchens help spark greater innovation and collaboration, allowing different teams to come together to share ideas, problem-solve or just get to know each other better over lunch or a mid-morning snack.

As part of Google’s Food Team, we serve roughly 50,000 healthy and delicious meals every day at nearly 100 cafes around the world—and strive to apply sustainable food principles to all the cafes we operate. We aim to source food that’s as local, seasonal and organic as possible. This helps us prevent artificial additives, pesticides and hormones from entering Google’s food supply—whether that means sourcing our eggs from cage-free chickens or using steroid- and antibiotic-free poultry. It’s fresher, and it tastes better!

Through Google’s Green Seafood Policy, we’ve established guidelines to help ensure that (whenever and wherever possible) we purchase species caught locally from independently managed fisheries that use environmentally responsible catch practices. At our Mountain View headquarters, where we benefit from our proximity to the ocean and local agriculture, we’ve been able to establish close relationships with several local, independent farmers and fishermen. We see firsthand how they raise and harvest their stock, and what sustainable catch methods they use. Much of our Mountain View produce (nearly half of which is organic) comes from farms in California, and our seafood comes from within 200 miles. Many of our campuses also have edible gardens that empower green-thumbed Googlers to grow herbs for their own cooking.

Because optimal eating habits extend beyond the walls of our offices, we’re committed to helping Googlers make the most informed choices possible as part of a healthy lifestyle. We want to not only become the healthiest workforce, but also make it easier for employees to take Google’s sustainable food values home to share with friends and family. Many of our offices in the U.S. offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs where Googlers can buy fresh, seasonal produce directly from local farms that’s delivered right to campus. In Mountain View, we also recently launched the Google Green Grocer program, where Googlers can order the same high-quality, sustainably sourced seafood, meat and eggs they already enjoy in our cafes, while supporting local community fisheries and farms.

We also pay very close attention to how we manage and reduce waste from our food program. Most employees use non-disposable dishware, and all of our grab-and-go containers are compostable. We have recycling and composting bins throughout many of our offices worldwide, and 20 percent of food waste from our cafes is recycled. In fact, organic food waste from our cafes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is recycled to help produce bio-diesel or electricity. In some of our U.S. offices, any untouched, edible food is donated to local shelters, and the rest is put to use as compost.

Through our our cafes, microkitchens, edible gardens and community-supported food programs, we’re connecting Googlers to sustainable values on a daily basis. The more we care about what happens to the food on our plates and where it comes from, the more it can improve our health, our local economies and the environment.

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