Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Greening Up at Fairs and Festivals

Wayne M. Schafer, barbecue food vendor of Big Fat Daddy's celebrated his 30 year anniversary this year. Schafer is slowly trying to de-commercialize and green up the very commercial food industry full of trash that he's made a living in. Schafer, who serves the public at fairs, festivals and special barbecue events may feed upwards of 1000 or more people per day.  He says, "Each of these people are producing trash, and there have to be ways to change that."

Buy a Can and Save the World

Many fairs are placing "recyclable" cans out for aluminum cans or plastic bottles. Schafer says he refuses to serve fountain drinks anymore. "The fountain drinks are sold in wax cups, with plastic lids and plastic straws, and this produces more waste. Not to mention you usually buy the bag-in-box syrup of which the bag portion is not recyclable. He explains, "Switching to bottles and cans means less trash because these items are easily recycled."  He has a big self serve beverage cooler that is filled with the bottles and ice. The recycled-plastic bin keeps drinks at ice cold temps, so when you grab a soda or can it's ice cold.  Schafer explains, "Most people who are eating, finish their drink with their meal, so it's cold long enough to avoid using a cup and ice. Then they can put it right in the recycle bin which is less waste."

Going Green Can Be Messy

Schafer says there is a "fine line" between food safety and going green. For instance, he often uses paper environmental deli wraps that are 100% compostible and bleach-free to serve his sandwiches on.  He loves these products even though they cost three to five times more than his usual "foil wrap."  The problem he has, is that one hot sandwich on a hot wrap can get quite messy to the customer.  "Although one good rain and they are mushed into the ground and totally compostible and biodegradable, which is great for the earth, my customer who is trying to eat a Big Fat Daddy's texas beef sub has it all over them. "
People look for Big Fat Daddy's at fairs and festivals.

Public Support

Schafer explains this is where the public must put pressure on their local counties to get foil wrap or styrofoam containers recycled, and in turn put pressure on the fairs in their towns to go greener. He says, "Some counties in some states will recycle this, but it's few and far between."

Big Fat Daddy's is picky about their sausage.

Support Local, Eat Healthier and Give Back

Part of going greener is also supporting local businesses. Schafer carts back all his used oil and donates to bio diesel projects. "One student made a truck to run on the stuff. He comes and gets it and I love that idea."

Since Schafer spent thirty years in Baltimore and deals only with Ferrante Brothers Pork Sausage, which is a version of Nick's Sausage, originally in Maryland but now owned by Hatfield. He explains, "We have put Nick's to the test for quality and wanted to make sure after Nick's sold out to Hatfield that the recipe was the same.  We are paying much more per lb for this sausage than most food vendors do. We don't go with the cheapest but the best. Nick's has less fat than some brands, and we are glad to be supporting local now (Hatfield in PA), funny how things work out."  Sadly Schafer explains there is no local beef owners willing to sell him as much beef as he needs for a year's work.

Recycling Oil Tanks

Schafer bought a welder and makes his own bbq pits. So he's listed himself as a recycling facility for old metal or non-hazmat oil tanks. If you have one, you can drop it off at his facility and he'll be sure to turn it into a bbq pit down the road. He says, "Most people will scrap them for money but some enjoy watching me grill on them down the road." Schafer has to go through a five step process to make sure they are suitable for foodservice.

It Costs to Go Green: But Here's Why You Should

Schafer, whose kitchen, facility and warehouses are now located in Manchester, PA (not open to the public) was a greener move after thirty years in Baltimore.  "I have my regular dumpster and my recyclable dumpster. We recycle single stream now, and it costs us more to have two dumpsters, but I feel better doing this for the environment.  Small things you can do now can pay off down the road. Going green is a big investment in the future. "

Connect with Schafer on:

Big Fat Daddy's on Twitter
Facebook - Big Fat Daddy's
Big Fat Daddy's BBQ Blog

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