“Slow” Fast Food?

Image courtesy of Choilocif

I just got back from London this week visiting my wife’s family and friends. No, we didn’t get to see the Royal Wedding, and frankly, I’m OK with that. What we did get to see was lots of examples of how sustainability is seamlessly incorporated into everyday life for Londoners. I think it’s cool that many of the sustainability trends begin in Europe and migrate across the pond. It’s even so embedded in the culture that it’s prevalent in unexpected arenas – like fast food.

Slow Food is a “global, grassroots movement…that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.” We saw loads of examples of this attitude applied to foods from white-table cloth restaurants to “pub grub” to a very special sandwich chain – Pret A Manger® (meaning ready-to-eat). Pret, as it’s known by the locals, was founded by a two college mates in 1986 who couldn’t find any good fast food. They had no idea what they were doing, but were obviously on to something.

Today Pret has over 200 stores selling sandwiches, salads, soups etc. and avoiding the use of obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives. Pret makes their foods fresh each morning in their local kitchens and deliver it to the urban stores. That’s right; there are no ‘sell-by’ dates because excess food is given away to charity each night.

My wife’s long-time favorite is the Chicken Avocado Sandwich made with wholegrain bread, chicken breast, yoghurt dressing, avocado, basil and salad leaves- no funky stuff you can’t pronounce. I love the Crayfish & Avocado Salad simply made with wild crayfish, avocado, salad and Dijon dressing. The real kicker is it all simply tastes delicious for about $4 in downtown London.

The ingredients are sustainably sourced or farmed and they don’t air-freight any products – except basil leaves (I guess good basil is hard to get in the UK).

Pret’s packaging is also 96% recyclable. The sandwich ‘bio-box’ is made from sustainably sourced forests and is fully recyclable without the typical polyethylene coating for other containers (no shelf-life, no need for plastic). They’re also working on a program to send zero waste to landfills by 2012.

It’s probably a fair thing to ask at this point: what does this have to do with Kendall-Jackson? Well, I wanted to share a glimpse into the future of American sustainability. As I mentioned before many sustainability advancements begin in Europe and migrate to the U.S. over time – this is just one small example of what I saw on my trip. Pret A Mange now has 40 stores in America.

Secondly, I guess it’s just the fact that I like the way they think and believe we take a similar approach to sustainability. Being truly sustainable requires relentless attention to detail; digging deep and making hard choices that sometimes cost more but will pay back in the satisfaction of doing the right thing and giving consumers a better choice.

Pret A Manger’s focus on sustainable sourcing, reducing waste, increasing recycling, and, most importantly, delivering consistently delicious products for all of us to enjoy. This approach rings true with us because these are the same things that we’re trying to achieve at Kendall-Jackson.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a glass of Chardonnay and that Crayfish and Avocado salad right now!