We’ve talked a lot about sustainable meat, fish, and veggies.  We’ve talked about sourcing and distribution issues, as well as cost, nutrition and (of course) taste.  But there’s something on the dining room table that we haven’t talked much about: DRINKS!  Who doesn’t enjoy a good glass of Pinot Noir with their salmon, a spicy Syrah with their roasted lamb, a juicy Zin with their Barbecque or even a beer with some mussels? A little after dinner drink? How about a good Bourbon?

One little detail that seems to go under the radar: all those grapes, grains, hops, and corn are grown somewhere… on a farm or in a vineyard.  Then they have to be processed in some way shape or form before can become the beautiful beverages we love so well.  So shouldn’t those growing practices matter, too?  Shouldn’t we be talking about pesticides, and herbicides and runoff water for the other part of the meal, the beverage?

I know that some of you have focused on sustainable wine lists and probably carry some organic beers or spirits.  And I know that there are some common misconceptions out there: organic wines taste bad, the good ones are expensive, my customers don’t care, where can I get a hold of them anyway….  But we’ve heard all of this with food.  And we know that where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’d like to start this conversation about sustainable beverages with a call for input.  What are you doing in your restaurants to promote sustainable beverages?  Any best practices you look for?  Let me know at katied@chefscollaborative.org.

Katie is the National Summit intern for the Chefs Collaborative.