Sustainable Nourishment

Experts estimate that 3% of all produce sold in the US is grown organically. This year Telluride Bluegrass is striving to make that number 75% for the nearly 1,000 meals prepared per day in the backstage kitchen.

Backstage dining area at Telluride Bluegrass
Backstage dining area

But as the average food item travels approximately 1,300 miles from field to plate, organic is only part of the story in sustainable nourishment. The ideal combination for personal health, and the health of the planet, is locallyproduced organic food.

For a festival taking place at 8,756 feet in the month of June, this is not an easy undertaking. But thanks to festival partners Organic Valley, Organic Prairie, Red Bird Farms, Allegro Coffee, and Bread Not Bombs, this lofty 75% goal is attainable. In addition, all dairy and cheese served backstage will carry the “Colorado Proud” certification – designating that the foods came from one of Colorado’s 30,000 farms and ranches.

The festival’s largest organic supplier, Organic Valley Family of Farms, was founded twenty years ago in Wisconsin with a shared vision the cooperative still maintains: work in partnership to produce healthy organic food; keep family farmers farming; help revitalize rural communities while serving as stewards of the earth; and always offer a sustainable pay to its member farmers. Today, Organic Valley is the nation’s largest organic farmer-owned cooperative, with more than 1,200 farmers in 34 states and one Canadian province.

Organic Valley
Organic Valley

When considering which foods to source from local or organic suppliers, Planet Bluegrass chef Chad Soulia considers several factors: how much the non-organic option is adulterated; whether the organic option can be packaged in bulk and thus require less packaging waste; the price difference and availability through the festival’s food supplier; and the difference in taste.

“What I did this year for my menu was to look at what foods were available to me organically and met this criteria, and then designed the menu around that,” says Chad. This major progress toward sustainability has been inspiring: “This will be an exciting festival with much energy, both in the dining room and kitchen.”