Gardening Nude Naked Winner of the Week: Greg Christian, The Green Catering Super Hero

Green Ideas, Make A Diff — By on January 9, 2009 10:12 am
On most Friday’s, my blog features a special person or organization for the day. This person or org is the “Naked Winner of the Week.” All people featured in this category are winners for doing great things for the community and trying to make a difference for the world. You can make a difference too.

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The naked winner of the week for 01-09-09 is ::drum roll please::

Greg Christian Feature

Greg Christian, for changing the face of American public school lunch and spreading the message of greener living. Greg is teaching the world how to eat and live healthier!

As one of the most inspiring and energetic green people I have ever met, Greg Christian, a Chicago-based caterer is revolutionizing American catering. Greg Christian Catering thrives on his concepts of buying local, composting silverware and dishes, and educating the public on how to live a green lifestyle is changing the way the world sees food and catering. Greg is making a difference in other ways as well; he believes he can revolutionize the way school systems feed children; building a healthier community in the process through his not-for-profit organization, the Organic School Project.

Greg Christian at LowellI was so inspired by Greg that I wrote about him in my recently published greening and better health book, Gardening Nude. You will find the full excerpt from the book at the end of this special Friday Naked Person of the week.

Working with children to educate them on better nutrition has been particularly rewarding for Greg. The kids often say the darndest things and I recently asked Greg what some of the things the kids said when working with him.

Below are the top five cute responses said by youth enjoying breakfast, lunch or snack in one of Organic School Project’s programs:

5. Eww…the peas are green!

4. This cheese tastes like cheese!

3. The fruit is crunchy!

2. This milk tastes like it came from a cow!

1. It actually smells good in here!

It is awesome to see children recognizing the value of nutritious foods! Thank you Greg – for being an incredible green example for the world to follow – you win a pat on the back and a big shout-out for being a fantastic green lifestyle example. You are changing mindsets one vegetable at a time – way to go!

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Click the link below to continue reading more about Greg Christian and how he’s doing his best to make a difference for the world. The write-up below is the full feature excerpt from the greening and better health book I wrote, “Gardening Nude.” Enjoy!

Greg Christian is making American meals healthier and greener

When I think of Greg Christian, I think of a passionate man who puts children first—his own as well as all youth, as they are the future of human kind. He is a man who cares about the environment and his neighborhood community with an equal fervor. Christian believes in doing what is right for the global population, and starting with the neighborhood community has been the best place to begin.

Christian is a Chicago-based professional chef with more than twenty years of experience who has started a revolution in healthy eating. He currently runs Greg Christian Catering, a firm that is on a mission to nourish with inventive, natural, and organic cuisine that will have an impact on the health of the population and a deep regard for the preservation and protection of our planet. Christian focuses on buying local foods to help curtail unnecessary energy use. His staff prepares foods which are hormone-free and organic—chemical and pesticide free—whenever possible.

The passionate desire Christian has to improve the nutritious quality of foods for his community led him to open Get Me Greg’s Online Catering, which specializes in bringing his special green approach to offices throughout Chicagoland. Not only does he provide the freshest food possible, he also tries to change the mindset of the average office worker by providing recyclable dinnerware and biodegradable disposable flatware.

Christian got tired of the world talking about our and the environment’s health, but not doing anything about it. “I want to see change,” he zealously announces, “I see a lot of people talking, but very few people physically trying to make a difference for their community! It is time to see change and improvement, so I am doing something about it right now! I am making a difference!”

Indeed he is. On top of being one of the only green catering companies in the nation, Christian founded the Organic School Project (OSP). This project encourages American school-aged children to be more mindful eaters. His not-for-profit organization implemented and evaluated a wellness services model. Beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, he took this program into schools within the Chicago Public School System which is part of the third largest school district in the nation. OSP is teaching sustainability and mindful green habits at the grassroots level. They are accomplishing what some say is impossible, but Christian and his team persevere. Their model will make the dream of living healthier a reality by teaching children, from the very beginning of their education, what positive, chemical-free, nutrition means and its impact on our planet.

The OSP model has three major components: 1) reconnecting children with their food source through organic gardening, 2) teaching children nutrition, mindfulness, and environmental stewardship through a wellness curriculum, and 3) feeding the children more environmentally positive meals through the school system by encouraging made-from-scratch, organic, and natural foods which are sourced locally when seasonably available.

Greg Christian’s inspiration and devotion to this project came from his youngest daughter. She battled chronic allergy-induced asthma throughout her childhood. With increasing frustration, Christian and his family tried to live with the illness through traditional medical treatment. When this did not work and his daughter’s health continued to worsen, he decided to try alternative medicine and an all-organic diet. This was a tremendous success. Since his daughter has been on an organic diet for almost ten years, her overall health has improved to such a startling degree that she no longer has any asthma attacks.

Discovering the difference organic foods made for his daughter motivated Christian deeply. He says, “I developed a general rule of thumb for food—the less machine-touched, the less machine- processed, the healthier it is and the more it will help the body.”

Christian began to realize that his life’s work of cooking and catering could bring better health to thousands of people. This led to the idea of helping other children and ultimately building the OSP program. His concern about conservation, particularly in relationship to foods which go through long and difficult transportation processes, encouraged further research on purchasing local foods. He quickly realized that buying locally means far less resources are used, and the foods are riper, more nutritious, and taste better. He incorporated these ideas into the program as well, and the Organic School Project is now quite a success.

Christian’s Catering team is doing one more thing—providing “green” details for every catering event He lists his food sources, distance traveled, amount of recyclable products, amount of water used, and which products were organic.

Here is an example of this incredible detail list is below:

Greg Christian Catering—Chicago’s Conscious Caterer

Greening Events In Chicago

Host Event in Chicago

November 7 & 8

Greg Christian Catering featured products from twenty-one local area farms at both catered events. These farms included:

Growing Power Farms—IL—3 Miles*

• Rothkase Farm—WI—134 Miles

• Carr Valley—WI—212 Miles

• Mint Creek Farm—IL—88 Miles

• River Valley Ranch—WI—77 Miles

• Genesis Growers—IL—75 Miles

• Miller Amish Farm—IN—154 Miles

• Hidden Valley Farm—WI—174 Miles

• Greg Christian’s Garden—IL—0 Miles

• Country Cottage Farm—IL—34 Miles

• Tipi Farms—WI—126 Miles

• Happy Valley Farms—WI—167 Miles

• Harmony Valley Farms—WI—246 Miles

• Smits Farm—IL—30 Miles

• Tranquility Bay Farm—WI—150 Miles

• Michigan Turkey Farmers—MI—175 Miles

• Crawford Farm—WI—147 Miles

• Tallgrass Beef—KS—682 Miles

• Green Acres—IN—90 Miles

*Food miles are the number of total miles it takes from source to end consumer. In the U.S., produce at the average grocery stores travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farms where it was grown and your refrigerator (SustainableTable.org). *

At Greg Christian Catering and Events we recycle for both catered and corporate events as well as in our kitchen and offices. All of our plates, forks, knives, spoons, napkins, and cups are made of biodegradable material.

Through the help of Ken Dunn, with the Resource Center in Chicago, our kitchen and offices have gone from 42 yards of waste a week to 5 yards.

The Resource Center, run by Ken Dunn, picked up the recycling and compost at both events. Once picked up and sorted, they weigh the items for documentation.

From the event on November 7 at Navy Pier with 1,750 guests, the Resource Center reported:

• 560 lbs of compost

• 700 lbs of glass

• 65 lbs of cardboard

• 21 lbs of aluminum cans

• 4 lbs of plastic

From the event on November 8 at The Merchandise Mart with 5,000 Guests, The Resource Center reported:

• 1,920 lbs of glass

• 2,840 lbs of compost

• 240 lbs of cardboard

• 12 lbs of aluminum Cans

• 26 lbs of plastic

At Greg Christian Catering and Events, we are committed to composting in order to keep food waste out of landfills. We also donate all of our used cooking oil to a local farm, FarmGirl Organics, for their biofuel car.

As a Chicago Conscious Caterer we donate all excess food to Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission. At both of these events, this service was not needed as all the food was consumed by guests and staff.

The Buffet Décor throughout the event was created with all living botanicals. The wandering jews, hand dried oak tree leaves, and organic bamboo that filled the buffets will be reused at future events. The décor involved no water waste. The passing trays also featured living botanicals which can be replanted into the ground after use, and the vegetables were used as food receptacles.

The bar was filled with organic wine, beer and soda. Each receptacle that was used at the bar was recycling or composted to its correct location.

Staff wore nametags that were collected at the duration of the evening to insure reuse of each plastic tag.

Menu cards and buffet signs were posted on recycled paper, and recognized each local farm with the specific miles.

For Greg Christian, being part of a community means helping that community become healthier. He believes in sharing his passion for being green and teaching others the importance of living a healthier and more mindful lifestyle. What does Christian see for the future? He has some exciting goals. He wants to see the OSP program practiced in every school in the nation. Christian says, “I want to see the world become more mindful. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see every community in the United States band together to grow their own vegetables so we can bring more nutritious food to our children, which is more sustainable and uses less energy to produce? I believe that providing a healthier future for the children in every community should be a top concern for all of us.”

Would you like to get closer to your community? Find ways to improve the quality of food for your local school children. Find ways to utilize foods which have been grown closer to your home. Think more about organic foods and the benefits they can bring your community—perhaps your neighborhood can start its own program. Start a vegetable garden which benefits your neighborhood and family.

Greg Christian wants the world to be mindful of foods and health. Greening your community is the first step to accomplish this thoughtful approach. Bring the people in your community together to follow Christian’s exciting example of improving health by better nutrition and better greening.

To order Gardening Nude, the book, authored by Shawna Lee Coronado, please go to www.amazon.com

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

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2 Comments

  1. lisa says:

    Very cool website and lots of good Karma. Here’s a really good Karma link for you:
    http://www.dogwork.com/bestfriends

  2. darya says:

    So inspirational! Thanks for sharing :)

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