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Food and Energy

Omer Sela, 6/7/2014


Food and Energy

When people talk about food, restaurants or other catering, they do not even take into consideration or see any relation with energy industry. The only thing comes to mind is food calories or an energy bar. However, there is a close affinity between food, catering and industrial energy.

Production of raw materials:

Industrial energy is the main resource in the production of raw materials. Meaning, that raw materials can be used in agricultural machinery (fuel for tractors, plows, combines, etc.) and phytosanitary products. Oil products can be turned to raising animals (which supply people with meat, eggs and milk). A lot of industrial energy required for harvesting and sorting out agricultural products, involving such activities as heating, drying, cooling, preservation, etc. Planes used for irrigation purposes and farmers’ vehicles are also run on fuel made of raw materials.

Agricultural residues may also be used for different industry sectors - for example, for production of ethanol (grain alcohol ), biodiesel (a substitute of diesel fuel from plant oils), methanol (biologically sourced alcohol for industrial needs, made of straw residues and grasses) or biogas (mainly comprising methane CH4, like natural gas but produced from waste, waste water, slops, cow dung, etc.). These residues can make equipment and fuel engines work for power generation and supply the needs of food production.

Transportation and delivery:

The energy requirement on this phase is quite necessary. Most of the agricultural factories remote from catering industry centers. Meat substitutes made of soya beans or imitation milk for vegetarian restaurants in London, Paris or Berlin can be delivered from distant countries, these are the U.S., Brazil or Argentina. Many alimentary products (such as wheat, corn, soy, beans, rice, coffee or cocoa) come a long distance by ships, planes, trains and heavy trucks, which requires fair amount of oil fuel, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

After industrial processing, raw materials transported into various local or foreign objects, for this purpose it takes considerable amount of diesel fuel for trucks. The last stage of the process - direct home delivery – it is also requires fuel (for example, gasoline for scooters widely used to deliver food for pizzerias and restaurants).

Food packaging materials:

Pasteboard boxes for pizza, disposable cups for take-away coffee or other packaging materials contain a lot of industrial energy. It is evident that packaging materials made of plastic or rubber,  require oil or natural gas for their manufacturing, but packaging materials made of paper or pasteboard are also associated with high-energy consumption in the paper-making process - a fact that many of us do not realize.


Restaurants, bakeries, hotels or event halls:

Here the energy becomes much more tangible for its user - restaurateur (restaurant-keeper) or an owner of a banquet hall. A lot of energy and raw materials are spent on each stage of cooking - frying, heating, baking, chilling or freezing meals; air conditioning, heating and light in the kitchen and in the hall - all these are energy-intensive activities. In many cases, caterers have to consider several alternatives, for reasons of price, security, availability and ease of use when choosing between electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (cooking gas), diesel oil or natural gas. Ultimately, the cost of consumed energy during all phases, starting from production on the farm, transportation, packaging and finally meals served to customers in the hall, lit and air-conditioned using expensive electricity. All these expenses to be added in the price of each meal or dessert for the efficiency of the whole process.

Reducing Energy Consumption:

The more catering facilities will pay attention to energy saving, efficient use of electricity or gas for cooking, proper insulation, the use of energy-efficient lighting, the use of fuel efficient vehicles for delivery, maintaining proper temperature and use of air conditioners and refrigerators that meet modern standards of efficiency, the more they will be able to reduce energy consumption, reduce the cost of products to their consumers and increase profitability of catering industry.

Like a diet, involving reduction of calories and focused on a healthy and efficient consumption of food, restaurants, bakeries and other catering can also go for "energy diet" and reduce the amount of "calories" they consume, applying  to qualified experts and taking advantage of government guidelines or available engineering solutions


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