First We Eat: #LifeatPromega, The Culinary Experience

The Promega Culinary Garden

In the Promega garden. (L to R): Logan Morrow, gardener; Nate Herndon, Promega Senior Culinary Manager; Mike Daugherty, Promega Line Cook and Gardener

First we eat, then we do everything else.–MFK Fisher

Swatting away mosquitoes one July morning in the garden on the Promega Madison, WI, campus, Senior Culinary Manager Nate Herndon leans down and pulls back the leaves of a squash plant, revealing the bright yellow flowers that in a couple of hours will highlight a seasonal special on the lunch menu at one of the company’s cafeterias: green onion-cream cheese stuffed fried squash blossoms served on a grilled jerk pork tostada with black beans and cilantro sauce. Herndon explains that dishes made from scratch with high-quality, locally sourced (and sometimes unexpected) ingredients are the rule at Promega Madison kitchens, where it’s not uncommon to find entrees like house made ramp garganelli with oyster mushrooms and asparagus, braised beef ragu with house made buckwheat parpadelle pasta and baby kale, or fried perch tacos.

Food is an extension, a daily demonstration, of our overall commitment to sustainability, the community and employees

Many companies are realizing the benefits of upscaling their corporate cafeteria offerings. Some are engaging employees with ever-changing theme lunch menus or energy drinks on tap. Others are echoing the popular farm to table movement. But Herndon explains that Promega’s sensibilities surrounding the importance of food goes way beyond simply following popular trends. Continue reading

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Foam Coolers

12447811_IMG_3195Life science enzymes, cells and reagents are often temperature sensitive, and you need products that arrive cold and ready to work. This means that packaging often requires dry ice, gel ice and foam coolers—challenges for maintaining a small carbon footprint and environmentally responsible shipping and packaging program.

In the last few years, we have moved to unbleached shipping boxes, started using sustainably harvested materials and biodegradable and recyclable air pouches to offer product protection while minimizing negative environmental impact. Continue reading

Sustainable Growth: The Edible Kind

community-garden-thumbFrom time to time, we use the Promega Connections blog to tell you a little bit more about life here at Promega Corporation. For 35 years Promega has consistently integrated the values of corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices in all aspects of our corporate culture and activity; one of those aspects can be found in the Promega cafeterias. As an employee of Promega, one of the things I have considered a key perk is the wonderful menu offerings we have here at the Madison campus. The kitchens offer a varied and fun menu full of healthy choices, using local, seasonal foods as much as possible. The Promega Culinary Garden was covers more than an acre and allows us to grow many of our own vegetables and herbs as well as compost food waste.

Below is a short video highlighting the Culinary Garden Program

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LownF6NDXo4&feature=share&list=PLzCLS8ZbGUE9_UWStqnObFNv5OBBuMpZ7]

For information on other corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices at Promega Corporation, explore our Corporate Responsibility Web site.

Harnessing the Power of Play to Keep the Lights On

My daughter is just shy of one year old and, now that she’s walking, we’re getting increasing glimpses into the active little toddler she’s going to become. Heaven help us. I think most adults marvel at — and sometimes lament —  the enviable amounts of endlessly renewable energy kids expend every day, but I’d never really thought of them as being an actual source of renewable energy until I read an article about playground designs that harness the energy of children’s movements and turn playtime into power, with fascinating and technologically compelling results. Here are a handful that I thought were super cool: Continue reading

Ooooh, Fishy, Fish! Please Land on My Dish

Yes, I am a Monty Python fan and I like to play the “Find the Fish” video on YouTube when I need some midday amusement. However, this video brings up the topic of eating less red meat and enjoying more fish on my dish. My husband and I are trying to curb our beef-eating activities by diversifying the protein sources in our diet. We have recently adopted some dining rituals that include Friday Fish Fry (leaning more toward broiling, even though it’s hard to resist a traditional Wisconsin fish fry) and Meatless Mondays for vegetarian fare. One reason for doing this is to hopefully find more sustainable approaches to supporting a healthy diet.

So I was intrigued to learn more about fish farming (aquaculture) at sea when I read Sarah Simpson’s article in the February 2011 issue of Scientific American titled “The Blue Food Revolution”. Sustainability has become more important in many of the buying choices I have made lately, especially after learning that our global population will reach 7 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to 9.3 billion by 2050. Yikes! How do we provide high-quality protein and nutrition to so many people? Continue reading

Recycle or Compost? Sorting Out the Cornstarch from the Plastic

Environmental concerns have driven people to seek products that are not derived from petroleum. This has translated into people using products from renewable resources for serving food and beverages. Now you are drinking iced tea out of corn plastic cups or coffee from paper cups labeled as ecofriendly. What does this label mean and what do you do with them when you have consumed your beverage?

Corn plastic is called polylactic acid or PLA. It is derived from corn as well as other starch-rich crops like sugar beets and wheat. The starch is isolated from the source crop, and dextrose (a sugar) is then processed from the starch and fermented to lactic acid. Continue reading

Inviting Mother Nature to the design table

Marble globe on green leaf, close-upSustainability is all over the news these days. Green this, eco-friendly that, recycle everything, buy the twisty lightbulbs, and “Aren’t you going to compost that?” Much like good compost, sustainability is hot, and it’s finding its way not only into our households, but also into product design. Principles like using low-impact materials, energy efficiency and designing for reuse and renewability are increasing in importance. In ever-greater numbers, designers are looking to nature for inspiration as they create the next generation of innovative and sustainable products. It’s a burgeoning discipline called biomimicry. Continue reading

Can Mushrooms Save the World?

Last Tuesday, intrigued by a poster entitled “How Mushrooms Can Save the World”, I attended a talk by Paul Stamets—renowned author, conservationist, and noted expert on all things fungi. I must admit that I was skeptical. It seemed such a bold claim—could the humble mushroom really be the answer to so many problems? The poster promised that mushrooms could be used to filter water, regenerate soil, produce antimicrobials, and literally save the planet. Continue reading

A Discussion about Sustainability at the International BioEthics Forum

Leaf image What does sustainability mean? Is it composting your vegetable scraps and yard waste, and capturing rain water? Is it community-based action on policies dealing with land and water use? Is it educating our children about ecology and the connectedness of all flora and fauna in our biosphere? Is it bringing together religious leaders, scientists, nonprofit organizations, business leaders, educators, students and the public on a discussion of sustainability? On April 23 and 24, the 8th Annual International BioEthics Forum on Sustainability did just that, hosting a diverse group of people from many different perspectives to answer the question “what does sustainability mean?” Continue reading

Top 10 Reasons Not to Plant a Tree

10. You have no space on your property available to plant one.

9. You do not want to call your local extension agent to ask about the strange insects swarming the tree and stripping it of leaves in the middle of summer.

8. You had the composition of the “dirt” on your property analyzed Continue reading