Farm-to-Table in Yellowstone National Park

Local and sustainable food is taking center stage in the park.

Posted by: Yellowstone National Park on March 3, 2017

As the farm-to-table food movement sweeps the country, Yellowstone is embracing it with gusto.

Local and sustainable food is taking center stage in the park. Trout from Idaho. Bison from Wyoming and North Dakota. Beef, goat cheese, and ice cream from Montana. These and other regionally sourced food products served in the dining facilities of Yellowstone National Park are bringing local flavors to the culinary forefront of the nation’s oldest national park.

Lamb-Carrots

Lamb and carrots

As the farm-to-table food movement sweeps the country, Yellowstone is embracing it with gusto. As of 2016, a full 50 percent of the park-wide food and beverage purchases used at restaurants like the Mammoth Dining Room in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins and other park eateries managed by concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts are categorized as sustainably produced. Local and/or sustainable products also include produce, dairy, flour, cookies, teas, and lamb.

Last year the park increased its local liquor offerings from six to 19 options, which feature Wyoming Whiskey, Willie’s Montana Honey Moonshine, Montana 1889 whiskey, and Willie’s Huckleberry Sweet Cream Liqueur, among others.

 

Mammoth Dining Room

Mammoth Dining Room

So consider that when you order the warm goat cheese salad, pistachio-parmesan-crusted trout, bison burger with fixings, or huckleberry cobbler made with Montana huckleberries for dinner at the Mammoth Dining Room, you’re supporting local producers. Or try a breakfast of Montana Milling oatmeal, Montana Cream of the West seven-grain buttermilk pancakes, or a Wheat Montana bagel with cream cheese accompanied with Tumbleweed Teas’ Peace of the Park.

Yellowstone restaurants follow a simple philosophy — to provide the highest quality food with the “softest footprint” by finding products that are fresh, locally produced, organic, third-party certified and/or support sustainable farming, fishing, and business practices. Among their many other local food partners are Montana Ranch Beef, Western Buffalo, and Wolf Ridge Lamb & Wool.

Mammoth Hot Springs Gift Shop

Mammoth Hot Springs Gift Shop

Yellowstone’s local and sustainable approach to food is also earning accolades. Mammoth Dining Room is Xanterra’s first certified green restaurant. It received its certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) in 2011. In December 2016, it became the only restaurant in a national park to receive GRA’s Four Star certification, and one of only 25 restaurants nationwide.

The Green Restaurant Association is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1990 to encourage restaurants to green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. GRA operates in 47 states and Canada, assisting restaurants to achieve sustainability in several critical areas including energy, food, water, waste, chemicals and pollution reduction, disposables and furnishings, and building materials.

Tenderloin

Tasty tenderloin

Mammoth Dining Room is a stellar example. Its Four Star status was in part the result of accomplishments in these categories:

  • Disposables: All disposables (cups, utensils, plates, etc.) are compostable, with priority given to post-consumer recycled content.
  • Energy: All incandescent bulbs replaced with LEDs (70 percent) or high-efficiency fluorescents. Use of Energy Star-rated kitchen equipment.
  • Food: Ongoing commitment and program to increase the availability of fresh, local and sustainably produced food and beverage items on the menus.
  • Chemical and Pollution: Electric vehicle charging station made available with preferred parking location. Environmentally friendly chemicals are used throughout the operation. Use of low/no VOC carpet, flooring and materials in the building.
  • Waste: Waste is sorted into compostable, recyclable and reusable. Waste vegetable oil is recycled to be converted to bio-diesel fuels. Items such as crayons, glass, metals, cardboard and other materials are recycled or reused. Waste is minimized through such practices as using bulk condiments and serving only draft beers.
  • Water: High efficiency/Energy Star-rated fixtures and equipment are used in bathrooms and kitchen.
    While reaching 50 percent in sustainable food and beverages is great, the goal is to increase them to 70 percent by 2025.

Meanwhile, we can all support sustainable food practices by ordering local and sustainable menu items and taking home the lessons learned in Yellowstone to apply in our own communities.

How to Explore

Experience the nation’s oldest national park through your taste buds at Mammoth Dining Room in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins, one of several in-park accommodations at Yellowstone National Park. With nine lodging facilities offering over 2,000 rooms, accommodations in Yellowstone National Park are plentiful for those wishing to experience the national park it its summertime glory. From the most famous lodging facility in a national park—the Old Faithful Inn—to the ol’ western rustic cabins of Roosevelt Lodge, guests will find an incredible variety of places to bunker down and enjoy a fresh, local, delightful meal.

For multi-day in-park experiences, consider booking one of Yellowstone National Park Lodges’ seasonal packages. These are a great way to get the most out of your Park experience with customized itineraries for different interests and types of travelers.

For more information on lodging, restaurants, tours and activities in Yellowstone, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges.com or call 307-344-7311.

Small-Group Tours in Yellowstone

For other unique ways to explore Yellowstone, consider a small group tour with one of Yellowstone National Park Lodges’ sister companies – VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers or Holiday Vacations. Each offer unique itineraries in Yellowstone and offer expert guides that have insider access and help you get the best experience in the Park.

VBT offers a six-day guided walking tour – Yellowstone and the Grand Teton: Walking America’s First National Park. VBT is the value leader in active biking and walking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for seven years. VBT offers over 55 deluxe, small group Bicycling, Walking and Barge & Sail vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. States. For more information on VBT, visit vbt.com or call 800.245.3868.

Country Walkers also offers a six-day Montana & Wyoming: Yellowstone guided walking tour. For more than 38 years Country Walkers has led small-group walking tours where guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. For more information, visit countrywalkers.com or call 800.234.6900.

Or for a less active but equally as beautiful way to experience the Park, Holiday Vacations offers multiple departures for their Majestic Park motorcoach tours that take you through Yellowstone in addition to other iconic national parks. Holiday Vacations is one of America’s most reputable tour companies, with over 44 years of experience featuring unique and popular rail, air, cruise, and motorcoach guided tours to 65+ destinations worldwide. To learn more, visit holidayvacations.com or talk to a friendly Tour Consultant by phone at 800.826.2266.

For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.

 



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Written by: Christine Loomis

The former editor in chief of Smart Meetings, Christine Loomis is a Colorado-based freelance travel and lifestyle writer.

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