Ford Canada hosted an event to talk about their commitment to sustainability in their automotive products. Since I couldn’t attend, I asked my friend Tamara (aka @TamiWas on Twitter) to attend in my stead. Here’s all she learned about Ford Sustainability and how food by products just might have a place in your next car. Cool!
When Merry asked if I could attend a Ford dinner event in her place, I jumped at the chance for several reasons. Firstly, she had me at “food.” Secondly, I come from a family of Ford drivers and can still recall the day my parents brought home our first Ford vehicle, an Aerostar minivan when I was 12. Finally, it was my first dinner at the Calgary Zoo and I had heard only good things about their facilities and chefs.
The Ford Sustainability Feast showcased the company’s efforts to use food by-products, oversupply and biomaterials in the production of their vehicles, which has led to being named one of the world’s most ethical companies.
The evening began with cocktail hour, which is always my favourite hour of any day, and featured margaritas with a cotton candy stir stick, representing Ford’s partnership with tequila giant Jose Cuervo. Their effort gives second life to agave fibers for use in non-structural parts, including storage bins, coin tray and inner door panels.
As we sipped, we were treated to a short presentation explaining the company’s green history. It started with Henry Ford’s interest in alternate uses for the soybean, including a suit he wore frequently and a soybean car he developed in the early 1940s. The initiatives used today include a partnership with Heinz to use tomato fibres to develop a bio-plastic material to be used in vehicles. By incorporating renewable materials into plastic, Ford is able to make lighter parts and decrease the weight of the vehicle.
From there, we were led into the dining area. It was beautifully staged with fresh produce and legumes to set the tone of the evening. I also stage my dining room table. My favorite elements are goldfish cracker crumbs and dried pasta sauce stuck to our vinyl tablecloth from the night before. This was decidedly classier and I didn’t have to worry about two children grabbing the candles to try to flambe their macaroni and cheese.
The first course was a salad of dandelion greens, roasted beets and pumpkin seed brittle. Russian dandelions are being researched for possible use as a substitute for synthetic rubber in car parts. Side note: this was served on a plate made of bamboo grown at the zoo. The zoo also recycles, composts and grows their food in an effort to be earth-friendly.
Next up was miso glazed sous vide ling cod with grapefruit segments, coconut yam puree and a customized Ford recipe featuring soy custard with soy foam. Continuing Henry Ford’s legacy, since 2011, all company vehicles contain soy foam in their seat cushions and backs. That’s right, I can now say I was hungry enough I once ate a cushion. Kind of.
After two amazing and creative first courses, we were given a palate cleanser, which at my house, is usually a swig of the kid’s milk to wash down a cheese Crispy Mini I snacked on while preparing dinner. The coconut Midori sorbet we were served was much more elegant and effective. It also represented coconut fibres used in the composition of the trunk liner in the Ford Focus Electric.
The world’s first-ever application of plastic reinforced by wheat sraw is currently used in Ford Flex storage bins. This reduces petroleum usage by 9000 kg and Ford’s CO2 emissions by approximately 13,600 kg each year. Plastics made using sugar can has also been introduced in interior fabrics. This introduced our main course of wheat grass smoked veal striploin, potato dauphinoise and vanilla bean “sugar cane” glaze. I think I might start calling frozen fries potato dauphinoise to make my family seem fancy. It’s practically the same thing, right?
Finally, we were introduced to the cellulose component of Ford vehicles, by way of a deconstructed s’more with dark chocolate ganache, torched vanilla and handmade marshmallows. In 2014, cellulose pulp was first introduced in the form of a reinforced plastic used in the centre console of the Lincoln MKX. There was also coffee, which made it a pretty much perfect conclusion to a fabulous night.
Not only did this serve as a chance for me to get out of dinner-making and clean-up duty, but more importantly, it was a memorable and delicious way to learn about all the initiatives Ford is taking to further their commitment to sustainability and to educate the public on their efforts.
Disclosure: Tamara was hosted at this dinner in order to learn more about Ford’s Sustainability efforts. As always, all opinions are my…er…her own.