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Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is the first major North American hotel company to use organic foods from local suppliers in its restaurants and menus, whenever possible. This commitment to sustainable cuisine is an extension of Fairmont Hotels' Green Partnership, an award-winning environmental program.

Earlier this year, Fairmont Hotels removed trans-fats from their foods. Guests have the option of selecting sustainable foods from Lifestyle Cuisine menus. Fairmont Hotels also offer organic or biodynamic wines, made from certified organically grown grapes, grown by vintners like Bonterra Vineyards.

Largest hotel kitchen in Canada

Located in downtown Toronto, opposite Union Station, and connected to the subway, the Royal York has Canada's largest hotel kitchen. As spacious as three Boeing 747 interiors, it spreads over three floors.

Because the hotel uses substantial quantities of food (e.g., 22,000 pounds of onions annually), buying locally has a positive impact on the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transportation.

The Fairmont Royal York buys omega-3 eggs, peppers, cooking oils, lemon balm, cabbages, lamb, broccoli, cucumbers, mushrooms, cooking onions, fingerling potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, beets, carrots, celery root, bean sprouts, bok choy, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, popcorn sprouts, purslane sprouts, shiso sprouts, pea shoots, radish sprouts, watercress, mizuna, tatsoi and onion cress from local farmers.

Herb garden

In 1998, the Royal York started a rooftop herb garden, 18 stories above the Toronto. All the herbs are organic, grown without pesticides and herbicides. Last year, Mason Hogue Gardens, from Uxbridge, Ontario, planted Japanese shiso, oba, four types of basil and five pepper varieties in the high-rise herb garden.

Besides herbs, the garden also grows Italian red kidney beans, cherry tomatoes and dwarf cherry, pear and plum trees.

Pebbles separate the 17 elevated beds and 23 pots, which are irrigated with a water hose system. Executive Chef, David Garcelon, uses rosemary, lavender, parsley, lemon thyme, chives, parsley, tarragon, mint, cilantro, basil and other herbs to garnish and flavour dishes.

Honey Bees

In 2008, the Royal York and the Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative moved three bee hives to the hotel rooftop herb garden. The Queen and her 10,000 workers will provide honey for chefs to use with locally grown foods in locovore menus at Fairmont Royal York restaurants.

Besides contributing to the 100 mile diet, the bees help pollinate plants in Toronto. Visitors can view the apiaries from a safe distance during guided tours of the organic herb garden.

Culinary tours

On two-night Shop With Chef packages, participants visit Toronto's historic St. Lawrence Market on Saturday morning with a Fairmont Royal York chef. Guests meet suppliers of ingredients for The Fairmont Royal York restaurants, such as organic farmer John Rowe from Rowe Farm Meats, Rick Blackwood at Mike's Seafood and Alan Graziano, an organic produce vendor.

The Shop With Chef package also includes a tour by Toronto historian, Bruce Bell, who tells participants about the 200-year history of The St. Lawrence Market. The tour includes coffee at Pasta Mia, peameal bacon sandwiches, made by Maurice and Robert at Carousel Bakery and samples from Golden Orchard Fine Foods. The highlight of the package is a six-course meal at EPIC, the signature restaurant of The Fairmont Royal York.

Fair trade tea

All Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, including the Toronto Royal York, serve fair trade tea, called Tea at The Fairmont. The brand is sourced through fair trade organizations, in destinations where they're available, by The Metropolitan Tea Company Ltd., North America's first member of the Ethical Tea Partnership. Within two years, most of the teas will be organic.

Fair trade certified teas come from companies that ensure fair prices, fair working conditions, community development and environmental sustainability.