A typical pub meal comprising of meat, chips and a side salad.

Schnitzel salads could be sidelined as pubs fight the rising cost of vegetables

The humble salad often occupies a modest place on the pub meal plate.

For many, it’s a mandatory part of a pub lunch, nestled between the chips and the schnitzel.

Even if we don’t actually eat our veggies, we might like to have them there.

But for pubs it’s a different story – although we reserve the right to be fickle, they go out anyway.

The Duke of Brunswick, publican Simone Douglas, said her location filled an entire garbage can with salads that no one ate.

Simone Douglas says customers who definitely won’t eat the salad should tell them in advance.ABC News: Patrick Martin

in the middle of the rising costs of lettuce and other groceriessome locations are now asking that customers who know they definitely won’t eat the salad let them know ahead of time.

“The advice going around on social media right now is that if you don’t really like it, ask not to have it,” said Ms Douglas.

“It actually saves the site some money, but it also saves them a lot of material and waste.

“If you’re a location that’s trying to reduce your footprint, and your waste as a whole, and be environmentally sustainable… that’s something to look at.”

Side salads a ‘division’

While Adelaide restaurateur Frank Hannon-Tan has no plans to take veggies off the plate just yet, he’s all too familiar with the problem of untouched salads being scraped into bins or turned into compost.

“It’s a matter of division,” he said.

“You have to be really careful there.”

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Simone Douglas and Frank Hannon-Tan discuss the matter with ABC Radio Adelaide’s Stacey Lee and Nikolai Beilharz.
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He said that while salads weren’t going to end anytime soon, the rising costs of staple foods — especially lettuce, but also meat and seafood — couldn’t be ignored.

“It has certainly had an effect on all locations,” said Mr. Hannon-Tan.

He said iceberg lettuce got a lot of attention.

“It’s a non-seasonal product, so I think we’ve tried to focus on more seasonal produce and more winter vegetables,” he said.

“We want to adapt, so with the salads we mix different types of leaves.”

Dietitian Karen Murphy of the University of South Australia said making salads less accessible had obvious nutritional drawbacks.

“Remove That [salad] of meals and I really think you’re going to reduce the intake of fruits and vegetables for our population,” she said.

Nutritionist Karen Murphy with nutritional guidelines.
Dietitian Karen Murphy urged cafe owners to think about ways to keep costs down while still keeping salad options.Delivered

Associate Professor Murphy said pubs can find a way to compromise by following Mr Hannon-Tan’s suggestion and switching to different foods that are equally nutritious without being less affordable.

“We eat with our eyes, don’t we? It has to look tasty and you have to want to eat it,” she said.

“You can get really creative with a range of vegetarian foods — rockets and spinach. You can even put some grains in there.”

‘We waste so much food’

Ms Douglas said her location had shifted from serving salads alongside schnitzels as a matter of course, even before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged pub budgets.

She said treating a good salad as a perk — at an extra, but not exorbitant price — may be the most pleasing option for pubs struggling with rising overhead costs.

“When we took the salad off as part of the addition, it just meant we could maintain a lower price on the cutlets and everything else,” she said.

Associate Professor Murphy said she understood the predicament pubs found themselves in and agreed there was no easy solution.

“We waste so much food so I can absolutely understand why the pubs would do this,” she said.

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