Blog: Farms

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Bon Appétit believes that making a difference in the lives of others—one that pays dividends long past the holiday season — is the best gift we can give. This year’s beneficiary is the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA).

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I knew I had to visit Pure Country Pork after learning it was the first sustainable hog operation in the United States to be certified by Food Alliance under its stricter guidelines of no farrowing crates or gestation stalls. Plus, since Bon Appétit committed last year to phasing out all pork raised using gestation crates by 2015, I knew I needed to talk to some experts to better understand the significance of this commitment.

The drought that struck the United States this year stunted growth of field corn and soy, and as a result, 2013 will be the first time in 38 years where annual beef, pork, and chicken output all decline. We need a resilient food system that can cope with a changing climate and unpredictable conditions such as this drought. How are we going to get there?

Food Day is an annual nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food, and a movement to create more of it. This Thursday, October 24, Bon Appétit locations all across America will proudly celebrate Food Day and its five principles. We’re encouraging our guests to get involved by growing some of their own food, and if they’re students, encouraging them to join Campus Farmers!

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When farmer Brenton Johnson first started out, his “farm” was literally his backyard in Austin, TX. In less than three years, he expanded out of his backyard and grew to serve over 1,000 neighbors through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Organized by Midwest Fellow S.K. Piper and students at Carleton, St. Olaf, and Macalester Colleges, the seven-farm bike tour and closing party was completely free for participants, funded by in-kind donations and community grants that Piper helped the student organizers secure, with the food cost being covered by the Bon Appétit teams at the three schools.

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At the tender ages of 12 and 14, Sam and Johnny Rosenblad are already seasoned entrepreneurs, taught well by their dad, farmer Jeff Rosenblad. They sell cucumbers from Happy Harvest Farms in Mount Angel, OR, at the local farmers’ market and to Bon Appétit at both University of Portland and Willamette University through the Farm to Fork program.

Although farmers planted corn in record numbers this year — the most acres since 1937 — the current drought affecting the Midwest means yields are predicted to be well below last year’s. However, very little of the corn planted in the Midwest is edible: most of it goes to feed animals or for fuel. But there are farmers who grow against the grain, so to speak. Last year, when Bon Appétit District Manager Sam Currie discovered Hutterian Brethren Farms had a surplus of the sweetest corn he’d ever had, he jumped at the opportunity to find a way for our accounts to use it.