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Maisie GreenawaltVice President Having joined the company in 1994, just a year out of college, I’ve grown up at Bon Appétit Management Company. When asked where I learned about sustainable food systems (and I get asked that a lot); the answer is quite simply “here.” I set my sights on Bon Appétit after reading an article in a trade magazine about the company’s innovative restaurant-style approach to food service (that “aha, I have to work for that company”-moment has left me with a soft spot for PR). I decided to seek out a position anywhere in the company I could. I got my foot in the door as an employee services coordinator and over the ensuing 14 years have been lucky enough to grow and take on responsibility for communications, marketing and culinary strategy. Being the child of “bohemian” parents […]

"Would we accept it if the federal agency charged with highway safety allowed cars on the road without brakes – and then warned drivers to exercise extreme caution in order to avoid injury and death? Of course not. But that, in effect is the U.S. government’s approach to something that affects all of us on the most basic level: the safety of the meat, poultry and produce that we eat" starts Dr. Ellen Silbergeld’s recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. The FDA seems to be running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off (although we know that no industrially-raised chicken has a chance to run around) casting blame quickly on everything from tomatoes to cilantro to, this just in, avocados (it’s a tough time to make guacamole). What they aren’t looking at, as Dr. Silbergeld points out, […]

I was happy to see Whole Foods market announce new, more stringent guidelines for farmed seafood. I was even happier to see Dr. Becky Goldburg of Environmental Defense Fund quoted in the release. We’ve been working with Becky and the EDF team since 2003 when we joined a coalition working to reduce antibiotic use in animal husbandry. Since then they’ve supported us in looking at new standards for farmed salmon (since 2004 we’ve only bought wild salmon and we were hoping to use our purchasing power as an incentive to change the way salmon aquaculture is done – unfortunately no farms were able to meet our standards and we still only buy wild salmon), exploring the sustainability of different shrimp options and expanding our antibiotics policy. I am continually impressed with EDF’s work and their impressive partner list. They are […]

Normally we’re enjoying wild California and Oregon salmon this time of year, but urban development, dams, and water diversion for agriculture have contributed to the depletion of Coho and Chinook salmon stocks and made some salmon runs extinct. Salmon faithfully return to the rivers where they were born, making them both highly dependent on specific freshwater areas and susceptible to population crashes due to loss of their habitat. The remaining stocks are more vulnerable to fishing pressure and ocean changes such as warmer sea temperatures. Most of these alterations, I have to point out, are a result of human influences. Researching fine points about fresh versus frozen salmon, I talked to Paul Johnson from Monterey Fish Market this week. Chef, cookbook author, and fishmonger to the finest restaurants in the SF Bay Area, Paul sits on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s […]

I am often asked by reporters if the sustainability movement is "just a west coast thing." When I point to the year round Farm to Fork station at our cafe at American University in Washington, DC, I hear "well, yeah, but that’s the coast too." I then mention the incredible student-run farm at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and get "yeah, but that’s a progressive school." Well, here’s another example in an unexpected place. The Bon Appetit team at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA has found a network of interested students and faculty to support our initiatives. In order for us to protect our planet, resources, and communities, "sustainability" must cross all lines – geographic, political, racial, and economic. I’m seeing evidence that that’s happening and we at Bon Appetit Management Company couldn’t be more thrilled. Go Georgia! And […]

Seems 30,000 ATLANTIC salmon have escaped from a farm into the PACIFIC ocean. The aquaculture company says it’s not a problem for the wild fish. Hmmm, I wouldn’t want 30,000 of anything moving into my habitat. Talk about an illegal immigration problem. Through our work with Environmental Defense Fund to improve salmon farming, I got a chance to visit open ocean net pen operations run by this very same company. Actually, I have to say, the employees were conscientious and concerned about the environment. It’s just that our views on "acceptable" levels of impact were very different. At Bon Appetit Management Company, our chefs use only wild salmon. Until the aquaculture industry stops farming species not native to the waters they are being raised in (and solves a number of other problems), I think that’s the safest policy for our […]

In more than 400 cafés across the country, Bon Appétit Management Company will be launching our Low Carbon Diet program! At lunchtime, the entire Bon Appétit café will be transformed to illustrate ways our customers can reduce climate change through their food choices. Each station in the café will highlight a principle of the Low Carbon Diet in addition to a low carbon food choice. We also developed a Low Carbon Diet Calculator, a fun and interactive tool that helps illustrate the impact of your food choices–check it out! So far, we’re off to a good start: a front page spread of the Los Angeles Times! Here’s a short video we made for the Low Carbon Diet as well. –Katherine Kwon, Communications Project Manager

In the Monterey Herald newspaper today, the Bon Appétit team at Monterey Bay Aquarium received well-deserved kudos for their "use of fresh, seasonal, organic and sustainable food items — along with heavy doses of creativity." Several culinary delights that impressed food writer Mike Hale and his "foodie" 16-year old daugther: Not-your-ordinary calamari: "Monterey Bay squid pieces share a panko dredge with Meyer lemon slices and shaved fennel bulb" Colorful, sustainable, flavorful char: "Pan-roasted, tarragon-dusted arctic char (a sustainable alternative to farmed salmon) with golden beet risotto, crisp asparagus, grilled ramps and orange"  Expand-your-seafood-palate shellfish: "Monterey farm-raised abalone with fava bean purée, braised vidalia onions, Meyer lemon and olive oil sorbet" That’s enough to entice any food-lover to stop by for a visit! Add in a beautiful ocean view and great service, Portola Restaurant is a ‘must-experience’ when you’re visiting northern […]

Did you know that the PLU (price look-up) code of produce tells you whether it’s organic or genetically-modified? * The PLU codes on fruit and vegetables contain four numbers (i.e., 4859).* If produce is organic, the PLU code is 5 numbers starting with a 9 (i.e., 94859). * If you see 5 numbers starting with an 8, (i.e., 84859), that means the fruit or vegetable is a GMO (a genetically-modified organism). Of course, you’ll see signs loudly marketing fruits and vegetables as organic so you probably won’t have to examine the PLU to figure that out. However, for those "quiet" GMOs that have found their way into the food system and consequently into our diets, here’s a way to keep them out! – Katherine Kwon, Communications Project Manager

"And for the category of Most Vegetarian- and Earth-Friendly Corporate Café, the winner is…Yahoo!" While movie fans eagerly await the verdicts of the (possibly telecast) Oscars this year, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) gave a standing ovation to the winners of their 2008 Proggy Awards. For five years now, PETA has recognized companies, leaders, products and organizations demonstrating animal-friendly achievements in 21st century culture and commerce. The Bon Appétit Management Company team at Yahoo! was highly praised for their great food and vegetarian-friendly options: "Yahoo’s various environmental efforts can be seen on Yahoo! Green, but the real measure of the company’s compassion can be tasted at its employee dining hall. The [café] serves more than 6,000 meals per day and features a variety of vegetarian options at each station, including an Asian bowl with Gardein or tofu, […]