The Bon Appétit Blog

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Farmers and producers: take note!  The Natural Resources Defense Council has announced its groundbreaking annual award, Growing Green, honoring those who work to strengthen our national food system.  In the year since I was honored with the 2009 Business Leader award, food has been given a prominent place on the national agenda — in a way that I only could have dreamed of when I encouraged our chefs to start sourcing direct from small owner-operated farms more than 10 years ago.    Among the highlights of the year:  A vegetable garden was planted on the White House Lawn to promote the benefits of local, seasonal food; First Lady Michelle Obama loudly endorsed an urgent focus to bring fresh food into national school lunch programs; a TIME Magazine cover article decried the high cost of cheap food for human and environmental […]

Open Hands Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture farm outside of Northfield, MN.  Owners Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty use organic practices to grow dozens of varieties of produce for their CSA members as well as the Bon Appétit Management Company cafe at St. Olaf College.  Midwest Fellow Dayna Burtness had a chance to visit them in early October to learn more about their farming practices. 

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Most of my work for Bon Appétit this past month and a half has been research-oriented. Since I’m going to be working with farmers and speaking to students about issues of food sustainability, I need to understand the issues themselves well. Here are a few facts I’ve learned thus far… More to come in my next vlog!

Midwest fellow Dayna Burtness spent Eat Local Challenge Day with folks at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.  The food was delicious and beautiful! Some dishes even featured produce from the student farm on campus.  Take a look:

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Why buy local? Bon Appétit Management Company believes there are 2 main reasons to buy local: (1) In order to support local communities and farmers, and (2) because local, seasonal food simply tastes better. A common misconception about “buying local” is that it automatically means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. However, while it’s true that there are fewer CO2 emissions from transportation when buying local food, that’s not the whole story… For more information about local food and Bon Appétit’s Eat Local Challenge, check out this vlog!

by Dayna Burtness, Midwest Fellow             During my first few weeks as a fellow, I made the somewhat painful decision not to return to manage the college farm I co-founded at my alma mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  STOGROW farm is in its fifth successful season selling produce to the Bon Appétit cafe on campus, but its development is limited by the five student farmers having to stretch themselves between farming and classes during the spring and fall.  I was all set to move to Northfield–a delightful small town an hour south of Minneapolis–at the end of my fellowship, help the farm expand up to several acres, and live happily ever after selling veggies to Bon Appétit as the STOGROW lead farmer.             The only problem was that even though Northfield is home to great […]

Midwest Fellow Dayna Burtness introduces the new Student Garden Guide developed by Bon Appétit Management Company. The guide will help students just starting farms as well as those who want to take their student garden to the next level. A must-read! Download your copy here: http://www.circleofresponsibility.com/page/354/student-garden-guide.htm

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(This vlog was inspired by a conversation I had with my cousin last week.) Part of our job as Fellows this year is going to be speaking with students at universities and trying to raise awareness about issues of food sustainability. I’m excited about this aspect of our job because I’ve always been a big believer in raising awareness. But I have to admit that I often find myself asking whether raising awareness is really the best way to make social change happen. The fact is, in today’s world we’re all very busy… So does that mean we’re too busy to spend time trying to change our world? Or are activists correct in believing that if you can just get the information out to people, they’ll care, and they’ll do something about it?

Leaving the Top Chef competition, I could not help thinking how much of a struggle it was to cook without fresh vegetables and herbs that were not available in the Air Force Base kitchen.  It made me think of the challenges many Americans face to find fresh produce and healthy ingredients, and the sad results for the nation’s health. I run an industrial size kitchen feeding 2500 people a day, and despite the size and scope of the operation I manage, everything we put on the table to feed our guests is made from scratch.  The Air Force Colonel had made it clear that these were some of America’s finest Airmen and Airwomen.  He told of their extensive travels abroad that have enlightened their palates — yet sadly the kitchen walk-in refrigerator at the base had very little fresh produce […]