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Two articles I read yesterday morning were both interesting yet concerning: 1. According to a British study released this morning, an estimated 3,200 deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented with a "carefully targeted fat tax" on certain foods. On average, this would increase weekly household food expenditure by 3-4%. The researchers from Oxford University gave the examples of tobacco and alcohol arguing that taxing these items effectively reduced consumption and led to improved public health.  The science is there: too much salt and too much fat in your diet can contribute to heart disease. The obstacle is trying to get people to change their behavior and eating habits, which is much easier said than done. Tobacco and alcohol are not essential to life; food is. Will taxing "bad" food encourage people to eat less of it? This isn’t the […]

Last winter, I spent months researching the Low Carbon Diet program. I read scientific journals, participated in listservs, and interviewed scientists. While I enjoyed my work then, I’m finding greater satisfaction now. Over the past month, I’ve gone to regional meetings of Bon Appetit chefs and managers to explain how food choices contribute to global warming and what we’re planning to do about it. I’ve got two more meetings to go. With an hour-long presentation, I’ve probably numbed many people, but the comments I’ve gotten afterwards are fascinating. Here are three: I never realized that fresh seafood would be more energy-intensive than frozen seafood (Portland, OR). I’ll never look at a banana the same way again (Los Angeles). I’m planning to grow all my unit’s romaine and onions on campus next year (Minneapolis). Our primary goal in announcing a Low […]

I recently read an article written by a mother complaining that we are raising a generation of kids that can only find happiness indoors, in front of their TVs or computer games.  Her own kids pouted and resisted when she tried to take them on an outdoor nature trip. You know what? My heart didn’t go out to her or any of the other parents with the same complaints about their kids…where were you when they were developing those habits? OK…off my soapbox.  But I mention this because it is related to another story (blog) I came across recently.  A much more promising story about our younger generation. The blog was from STOGROW farm (St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works,) a student run community initiative at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. We happen to run the food program on […]

I came across this brief mention of Bon Appétit Management Company in a graduation speech given at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, and I couldn’t help but feel like a parent sitting in the audience, humble and proud.  Dr. Jim Farrell, a professor of history and American Studies at St. Olaf, encouraged the students to “learn the beauty of language, learn the moral ecology of everyday life,” and he also said: “I hope you’re learning how small decisions make a big difference. Too often, we opt out of a good cause or a good action by saying that ‘it’s no big deal.’ But many of our most pressing problems are the product of billions of decisions that are no big deal. Three times a day, in Stav Hall, Bon Appétit has also been teaching you how small decisions make a […]

Last week I had the enchanting experience of living a culinary dream.  I was invited to join a group of US food service delegates to explore Singapore and it’s culture of foods.  This mission was hosted by IE Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade. Bon Appétit was asked to participate because of our reputation for good food and our philosophy to be authentic. What a gig! For an entire week, I got to taste delectable foods from the four corners of Asia: Roti prata with vegetable curry; chili crab; bee hoon goren; satays served with sauce after sauce after sauce. It didn’t take the delegates long to understand that food is a deep obsession with Singaporeans.  And to fully appreciate the a multi-ethnic aspect of Singaporean citizens full of hospitality and endless smiles. My favorite stops: the half […]

When we announced Bon Appetit Management Company’s new approach to curbing climate change, the Low Carbon Diet, of course we hoped that people would take notice. We were thrilled, however, with the wide range of coverage that the story garnered. Prior to our announcement, the message that food choices have a great impact on climate change had not been put forward in the mainstream media. There has been plenty of instructions to consumers to change light bulbs and drive less but not much attention to the food choices we make everyday. Thankfully the Low Carbon Diet is changing that discussion. In addition to great pieces on CNN’s In the Money and CNN Radio, the Low Carbon Diet was featured in newspapers, blogs, and TV shows around the country… Carol Ness of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests guests should ask for […]

I am standing in front of 250 food service professionals as part of a panel to educate on sustainability in the food supply chain. I represent Bon Appétit as a successful model of what is possible to do under this banner. The event, sponsored by the Society of Food Service Management, is called “Critical Issues in Food Service." I  am here with the pre-conceived expectation that based on this theme, participants would  have a deep sense of wanting to know, of needing to absorb and of being anxious to be inspired.  As I get deeper into my presentation I have this “giss”, this gut feeling that most listeners are there for no other reason but because they have to be. They are there as a reaction to a growing mainstream demand for ethical food and because  their customers are asking […]

We launched our Low Carbon Diet this week, a program designed to raise awareness of the connection between food and climate change. More people are learning about "food miles" — the long-distance transport of food — but the Low Carbon Diet is much more than about buying local food. It’s about radically reducing food waste, choosing to eat less beef and cheese, and ratcheting down the ‘carbon calories’ that are abundant in our daily food choices by becoming aware of what they are. When we began trying to define what the next frontier would be for sustainable food 18 months ago, we saw how much petroleum underlined food system operations. Refining oil and burning fossil fuels are well-known greenhouse gas emitters. But then we learned more about methane emissions — over 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon […]

Imagine going to see your physician for an annual checkup, during which you find out you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and need to lose 20 pounds because you’re overweight (according to your BMI or body mass index).  Your physician writes you a prescription for an antihypertensive, atorvatstatin and…cooking lessons?? Integrating teaching kitchens into hospitals was the overarching vision of the "Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives" conference I attended last weekend.  Organized by Harvard Medical School and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, it was a preliminary gathering of physicians, dietitians/nutritionists, food service directors and culinary professionals to discuss ways to combat the current obesity epidemic of this country. This was an interesting concept because I agree that people are becoming more and more detached from food.  So much of the food and drink we consume are pre-prepared or […]

I have been brewing on an issue for a while and I feel the urge to express it.  At the peak of the E.Coli outbreak, reports from the FDA insinuated a farm in transition to organic as the source. As if organic methods was the real issue.  The key word here is in "transition" but they failed to include from conventional.  If anything, responsible farmers will tell you that e.Coli cannot exist in soil that is alive with natural organic bacteria. It just bugs me that there a few pests out there, influenced by special interest groups, who will use the power of their position in the media to "insinuate"  to their benefit. Of course, at the cost of smaller responsible organic farmers. In the CA legislature, there a movement that will highly regulate the production of  leafy greens requiring […]