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It’s finally tomato season where I live so I’m dreaming in big red circles. (Green and yellow ones, too.) This past weekend I bought a 40 lb flat and made enough peak season, homemade sauces and condiments to remind me this winter of summer treats. I had a long conversation with a tomato supplier in San Antonio, TX last week about his farming practices, and this week I’m meeting with a tomato farmer in Ventura, CA. I’m also looking at what’s being sold in markets and I’m truly amazed. One upscale market I visited recently had four general varieties on hand, all within a similar price range: heirloom (grown within 50 miles), local organic (less than 10), roma (50), and hydroponic cluster tomatoes. I pulled the sticker off one cluster tomato and under a microscope I could see the phrases […]

Are organic fruits and vegetables more nutritious than industrial produce? For many years this has been (and continues to be) a heated debate. Earlier this week the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) published a report Claims of Organic Food’s Nutritional Superiority: A Critical Review, which refuted claims from the Organic Trade Association‘s Organic Center that organic produce is 25% more nutritious than industrially grown produce. You can read the details about the debate here.  I appreciate the need for well-designed research studies, robust data and consistent methodology. However, I find this debate interesting because it’s mainly focusing on one aspect of organic food: phytochemicals. Yes, I think it’s important that we get as much "nutrition bang for our buck" (officially called nutrient density) from the food we eat. However, I’ve experienced  difficulty increasing people’s awareness about calories and […]

Bill Chameides article entitled Carbon Savings at Home recently published on the Huffington Post includes food in the list of ways we can all reduce our carbon footprints. Yea! It’s heartening to see the food system entering into the climate change discussion. He presents some interesting data about potential carbon savings from eating locally. Anyone know where that information came from? We’d love to see the research. – Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President

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