Educating guests about food’s impact on climate change
Starting on April 22, 2008, all Bon Appétit cafés were transformed into “low carbon learning venues” for our first annual Low Carbon Diet Day. Although operational changes in our kitchens started one year prior, Low Carbon Diet Day marked the beginning of our customer education campaign and the launch of an interactive website, Eat Low Carbon.
We've continued to celebrate Low Carbon Diet Day on or just before Earth Day every year. For this one day, each Bon Appétit café illustrates the principles of the Low Carbon Diet in menu choices and signage. For example, beef and cheese are high carbon foods because they come from cows, and cows emit methane gas, which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. At the grill station on Low Carbon Diet Day, beef burgers get replaced by lower carbon choices such as turkey or black bean burgers. Guests wondering why turkey has a lower carbon impact than beef can read about this principle on the nearby sign. Throughout the café, guests also learn about the carbon impact of food waste, air-freighted seafood, tropical produce, and unnecessary packaging.
By highlighting creative and great-tasting low carbon menu options on this particular day, our chefs prove to diners that eating low carbon does not mean sacrificing flavor. In fact, many “Low Carbon Diet Day specials” have proven so popular, they've become staple menu offerings in our cafés!
For our sixth annual Low Carbon Diet, in 2013, we reversed our focus. Instead of talking about how food choices affect climate change, we gave guests a taste of how climate change is affecting some favorite foods.
To prepare, we commissioned a review of more than four dozen scientific papers projecting how important crops such as corn, wheat, rice, fruit, dairy, and coffee will fare in a changing climate — and what pressures they are already under from climate change. In addition to distilling the research into eye-catching educational signage and materials, we added a performance element to bring it to life. Bon Appétit chefs around the country used a cooking demonstration to discuss these global agriculture trends as well as to encourage guests to choose planet-friendlier foods.
Some highlights of Low Carbon Diet Day 2013 coverage:
- VIDEO: Low Carbon Diet May Help Save Planet, ABC 7 News
- For Earth Day: Feasting on Low-Carbon Food, Oregon Public Broadcasting
- In eBay's Kitchen: Saving the Earth, One Edamame Burger at a Time, Silicon Valley Business Journal
- Earth Day Friendly Recipe: Blueberry, Basil and Almond Milk Smoothie, Foodista