A groundbreaking, companywide initiative requiring our chefs to buy at least 20% of their ingredients from small farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food producers within 150 miles of their kitchens.
In search of the freshest, best-tasting ingredients, Bon Appétit chefs have always purchased produce, meat, and artisan-made goods locally. For a long time, however, we didn’t think of this as a political act, just as the way to get the highest-quality products. Then we came to a turning point. We realized how much flavor was being lost in exchange for agribusiness efficiencies — such as tomatoes picked hard and green so as to survive being shipped across the country — and we began a concerted effort to support local farmers in order to preserve flavor on the plate.
In 1999, we formally launched our companywide commitment to buying locally and called it Farm to Fork. (Read about how we celebrated the 15th anniversary by giving away $50,000 in Fork to Farm grants for farmers.) Our chefs strive to purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from small (under $5 million in sales), owner-operated farms and ranches located within 150 miles of their kitchens. (Here’s the rest of our criteria.) Such produce is often prepared and served within 48 hours of harvest. The result: healthier communities and customers, and spectacular flavors.
By buying directly from farmers, we have much more control over what types of agribusiness we are supporting. We support true family farms where the owners live on or nearby the land, work it themselves, and therefore are conscientious stewards. We also support farmers who are preserving the diversity of our food choices by planting heirloom vegetables rather than genetically modified “super-produce.”
Bon Appétit now spends tens of millions of dollars per year with our more than 1,200 registered Farm to Fork vendors. In 2011, we defined a new midsize category for regional meat producers, and also launched a companion seafood program, called Fish to Fork.
Over the years, our close relationships with farmers have opened our eyes to the many problems plaguing not just U.S. agriculture, but our food system overall. What began with a quest for flavor has become a quest to make a better food system for all.
See our Farm to Fork registration guidelines >