I make a concerted to effort to visit as many of our units as I possibly can within my schedule. I do this mostly to touch people that work hard everyday to realize our Dream. At the same time, these trips allow me to stay in touch with who we really are in day to day operations. I gives me a bit of grounding and a lot of connection to our guests. Very often on my visits, I get a glimpse of the future for Bon Appétit. Our entrepreneurial culture is such that the seeds for what we become are often planted at the unit levels by some of our most passionate people.
I was in Portland this week and participated in a chef meeting with a pig rancher looking for an outlet for "bellies" and other cuts. Six weeks ago I was in Raleigh NC talking no nonsense business with a local beef rancher. A few weeks later I am in Minneapolis shaking hands with an appreciative rancher delivering pork ribs. I got an email yesterday from a peer who wants to talk to me about a local co-op of lamb producers. Our team in Phoenix would like me to visit a shrimp farm when I visit in mid April. There is a pattern here, a pattern of seeds being planted for the future.
While our Farm to Fork programs has greatly focused on produce crops, its apparent that the ranching (and shrimp farming! ) community is starting to develop regional strength. This is good news for us at Bon Appétit, as we struggle to identify future ways to minimize the impact of our food miles and increase the security of regional food sheds. We are also faced with the challenge of how to deal with today’s sadly industrialized production of pork and beef that is detrimental to a range of issues ranging from environmental (contaminated water ways) to ethical (humane treatment of animals.)
I really believe that we are seeing glimpses of what can become an alternative supply chain for pork, beef and other meats. It may be that in the near future, the ham on our deli bars, the lamb at our grills and the shrimp in our stir fries can be produced regionally, sustainably and with minimal chemical input into both the environment or our bodies.
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of patience waiting for the future. I want to be able to bite into my ham and cheese today and just feel better about what I am eating and where my food came from. I may have hold my time on the sandwich, but it looks like I don’t have to delay my encouragement or even my participation in helping change this supply chain. I looks like that future is already taking place in our units across the country.
submitted by: marc zammit:director culinary support and development