Celebrating a Low Carbon Diet for the Masses with Anna Lappé

Author Anna Lappé

What’s the shortest route to a reporter’s heart? Through her stomach of course! We believe the best way to deliver the fundamental Bon Appétit story, that we cook everything from scratch using fresh, often local, as-sustainable- as-possible ingredients, is to feed it to people — literally. To that end, we invited a select group of local media and VIPs and Diet for a Hot Planet author Anna Lappé to join us for an informal discussion over dinner cooked by one of our stellar teams.

Anna is one of the leaders of the food movement — she was born into it, as the daughter of Frances Moore Lappé, whose 1971 book Diet for a Small Planet became a best-seller and the first handbook for eco-conscious eaters everywhere. Anna interviewed Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation Director Helene York for her own book. Then, just two weeks before Easter Sunday, she emailed us to say she’d be in town promoting its paperback release, and had Sunday evening free — did we want to “do something” together?

We did. Having just celebrated Low Carbon Diet Day, we saw an immediate fit with Anna’s book. We quickly settled on our open-to-the-public restaurant Mijita, next to San Francisco’s AT&T Ballpark, as the perfect venue to host a dinner discussion billed as “Low Carbon Dining for the Masses.”

Easter Sunday was a home-day game for the Giants, so Mijita was packed and the crew was exhausted, but District Manager Markus Hartmann rallied the teams of Mijita and Public House to create a special low-carbon menu just for our group, which included six journalists/bloggers and six special guests in addition to Anna, Vice President Maisie Greenawalt, and me. Among the journalists were Tara Duggan, freelance writer for the Bay Citizen and San Francisco Chronicle; Jaeah J. Lee, Mother Jones; and Molly Watson, Edible San Francisco.

Mijita Chef/Manager Cristina Perez cuts "apple fries" for dessert

To make sure that all the reporters had someone interesting to talk to, we also invited experts on climate change and low-carbon eating, including Thom Fox and Melissa Miller, executive chefs for Bon Appétit; Calla Rose Ostrander, climate action program manager for the City of San Francisco; Ben Corey-Moran, president of Thanksgiving Coffee Company; and Ari Derfel, executive director, Slow Money.

The menu was a combination of Mijita’s traditional Mexican cuisine and ballpark staples—all low carbon choices and given extra Farm to Fork flavor, served family style. Markus, General Manager Alison Harper, Catering Director Nathan Carraway, and Mijita Chef/Manager Cristina Perez outdid themselves in showing that even foods that people think of as “fast” can be made healthy for diners and the planet. The guests especially loved the Marin Sun Farms pork chicharrones — made from the hogs’ skin, a part usually thrown away, they represent reduced waste in the food system— and the vegetarian Fitz Fresh Portobello Mushroom Sliders. An even bigger hit was when Cristina rolled out the device for turning apples into apple “fries” at the ballpark, and served them up with caramel sauce.

Tara Duggan wrote an interesting blog post about the dinner for the Bay Citizen, noting that Bon Appétit “has had a low-carbon focus for several years and a sustainable focus since 1999.”