When Bon Appétit Management Company launched our first Eat Local Challenge in 2005, the idea of caring about “local food” was a novelty, not a national movement. Michael Pollan’s ground-breaking best-seller The Omnivore’s Dilemma was still a year away from publication, and we were the only corporation in the food service industry providing local food in our cafés on a regular basis, through the Farm to Fork purchasing program we launched in 1999.
Since then, much has changed. The word “locavore” gets used all the time, there are now 80% more farmers’ markets around America, and the number of small U.S. farms is finally on the rise.
On Tuesday, September 24, all of our 500-plus cafés will offer a 100% local meal — everything from oils to grains to spices and sweeteners must be sourced from within 150 miles. The only foreigner allowed is salt. Some locations get a little loco and offer a 100% local menu — multiple all-local dishes!
Local Food Lovers’ Contest: To encourage people to spread the local love, we’re sponsoring a local food photography contest via social media: on ELC Day, guests can take a photo of their 100% local Bon Appétit meal, then Tweet or Instagram the pic along with their location and the hashtag #eatlocalchallenge. The most artful effort nationwide will win a $200 gift certificate to a farm-to-table restaurant in their area and signed copies of new books from two food-movement heroes — Michael Pollan’s latest, Cooked, and Marion Nestle’s Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.
As part of this year’s Eat Local Challenge, we’ll also be sharing with our guests five locally produced foods, like fruit and eggs, that are easy to find, as well as locally available substitutions for items that might be difficult, such as olive oil and sugar. Follow our Facebook Event page for these tips, facts, and photos!