Bon Appétit at U Maryland Celebrates 4th Annual Low Carbon Diet Day

By Carolina Fojo, East Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation

Tonneta Outland, Bon Appétit cook at UMD, prepared the pizzas for Low Carbon Diet Day.

Yesterday Bon Appétit Management Company held its fourth annual Low Carbon Diet Day across the country. To celebrate, the kitchen team at the University of Maryland in Baltimore tempted their guests’ palates toward climate-friendlier pastures by reinventing the cheap/quick/greasy go-to of most college students: the pizza.

So how do you make a pizza low carbon? Well, first and foremost, hold that cheese! Many people don’t know this, but livestock is actually responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The vast majority of this contribution comes from ruminant animals that emit methane  — a greenhouse gas that's 23-25% more damaging than CO2 — when they burp, and when they fart. And cows do both, a lot. (It ain’t pretty, but it’s true.) So by eliminating the cheese from a traditional pizza, that pizza’s contribution to climate change is significantly diminished.


After making the pizza cheeseless, the next thing is to make “seasonal and regional” your mantra. In other words, put as many local, in-season ingredients in your dish as possible! (As long as they're not beef or cheese.) The team at UMD did this by embellishing the pizza with royal trumpet and beech mushrooms (depicted below) from Mother Earth Organics in Lancaster, PA, as well as adding in some braised greens from Elm Tree Organics in Mount Joy, PA. They even made the pizza dough from scratch, using flour from Daisy Organics in Lancaster, PA. Which brings me to step number three…

Local mushrooms made it onto UMD's low carbon pizza yesterday.

Next, avoid processed food whenever possible — i.e. pre-made pizza crust. So rather than going for the pre-made, pre-cooked, idiot-proof, packaged version, try making it yourself! Not only will the climate thank you, but trust me, your tastebuds will as well.

And last but not least, you, as the eater, can finish off your low carbon meal by making sure you eat every last bite. When food is wasted and thrown away, it ends up in a landfill where it decomposes and emits… you guessed it: methane.

So remember:

  1. Moooove away from beef, cheese, and dairy.
  2. Make seasonal and regional your mantra.
  3. Avoid processed, packaged foods whenever possible.
  4. If you buy it, eat it!

Thanks to the team at UMD for the deliciously low carbon lunch!  


Executive Chef Ty Paup with new Farm to Fork vendor Cheis Garrus of Big City Farms standing next to Cheis' lettuce, which was prepared (and packaged) onsite by Bon Appétit.