Helene York on Taking Responsibility for Meat Production

On October 17, 2011, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Research Helene York delivered the keynote at the State of the Plate conference in Washington, DC, an event designed to bring meat producers and the culinary community together to engage in discussion about sustainable and humane meat production practices. Helene touched on many of Bon Appétit’s sustainability initiatives involving meat, emphasizing our commitment to working with small and midsize farms with humane certification. But she also spoke to Bon Appétit’s relationship with larger producers, and says that although “I’d love to tell you we don’t serve any factory farmed meat, that’s an aspiration. We’re not there yet. We’re absolutely not there. But we need to work with those guys because for the foreseeable future are going to be supplying most of the meat in the US.” (Update: In February 2012, Bon Appeetit made a major commitment to humanely raised meat.)

Helene see’s Bon Appétit’s relationship with larger producers as an opportunity to put pressure on them to change their practices, and said opting out from the system completely is less effective because if “we’re not there yelling at them to change their practices, do you think the vegetarians of the country are really going to have an influence over them?” Ultimately, Helene says, “Whatever role you have — if you eat, we have to partner…it’s individuals in partnership who are going to make the change.”

Watch the video to see Helene discuss these issues and more – including social justice, aqua culture, and what drive Bon Appétit’s commitment to sustainability.