The Bon Appétit Blog

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Okay, I’ve got a favorite new blog – Organic on the Green. I discovered it while reading an early copy of the Organic Trade Association’s guide for helping students get more organic offerings in food service (which is going to be a fabulous resource when they publish it). I was contacted by an intern named Nina who is compiling the guide and also came up with the idea for this blog. I’ve never met her but I’m very impressed by her writing style, thoughtfulness, and interest in making change. The mission of the blog is to "feed the organic revolution in campus dining." In its inaugural month, students at several colleges have posted extensive explanations of their efforts, challenges and triumphs trying to green their campuses. For someone in the business of campus dining, the posts are inspiring and informative […]

While the big news around here this morning is the front page Chicago Tribune story that features Bon Appetit, my personal favorite BAMCO story of the morning was on the gossip pages of the Minneapolis StarTribune. Sure the Chicago piece pointed out our leadership in fighting global warming and included some great quotes but the Minneapolis story included Nellie from Little House on the Prairie. No contest 🙂 – Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President and former Little House fan

The tide is changing. Fresh fish is no longer the "must have" item for top chefs. In the same way exotic fruit is falling off menus and being replaced by once-considered-boring local apples, frozen at sea fish is "in" for chefs in the know. Our chefs at Bon Appetit Management Company are leading that charge. When we announced the Low Carbon Diet internally in 2007, one of the purchasing initiatives we thought might give the chefs pause was the move towards fish frozen at sea. Our first choice remains regionally procured fresh seafood but if that’s not possible, we argued, well-handled frozen fish is preferable. Not only does freezing fish at sea eliminate the need to air-freight the product, it can actually better preserve the flavor. Director of the Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation Helene York made this proclamation at […]

The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed law suits last month trying to block an Ohio ruling making it illegal for producers to label their products with statements such as "no artificial hormones." This follows similar battles in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri and New Jersey. As a large purchaser, we need as much labeling as possible to ensure we’re getting the product we deem best for our customers. Whether it’s the use of rBGH, cloned animals, or the country of origin, we should have all the information possible to make our purchasing decisions. When a company fights so hard to discourage labeling, it’s cause for concern. At Bon Appetit, we created the Circle of Responsibility program to give our guests information so they can make food choices that meet their goals and values. Shouldn’t our suppliers allow […]

It’s finally tomato season where I live so I’m dreaming in big red circles. (Green and yellow ones, too.) This past weekend I bought a 40 lb flat and made enough peak season, homemade sauces and condiments to remind me this winter of summer treats. I had a long conversation with a tomato supplier in San Antonio, TX last week about his farming practices, and this week I’m meeting with a tomato farmer in Ventura, CA. I’m also looking at what’s being sold in markets and I’m truly amazed. One upscale market I visited recently had four general varieties on hand, all within a similar price range: heirloom (grown within 50 miles), local organic (less than 10), roma (50), and hydroponic cluster tomatoes. I pulled the sticker off one cluster tomato and under a microscope I could see the phrases […]

Are organic fruits and vegetables more nutritious than industrial produce? For many years this has been (and continues to be) a heated debate. Earlier this week the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) published a report Claims of Organic Food’s Nutritional Superiority: A Critical Review, which refuted claims from the Organic Trade Association‘s Organic Center that organic produce is 25% more nutritious than industrially grown produce. You can read the details about the debate here.  I appreciate the need for well-designed research studies, robust data and consistent methodology. However, I find this debate interesting because it’s mainly focusing on one aspect of organic food: phytochemicals. Yes, I think it’s important that we get as much "nutrition bang for our buck" (officially called nutrient density) from the food we eat. However, I’ve experienced  difficulty increasing people’s awareness about calories and […]

Bill Chameides article entitled Carbon Savings at Home recently published on the Huffington Post includes food in the list of ways we can all reduce our carbon footprints. Yea! It’s heartening to see the food system entering into the climate change discussion. He presents some interesting data about potential carbon savings from eating locally. Anyone know where that information came from? We’d love to see the research. – Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President

Maisie GreenawaltVice President Having joined the company in 1994, just a year out of college, I’ve grown up at Bon Appétit Management Company. When asked where I learned about sustainable food systems (and I get asked that a lot); the answer is quite simply “here.” I set my sights on Bon Appétit after reading an article in a trade magazine about the company’s innovative restaurant-style approach to food service (that “aha, I have to work for that company”-moment has left me with a soft spot for PR). I decided to seek out a position anywhere in the company I could. I got my foot in the door as an employee services coordinator and over the ensuing 14 years have been lucky enough to grow and take on responsibility for communications, marketing and culinary strategy. Being the child of “bohemian” parents […]

"Would we accept it if the federal agency charged with highway safety allowed cars on the road without brakes – and then warned drivers to exercise extreme caution in order to avoid injury and death? Of course not. But that, in effect is the U.S. government’s approach to something that affects all of us on the most basic level: the safety of the meat, poultry and produce that we eat" starts Dr. Ellen Silbergeld’s recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. The FDA seems to be running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off (although we know that no industrially-raised chicken has a chance to run around) casting blame quickly on everything from tomatoes to cilantro to, this just in, avocados (it’s a tough time to make guacamole). What they aren’t looking at, as Dr. Silbergeld points out, […]

I was happy to see Whole Foods market announce new, more stringent guidelines for farmed seafood. I was even happier to see Dr. Becky Goldburg of Environmental Defense Fund quoted in the release. We’ve been working with Becky and the EDF team since 2003 when we joined a coalition working to reduce antibiotic use in animal husbandry. Since then they’ve supported us in looking at new standards for farmed salmon (since 2004 we’ve only bought wild salmon and we were hoping to use our purchasing power as an incentive to change the way salmon aquaculture is done – unfortunately no farms were able to meet our standards and we still only buy wild salmon), exploring the sustainability of different shrimp options and expanding our antibiotics policy. I am continually impressed with EDF’s work and their impressive partner list. They are […]