Bon Appétit Management Company’s annual Eat Local Challenge uses flavor to encourage diners to dig into healthier eating habits
Palo Alto, Calif. (September 15, 2009) — Bon Appétit Management Company’s Eat Local Challenge aims to solve the healthcare crisis through flavor.
Chefs at the sustainable food service company’s more than 400 university, corporate, and specialty venue cafés know that the best way to ensure diners make healthier choices is to first appeal to their palates.
Diverse opinions about how to solve the healthcare crisis abound, but a growing number of people like USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, food journalist Michael Pollan, and Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper agree that a healthy diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good start. The conundrum: produce picked unripe and transported across the country is not as appealing flavor wise, as locally harvested, peak season produce. You can taste the difference. Potatoes dug from a local farm the day before will taste earthy and sweet. Pears allowed to ripen on the tree will be juicy and fragrant, not hard and mealy. A fig picked ripe from a local farm will taste better than any sugary processed dessert. Through long-standing relationships with small-scale, family farms, Bon Appétit chefs are able to provide such delectables.
On September 29th, 2009, for the company’s 5th annual Eat Local Challenge, Bon Appétit chefs will pull out all the stops. On that day, every diner in every single Bon Appétit café will enjoy a meal made from 100% local ingredients grown and produced from within 150 miles or less of each café. This includes dairy products, cooking oils, meats, vegetables—everything but salt.
The Challenge educates diners about the variety of foods available in their local areas, inspiring them to seek out what their local foodsheds have to offer. It’s one important step toward building support for local food economies and beginning to rebuild robust regional food systems.
The meals showcase the best of the season’s harvest as well as the tastiest artisan and indigenous foods—from Minnesota’s wild rice to Monterey’s sardine. The Challenge is a celebratory way to make healthy, delicious foods easily accessible to thousands of college students and corporate employees nationwide, and to prove that local food really does taste better. It’s one thing to be able to shop at the farmers’ market and prepare local food at home in your own kitchen. But the work or school day doesn’t usually include such choices. Unlike most public cafeterias serving up bland, tasteless food, Bon Appétit’s cafés serve up affordable, restaurant quality food prepared by highly trained chefs. Through the company’s Farm to Fork and Healthy Cooking initiatives, great tasting, health-promoting choices are available every day.
The annual Eat Local Challenge requires an extra level of commitment to sourcing locally. And sometimes it requires planning months in advance.
“We wanted to produce a truly 100% local pizza,” says David Apthorpe, Executive Chef at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “Just in time for the Eat Local Challenge, farmer Monroe Stutzman of Stutzman Farms in Millersburg, harvested and milled the first custom wheat flour exclusively for our pizza. His 35 acres of wheat will produce 70,000 pounds of flour, which will make more than 70,000 pizzas for the Case community to enjoy, year-round. That’s the kind of synergy between farmers and chefs that the Eat Local Challenge is all about.”
As a final advantage, buying locally keeps money in the local community, and those benefits extend far beyond the eaters and farmers. With the economic downturn and the healthcare crisis both at the top of the news, it’s wonderful that the simplest acts, like choosing wholesome foods produced close to home can have an impact on both.
For more about the Eat Local Challenge, visit https://www.bamco.com/sustainable-food-service/eat-local-challenge
About Bon Appétit
Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an onsite restaurant company offering full foodservice management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, and most recently, the connection between food and climate change. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 30 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania and the Getty Center.