Bon Appétit Management Company’s Facebook Quiz Serves Up a Byte-Sized Low Carbon Diet Challenge

Social media quiz joins Low Carbon Diet Calculator to help users lower their food carbon footprint

Palo Alto, Calif. Mar 24, 2009 — Food’s impact on climate change is becoming an increasingly prominent social and environmental issue requiring changes in America’s eating habits. Facebook, a social media platform with around 175 million active users, provides a powerful way to engage with a variety of audiences, and inspire them to action. Companies have been searching for the most effective way to capitalize on Facebook’s large audience of engaged, active members in various ways—from placing advertising on the Facebook interface to creating applications that allow users to give their products as virtual gifts. For Bon Appétit Management Company, with hundreds of cafés on over 80 college and university campuses and an equal number of corporate headquarters, the goal is to inform both its audiences of the carbon impact of their food choices.

Instead of creating a page focused on the company itself, Bon Appétit chose to broadcast this message in a fun, friendly, and non-judgmental vehicle that would get people talking and sharing.  Because users can challenge their friends to take the quiz it inspires a little friendly competition ahead of the company’s annual Low Carbon Diet Day on Earth Day. Data from customer focus groups echoed the advice from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, “Communities already exist. Instead, think about how you can help that community do what it wants to do.” By distributing the quiz to existing networks of alumni groups, Class of XX pages, affinity groups, and school pages, rather than creating a remote page, the company is capturing the attention of quiz takers where they are already gathering.

The quiz application launched last week and gets to the heart of everyday meal choices, posing questions like, “which part of your pepperoni pizza contributes the most to climate change?” Each answer is followed by an explanation to help quiz takers learn why some foods are higher carbon than others. As for that pizza, the answer is cheese because it comes from ruminant animals that emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The Low Carbon Diet Facebook quiz is an innovative, dynamic way to illuminate the environmental costs of our food, inspire eaters to make better choices, and harness the viral power of social networking.

Americans can indeed reduce their contribution to global warming, with surprisingly bite-sized steps all adding up to significant impact. Yet, in this age of eco-overload, food’s contribution to global warming can seem like a daunting concept to tackle with every breakfast, lunch and dinner. This entertaining and instructive quiz and its online companion, The Low Carbon Diet Calculator (, which tallies the carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions of favorite foods, encourage action by showing how small choices made by ordinary citizens can make an enormous difference.

With forty-nine percent of all meals eaten in the U.S. -or about a half-billion meals each day -produced in commercial kitchens, it’s crucial to tackle the problem of food’s role in climate change on the supply side as well as the demand side. In addition to its consumer-facing social media programs, Bon Appétit Management Company has pledged to lower the carbon footprint of the highest impact areas of its operations by 25% over three years. By April 2009, these specific results will be achieved:

  • Cheese purchases reduced by 10%
  • Beef purchases reduced by 25%
  • And over just 10 weeks, food waste reduced by 20%

Full list of commitments here:

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Co. is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service 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 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 29 states, including eBay, American University, and the Getty Center.