The first restaurant company to connect food to climate change makes additional commitments to beefing up plant-based proteins, reducing food waste, trimming transportation emissions, and decreasing deforestation
November 10, 2015 (Palo Alto, CA) — What happens when you’ve been on a diet for years and successfully slimmed down your problem areas? Ideally, you transition to a long-term, sustained way of living. And that’s exactly what Bon Appétit Management Company, which launched our Low Carbon Diet in 2007 — the first company in the food service and restaurant industries to link food choices to climate change — has done with our new Low Carbon Lifestyle program. We’ve set targets in four focus areas that will allow us to have the most impact on constraining our contributions to climate change: meat (particularly beef), food waste, transportation, and deforestation. We have also created a custom tool, the Food Standards Dashboard, with which we can track progress toward these and other sustainability goals on a location-specific basis.
“Bon Appétit is taking a lead by making thoughtful commitments in an area where few food companies have been willing to take a stand. It is critical that we become more aware that when we choose what to eat each day, we also make a choice about how our food is grown, processed, and affects the world around us.”
Our original Low Carbon Diet aimed to reduce our carbon emissions in several areas over five years. The company met those goals (among them slashing our beef and cheese purchases by 33 percent and 10 percent, respectively) — resulting in reductions of the equivalent of approximately 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide each month. The Low Carbon Lifestyle focus areas represent evolutions of the original diet, narrowed down after a year’s consultation with food and climate change experts across the country, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Working Group, and Rainforest Alliance.
“Bon Appétit is taking a lead by making thoughtful commitments in an area where few food companies have been willing to take a stand,” said Marcia DeLonge, a scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ food and environment program. “It is critical that we become more aware that when we choose what to eat each day, we also make a choice about how our food is grown, processed, and affects the world around us.”
“Our governments are not doing enough when it comes to climate change. I’m proud that Bon Appétit employees and clients have supported me in leading the way in making choices that reduce humankind’s impact on our planet,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO and cofounder of Bon Appétit. “It’s a long journey that we are on, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and what we’re taking on, together.”
Our four focus areas for the Low Carbon Lifestyle:
PRIORITIZING PLANT-BASED PROTEINS
Bon Appétit has committed to continuing to shift the proteins we serve from animal- to plant-based sources. We have set specific ounces-per-guest-per-meal targets and launched detailed reporting on this and other metrics, via the new dashboard, for every company location to ensure accountability. Chefs are receiving training on moving their menus away from beef and cheese, offering specifically defined reasonable portions of any animal protein (less than or equal to those of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines), and techniques to emphasize plant-based proteins.
WHY: The livestock industry contributes heavily to greenhouse gas emissions in multiple ways: the particular crops used for animal feed, manure management, and its dependence on water, as well as deforestation and land use issues. Greenhouse gas emissions from meat and dairy are higher globally than all emissions from transportation combined, partly because cows are ruminant animals whose digestive system constantly generates methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 20 to 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
PREVENTING AND REDUCING FOOD WASTE
Bon Appétit is prioritizing waste reduction according to the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy — ensuring that our teams are actively preventing waste at the source and donating excess food to local hunger relief organizations in order to make landfills their last resort. In addition, we’ve vowed that by the end of 2018 all our accounts will be actively reducing waste at the source and at least 80 percent of them will be Food Recovery Certified, meaning they are regularly (not just occasionally) donating their excess food to people in need, as verified by an independent third party.
WHY: Wasted food is a double contributor to climate change. Wasting food wastes all of the energy that went into growing, transporting, and preparing that food. In addition, when organic matter, such as food waste, is put into the anaerobic environment of a landfill, it emits methane.
We are evaluating both distance traveled and, more critically, the mode of transportation when making purchasing decisions in order to prioritize carbon-efficient transportation of food. That means no air-freighted seafood; restricting purchases of vegetables, meat, non-tropical fruit, and bottled water purchases to North America; encouraging purchases of seasonal and regional fruits; and training chefs and managers how to prioritize tropical fruit that is typically boated or trucked versus air-freighted when needed.
WHY: In terms of climate change, how food travels is more important than how many miles it covers. As a rule, any food that travels by airplane is going to be a higher-carbon choice than foods that traveled a similar or shorter distance by boat or truck.
We will support sustainable forestry and agricultural management through our purchasing practices, including purchasing meat from North American farms and ranches (fed with U.S.-grown crops), opting for paper products that are FSC Certified and/or made from recycled content, and setting measurable goals for purchasing coffee from Certified Organic, shade-grown, Rainforest Alliance or Bird Friendly certified (by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) farms.
WHY: Forests play a critical role in stabilizing the climate. Clear-cutting forests to plant grains for animal feed, for coffee plantations, or for use in paper products releases greenhouse gas emissions stored over the lifetime of that forest and reduces the planet’s capacity to absorb additional emissions created by humans.
Using the new Food Standards Dashboard software, Bon Appétit chefs and managers will be able to see whether their teams are meeting the company’s standards — and can be more easily held accountable to them by senior leadership. Built by an in-house team of developers, the dashboard collects data from many sources and makes it accessible and transparent at a glance. For example, the display shows each unit where they stand on their Farm to Fork purchasing expenditures (each chef is required to source at least 20% of her ingredients from small farms and ranches within 150 miles); their average number of vegetarian, vegan, and In Balance options per meal period; the average ounces of beef and animal proteins in general they are serving per guest per meal; and much more.
About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company operating 650-plus cafés in 31 states for corporations, universities, and specialty venues, including at Google, eBay, University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker rights. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, and The Humane Society of the United States.
Media contact: Bonnie Powell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 650.621.0871.