Taking Local Meat to the Next Level
Nation’s most principled food service company broadens landmark Farm to Fork program to embrace “ag of the middle”
Palo Alto, CA (Sept. 20, 2011) — Bon Appétit Management Company, the socially and environmentally responsible food services company, announced today that it is adding an important new category to its landmark local-sourcing program, Farm to Fork. Launched in 1999, Farm to Fork now draws from over a thousand small farms and artisans to supply Bon Appétit’s 400-plus cafés in 31 states. The company will extend the program to mid-size poultry and hog farms, cattle ranches, and dairies that meet its stringent criteria.
By doing so, it will nourish this critically endangered segment of agriculture known as the “disappearing middle.” And by requiring third-party humane certification, Bon Appétit also hopes to increase the supply of ethically raised meat and poultry, which has not kept up with demand as the meat industry consolidates under ever-more-massive factory farms.
Bon Appétit requires all its chefs to buy at least 20 percent of their ingredients from registered Farm to Fork suppliers; some accounts in agriculturally diverse areas reach as high as 80 percent. The company spends tens of million of dollars annually on Farm to Fork purchases.
“It’s vital to the health of this country that we support the farmers and ranchers who are doing the right thing by their animals, the land, and the communities in which they operate,” says Fedele Bauccio, CEO and cofounder of Bon Appétit Management Company. “I’ve wanted to move more of our purchasing toward family farms ever since I served on the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. As a company that serves more than 120 million meals per year, it’s our responsibility to actively help grow the supply of the kind of meat that we can feel good about serving.”
The meat industry’s consolidation into a handful of gigantic producers has been accompanied by myriad modern problems such as contaminated food outbreaks, animal mistreatment scandals, and environmental pollution. Yet in the course of seeking out the small-scale hog and poultry farmers and beef ranchers that Bon Appétit has been supporting for years, the company has discovered that there are responsible, mid-size regional producers with similar values struggling to survive and grow. The problem of the disappearing “ag of the middle” is well-known in sustainable food and farming circles. In 2005 Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University,coauthored a landmark whitepaper that launched a national discussion about how the increasing lack of mid-size farms spelled trouble for regional food systems.
“The ‘middle’ is really a marketing middle, a gap between direct sales like farmers markets on one side and the commodity markets on the other,” said Kirschenmann, who served with Bauccio on the Pew Commission. (Both men were recently honored with an inaugural Leadership Award from the James Beard Foundation.) “For a large food-service company like Bon Appétit Management Company, which wants quality products in quantity, to begin actively pursuing these farms could be game-changing. These ranches are the ones that America is losing at the fastest rate.”
Bon Appétit’s rules for Farm to Fork eligibility are as follows:
|Size/Type of farm||Ownership||Distance from Bon Appétit kitchen||Annual sales volume||Certification|
|Small farms, orchards, mills growing plant-based products||Owner-operated1||150 miles or less||$5 million or less2||None3|
|Small producers of meat, poultry and eggs4, dairy and cheese||Owner-operated1||150 miles or less||$5 million or less2||None4|
|Small artisan producers of items such as baked goods, ice cream or gelato||Owner-operated1||Production within 150 miles; at least 50% of product, by weight, sourced from within 150 miles.5||$5 million or less2||None6|
|Mid-sizeproducers of meat, poultry and eggs, dairy and cheese||Owner-operated1||500 miles or less||Less than 1% of industry leaders’ sales volume for each species cultivated7||Stringent third-party humane certifications: required8|
In addition to the Farm to Fork criteria above, Bon Appétit uses only rBGH-free milk and yogurt (since 2002); chicken, turkey, and hamburger from animals raised without the routine use of antibiotics (since 2003); and cage-free shell eggs (since 2005). By adding a groundbreaking seafood component, the new Fish to Fork program, to its preferences for small- and mid-size producers, the company will continue to lead the way in its goal to offer food services for a sustainable future.
About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 31 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, the connection between food and climate change, and, most recently, farmworker welfare. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations such as the James Beard Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Its dining operations at Wheaton College in Illinois were recently voted Best College Food by 122,000 college students surveyed by the Princeton Review.
Contact: Bonnie Azab Powell, [email protected], (650) 621-0871
1 Co-ops of owner-operators are acceptable.
2 If a co-op, all members must gross $5 million or less and be a true co-op rather than contractors to a large corporation.
3 We do not require any sustainability certifications. We encourage producers to share evidence of certifications, integrated pest management or organic practices, and other third-party validated evidence of best agricultural practices.
4 Shell egg producers must have third-party humane certification.
5 To be considered Farm to Fork, milled grains must come from within 150 miles as well as be milled locally.
6 We do not require any sustainability certifications of artisans, but we do require a variety of legal documents including a certificate of insurance and a W9.
7 Currently, this means no more than $40 million in sales for most producers and $100 million for a few.
8 Third-party certification from Humane Farm Animal Care, Animal Welfare Approved, Global Animal Partnership, or Food Alliance. A producer can be enrolled if they have had an initial consultation with one of these agencies and commit to completing the process within 18 months. If they fail to get certified, they will no longer be considered Farm to Fork suppliers.