sustainability

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We’ve all experienced it – you reach into the back of your refrigerator and realize a sad, forgotten food has now become a moldy (and occasionally scary) science experiment. You’re not alone – up to 40% of the food that is produced is wasted and each American wastes as much as 238 pounds of food each year (equal to about $1800). Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce waste in your kitchen. Try out these tips for shopping and preparing food mindfully to help you to stop wasting food…and money. 

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Generally, producing animal-based foods like beef, lamb, and dairy products creates more carbon emissions than plant-based foods like beans, legumes, and whole grains – and is why shifting to a diet centered on plants is one of the most impactful ways to combat climate change.  

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From growing to processing, transporting to storage, and managing excess food waste, each step in the food chain produces carbon emissions.   

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This Earth Day, we are flipping the switch to plants to lower our individual and collective carbon footprint! We are challenging our guests to use this Earth Day as an opportunity to consider climate-friendly alternatives throughout our cafés.

In the past two years as a Fellow, I’ve engaged hundreds of college students around food waste issues to raise awareness and inspire others to address this problem. I’ve learned and shared how Bon Appétit is constantly evolving our commitment to addressing food waste companywide. And I’ve learned about how other players in this space are taking action, both on the ground and through legislation.  

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What is the meaning of fifty cents? In today’s world, two quarters might get you a stick of gum, a postage stamp, or one small piece of fruit. Weighed against the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, fifty cents are equivalent to a little over four minutes of work. For a farmworker, however, fifty cents mean something entirely different.  

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We’re no strangers to fighting food waste at Bon Appétit – we’ve been finding ways to keep food out of landfills since we opened our doors. Our most exciting step toward fighting food waste in our kitchens was the creation of Waste Not™ in 2021, our proprietary waste tracking system created by chefs, for chefs. Now we are excited to introduce our newly upgraded companywide waste commitments, which will help us meet our broader goal of reducing food loss and waste nationally by 50% by 2030, which we first pledged to work toward in 2016.  

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While many food labels you might find in the grocery store provide insight on a farm’s environmental approach or treatment of animals (think: USDA Certified Organic or Certified Humane), few give meaningful insight on the ways farmworkers are compensated or treated. This is where programs like the Fair Food Program (FFP) and the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) come in.

Bon Appétit teams have long sought to support our college campuses in their efforts to address student food insecurity in inventive ways. From food pantries and swipe donation programs to food co-ops and food recovery, there are many encouraging examples of how our teams are working with their campus communities to confront a complex and pervasive, yet often invisible hardship. 

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As Bon Appétit Fellows, part of our job is to travel to the different campuses we serve and collaborate with our culinary teams, along with university staff and student clubs, to engage students and inspire the next generation of sustainable food lovers and advocates. It’s always fun to get hands-on, of course, which is why we designed our quick pickling demo.