Credit: BAMCO Cheeseless whole wheat pizza
The first food service company to address how food choices can affect our shifting atmosphere, Bon Appétit has celebrated its Low Carbon Diet Day in conjunction with Earth Day since 2008. This year, in a hot new twist, corporate guests and students all across the country - ranging from eBay in San Jose, CA, to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Gallaudet University in Washington, DC - will get a real taste of how climate change is already endangering certain food crops.
To prepare for this year's new theme, "Your Lunch is Heating Up!", Bon Appétit commissioned a review of more than four dozen scientific papers projecting how important crops such as corn, wheat, rice, fruit, dairy, and coffee will fare in a changing climate. Earlier thaws, later frosts, and higher-than-average temperatures; droughts like the ones in the Midwest; and new pests and weeds (ones that thrive in hotter and more humid temperatures) are already affecting these foods, and research indicates the pressures will not let up.
Bon Appétit's chefs will use cooking demos - for an almond milk-fruit smoothie, a cheeseless vegetarian pizza, or an edamame burger with carrot-peel topping - to discuss these global agriculture trends as well as encourage guests to choose planet-friendlier foods.
The goal of Low Carbon Diet Day, a tradition begun one year after Bon Appétit launched its Low Carbon Diet program: spur café guests to join the company in reducing their contributions to climate change. To help this process, the company created its Top 5 Low Carbon Diet Tips, which include "You Bought It, You Eat It - Don't Waste Food" and "Moooove Away From Beef and Cheese." Bon Appétit has reduced its own purchases of beef by 33% and cheese by 10% since launching the program - and many of the cheeseless pizzas first introduced on Low Carbon Diet Day have become beloved menu staples at its college and corporate accounts. Meanwhile, its new Stem to Root culinary program, from which the LCD Day carrot-peel-topped veggie burger is drawn, is the latest approach in its ongoing campaign to combat food waste.
On Low Carbon Diet Day 2013, Bon Appétit will also share the revamped, new version of its online educational companion to the Low Carbon Diet program. The EatLowCarbon.org website uses photos and picture quizzes to show which familiar foods are higher carbon and explain the science behind their carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions scores.
"Over the past six years, Bon Appétit Management Company has played a catalytic role in making thousands of corporate and university diners more aware of the relationship between food and climate change," says JoAnne Berkenkamp, local foods director at the Minneapolis-based Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy, which is exploring the impact of climate change on agriculture in the US and around the world. "Climate change is not an abstract concept that exists in a distant future. It's here, and it's affecting our farmers, the food service industry itself, and many of the foods we love. Bon Appétit's work will spur people to think more about what's happening, and to get involved in reducing carbon emissions while building a food system that is more resilient in the face of a changing climate."
Credit: Fedele Bauccio
Gratitude Gourmet readers know that Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, is my Hero.
Fedele's company was the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) 2009 Innovations Review Food and Beverage Innovator, recognized for reducing the environmental and carbon footprint and Winner of the National Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) 1st Annual Growing Green Awards.
Fedele has written a wonderful February 2013 Sustainability Editorial called: Redefining Sustainability - or Practicing What We Preach. His Editorial is a must-read for those concerned about our food policies, health, farm worker treatment, humane animal conditions, antibiotics ... and our Future.
The article link is here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/SUS.2013.9900
Please share with your colleagues, friends, families, communities, and policymakers. Thank you.
Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, was at the White House last week speaking to the FDA and members of Health and Human services on the Antibiotic issue in animals and how its affecting the human population.
Per Fedele: "I’ve also seen firsthand the ill effects antibiotic resistant bacteria can have on our most vulnerable populations. At one point last year, two people in our headquarters office had parents with MRSA infections. A 2009 study done at University of Iowa, as well as several conducted abroad, has linked the spread of this potentially fatal bacteria to hog production."
Here is Fedele Bauccio's speech in its entirety:
----------I am Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, a national onsite restaurant company that serves 135 million meals each year at over 400 cafés in 31 states. As a company we are committed to two goals, culinary expertise and social responsibility, and in that vein I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to voice my strong support for White House intervention in preserving antibiotics for medical treatment.
It is imperative that we, as a country, discontinue the use of antibiotics for nontherapeutic purposes in animals. In addition to being harmful to the animals themselves and only marginally beneficial for meat producers, this common practice of using antibiotics as feed additives has led to dramatically increased antibiotic resistance in humans and has become a serious public health problem. I feel so strongly about this issue that I have banned most meat that has been raised in this manner to be served in my restaurants, and I’d ban it entirely but there isn’t enough supply for us to be able to make that commitment yet.
Our concern about this issue goes back seven years. In 2002, I learned that an estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals that are not sick in order to promote growth or prophylactically treat diseases caused by questionable animal husbandry practices. A more recent study estimated the number as 80%. As I learned more and realized how widespread these practices are in the meat production industry, Bon Appétit formed a partnership with Environmental Defense Fund to look at how we could take the lead and discourage antibiotic use in meat and poultry production. Our partnership resulted in the creation of the farthest-reaching corporate policy on antibiotics at that time: Bon Appétit only buys chicken raised without the “non-therapeutic routine use of human antibiotics as feed additives. In 2005, we extended this policy to turkey. We took this policy another step further and, since March 2007, we only serve hamburgers made from natural beef with no trim. While there is no strict legal definition of "natural," our suppliers commit to using no antibiotics, no added growth hormones, and no animal by products in feed.
Our biggest challenge in implementing our antibiotics policy has always been sourcing the products. We have recruited both major poultry producers as well as small, local producers as suppliers. We only purchase food from those who provided written confirmation of their compliance. But there are not enough suppliers who meet our standards everywhere. We use a purchasing preference to induce suppliers in many markets, but we don’t have the concentration of business in all markets to buy enough chicken or turkey or beef in some states to tip the scales as we have in other locations, and we can’t find a national pork producer who will commit at all. Many producers are afraid to change, even with an economic incentive. They need a push. The White House could be that lever of change we need.
From 2006 to 2008, I served as a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. I learned a lot from the physicians, poultry producers, farmers and industry representatives on the committee, as well as those who testified before us. I came away from that experience enriched and much better educated about animal husbandry. One of the many things I concluded is that there is absolutely no good business reason, and certainly no good moral reason, for feeding medically important human antibiotics to animals that we eat. None.
I’ve also seen firsthand the ill effects antibiotic resistant bacteria can have on our most vulnerable populations. At one point last year, two people in our headquarters office had parents with MRSA infections. A 2009 study done at University of Iowa, as well as several conducted abroad, has linked the spread of this potentially fatal bacteria to hog production.
The bottom line is, Americans want safe food. Food is nourishment. It shouldn’t be something that does us harm. Antibiotic resistance is harmful. These drugs were meant to treat humans and animals when we’re really sick and need them, not as a feed additive for animals so they won’t be effective when humans need them. Let’s get our priorities straight. The time to ban antibiotics as a feed additive is long overdue. I strongly support this action. Thank you.