On Earth Day Monday April 22 Bon Appétit will turn 500+ cafes into climate change learning classrooms
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."