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University Diners Can Experience Low Carbon Eating

Low carbon diet seal.

April 3, 2009 -

With news that one-third of greenhouse gasses come from the food system, University of Redlands students and staff are among those realizing that what’s on their plate matters to the environment – a lot.

Recognizing that 49 percent of American meals, or about a half-billion per day, are produced in commercial kitchens, sustainable food service provider Bon Appétit Management Company is not leaving the responsibility entirely up to individual consumers. The company’s 400 chefs, including Executive Chef John Rose at University of Redlands, are taking an active role in showing diners how small changes made by individual eaters can have a big impact on the health of the planet.

On April 8, Bon Appétit and the university will celebrate the company’s second annual Low Carbon Diet Day. As part of the event, students and visitors will dine on dishes created to illustrate what low carbon eating can taste like.

Cheeseburgers are out because cows produce methane, a greenhouse gas. Instead, students will be served creations including tilapia fish tacos, portabella burgers, turkey burgers and roasted chicken. Beverage offerings will include fresh-squeezed Redlands orange juice.

Eating a low-carbon diet can be done when dining out or at home. Seasonal vegetables, legumes and whole grains are typically sound options, while beef and cheese are served less often in favor of lower carbon options such as poultry and seasonal salsa. Followers also strive not to waste food.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to educate people on where our food comes from and also show that eating low-carbon does not have to require great sacrifice,” executive chef John Rose said of the Redlands event. “This is fantastic food!”

The focus on a low carbon diet is more than a one-day event at the university and Bon Appétit Management Company. The company has set measurable goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the highest impact areas of its business by 25 percent over three years.

Specifically, Bon Appétit will implement these commitments at all cafés nationwide:

  • Reducing beef by 25%
  • Reducing cheese by 10%
  • Sourcing all meat and poultry from North America Sourcing nearly all fruits and vegetables from North America, using seasonal local produce as a first preference and using tropical fruits only as “special occasion” ingredients
  •  Reducing food waste by 25%
  • Reducing consumption of processed sweets, snacks and chocolate by 10%
  • Eliminating air-freighted seafood
  • Reducing the use of water and energy

To supplement the program in the cafés, the company created a science-based, entertaining online food calculator to help consumers evaluate their choices. The Low Carbon Diet Calculator http://www.eatlowcarbon.org/ is newly updated for Earth Day with more food options.

University of Redlands students in an environmental studies class taught by instructor Katherine Noble-Goodman have also been exploring the benefits of embracing a low-carbon diet.

The class conducted a week-long study where they monitored what they ate, taking into consideration meat intake, virtual water intake and the greenhouse gases produced as a result. Students entered data about what they ate over a three-day period into a spreadsheet, and then data for a three-day period after they changed to a more environmentally conscious diet. The class then used the Bon Appétit low carbon calculator on its Web site to calculate the number of CO2 points of their food and their carbon footprint for each day.

Members of the class are planning to be on hand in the Redlands’ commons during the event to interact with fellow students about their project, a low carbon diet and ways to reduce waste.

The media is invited to see the Low Carbon Diet in action from 10:50 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on April 8. Tour the site, taste the food, interview chefs and diners, and experience how diners react to menus and educational materials. Please contact Kim Blum or Susan Martinez to arrange a visit. Contact info above.

Bon Appétit Management Company (http://www.bamco.com/) is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, and most recently, the connection between food and climate change. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations like Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 29 states, including Oracle Corporation, American University and the Getty Center.

Contact: Kim Blum or Susan Martinez kblum@cafebonappetit.com 909-748-8956 (Phone)

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