SMALL FARMERS, FISHERS AND FOOD ARTISANS FIND NEW MARKETS NATIONWIDE WITH BON APPETIT
Jan. 10, 2011
Source: Bon Appetit Management Company press release
Palo Alto, California -- Sustainable food service provider Bon Appetit Management Company has reached its goal of partnering with 1,000 small-scale Farm to Fork vendors in its more than 400 cafes nationwide.
The landmark food safety bill signed by President Obama on January 4 includes provisions to ensure small farmers are not overburdened by one-size-fits-all regulations, making the business environment for the nation's independent farmers and food producers better than ever. With a local purchasing program that goes back more than ten years, Bon Appetit blazed a trail, creating the current local purchasing trend among national chains. No other restaurant company supports more local vendors.
538 new Farm to Fork vendors were added in 2010 to bring the total number from 462 to 1,000. This is an unprecedented increase in the number of small, independently operated farms and artisan providers benefiting from a relationship with a large national food service company. The company first developed its pioneering Farm to Fork local sourcing program in 1999 to address the loss of flavor in produce grown on large-scale farms and shipped thousands of miles. To introduce diners to the goodness of fresh, local, seasonal produce picked at its peak of ripeness, Bon Appetit began a policy of buying at least 20% of the food served in its cafes from vendors located within 150 miles of its cafes. With over 120 million restaurant quality meals prepared per year in university, corporate, and specialty venues in 31 states nationwide, that's an impressive amount of local food.
"The program has expanded beyond produce and is as much about rebuilding local and regional foodsheds as it is about flavor," said Bon Appetit Vice President Maisie Greenawalt. "This purchasing strategy is critical to our nation's food security. Through our Farm to Fork program, we have succeeded in building a web of regional suppliers coast-to-coast in all climates and throughout every season. This is the only way to ensure an economically and environmentally sustainable food system that supports both eaters and food producers."
"There is great support among consumers for locally grown food, but the barriers to entry are too high for most independent small farmers. I've watched one after another go out of business. Until large companies step up and do their part, the system will remain inequitable. Bon Appetit shows it's possible for a large company to pay the real cost of production and still fill seats and maintain margins," said Mike Callicrate, Sole Proprietor, Ranch Foods Direct. "Knowing we can depend on Bon Appetit's support has enabled us to expand our business from cattle into a multispecies operation that includes hogs and chickens."
From artisanal tofu made from locally grown soybeans, to hand-made pizzas with locally grown and milled flour, guests at Bon Appetit's cafes appreciate the beauty of seasonal food produced locally and the opportunity to try new flavors that inspire healthy choices.
"Our cafe devotes a full station to local foods. The Farm to Fork station is one of my favorite places to eat on campus. The food is full of flavor, healthy, and often the most interesting. The fact that Bon Appetit is helping local farmers stay in business and contribute to a more sustainable food system is an added bonus, and many students appreciate that," said Jennifer Jones, a student at American University, and president of the campus' environmental group, Eco-Sense.
Bon Appetit believes that supporting the nation's local and regional food providers is the best bet for creating a more resilient, healthy, and sustainable food system that will provide access to high quality food for everyone, whether or not they dine in Bon Appetit cafes.
About Bon Appetit Management Company
Bon Appetit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appetit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafes throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appetit 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, farm workers' rights. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appetit has more than 400 cafes in 31 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania and the Getty Center.