Oregon, August 24, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Associated
Press: A major cafeteria management chain has
rewritten its mission statement to emphasize sustainable
agriculture, asking its chefs to use locally grown produce
and meat free of hormones, antibiotics and genetically
Oil used to fry french fries will be recycled and turned
into environmentally friendly diesel fuel. And only
wild salmon and dolphin-safe tuna is to be served.
The changes at Bon Appetit Management Co., which serves
one million meals each week at on-site restaurants for
more than 150 corporations, have evolved over several
It was in Oregon, where farmers markets and sustainable
living practices abound, that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based
company tested the concept of sustainable food delivery
two years ago and discovered that it made good business
``We've done enough focus group studies to realize
that people are willing to pay a little bit more for
something that's better,'' said Fedele Bauccio, CEO
of Bon Appetit.
Founded in 1987 as a catering company, Bon Appetit's
goal was to bring restaurant techniques to the cafeteria
world. Early on, the company opted for fresh ingredients,
but was disappointed by what was available.
``Meat didn't taste the way it used to taste because
we'd lost our local producers. Things were being grown
thousands of miles away. Vegetables were picked before
they were ripe,'' said Maisie Ganzler, director of corporate
communications and industry relations for Bon Appetit.
Bon Appetit made changes to have full quality control,
and its achievements in Oregon have become the company's
Here, Bon Appetit works with Sunshine Dairy to get
milk which is free of artificial growth hormones. Its
crusts and pastries are made from flour milled by a
consortium of wheat growers in eastern Washington that
do not till the soil after harvest, decreasing runoff
and increasing topsoil.
``I have a tomato farmer whose pick date is one day
before we serve it. I have a berry farmer who calls
wanting to know how many flats to bring because he's
picking the berries just for us,'' said Joe McGarry,
a Bon Appetit employee who has been the executive chef
of Oregon's Intel campus for the last seven years.
By altering its mission statement, Bauccio says he
hopes to bring every one of its on-site restaurants
up to the same standard. With accounts in 26 states
from the corporate headquarters of Best Buy to the basement
cafe at the Art Institute of Chicago, practices have
varied widely. On the East Coast, chefs complained that
they can't possibly be asked to rely solely on local
producers in the winter.
Company executives say they hope that will soon change.
Chefs that have embraced the sustainable system have
noticed the difference.
``Let's take vegetables,'' said chef Marc Marelich,
who runs the eBay cafeteria for Bon Appetit in San Jose,
``Lettuces that are picked the day before, when they
come in are still alive. Every leaf has its own flavor
-- it explodes in your mouth with flavor. If you have
it from out-of-state and shipped in, all the flavors
meld together. There's no 'Wow!' factor,'' he said.