McDonald’s Redefines Health In Terms Of Sustainability

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“McDonald’s is moving toward a menu free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, but every product has a unique challenge, said Amy Wilcox, director of quality systems and supply chain management for McDonald’s USA. She and her colleague, Cynthia Goody, chief nutritionist for McDonald’s, explained how “clean” ingredients are a key part of the chain’s sustainability initiative during the “Sustainable Approach to the Menu” panel at Restaurant Leadership Conference.

But “we can’t use the clean label description, because everyone has a different definition,” said Wilcox. “We had to create our own definition for suppliers, operators and customers. And that involved a lot of outreach to make sure all our suppliers were on the same page.”

The chain, in fact, announced this past September that is was removing artificial preservatives from its “classic” burger lineup in the U.S. “We have a great group of suppliers,” said Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s U.S., at the time. And now, the chain announced that a third of its eggs are cage-free—and it expects to source 726 million cage-free eggs this year. Right now, chicken nuggets fit the sustainability criteria, as do American cheese and burgers. As far as McDonald’s burger goes, “the pickle presented a problem,” said Wilcox. “We couldn’t find one that fit our definition, so we went forward with what we had and put an asterisk next to it on the menu. Being truthful and transparent is important to us.”

View more here.

First Seafood CSA Model In NYC

The first seafood CSA in NYC, Dock to Dish, will attempt to return restaurants to the older way of doing things, where they worked around what was in supply over what was in demand. We are more familiar with CSA’s where consumers sign up for a memberships to be provided with seasonal, local, fresh produce from local farmers. Dock to Dish operates in the same manner just with seafood rather than produce. Restaurateur Sean Barrett has come together with fishermen to apply the same CSA economic model to seafood and established Community Supported Fisheries (CSF).

Dock to Dish will help to foster the relationship between growers and eaters by shortening the distribution chain. Dock to Dish was founded in Montauk, Long Island to provide members with a weekly portion of high quality seafood caught sustainably within the last 24 hours. Dock to Dish then took off in New York City where it became the first Restaurant Supported Fishery with chefs such as Bill Telepan, Dan Barber and April Bloomfield subscribing amongst others. They receive an abundance of whatever is caught fresh such as bigeye tuna, fluke, black sea bass, swordfish, squid and many others. According to Edible, “Chefs used to rely on fishermen who came to their kitchen doors offering what was local, plentiful and in season. Then they wrote the menu. It put excitement into preparations: a little surprise to get the creative juices flowing.”

To read more about the CSF and watch a short video on how it operates, click here

Sweetgreen Expanding to Williamsburg and Tribeca

The sustainable and local salad and wrap chain, Sweetgreen, will be making its way to Williamsburg at 162 North 4th St and to Tribeca in the former Il Mattone space this summer. Co-owner Nicolas Jammet said in regards to the upcoming Brooklyn location: “Sweetgreen was born to live in Brooklyn and we could not think of a more perfect neighborhood than Williamsburg.”

The Environmental Revolution: Sugar Cane Plates

The New York Times reported that the Urban School Food Alliance, a committee made up of six big-city school systems nationwide, has initiated a sustainability pilot program. The preliminary initiative is switching from plastic trays to plates made from sugar cane. These recyclable plates cost 11 cents more per plate to manufacture and take slightly longer, but there’s no denying the positive message it reinforces to children about the importance of being environmentally conscious amongst other eco-friendly benefits. A few schools in Miami have already made the switch to sugar cane plates. The next project will be switching over to antibiotic-free chicken. Completely revamping school systems’ food programs nationwide sets the precedent for other institutions including hospitals and universities. Perhaps it won’t be too long after all before all restaurants nationwide enforce sustainable practices.

Global Organic Food Market Boom

The organic food industry is expected to expand exponentially. Transparency Market Research (TMR), a market intelligence company, mentioned that a few key leaders in the industry include Hain Celestial Group Inc., Whole Foods Market Inc., The Kroger Co., Amy’s Kitchen and Organic Valley.

Now more than ever  Americans, especially, are concerned with health issues across the board including environmental safety, animal welfare and food quality. Increases in awareness about organic food benefits, worldwide organic farming, the number of retailers providing organic products and implementation of government regulations are attributed to the global organic food market expansion.

Food for Thought: Chipotle’s Partnership with Huffington Post

Two days ago Huffington Post launched Food for Thought, Chipotle’s latest brand marketing strategy. Food for Thought is a HuffPost section dedicated to promoting awareness about healthful habits and sustainability practices. Contributing writers from all walks of life including doctors, lawyers and food authors discuss everything from food legislation to finding seasonal produce. This strategic move on Chipotle’s behalf is timely considering the recent shift of priorities since McDonald’s was its major investor. Now more than ever Chipotle is making efforts to be an industry leader in sustainable, GMO-free fast food chains.

Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s Chief Marketing Officer, writes that “people are more aware than ever of the impact that food has on people, animals and the environment.”

Through this partnership, Chipotle hopes to change customers’ perceptions of them as the burrito joint that’s owned by McDonald’s, to the Mexican fast food chain that genuinely cares about the sourcing of its ingredients and our affect on the environment.

Farm to Restaurant Producer Summit: 11/3

A powerful summit is planned for November 3rd at Glynwood Farms in Cold Spring, New York.

Slow Food and NOFA are bringing together forward thinking chefs and farmers to celebrate the successes and discuss challenges of the regional food system. The day will culminate in the creation of an actionable strategy to strengthen and expand the supply chain of organic and sustainably-grown food to New York City restaurants.

The event is by invite only; click here for tickets.



Green Coffee, By Bike

Velopresso is a unique bike-powered coffee system created by two people with a love for coffee, biking, and sustainable design. The team is currently looking for an industrial producer.

Vermont sits in the #1 spot on the Locavore Index for locally sourced food

Nationwide, small farms, farmers markets and specialty food makers are popping up and thriving as more people seek locally produced foods. More than half of consumers now say it’s more important to buy local than organic, according to market research firm Mintel, and Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan called the local food movement “the biggest retail food trend in my adult lifetime.” But with no official definition for what makes a food local, the government can’t track sales. And consumers don’t always know what they are buying. A supermarket tomato labeled “local” may have come from 10, 100 or more miles away. Strict locavores stick to food raised within a certain radius of their home — 50, 100 or 250 miles. Others may allow themselves dried spices, coffee or chocolate.

Two of the more common standards used by locavores are food produced within 100 miles or within the same state that it’s consumed. A new locavore index ranked Vermont as the top state in its commitment to raising and eating locally grown food based on the number of farmers markets and community supported agriculture farms, where customers pay a lump sum up front and receive weekly deliveries of produce and other foods.

Vermont has 99 farmers markets and 164 CSAs, with a population of fewer than 622,000, according to the 2012 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index, which relies on U.S. Department of Agriculture and census figures. Iowa, Montana, Maine and Hawaii rounded out the top five.

Vermont tops the Nation with the highest Locavore Index