May 18, 2009

Marymount College Café Takes a Bite Out of Climate Change

Did you know that the lunch at Bon Appetit, Marymount College’s Café, has the power to raise or lower the temperature of the planet?

Take a common lunch favorite, the burger.  Beef is a carbon-intensive food, as is cheese. Even lettuce and tomato have a real impact if purchased out-of-season.

So what lunch can you munch with a clear conscience? At Marymount College, according to Donna Novotney, General Manager of the Bon Appétit Company on campus, it’s easy to enjoy a planet-friendly lunch.

Starting on Low Carbon Diet Day, menu options at the Marymount Cafe will be designed so that no one has to give up on favorites. The event will demonstrate how to make that beloved, high-carbon beef burger more eco-friendly.

Take that burger, for instance. Skip the cheese and the bacon, and swap out-of-season lettuce and tomato for a tasty lower-carbon alternative like grilled onions. Opt for a Chicken Cesear salad or better yet, a vegetarian dish instead of the high-carbon beef burger. Tips to save the planet are even as simple as eating everything you put on your plate, or taking home the leftovers so that spoiling food doesn’t release gasses into the atmosphere.

The Café has educational materials and information about what students and the community can do to lower the carbon footprint of their food while at school, shopping, at home and when eating out. Also available is an online personal calculator to tally your meal’s carbon score:

“As food manager, I’m constantly looking for ways to enhance the quality of our meals. Taking steps to do that while helping the environment is the icing on the cake – so to speak,” Donna says with a smile.

Nationally, the goal of Bon Appetit Management Company’s Low Carbon Diet is to reduce by 25% emissions from the foods that have the highest impact on climate change. To reach that goal, Bon Appetit is purchasing all meats and vegetables from North America, reducing the amount of beef and cheese served, eliminating air-freighted seafood, and decreasing purchases of tropical fruits. Reducing packaging, limiting use of disposable containers and minimizing food waste are also part of the Low Carbon Diet. And local, seasonal foods remain the focus of the menu.

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