Food Transparency in the Age of 'Alternate Facts' and 'Fake News' by Sara Brito, Co-Founder & President of Good Food Media Network

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May's Featured Speaker: Sara Brito

Sara spoke at the 2017 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York - this is the very presentation she spoke about there.

Follow up your reading of this piece with Restaurant Trends: What's Hot in 2017 by Russ Blakeborough HERE

 

Food Transparency in the Age of 'Alternate Facts' and 'Fake News' by Sara Brito
Co-Founder & President of Good Food Media Network

Food, and its impact on life on earth, is the issue of our lifetime. Our ability to grow food and feed ourselves is literally a matter of life or death.

You don't have to believe me. Many experts and authors, like Jared Diamond, have extensively researched and written about how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization.

But don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. Chefs have power. This Time Magazine cover from November 2013, titled "The Gods of Food: Meet the people who influence what and how you eat," signaled that chefs had arrived at the pinnacle of mainstream pop culture.

More than just being popular, chefs are change agents. Each day when a chef steps into their kitchen, they have the power to transform good ingredients into good food.

The choices chefs make when they create their menus - how they source, cook and serve food - have the power to transform much more than just food.

We believe that good food is about more than just taste. Truly good food has to be good for every link in the food chain.

According to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer study (2014), chefs are more trusted than doctors and attorneys, making them one of the most trusted role models in society today.

When chefs change their menus, they have the power to change the life of the soil, water and air; plants and animals; farmers, ranchers and fishermen, etc. Chefs have the power to change life throughout the entire food chain.

The challenge is that the existing industry recognition model, including awards, lists and ratings, focuses on FOH experience: taste, service and ambiance.

The existing model is also based on subjective standards and opaque criteria, with a small group of editors, awards juries and eaters in control.

All it takes is one news story, and on April 15, 2016, a Tampa Bay Tribune article titled "Farm to Fable: A Times investigation into Tampa Bay's local food scene" signaled that politicians weren't the only ones guilty of 'alternate facts' and 'fake news'. This news was then picked up by national media outlets like Eater, The New York Times, NPR and others, and news spread like wildfire through kitchens across America.

On The New York Times “What We’re Reading Now” Blog, Justin Gillis wrote:
“The idea of eating food fresh off the farm has captured the American imagination. But sometimes, the stories told about the food at farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants are just that — stories. “If you eat food, you are being lied to every day,” writes the food critic Laura Reiley in this astonishing series called Farm to Fable. She finds that purveyors routinely misrepresent what they are selling and where it came from. Her exposé focuses on the Tampa region but raises issues of national import.”

 

So I asked myself, what if we flipped the model? What might a new recognition and reward system look like? One that didn’t attempt to replace the existing model, but rather complemented it?

What if we created a new model that focused on BOH operation, beyond just how food tastes? A new model based on objective standards and transparent criteria. A new model that put chefs and restaurants in control based on what data they were willing to share.

And what if this new model enabled all different types of restaurants to participate, from fast-casual to fine dining to food service, including school food, colleges/universities and hospitals?

By doing so, what if we could demonstrate that chefs and restaurants have more than just influence? That chefs and restaurants have economic power. Power to make a real impact in their local, state and regional communities, and help build a better food system.

Introducing the Good Food 100 Restaurants, a new national survey, annual list, and rating system that aims to change the way restaurants and food service businesses are viewed and valued.

The Good Food 100 Restaurants quantifies how chefs and restaurants are using their purchasing power to help build a better food system. Think of it as the 'Inc. 100' of restaurants changing the food system for good.

The annual list and ratings will be accompanied by an annual economic assessment being conducted by the Business Research Division of Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, to measure the impact of chefs’ and restaurants’ good food purchasing decisions on state, regional and national economies.

I conducted a Pilot Economic Impact Survey among a small group of Denver-area chefs and restaurant owners in October 2015, and I'm excited to bring this initiative to fruition on a national scale, offering chefs, restaurants and food service operations a badge of honor for not just how good their food tastes, but how good it is for every link of the food chain.

 

I truly believe chefs have the power... To raise the bar for what it means to be a good chef. To show the world that to be a good chef is about more than celebrity; it’s about caring. By caring, we’ll help lift up the entire industry. We’ll help cultivate the next generation of chefs and food professionals. We’ll help change the food system for good.

If you’re not already, I invite you become an evangelist of Good Food and help change the food system for good.  How can you help?

 

Follow up your reading of this piece with Restaurant Trends: What's Hot in 2017 by Russ Blakeborough HERE

 

More about Sara:

An entrepreneur of ideas and avowed foodie, Sara Brito is Co-Founder and President of the Good Food Media Network, a nonprofit educational organization that produces and publishes the Good Food 100 Restaurants™.  

Sara is a 20-year food (Chefs Collaborative, The Kitchen, Snooze), advertising/digital media (Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, Digitas), and Fortune 100 (American Express, The New York Times, AOL) industry veteran with a successful track record leading people and change to make big ideas happen.

While serving on the Board of Slow Food NYC, she co-created and launched the Slow Food ‘Snail of Approval’ program, a designation given to restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans that contribute to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York. Under Sara's leadership, Chefs Collaborative was nominated for the 2016 Taste Talks' inaugural "Outstanding Nonprofit" award and three of her past clients, The Kitchen, Domino's and Vail Resorts (EpicMix), were named to Fast Company's 2016 World's Most Innovative Companies list.  

Her work has been featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine ("Broccoli’s Extreme Makeover") and in 2015 she was invited by the U.S. Department of State and the James Beard Foundation to speak at the American Chef Rally at ExpoMilano in Milan, Italy.  



 
 

 

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