Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poor Choices & the 3 S’s

I have come to the stark realization that no matter what we do to promote or market the correct way to balance a diet in our serveries, that students and we alike are making poor dining choices. The solution is in the food itself. Making the food more wholesome and nutritious so that students do not have to make the choice makes sense. The three looming issues that need to be addressed are sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. Reading the article about Pepsi the other day really got me thinking and due to some other issues last week regarding proper goal setting, have set our goals brightly ahead in tackling nutrition and wellness. This has been a long standing goal, but we have failed to act accordingly. We achieved eliminating the low hanging fruit, but that last 10% up in the canopy can be difficult. Well, no more!

Meeting with my Senior Executive Chef and Senior Operations Manager, we agreed to take this challenge head on. We are going to reduce the amount of saturated fat by using less cream and also using the Combi technology more rather than using flat tops. My Senior Operations Manager made a great point about fried foods… When you eat at home do you always have French fries? Of course not, you go get them when you go out to eat. Our students live here at the university and consider this their home… Why do we always have French fries? We will begin parsing down the use of fried foods immediately.

Sodium is a big and ever growing factor in health risks, but is often very difficult to reduce or eliminate. My Senior Executive Chef proposed a bold initiative to be a “no salt added” kitchen. I thought this is going to be great! The solution is in using salt substitutes such as potassium instead of sodium. Brilliant! There are several products on the market currently that will meet our needs and we will begin implementing them ASAP. As you may recall, I was ranting about New York imposing a ban on salt in restaurants… I was not upset with the reduction in salt, but the fact that legislation was involved at all. If Pepsi were to come out with this initiative earlier, then the consideration of legislation would not have been necessary. The market is driving the salt out!

Reflecting on the Pepsi initiative to reduce their three S’s by 25% over the decade; made me realize that we need large companies to spearhead initiatives to be more widely accepted. Thank you Pepsi; for waking us up out of our complacency. In essence, we will parallel this initiative, but take it further since we are a leading university in many ways. I am calling on other universities to do the same. Yes, we should keep on battling the sustainability and locally grown initiatives, but in the end, these things do not really make for a healthier diet. How and what we cook do!

Our Goal? Question every ingredient and ask ourselves, “Can we use something different to make it healthier?”


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