Question: Hi there! I operate a restaurant that sources entirely organic and local produce. We breathe the “farm to fork” trend circulating throughout the industry and I’d love to promote our efforts to my ever-growing customer base! Is there a certification that allows me to simultaneously communicate our commitment to both healthy living and sustainability?

Answer: Absolutely! While there are a number of certifications targeting the efficient building of restaurants (such as LEED or BOMA BESt) and others designating your food selection as mostly organic, there haven’t been many that combine the two; until now!

If you’re a restaurant owner within the foodservice industry, it’s likely that you’ve figured out how subscribing to organic and local produce can increase efficiency and save your business money on energy costs. Now, however, the benefits of investing in sustainable sourcing are being recognized in conjunction with healthy eating, resulting in a new certification that simultaneously promotes nutrition and environmental responsibility.

A healthy choice for customers, operators, and the environment

REAL, which stands for Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership, is a voluntary certification program recently launched by the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC). The points-based certification is designed to promote restaurants that are wholesome, nutritious and sustainable.

According to Eat REAL, the certification was developed together by experts in nutrition, health, sustainability, and behavioural economics. To become certified, restaurants have to undergo a number of steps including: menu analysis; on-site inspections and interviews; spot checks and recipe audits; and sourcing and supply chain review. Similar to the LEED certification system, there are different levels of certification available to restaurants interested in signing-up.

What is means to Eat REAL

As reported by Fast Casual, the Eat REAL campaign was launched in Washington due to the city’s collection of leaders in culinary arts, nutrition, sustainability and health. According to the USHFC, examples of foodservice behaviour emphasized by REAL certification include: the use of fruits and vegetables; moderate portion sizes; local and regional sourcing; healthy children’s meals; reduced processing and additives; lean meats; special dietary offerings; organic and sustainable food; use of healthier oils; and animal welfare.

In order to create an affordable and entirely sustainable supply chain, the USHFC is said to be working to label the ingredients lists of certain suppliers as “USHFC approved”. The USHFC hopes that by streamlining approved suppliers, sustainable and healthy foods will be available to foodservice providers at a discount.

You can find a complete list of restaurants that have received REAL certification to-date here!

Questions or comments about the Eat REAL campaign? Leave them below!

image credit: GoLaura A Community About Food