A visit to the tech giant's headquarters reveals smart nutrition labeling and vending machines where healthier items are cheaper
I'm just back from judging Google's first Science Fair for kids 13 to 18 at its corporate headquarters in California (yes, those are tomatoes growing in the foreground).
Google's famous food program
Why famous? It is:
- Available 24/7
- Totally free
- Varied and delicious
- Designed to promote health as well as environmental values (local, organic, sustainable)
On this last point, the recycling program is comprehensive and the campus is planted with organic vegetables, free for the picking:
But what about the "freshman 15″?
If free food is available 24/7, isn't Google creating a classic "obesogenic" environment? Do new Google employees gain weight?
Indeed, they do, and this creates a dilemma for the food team. I met with Joe Marcus, Google's food program manager, and executive chef Scott Giambastiani. Free and very good food, they explain, is an important recruiting perk for Google. Employees learn to manage it. And those who are eating healthy food for the first time in their lives find that they actually lose weight.
Google's food labeling program
Google labels its snacks, drinks, and the foods prepared in its 25 or so cafeterias with traffic lights: green (eat anytime), yellow (once in a while), or red (not often, please). It bases the decisions about which food goes where on the Harvard School of Public Health's healthy eating pyramid. It labels foods at the top of the Harvard pyramid red, the ones in the middle yellow, and those at the bottom green.