The Bon Appetit Management Company hopes it has grown large enough to demand change from the ranchers and farmers it buys from.
As broken as much of our modern industrial food system is, consumers still wield the ultimate power: We can vote with our forks. Eventually, the message gets across. Witness the growth of all things organic and the rarity of rBGH (an artificial growth hormone) in milk production today. No laws decreed that farmers produce more organic food, but thanks to consumer demand, it's the fastest growing segment of the grocery industry. No laws forbade farmers from administering rBGH to cows. Shoppers just wouldn't buy the stuff.
Fedele Bauccio, CEO and co-founder of Bon Appétit Management Company, a food service group that operates more than 400 kitchens at colleges, museums, corporations, and other institutions in 31 states, wields a mighty big fork -- $350 million in food purchases a year.
So it was good news to anyone who cares about the welfare of farm animals when Bon Appétit announced last week that it had implemented the most sweeping anti-cruelty policy in the food service industry. By 2015, all of the pork the company buys will come from farmers who do not confine their sows in two-by-seven-foot gestation crates. Similarly, all of its "liquid" eggs that come to its kitchens pre-cracked and in containers will be from cage-free hens, as its in-shell eggs do now. Veal from crated calves will disappear from Bon Appétit menus, as will the small amount of foie gras it serves. "We've said, 'That's it. No more. It's over,'" Bauccio said in an interview.