Dining Services adopts ‘HowGood’ labeling at dining halls

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Dining

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” –Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The old adage “You are what you eat” reminds us to think about not only what we consume, but where our food comes from and who produces it. Since we all rely on the global food supply chain to get ingredients for our meals, it seems nearly impossible to trace where our food comes from and how it is processed.

If you have a meal plan at Charlotte, however, it might be easier than you think.

Dining Services at Charlotte saw an opportunity to help increase transparency about the environmental and social impact of the food served in campus halls. In order to help educate students, Chartwells partners with HowGood, an independent research company, to analyze and score over 500 Chartwells recipes.

To come up with the impact score, HowGood considers greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, soil health, land use, animal welfare, labor risk and water use in the production of meat, dairy and agricultural products.

Both SoVi and Crown Commons now have climate-friendly icons next to menu items that appear on Dine on Campus and on the menu boards above the dining hall stations. The ratings range from “good” to “great” to “best.”

Only recipes that have a farm-to-gate carbon footprint lower than 70 percent of conventionally-produced food will have a climate-friendly icon appear on the menu.

HowGood defines farm-to-gate as “the emissions caused by … growing a specific ingredient before any factory, processing, transportation, or distribution emissions. This includes fertilizer inputs, pesticide and herbicide inputs, on-farm fuel needs, tillage, mechanized harvest, electricity needs for storage as well as any on-farm processing, cooling, or fermentation.”

The farm-to-gate stage is where the majority of greenhouse gas emissions are derived from in most food products.

Recipes that are rated “good” have an environmental and social impact better than 75 percent of conventionally-produced food. A “great” rating means the impact is better than 85 percent of conventionally-produced food, and a “best” rating is earned when a recipe’s impact is better than 95 percent of conventionally-produced food.

Next time you are at Crown Commons or SoVi, check the menu boards for information about the impact of your meal. You might be surprised at what you learn about your food – and your choices.