The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) announced New York’s first foodservice establishments to achieve REAL Certification at a breakfast at the James Beard House. Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a growing national program that helps combat diet-related disease by recognizing foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.
“The James Beard Awards are the Academy Awards of the culinary world and we want to take this very special occasion to also honor those chefs and restaurant owners who take seriously the direct relationship between the foods they serve and the health of their customers,” says USHFC’s CEO Lawrence Williams. “We’re proud to recognize these operators who are making healthful and sustainable choices simple for consumers.”
The Eat REAL New York inaugural class of REAL-certified foodservice establishments includes Bareburger, ICI, Insurgo Project, Locanda Vini e Olli, Natural Gourmet Institute, Rose Water, Rusty Mackerel, and ‘wichcraft, spanning 32 locations across the city.
“We take pride in serving hand-crafted food made from sustainable ingredients and local sources at scale,” says Jeffrey Zurofsky, co-CEO and Partner of ‘wichcraft. “Even as we’ve grown, we have maintained our commitment to sourcing from the best farmers and purveyors in the industry. Our company is proud to support this mission and be a part of Eat REAL.”
Utilizing the points-based REAL Index, independent registered dietitians conduct an assessment of menu offerings and overall nutrition and sustainability practices. Establishments are credited with points across a range of criteria such as the use of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy preparation methods, moderate portion sizes, unsweetened beverages, healthy children’s options, and sustainable sourcing. Those that satisfy the necessary requirements are awarded REAL certification.
“We’re in the middle of a food revolution and I cannot think of anything more important to the health of more people than food,” says Dr. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and the 2014 REAL Food Innovator of the Year. "The most profitable foods are unfortunately not the ones that are the healthiest for people to be eating."
All REAL-certified establishments are featured on eatREAL.org and through the USHFC’s local partners to help promote better-for-you dining options. In New York, these partners include the James Beard Foundation and the Natural Gourmet Institute, which also sponsored the breakfast.
“REAL Certification is an example of the quickest, most complete means to make win-win changes. It's market-based and involves discovering profitable ways for restaurants to make us healthy. This is the future of how America will be made healthier,” says Dr. Brian Wansink, professor, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, and author of Slim By Design.
The newly certified New York establishments mark an expansion of REAL Certification, which launched with a restaurant campaign in Washington, D.C., last year and has since grown to nearly 100 locations that include restaurants, workplace dining facilities and public venues across the country.