Menus of Change

Sustainability’s importance is far-reaching, vegetables_basketand an increasing number of organizations are embracing its principles. Players in the sustainability movement include individuals shopping at farmers markets, to schools incorporating more local produce in school lunches, to the food industry and academic institutions.

Some of these players are even partnering up to achieve maximum impact – including The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Realizing the importance of multi-sector collaboration, they joined forces and launched the Menus of Change Initiative in 2012, with the goal of integrating optimal nutrition and public health, for environmental practices within the food service sector and beyond. The vision is to guide food and food service professionals in creating meals that are not only delicious, but also nutritious and healthy, environmentally sustainable as well as socially responsible and ethical.

The first Menus of Change conference launched a year later, in 2013. The principles promoted by Menus of Change encourage vendors to think about menu concepts and general operations, as well as foods and ingredients. Examples include:

1. Reward better agricultural practices
2. Globally inspired, largely plant-based cooking
3. Focus on whole, minimally processed foods
4. Think produce first
5. Choose healthier oils
6. Red meat: Smaller portions, less frequently
7. Reduce added sugar

MoC_dashboardThe Menus of Change Annual Report also provides a dashboard, updated annually, to show food industry progress in important areas including nutrition and sustainability, diet and health, climate change, and animal welfare – and many others.

The dashboard helps businesses evaluate their efforts on critical issues that affect the food service industry.


Menus of Change Dashboard – Issues

Diet and Health: Recent Trends

Water Sustainability

Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors
About Healthy and Sustainable Food

Portion Size and Caloric Intake

Agriculture, Drugs, and
Chemicals Use

Chefs’ Influence on
Consumer Attitudes

Protein Consumption and Production

Healthy Food vs. Healthcare Spending and Trends in Medical-Culinary Educational Alliances

Supply Chain Resiliency and

Fish, Seafood, and Oceans

Animal Welfare

Innovations in the Food Industry

Climate Change

Local Food and the
Farm-to-Table Movement

Changes in Investment Standards for the Food Industry Among Professional Investors

As institutions such as The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health partner to promote the principles of sustainable eating, these principles can – and should – be practiced on the individual level as well. For example, decreasing meat consumption is something that industries can address on a large scale, and that consumers can act on each time they visit the grocery store. Starting with small steps, you’ll find there are many opportunities to practice eating well for your own health and the health of the planet.

Sustainability is a complex equation, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Though taking individual action may seem daunting, we can be encouraged by the increasing number of organizations launching initiatives to promote change on a broader level – showing that both big companies and small communities can work toward the same goal of healthy food and a healthy planet.