Category: REAL News

Eat REAL® Collaborates with the ASPCA to Provide More Humane Options in Foodservice Establishments

May 3rd, 2017 by

First US foodservice certification program to adopt farm animal welfare standards.

San Francisco, CA (PRUnderground) May 2nd, 2017

Eat REAL®, the nation’s leading certifier of nutritional and environmental excellence in foodservice, has announced that by 2021 all REAL Certified® restaurants and foodservice providers will be required to source a significant portion of their animal products from farms that are audited by one of the animal welfare certifications recognized by the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart initiative. These certifications set clear standards for animal handling at every stage of life, ban inhumane and unsustainable practices including caging, crating, crowding and overuse of antibiotics, and provide a level of transparency around animal wellbeing that is currently uncommon in the restaurant industry. Eat REAL made this change to its certification requirements after consultation with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), and the two organizations will work together to bring more establishments into the program.

“Americans are finally waking up to the massive impact that factory farming is having on all species, including humans,” said Lawrence Williams, CEO of Eat REAL. “With the addition of credible animal welfare certifications with meaningful standards, consumers can rest assured that REAL Certified restaurants and foodservice providers are not only serving better meals for eaters and the environment, but now better for animals too.”

The program requires that either an entire food animal category (e.g., pork) or the most purchased animal product (e.g., ground beef) at REAL Certified establishments come from farms or ranches that are certified as either Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Step 2 or above. This new requirement, phased in by 2021, will make REAL Certified the first certification program in the US to address health, sustainability, and animal welfare in the foodservice sector. Eat REAL expects many establishments to exceed the required portion of welfare certified products.

“While today’s consumers are concerned about the treatment of farm animals and seeking more humane options when dining out, it can be difficult to distinguish meaningful standards and deceptive marketing,” said Nancy Roulston, Director of Corporate Engagement, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare. “Conscientious consumers, chefs and foodservice companies should recognize what Eat REAL is bringing to the table: a forward-thinking program that understands farm animal welfare is part of a healthy and sustainable food system.”

REAL Certified establishments that have already committed to the new animal welfare standards are:

·      fresh&co (New York, NY)

·      Genuine Foods (Nationwide)

·      Mossback (Seattle, WA)

·      Sabio on Main (Pleasanton, CA)

·      Ceres Community Project (Bay Area, CA)

Statements from REAL Certified Establishments:

“Humane treatment of farm animals is not only a question of basic humanity, but overwhelming evidence now links these practices to our health and the health of the planet. Responsibly raised animals also result in the most flavorful ingredients and the most delicious food. We are thrilled to be an early adopter of animal welfare standards required by Eat REAL and recognized by the ASPCA. Our customers can count on the best meat, dairy and eggs produced with the greatest possible consideration for the welfare of the animal.”

– Francis X. Hogan, Executive Chef & Partner, Sabio on Main, Pleasanton, CA

“At fresh&co, we believe that good food starts with good practices. We’re committed to giving our customers healthy foods that are good for them and the planet. We only partner with those who share our commitment to quality, responsibility, and sustainability and therefore, our commitment to Eat REAL, with its new animal welfare standards, is a natural next step in our mission. We’re proud to be part of this movement so our customers can trust that their meals support a healthy and sustainable food system.”

– George Tenedios, Chief Executive Officer, fresh&co.

About REAL Certified

REAL Certified® is a program of Eat REAL®, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit dedicated to transforming America’s food system and fighting diet-related disease. Launched in 2012, REAL Certified is a nutrition and sustainability best practices certification program aimed at realigning the food industry’s incentives with consumers’ health interests. The organization has certified over 500 restaurants, corporate cafes and college dining services in 32 states, with financial support from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Park Foundation, the Mary Black Foundation, the Campbell Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. More information can be found at

Food CMO’s Guide to Choosing a Social Monitoring Tool

April 20th, 2017 by

By Keith Butler April 4, 2017

Originally posted by EvansHardy+Young

The large number of social monitoring tools available makes choosing the correct one a challenge for food commodity and CPG brands. At EvansHardy+Young, we take an aggressive approach to tool selection, and you should too.

We know selecting the right tool is a crucial business decision. The wrong decision will directly impact your business’ bottom line, so seeking professional expertise is worth consideration.

Should you decide on the do-it-yourself approach, you need a plan before starting the selection process. When you begin looking at social monitoring tools, take a walk on the wild side, and conduct research. This upfront approach will save you time, and more importantly, money.


Eat REAL Creates Market-Based Incentives For Healthy, Sustainable Food

April 10th, 2017 by

Originally from Food Tech Connect

Many foodservice operators are benefiting from the halo effect of sustainability, but it’s hard to tell how truthful their sustainability claims really are. Similar to what LEED certification did for the building industry, United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) is bringing transparency and guidance to the food industry by creating market-based incentives, programs and tools to increase the profitability of healthy, sustainable food.

The non-profit offers three programs: recipe analysis and menu labeling, nutrition consulting services and a certification program. Through its Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership Certification Program (REAL), it partners with third party registered dietitians to certify that operators’ menus, operations and supply chains are healthful and sustainable. For operators, REAL Certification offers a great marketing tool, as well as access to products from a network of certified ingredients suppliers at a discount. To date, there are 500 foodservice operations have received REAL Certification, including Restaurant Nora, Chipotle’s Shophouse, Bare Burger, Google, Stanford University and Boulder Valley School District.

USHFC is the brainchild of Lawrence Williams, an entrepreneur with a long history of tackling big challenges. Prior to USHFC, he worked with Elon Must to develop a collaboration between SpaceX and NASA to develop a domestic commercial crew and cargo for space travel. He also worked with Craig McCaw and Bill Gates’ Teledesic to negotiate with the FCC to make broadband access ubiquitous through the use of low-Earth orbiting satellites.

Lawrence’s experience in the tech world has always informed how he operates USHFC. Creating a new market and a new certification is no easy feat, but will perseverance USHFC has gotten some of the most reputable brands on board. Now, like any good entrepreneur, Lawrence realizes that its going to take a different skill set to scale the organization, so he is bringing on a new CEO.


I spoke with Lawrence about the biggest challenges he’s faced in scaling, how he’s treated his non-profit more like a startup and how new leadership will impact the direction of EatReal.


Danielle Gould: What’s keeping your team busy right now?

Lawrence Williams: We are currently in the process of finalizing and rolling out our updated certification standards, which we’re calling REAL 3.0. For the first time, this new certification will include numerous levels of certification (REAL, Silver, Gold and Platinum), which will allow for a deeper dive on some of the more complicated issues. We are also hosting the Eat REAL Roundtable and Eat REAL Kitchen Sausalito next week, where we will gather industry and NGO leaders for a two-day working group to weigh in and finalize the standards.

DG: What are your growth goals for the next 12-24 months, and how do you plan to achieve those goals?

LW: This is an exciting time for EatREAL! We just completed a merger with another nonprofit (The Institute for Responsible Nutrition), and are working through incorporating their board and leadership team into our organization, as well as the creation of a scientific advisory board to inform our standards. We are also in the final stages of hiring on a new CEO, who will be able to step in and scale our certification program to meet our growing demands. In the next year or two, we are going to work on expanding our consumer-facing brand and expand our footprint with the REAL 3.0.

DG: What does your team look like?

LW: We are a small and self-motivated team distributed between Washington, DC, Nashville, Chicago and San Francisco, supported by a nationwide network of registered dietitians. With fewer than ten people running a nationwide certification program, everyone here wears many hats.

DG: What does your company culture look like? How have you built your company culture?

LW: We have tried hard to act and operate more like a scrappy startup than a typical not-for-profit organization. Even though we are a non-profit, we try to function as a mission-driven business, not a charity.

DG: How are you preserving your company culture as you scale up?

LW: We spend a lot of time making sure we bring in the right cultural fit and we have weekly all-team meetings.

DG: What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started scaling your company? What are the biggest challenges and lessons learned as you’ve grown your company?

LW: Externally, the biggest challenge in scaling has been working with the foodservice industry, which can be challenging because generally speaking the hours are very long and margins quite small.

DG: What will someone who works for you be able to add to their resume?

LW: Working with EatREAL to help transform our food system provides an opportunity to make a make a huge difference on what is probably the issue of our time. Food is integrally linked to the health of all people and the planet.

DG: What job(s) are you hiring for, and how will those positions help drive growth in your company?

LW: We are currently hiring a new CEO, which, as you might imagine, is quite pivotal for the development of the organization.  This new leadership will determine the direction of EatREAL in the coming years – for a non-profit at this stage in its lifecycle, the input of our new CEO has the clout to fundamentally influence our brand recognition within the marketplace and to consumers.

DG: What kind of training do you offer for new employees who may be switching from other industries or who are just out of school?

LW: Working for EatREAL offers an opportunity to dive into the flow of an active and expanding organization while still being supported by your teammates.  Here, a new hire or a new graduate will be able to explore a variety of avenues within the nonprofit world in order to discover which of their areas of interest are the most applicable and enjoyable in practice.

DG: What’s your favorite interview question?

LW: What motivates you to want to join our team?

DG: Why do you think it’s exciting to be working in food right now?

LW: There is no denying that food is a hot-button issue across the board right now.  It is a dynamic time to be involved in the industry as we are confronted daily with new developments, policies, science, and research.  What’s more is that food culture is inextricably linked to a variety of different issues and industries – whether on the side of social dialogue around such topics as race, socioeconomic status, and disease, or around industries such as distribution, education, and technology. As such a central component to our daily lives, food serves as an intellectual and ideological hub for people from many backgrounds and industries to converge and exchange ideas and information.

Doctors tell patients to Eat REAL®

March 24th, 2017 by

Leading physicians leverage REAL Certified® to help consumers identify real food

San Francisco, CA (March 22nd, 2017) – Recognizing the irrefutable connection between diet and chronic disease, the medical community is increasingly starting to advise patients on what—and where—to eat. To that end, the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) and the Institute for Responsible Nutrition (IRN) announced today that they have merged their efforts to promote REAL Certified, a nutrition and sustainability trust mark for food and foodservice establishments. Within the newly combined entity, the USHFC will continue to manage the audit and certification process, and the IRN, co-founded by Dr. Jordan Shlain and Dr. Robert Lustig, will serve as the scientific advisory board.


Marist College Becomes New York State’s First REAL Certified University

November 3rd, 2016 by

Washington, DC (PRUnderground) November 2nd, 2016

The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) announced today that Marist College has become the first university in the state of New York to be audited and certified for Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL).

“The REAL certification is one of many accomplishments by Marist Dining Services and is a wonderful testament to our focus on wellness and sustainability,” commented Steve Sansola, Marist College Associate Dean of Student Affairs. “We take pride in our efforts to continuously enhance campus dining experiences for students, faculty and staff.”

REAL Certified is the nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice providers committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.   USHFC’s third-party registered dieticians (RDs) utilize a points-based REAL Index to audit foodservice providers across a range of criteria. To become REAL Certified, operators must satisfy prerequisites and earn sufficient points in the areas of Responsible (nutrition), Epicurean (preparation), Agricultural (sourcing) and Leadership (going above and beyond). The organization has certified restaurants and corporate cafes in over 30 states, and last year the Stanford University became the first REAL Certified University.

“Since many life-long habits are formed at college, campus dining can have a major impact on the health of the student body,” said Lawrence Williams, CEO of the USHFC. “It is good to see Marist College taking this responsibility seriously and going above and beyond to provide a food environment that promotes healthy choices.”

About Marist College Dining

Marist Dining Services by Sodexo serves students, faculty, and staff on the Hudson Valley campus in Poughkeepsie, New York. The operation oversees one dining hall serving over 4000 meals daily, six cafes through-out campus, concessions for athletic games, and catering for all campus-wide events, year-round, seven days per week. Marist Dining prides itself in its commitment to local and sustainable sourcing and has also received national recognition for innovative recipes and resident dining special events.

About United States Healthful Food Council

Established in 2012, the USHFC is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit, dedicated to fighting diet-related disease by realigning the food industry’s incentives with consumers’ health interests. The USHFC works towards its mission through the REAL Certified holistic nutrition and sustainability certification program. REAL Certified foodservice operators must satisfy prerequisites and earn sufficient points in the areas of Responsible (nutrition), Epicurean (preparation), Agricultural (sourcing) and Leadership (going above and beyond). More information can be found at

Fast Food Packaging Is Leaking Chemicals into Food

April 29th, 2016 by

In this article, James Oliver Cury of Food&Wine Magazine speculates about the carcinogenic properties of the plastic containers used in fast-food packaging. Offering disturbing statistics on chemical levels found in fast-food-eating participants vs. their healthier counterparts, Cury introduces more questions than answers – a fact that is reflected in the changing food world of today. 


Tasteful and REAL Certified Join Forces to Help Consumers Identify Top Healthy Restaurants

February 26th, 2016 by

Available on Market Wired

Healthy Lifestyle Companies Partner to Create the REAL 25, a List of Top 25 Restaurants in Major Cities That Provide Real, Quality Food

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Feb 24, 2016) – Healthy restaurant finder app, Tasteful, today announced that it is partnering with the foodservice certification program REAL Certified to promote the REAL 25, a list of the top 25 healthy restaurants for major cities across America. The program will be launched in Austin, Texas next month at the annual South by Southwest festival and conference. Tasteful is working with REAL Certified’s parent, the nonprofit United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), to recognize restaurants that use whole ingredients that have been minimally processed or refined. Both organizations are committed to ensuring that the restaurant industry recognizes and capitalizes on the movement toward holistic nutrition and the use of “real food.”

TWEET THIS: Introducing the #REAL25: lists of top #realfood restaurants in America by @tastefulapp and @USHFC #healthyeating #sustainablefood

UC Davis becomes second university to be REAL Certified

January 28th, 2016 by

Original Article on University Business

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) announced today that the University of California, Davis, has become only the second university in the nation to be audited and certified for Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL).

“UC Davis recognizes the critical link between food, health and the environment, not only for our students, but for the world’s growing population,” said Emily Galindo, executive director of Student Housing and associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs. “We decided to become REAL Certified because we want to raise the bar for school foodservice everywhere.” (more…)

Tennessee’s 5th annual Local Food Summit

December 1st, 2015 by


Tennessee’s 5th annual Local Food Summit again celebrates Nashville’s farmers and chefs and their supporters, who are committed to good agricultural practices, eating better, and stimulating the local economy. We have approximately 78,000 farms in Tennessee, with about 93% small family farms. We can grow almost all of the crops we consume, but only a small fraction of one percent comes from Tennessee. Industrial agriculture, from corn and soybeans to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), dominates the rural landscape that once fed Nashville from small family farms.

TSU Students checking cropTSU Students working in the gardentsu_Egg Production class_1950's[5]







Sweet Potato + Kale Pesto Bites

September 4th, 2015 by

Original article posted on Mind Body Green

Written by Mikaela Reuben, advisor to the United States Healthful Food Council

Not often thought of as a healthy food, sweet potatoes are actually packed with nutrients; when prepared correctly, they offer all sorts of great benefits. These orange-fleshed tubers are rich in antioxidants, may actually help control blood sugar levels and are particularly high in Vitamin A.

In this example, a kale basil pesto is served on top of baked sweet potato rounds, offering lots of nutrients, fiber and great flavor. Made with whole healthy ingredients, the bites are a uniquely tasty dish that can be an exciting change from the traditional holiday favorites. This dish is a great first step toward eating real for the holidays!

Sweet Potato + Kale Pesto Bites

Makes approximately 10-13 bites