New Year Brings New Leaders

Wed, February 06, 2019

Join Us in Welcoming New Perspectives to Our Advisory Councils to Advance the Menus of Change Vision

As we kick off 2019 and look toward the 7th Annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit, June 18-20, 2019, and the release of our sixth annual report, we are delighted to announce some exciting developments to our two advisory councils.

Sustainable Business Leadership Council = Business Leadership Council

New Name: Moving forward, we’ll refer to this council as the Business Leadership Council (BLC). Why is that? Because not only does it already consist of leading thinkers at the forefront of efforts outside of sustainability—from nutrition, health, and food ethics, to supply chain transparency and culinary innovation—but so too does the scope of its strategic guidance to Menus of Change extend well beyond sustainability-oriented solutions.

New Leadership: We are honored to have a new chair stepping in to spearhead the BLC—Michael Kaufman, JD, a partner at Astor Group, and visiting lecturer at Harvard Business Schoolalong with a new position of vice chair—Chavanne Hanson, MPH, RD, food choice architecture and nutrition manager at Google Food. A longtime member of the SBLC and one of the founding visionaries behind the Menus of Change initiative, Michael brings decades of experience in the U.S. restaurant industry. As a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, a trustee emeritus of the CIA, and former chairman of the National Restaurant Association, he is well positioned to help us lead the expansion of the impact of Menus of Change in the months and years to come. New to the Google Food team but a veteran in the food industry’s health and wellness arena, Chavanne brings an additional international lens from her time advancing nutritious options at Nestlé in Switzerland. In her new role at Google, she is at the epicenter of Google’s work to engage both employees and outside stakeholders worldwide in behavior change in support of healthier, more sustainable food choices and food systems—a focus that will also be critical to our work with Menus of Change as we increasingly pivot from the “what and why” of the imperatives we face to the “how” (with delicious, business-friendly results!). Please help us give a warm welcome to Michael and Chavanne.

New Members: The BLC will be further enhanced in 2019 and beyond by the addition of three other key leaders. They are:

  • Shannon Allen, Creator, grown (Miami, FL)
  • Molly McGrath ’08, Chef and Culinary Director, ROTI Modern Mediterranean (Chicago, IL)
  • Nicola Shaw, Director of Marketing, Daiya Foods (Vancouver, BC)

To get better acquainted with some of the new members of the BLC, please see the Q&A below.

Scientific and Technical Advisory Council

New Members: We are honored as well to be welcoming aboard five new members of the STAC, who bring with them decades of combined research and translational experience across a wide range of disciplines. They are:

  • Marcia DeLonge, PhD, Senior Scientist and Agroecologist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists (Berkeley, CA)
  • Jean-Xavier Guinard, PhD, Professor of Sensory Science, University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
  • Clare Hinrichs, PhD, Professor of Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA)
  • Douglas N. Rader, PhD, Chief Oceans Scientist and Associate Vice President, Oceans Science, Environmental Defense Fund (Raleigh, NC)
  • Bernard E. Rollin, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Animal Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)

To get better acquainted with the new members of the STAC, please see the Q&A below.

Getting to Know the Newest Members of the Menus of Change Advisory Councils

To better understand the expertise and point of view each of our new advisory council members brings to Menus of Change—and to give you, the Menus of Change community, a sense of how each of them thinks about the key issues related to the business of healthy, sustainable, delicious food choices—we asked them the following three questions:

  1. Pretend I’m a 4th grader. How would you explain your job and the focus of your company’s work in three sentences or less? 
  2. Based on your observations as an eater in America, if you had to pick just one Menus of Change principle that merits greater attention and innovation from the restaurant and foodservice industry, which would it be? Why?
  3. From your perspective, why does participating in Menus of Change seem like a valuable use of your time? Describe what challenges and opportunities you see with respect to moving the restaurant and foodservice industry toward healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward menus.

Here’s what they said.

Marcia DeLonge, PhD, Senior Scientist and Agroecologist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

1. Soil may look like dirt, but it’s actually one of our most precious natural resources. Among other things, healthy soils help grow healthful food while protecting clean air, clean water, and biodiversity. In my job, I work with scientists, policy-makers, and others who are exploring ways to build healthier soils that benefit farmers, food, and all of us.

2. “Reward Better Agricultural Practices.” Why? Better agricultural practices benefit farmers, but the ripple effects of this land stewardship can also be felt far away from the farm (think safe drinking water, healthy fisheries, abundant wildlife and biodiversity, clean air, and more). This means that each bite of food you take is a chance to support farmers that are serving up much more than just meals.While it remains challenging to connect the dots from farm to fork – and to source more sustainable food – this is a huge space for innovation and opportunity.

3. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting time to be searching for food system solutions that consider everything from nutrition, livelihoods, and social justice to healthy soils, thriving ecosystems, sustainability, and more. Although the complexity of the food system can be overwhelming, working collaboratively to understand its complexity – with cross-disciplinary science, conversations, and communication – will be the key to finding transformative solutions.

Line Gordon, PhD, Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre

1. My research is about how we can use food as the main way to improve sustainability of this planet. This includes identifying what we need to eat and how we should produce food, so that future generations can continue to enjoy a good life on this planet; a life where we can continue to enjoy clean water and deep forests, where coral reefs still exist, and where we can remain amazed by the world’s diverse life forms in our oceans and on land.

2. I really like “Leverage Globally Inspired, Plant-Forward Culinary Strategies” for a number of reasons. First, more plant-based food is such an important part of a sustainable and healthy food future. Second, we need to make sustainable food aspirational and exciting, and there is so much inspiration to get from engaging with different food cultures from around the world, where plants are at the center point of the plates. Third, we need culinary innovators and new culinary strategies to succeed. This principle is simple but engages across these three different aspects of change.

3. As a sustainability scientist, my research can show what we need to achieve for food systems to contribute sustainable development. The research shows the large discrepancies between current food systems and what future food systems need to deliver. Menus of Change can both mobilize the actors who can achieve this change, and inspire an exciting pathway to get there.

Jean-Xavier Guinard, PhD, Professor of Sensory Science, University of California, Davis

1. Do you ever wonder why you like some foods and drinks and not so much others? This is what I study. My job is to make foods and drinks good for your health, good for our planet, and delicious!

2. “Use Less Red Meat, Less Often” – clear impact on health and the environment.

3. Potentially huge impact on public health and the planet. Great collaboration between scientists and operators for quality research, state-of-the-art communications, and change (in practices and behaviors). The main challenge seems to be to strike the right balance between (basic, applied, and operational) research in support of MOC principles and the implementation of MOC principles. But progress and impact far exceed challenges and failures so far.

Chavanne Hanson, MPH, RD, Food Choice Architecture and Nutrition Manager, Google Food

1. My job is to help "fuel" each person at Google with the best food possible. Our team works to make food taste great, and equally important we ensure it is nutritious so every person at Google has a smile on their face at lunch (they are happy and they feel good) and they can go back to their desk and do a great job at work!

2. “Reduce portions, emphasizing calorie quality over quantity.” Moderating portions means that people can have the foods they love and crave but as foodservice operators, we can positively position foods and meals to help manage portions that are moderate, sensible, and allow for enjoyable eating experiences. We have a fantastic opportunity to turn the value proposition on its head to signal more quality and greater value with portions that are right-sized, great tasting, and reduce food waste. High quality and mindful portions can also feature the positive side of nutrition, including whole grains and plant-focused offerings. Everyone wins when we deliver taste, nutrition, and sustainability in one offering!

3. Menus of Change is an amazing platform that galvanizes the most influential food curators in the industry. If we focus our efforts in the same direction on health and sustainability, we have the unique ability make a meaningful difference. Food is the ultimate connector. I am eager to work together to care for the food we prepare, care for the people we serve, and care for each other so that we can live happily, healthfully, and well. I am deeply motivated to see nutrition, taste, and sustainability live in our conversations, our collaborative work, and ultimately be our joint deliverable so the health of individuals, our communities, and the planet can be our shared reality.

Clare Hinrichs, PhD, Professor of Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University

1. My work is concerned with how change happens in food, agricultural, and environmental systems and with what consequences for different groups in society. My subject area requires being curious about and willing to explore the many interdisciplinary connections to other fields—from agronomy to history to nutrition to climate science to philosophy. As a sociologist, what I want to understand is fairly fundamental: What are people thinking and doing—whether individually or collectively— within diverse efforts to change the food system?

2. Selecting just one is difficult, but if I must, it would be the principle, “Be Transparent about Sourcing and Preparation.” The goal of transparency is immediately appealing and laudable. But it is also extremely complicated. While there’s plenty of evidence that many food consumers want much more information about the food they purchase and eat, there are also question marks surrounding, for example, the amount and kind of information that many of us can cognitively process; the situations in which people may welcome transparency or conversely resent the accompanying expectations of responsible consumption; or the moment scientific knowledge about a given food system practice should be considered settled, definitive or even relevant. The complexity of “transparency”—and the potential for contestation—makes this principle important for actors across the food supply chain, from farm to table and far beyond.

3. I’ve done some applied research on the development of farm-to-institution programs (primarily with schools and restaurants) and look forward to learning much more about how current ideas, trends, and pressures in the foodservice sector are structuring new possibilities for advancing more sustainable, healthy, and equitable food systems. One of the challenges in translating research into action may be the diversity of actors and organizations who can and should be addressed. One size may not fit all. The foodservice sector, for example, is not monolithic in terms of types, size, or starting points of establishments and venues. Within a given business or organization, pathways to action may be different across roles, jobs, and interests. All of this has implications for communication approaches and our understandings about what constitutes actionable knowledge. That said, we are now seeing a very exciting upwelling of interest in doing engaged research, making transdisciplinary connections, and fostering academic-community-business partnerships. Menus of Change seems well positioned to mobilize such commitments.

Michael Kaufman, JD, Partner, Astor Group, and Visiting Lecturer, Harvard Business School

Working on different things, but my favorite is teaching.In business school, students learn how to manage companies and solve problems that companies face.I work on a course that looks at the kinds of issues that restaurant companies deal with.

Plant-forward – it is easy to understand and implement, and can have a major impact quickly, affecting both health and environment.

MOC helps provide leaders (culinary, executive, operations, etc.) with insights and perspectives that they can implement, or at the least influence, change.

Molly McGrath ‘08, Chef and Culinary Director, ROTI Modern Mediterranean

1. At Roti, we are committed to serving Food That Loves You Back! We prep fresh ingredients daily and cook up great meals starting with our char grill and finishing with our house-made toppings and sauces. We are on a mission to promote fresh food and healthy options for all types of diners.

2. I’d go with “Focus on Whole, Minimally Processed Foods” because what makes our menu so special is the time and care we spend every day in making a selection of items that jump off the line, both visually and flavor-wise. I think this needs to be a focus overall, with better, fresher, simpler foods available to customers all the time.

3. I think that MOC is great because it’s a wonderful space to cross-pollinate ideas. One of our biggest challenges is the value equation – how we can serve even more fresh vegetables and house-cut proteins but do so in a way that really drives value to our customers. Seeing what other foodservice outlets are doing within the same set of principles really helps grow our own vision.

Douglas N. Rader, PhD, Chief Oceans Scientist and Associate Vice President, Oceans Science, Environmental Defense Fund

1. I work with fishing families, communities, scientists, and governments to help make sure that there are enough fish to catch, and that they will be there for their grandchildren. We work with these partners to come up with new ideas about how to do that, and then make them happen. I have been lucky enough to help protect fish and the ocean all around the world, from cool places like Cuba and Belize, to important big places like the U.S., Europe, China, Peru, and Japan.

2. Limited to just one, I would choose the principle, “Reward Better (Agri)cultural Practices,” but drop the first syllable to expand its meaning to address cultural practices in the broader sense, relating not only to agricultural practices but also aquacultural practices and wild fisheries management practices, which are also “cultural,” in both meanings of the word. That is, not only are there “cultures” of sustainability in all three types of food procurement, there are also management approaches that change the availability and impact of procurement for each of the three. If that isn’t fair, then I would adopt the principle, “Celebrate Cultural Diversity and Discovery,” as doing so would have the effect of greatly expanding the universe of seafood types deemed suitable in cuisine, with important consequences for ocean ecosystems, and great benefits to fisheries partners all over the world.

3. Environmental Defense Fund has great interest in helping expand the impact of people and institutions committed to food sustainability, and to using economic and social incentives to the advantage of ocean ecosystems and vulnerable populations all over the world. We have also invested heavily in shaping the scientific and socioeconomic research needed for those ends. Thus, we have engaged for many years in partnering with a wide array of sustainable seafood institutions that share those aspirations, and see Menus of Change as one such high-impact collaboration. We look forward to working together towards these important goals.

Bernard E. Rollin, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Animal Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

1. My work is directed towards improving the way animals are treated in human society. For example, for a long time when scientists hurt animals in research experiments, they didn't use analgesia (painkillers). We wrote laws that required scientists who hurt animals to control that pain.

2. “Reward Better Agricultural Practices.” I would like to see a return togood husbandryfor animals used in contemporary agriculture. Proper treatment of animals in ways that respect their biological and psychological needs and natures ought to be presuppositional to agriculture, not an after-thought introduced in response to consumer or government pressure.

3. Participation in Menus of Change strikes me as a very plausible mechanism for pressing forward proper animal treatment, so that they live happy lives.