Restaurant customers now have a new certification to look for when choosing a place to dine. The Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a third party program that certifies food establishments for sustainability. In order to be certified, restaurants must have food that is nutritious, organic, local, cruelty free, sustainable, and a menu with multiple diet options such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) says that on average, one third of calories are consumed at restaurants. REAL helps ensure those calories are nutrient rich, builds healthy habits, and can aid in preventing dietary diseases.
In addition to the benefits of better customer nutrition and environmental health, the USHFC is collaborating with farmers, suppliers, and establishment owners for sustainable economic health. The USHFC enables restaurants to receive discounts on higher quality food while suppliers grow their market.
Currently, certified restaurants can be found in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Bethesda/Rockville. Establishments in Boston, Nashville, New York, and San Francisco are in the process of being certified. Eaters can use EatReal.org to find certified locations. Interested individuals can sign up to be a REAL Ambassador and provide information on certification to their local eateries.
Like the LEED certification for building sustainability, the REAL program is a point system that considers every aspect of a food business. REAL certification makes nutrition and sustainability profitable and affordable by bringing together all industry stakeholders. More people want healthier options and to know where their food is sourced and many restaurants want to provide that for them. REAL makes this happen by caring for people, the environment and the bottom line.
United States Healthful Food Council, USHFC’s REAL Certification program here.
What is REAL certification? Find out here.