The Food Revolution: Rethinking Fast Food

Fast FoodRobbie Vitrano, Co-Founder, NakedPizza, and Eric Quick, SVP Operations, Revolution Foods, presented at the 2010 Sustainable Brands Conference in June, not only bringing attention to the growing harmful consequences of fast food, but also providing innovative and real solutions.

By Michael D Tam

Sustainable Life Media recently held their Sustainable Brands Conference in Monterey, CA.  From sustainability executives, to designers and innovators, the event brought together today’s most innovative minds in the business of simultaneously being responsible and profitable, “building the discipline to continually observe, re-design, measure and communicate.”

With technology as advanced as it is today, and products and goods sourced from all over the world thanks to globalization, it is easy to forget those issues closer to home.  Simpler goods and services, in this case, fast food, have been largely ignored.  Despite its pervasiveness in today’s fast paced lifestyle, we have turned a blind eye to its effects and the potential to create profitable yet responsible businesses within the industry.  Fast food has been automatically linked to convenience and cheap, affordable food, but seemingly provides, out of its control, an unhealthy diet.  But what if the industry could retain these qualities of convenience and affordability, at the same time, provide a variety of healthy options of nourishment?  This is the challenge Robbie Vitrano of Naked Pizza and Eric Quick of Revolution Foods have set out to overcome.

First, let’s examine the effects of fast food.  Childhood obesity has been on the rise.  Among children aged 2 to 5 years, obesity has increased from 5% between 1976 and 1980 to 10.4% between 2007 and 2008.  Among 6 to 11 year olds, obesity has increased from 6.5% to 19.6%, among 12 to 19 year olds, it has increased from 5% to 18.1%, both during the same period.  While this can be linked to a variety of reasons, fast food cannot escape as one of the culprits, if not the main culprit.  And on the other end of the spectrum, the consequences of obesity are far and wide, from the most obvious, the health of those affected, to the less conspicuous, with obesity having been labeled as a national security issue due to the health of many new military recruits.

Now one may believe that getting rid of fast food will help in the battle against obesity, however, fast food is so prevalent in today’s society that another approach must be considered.  And with American children seeing more fast food commercials according to this Businessweek article, the approach seems to call for a more adaptive take on fast food.  This is what NakedPizza and Revolution Foods have decided to tackle.

According to Eric, Revolution Foods will serve 5 million meals to kids this year, meals that align with their food philosophy of natural and real, right size, not super size, balance, etc.  By serving a more balanced and healthy diet to kids in school, Revolution Foods is addressing obesity early on in a child’s life, changing behavior with a healthier foundation and raising school standards on what is acceptable for food and drinks, something the First Lady has gotten involved with as well. Revolution Food’s key goal has been to change how the supply of food arrives to the end consumer and address the nutritional benefits or lack of, in the food itself.  And they are not to be taken lightly as they have already established partnerships with organizations such as Whole Foods and Stonyfield.  The benefit of serving healthier food to students lies not only in the nutritional aspects but also in the students’ studies as healthier lunches can lead to better behavior and grades in school according to Eric.

NakedPizza has added to this movement by creating a healthier pizza, with a “proprietary crust recipe [that] contains 12 whole grains, nuts, and roots.” And according to Robbie, NakedPizza is about 98% Dominoes business model, 2% social mission, in its effort to spread healthy fast food in the form of pizza.  And with that 2% social mission, NakedPizza has already experienced more than 5,000 requests for franchises, had 10 case studies performed on their business, and recognition from media such as its highlight on the NY Times.  Rather than labeling fast food as the cause of obesity, they are transforming it into a solution.  With its goal to make the fast food industry healthier, NakedPizza seems to have the right idea, the support, and the execution as proven by their success thus far.

And so NakedPizza and Revolution Foods have taken on the large yet necessary task of creating a healthy America and have managed to make money doing so.  Let’s hope, for the sake of our children’s health and our own health, that they succeed.

Photo Courtesy of Jacque Stengel

© 2010, Michael D Tam. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Michael D Tam (6 Articles)

I am a recent graduate from UCLA, class of 2008, currently working in the corporate world of consulting and striving to discover how I can contribute to the world through business and do my part. Although a beginner on this expansive topic, I find my values to be greatly aligned with the principles of redesign and sustainability and hope to share what I learn as I continue on this exciting journey. From reading informative articles, to viewing eye-catching videos, to attending awe-inspiring events, I hope to capture what I learn and present it in a fashion interesting to you. Simply a student of the subject, I am interested in the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in building businesses that are profitable but can help society in ways never before considered. I am grateful to have this opportunity to share what I learn with like-minded individuals and hope that I can add to the innovating discussion.