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Petition urges Olive Garden to clean up their act

Over 50 organizations have banded together to start the “Good Food Now!” campaign, directed at DRI, to “adopt better labor practices and greener menus” supporting not only the environment, but also farmers, animals, customers, and the staff at their restaurants.

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Better practice organizations banding together

We have reported on Darden Restaurant Inc. in the past, parent company of Olive Garden, which has more than 1,500 casual-dining restaurants around the world, and it’s considered the largest full-service restaurant employer in the United States.

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Over 50 organizations have banded together to start the “Good Food Now!” campaign, directed at DRI, to “adopt better labor practices and greener menus” supporting not only the environment, but also farmers, animals, customers, and the staff at their restaurants.

An historic coalition

According to one manager, never before have environmental, worker justice, animal welfare, and public concern organizations come together under one umbrella to target the restaurant industry. The focus of the campaign is on Olive Garden, even though DRI also owns Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse, and a number of other popular restaurants. Olive Garden accounts for the majority of the sales of DRI.

The petition sent to Darden urges the company to support:
• A valued workforce
• Environmental sustainability
• Local economics
• Good nutrition
• Animal welfare

GoodFoodNow demanding local, nutritious and fair

The campaign wants Darden to make a commitment to providing a better experience to its customers by sourcing ingredients locally and at fair prices. To promote animal welfare, the organizations want DRI to source proteins that are certified humane raised and handled and raised without the use of anti-biotics. In addition, DRI is being asked to provide smaller portion sizes, more vegetarian and vegan entrée options, and to improve nutrition through including more fruits and vegetables.

Is it possible for Darden to take action?

The principles which outline the GoodFoodNow campaign are those being used in the LA Unified School District to govern the entities which purchase food for the school district. According to GoodFoodNow supporters, Darden claims to support and value animal welfare, their employees, and their customers, but they don’t demonstrate their commitment to these key issues. The group has requested a meeting with DRI, but to date, Darden has not granted a meeting or acknowledged the issues raised by the coalition.

#GoodFoodNow

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Tiffany

    March 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    It seems to me that its just someones thought and hope to have restaurants participate in their plan. As i see it , The company shouldnt have to discuss what they do regarding this. I dont blame them for not talking to them.

    • Tiffany

      March 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      I personnally think if people want a restaurant running the way they propose , maybe they should start their own restaurant.

  2. Kathy

    July 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Sorry this post got longer than I intended, but I found myself making the points for the group that the group should have been making themselves. This article is too short.

    It’s absolutely correct to approach Darden with the idea that they need to clean up their act. Red Lobster has already been sold. But you can only expect so much from major old chains like the Olive Garden. I doubt if Darden will make all the changes the group is demanding, at least not all at once, or address them at all, since Olive Garden may be sold next. And although vegetarian choices are nice (I’m not one), it sounds whiny to a big chain and there are bigger fish to fry, like the crap that’s in the food itself that needs to go.

    Sourcing locally is great but not always feasible. When you eat at a major chain you get what they can buy to deliver to ALL their locations. But I agree that something organic, like tomato sauce, is reasonable and readily available anywhere. Not speaking for everyone, but also many people are aware of the toxic ingredients in our food these days. And I’ve found that different regions of the US have more awareness than others.

    I use to love Olive Garden and Red Lobster until about six years ago when it seemed the quality was going down hill. But I also discovered you can look up the food ingredients and allergens online. I found there is so much Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), preservatives, and other chemicals in the food. These two chains, and especially fast food, are riddled with MSG! No wonder the food tastes good (sort of), that’s what MSG does. Hey, restaurant owners, ever hear of actual real spices! I cook very simply at home, and it tastes really good, and with no chemicals and MSG.

    MSG has an effect on the brain that makes the food taste good. It also has an effect of making you start to crave that food. It also can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, adrenal gland malfunction, and even seizures (info from Global Healing Center). Look around at people who frequently eat at these places. Their health and quality of life goes down hill. So was my families until I made changes and now cook at home everyday.

    But even with all the MSG you still can’t hide microwaved, frozen, processed reheated food. That’s like putting an air freshener in a garbage can!

    I remember going into a grocery store with some friends in about 1982, and one of the guys bought a spice. He said this makes food taste really good. The label said Monosodium Glutamate. They actually use to sell it right along with all the other spices! It’s funny how it’s not sold anymore, but yet they allow restaurants to put in abundance in their food! MSG and all it’s forms need to be banned, right along with High Fructose Corn Syrup. But I digress.

    Another thing the restaurants need to get smart about is the massive use of GMO oils in the use and process of their food. These days people are really concerned about that, even other countries. I have made phone calls to ask what kind of oil is used to fry food. The most frequent answer I get is Soy. That’s because of a new-fangled GMO one that makes machines it’s used in easier to clean, among other reasons. And when I ask if it’s Non-GMO, they say “it doesn’t say on the label.” If it doesn’t say, then it is GMO. For those of you who aren’t aware of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) food, please do the research. It’s too much of an overreach to explain it here.

    On some points, the group is making valid concerns. On other points they may be that businesses like Olive Garden can’t make huge changes overnight, so they should stick to the most important priorities first, like ditch the chemicals and MSG, and hormone free meat. That’s a huge start. They might get more notice that way.

    Panera Bread is slowly cleaning up it’s food item by item, and to my surprise not doing a bad job. So I sent them an email thanking them for that, but then also pointed out that they should switch to Non-GMO wheat flour. I said since many people are concerned about GMOs that they would be really noticed for that, especially since they are Panera BREAD, bread being their main identifier! Sure, I’d like organic wheat while they’re at it, but too much demand might result in nothing at all, so I’ll except Non-GMO for now.

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Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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startup founders average age is 45

There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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