One thing that makes Food Day great is the wide scope of awareness it brings to Food, from the impact on the environment, to fair working conditions, to your health. WooFood, a Worcester, MA based nonprofit founded in 2010 by three University of Massachusetts Medical Students and supported by great community partners including the Worcester Department of Public Health and Pioneering Healthier Communities has focused in on the issue of health. As clinicians, we recognized that no matter how often you are told to “eat a good diet” that it would be next to impossible to do if your environment doesn’t support those decisions. Quite frankly, nobody, (not even doctors or medical students) makes the best decisions for their health all of the time. In order for someone to do this, we would have to assume: 1) healthful food choices are actually available 2) the person has infinite and accurate knowledge (which is difficult with a new fad diet being introduced every 5 minutes) 3) the person has infinite willpower, and 4) one has plenty of time to work through all of the complicated choices presented to them.
This is a nearly impossible task. If we can’t expect even the experts to , why should we expect everyone to? WooFood was founded with a recognition of this, and a passion for delicious food.
So what is WooFood?
WooFood is a non-profit organization that seeks to make the healthy choice the easy choice in restaurants. We utilize something known as “Choice Architecture” to build a restaurant experience that promotes healthful choices. So what the heck does that mean? One simple example is the default (automatic) option. Often times, when you go out to eat, the default option is not a very healthy option, regardless of what you order. There are not enough vegetables, too much cheese, too large portion size, etc. We want to make the default option a healthful option but leave the customer with the option to make it less healthful, if they so desire. To learn more, read on!
What can I expect at a WooFood Certified Restaurant?
1.The healthful choice is the easy choice.
WooFood doesn’t take away choice, but does want to make the better choice easier for you to make. Many WooFood certified restaurants offer to “Make it WooFood Certified” and will make you a more healthful version of their most popular dishes on request.
2. Healthful options that are clearly marked with the WooFood logo. At least two of these options will be vegetarian and at least one will be non-vegetarian. For WooFood, it isn’t enough to have something that is just healthful. We want to make sure that it tastes good.
3. An easy way to reduce portion size
(most of our restaurants offer “Dinner For Now, Tomorrow’s Chow” which means half of your meal gets wrapped up to bring home and half is brought out hot and fresh!).
If you’re like most people, it’s game over if you’re hungry and a giant plate of food is put in front of you.
Is WooFood a vegetarian, local, or organic movement? No! Food Day certainly encourages organic farms, and WooFood is supportive of many of these movements in spirit; however, while these movements do often encourage healthful eating, you can have something that is local and organic that is NOT healthy (I’m looking at you, Mr. local organic bacon…). Finally, WooFood has a social mission of certifying restaurants in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Requiring local or organic produce, at least at this time, would be prohibitive and discriminate against these restaurants. WooFood supports restaurants using local and organic ingredients, but we do not require it for certification.
How has WooFood been so successful so quickly? WooFood has great community partners including, but not limited to those listed below!