Eureka! Searching for an aha moment

By 
Dana Moran, Managing Editor

eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there. 

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones near its cash registers or frequent diner cards to promote Meatless Mondays—though those are great stealable ideas. As our conversation turned to Metzger’s larger philosophy of a hospital’s responsibility to diners, he laid out an analysis of a grocery store. For optimal health, shoppers should start in the produce section, then circle the perimeter to hit the meat, dairy and bakery sections. “Nothing in the grocery store designed for human consumption is in the center,” he says.

Boom! Mind. Blown. Metzger was correct with regard to processed and preserved foods—even modern flours, he says, are milled in a way that removes nutrients. While the “circling the perimeter” approach to grocery shopping isn’t entirely practical for modern life, it’ll certainly be top of mind going forward every time I hit the store.

For me, that’s the definition of eureka: finding something earth-shaking that you didn’t even know you were looking for. Eureka comes from being open to the unexpected, to paying attention to detail and not making up your mind too soon.

In the wake of new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s announcement in early May of plans to roll back parts of the National School Lunch Program, FoodService Director editors reached out to K-12 operators around the country to gauge their reactions. It would be dishonest to say we went in without expectations of how they’d feel—fewer regulations on sodium = bad, right? 

Instead, the majority of those who responded to our emails were either relieved by the greater menu flexibility that the relaxed rules would afford, or understood the need for it. “We wanted some ‘tweaks’ to the program that we believe are beneficial to our students,” says Sara Gasiorowski, child nutrition director for Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis (as well as FoodService Director’s FSD of the Year for 2016).

While it’s one opinion of a multifaceted issue, Gasiorowski and others see the positives in what may, on its face, seem like a negative to an outsider. That’s a eureka moment, too.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources