If you ain’t eating local/organic, when we go “out” to eat we’re usually just eating out of a Sysco truck.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jul 12, 2009
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sysco truck dining out local organic

I always crack up slash break down in tears when I see the above Sysco truck pulling in front of (or, more often, surreptiously/expeditiously behind) fancy, cool “organic and local whenever possible” restaurants in Boulder, Colorado.

Excerpt via Slate:slate sysco food

Some obvious food trends have helped Sysco’s rise to Wal-Mart-like dominance. In 1970, households spent 34 percent of their food budget on dining out, compared to almost 50 percent today. And as small, local farms have closed down to make way for strip malls, restaurants increasingly depend on regional and national food processors to supply them with basic ingredients. While Sysco has smartly capitalized on all of this as the middleman between individual food distributors and the kitchen door, it’s also earned the ire of gourmets, who portray the company as a leviathan that destroys local economies—and good taste.

Excerpt Via Creative Loafing:

…The products inside those brown boxes feed children in schools and grandparents in nursing homes. The trucks ship ingredients for value meals to our favorite fast food dives and deliver the makings of gourmet dinners to our four-star restaurants.

SYSCO — an acronym for Systems and Services Company — is North America’s largest food distribution company and has more of an impact on our food supply than nearly any other company in the country.

And the food distribution giant is only growing larger.

Chances are you have eaten something from a SYSCO truck. It would be hard not to. SYSCO provides more than 400,000 businesses with meat, produce, frozen food and an assortment of cooking basics like spices and oils.

It is the sole provider of supplies to Wendy’s fast food restaurants and the chain of Hilton hotels. Many hospitals and nursing homes order from the SYSCO catalog, as do elementary schools and state universities. Even a large number of high-end restaurants and bistros use SYSCO for at least basic supplies.

Exactly what these places order from SYSCO is harder to determine. The company does not publish its customer list and did not return calls for comment. Local restaurant owners and chefs are less than eager to provide details...for the rest, click here.

Just another reason to spend a little extra at the Farmers’ Market? Or will Sysco, like its cousin behemoth Wal-Mart, begin to green its ways, green its fleet, wake up to the food monoculture ways that will ultimately bite us all in the (obese) derriere?


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “If you ain’t eating local/organic, when we go “out” to eat we’re usually just eating out of a Sysco truck.”

  1. I eat out so little that I guess I don't have to worry about it.

  2. Liz says:

    On the last two vacations in this lovely country my boyfriend and I took, we became painfully aware of the behemoth that is SYSCO.

    Wherever we went (Wyoming, Montana, Virginia) the menus were the same with only slight variations. Idaho trout, crab cakes, steak, chicken, some semblance of a salad. All the same items just jumbled around in a different order with different corn-syrup-laden condiments.

    The irony is that on both trips we were surrounded by farmland, where none of what was being produced was accessible to the locals. Or at least not immediately. It was probably being harvested (animals, too), shipped off to be processed and packaged, and then redistributed back via a big ol' SYSCO truck. What kind of sense does that make?

  3. […] blog worthy in this sad, vapid, speedy world. Why? Because while only a few people wanna read about local food vs. agribusiness, say, everybody likes to look at softcore (eco) […]

  4. Wherever we eat, Sysco we are.

    1500 miles. That's a long way for food to travel—it's awful tired when it gets to our plate! Shop local, support businesses you know, avoid GMOs and antibiotics…it's winwin.

  5. Andrew Armiger says:

    Subsidies and economy of scale. Perhaps if wine grapes can be grown in CO then olives and many other things that currently are not might be, as well. It is a matter of voting with dollars for the local options that do exist, and thankfully several Boulder restaurants (Blues & Greens, Salt, The Kitchen, among others) do make a point of letting … See Morepatrons know that they do make a significant effort to source ingredients locally. A friend of mine ran a now-defunct restaurant for a couple of years in Boulder recently, Karma Cuisine, that made a point of sourcing local, organic ingredients (with plans to expand the business by buying land for greenhouses nearby), having seasonal menus to reflect growing season, and offering great vegetarian and vegan options. The support from consumers simply was not there for her to sustain the effort.

  6. […] Sysco is the world’s largest broad-line food distributor. A broad-line distributor services a wide variety of accounts with a wide variety of products. Sysco is a 225 billion dollar food business that services 400,000 customers, and employs 45,000 people in numerous locations across the United States, Canada and recently Ireland. […]