Through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), Eat REAL Tennessee has announced the first REAL Certified establishments in Memphis. Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a growing national program that helps combat diet-related disease by recognizing foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.
Memphis’s inaugural class of REAL Certified foodservice establishments can be found throughout the city and include: Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Cafe Eclectic, City Market, The Farmer, Fuel Cafe, Hog & Hominy, Lettuce Eat Salad Co., McEwen’s, Porcellino’s, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Trolley Stop Market, Tsunami, and Two Vegan Sistas.
“Memphis is a city rich in local food culture and community, and these eating establishments are helping shift the environment towards a more healthful and sustainable model,” said Eat REAL Tennessee Project Manager Nikkole Turner.
Eat REAL Tennessee is a statewide initiative supported through a grant from the Tennessee Health Department as part of an innovative approach to preventing diabetes and obesity across the state. The program also serves as a community outreach platform, engaging and educating the public on nutrition and healthy dietary choices.
Utilizing the points-based REAL Index, independent registered dietitians conduct an assessment of menu offerings and overall nutrition and sustainability practices. Establishments are credited with points across a range of criteria such as the use of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy preparation methods, moderate portion sizes, unsweetened beverages, healthy children’s options and sustainable sourcing. Those that satisfy the necessary requirements are awarded and recognized as REAL Certified.
The USHFC has partnered with the Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH) and certified its annual awards luncheon this year at Rhodes College. “We were able to offer our awardees a healthy and locally sourced meal in support of our mission and that of the USHFC’s,” said Cristie Travis, Chief Executive Officer of the MBGH.
All REAL Certified establishments are featured on REALCertified.org and promoted through the USHFC’s local partners to help identify “better for you” dining options. The USHFC is partnering with FITKids, a program of the University of Memphis, to help Memphians find healthy family friendly dining establishments through its website and mobile app.
“Shelby County Government is very excited to be working with Eat REAL Tennessee to provide healthier options to our employees and encourage better nutritional choices,” said Shelby County Deputy Administrator Brenda Greene.
The newly certified Memphis establishments mark an expansion of REAL Certified, which launched with a restaurant campaign in Washington, DC, two years ago and has since grown to include restaurants, workplace dining facilities and public venues in 28 states.
Established in 2011, the USHFC is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit, dedicated to fighting diet-related disease by realigning the food industry’s incentives with consumers’ health interests. The USHFC works towards its mission through the REAL Certified holistic nutrition and sustainability certification program. REAL Certified foodservice operators must satisfy prerequisites and earn sufficient points in the areas of Responsible (nutrition), Epicurean (preparation), Agricultural (sourcing) and Leadership (going above and beyond). More information can be found at ushfc.org and REALCertified.org.