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Joining the Dialogue

December 03, 2012

By: Brandon Tidwell, Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants.

Joining the Dialogue

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This summer, I had the privilege of heading to Nebraska to visit another cattle family, the Ridders, and learn about their cow-calf operation on the western plains.  The Ridders are one of 70,000 cattle ranchers across the United States who supply beef to grocery stores and restaurants like Darden. Now I had many assumptions about farmers and ranchers based on my experience as a kid, but Mr. and Mrs. Ridder quickly demonstrated the depth of their knowledge. As owners and operators, they were experts in agronomy, weather patterns, animal husbandry, conservation, economics, and nutritional science.  I quickly realized the important role ranchers play in creating healthy food for a growing population.

During my trip, I also had the opportunity to visit a feed yard and beef processing plant at the invitation of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA). Along each step of the process, I was accompanied by the NCBA’s Director of Sustainable Research and the Director of Livestock for the World Wildlife Federation. They answered my questions and helped me understand how efficiency and conservation have made the U.S. one of the most effective at raising more cattle on less land, water, and feed.

Darden has made a commitment to understand and improve our management of the host of sustainability issues ingrained in the foods we serve. For decades, Darden has played a leadership role in seafood stewardship, both due to our market influence and the early commitment of our leaders. As beef plays an increasingly important role on our menus (particularly at LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille), addressing the issue of “sustainable beef production” will become increasingly critical.

Today, Darden is announcing our membership in the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (GRSB), a multi-stakeholder initiative facilitating “a global dialogue to provide beef production that is environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable by providing stakeholders and interested parties with the opportunity to jointly develop global solutions to advance sustainable beef production.”  We are joining other retailers, producers, processors, and representatives of civil society. To learn more about this effort, visit http://grsbeef.org/.

By joining the GRSB and leveraging the science of the NCBA and the Sustainability Consortium (of which we are a Tier I Member), Darden can contribute to the GRSB’s aim to, “advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain.” We are just beginning this journey, but we are committed to helping solve issues on our planet while exceeding the expectations of our guests.

 

For more information about the sustainability efforts of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association:

http://www.explorebeef.org/StewardshipReview.aspx

http://www.beefboard.org/news/111102SustainabilityStudyRelease.asp

 

For more information about The Sustainability Consortium:

http://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org

 

Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants. In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies and policies across all of Darden.  Brandon joined Darden from FedEx and is a candidate for a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He also holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Baylor and a certificate in Philanthropy from New York University.

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