Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Domino's spotlights a farm connection

Who’d have thought Domino’s would jump ahead of the big-chain pack in embracing the local-agriculture aspect of sustainability?

Cheese from Wisconsin is hardly local when it tops a pizza sold by a Domino’s in Alabama, California or Massachusetts. Still, the delivery giant is breaking new ground with the just-introduced Wisconsin 6 Cheese pie and the commercial supporting it.

At the very least, the Michigan-based chain is specifying where a main ingredient was sourced. That’s a marked departure from the usual chain pronouncement that Ingredient X is wholesome, fresh and delicious. In this day and age, those bromides are taken to mean the item is factory-produced, unnaturally consistent and perfect-looking, and muted sufficiently in taste to displease no one.

Domino’s is promising that the cheese on the new pie actually comes from farms, and it’ll even tell you where they are. There’s an implied direct connection between the multinational chain and the mom-and-pop dairy producers of farmland America.

Indeed, the commercial suggests that Domino’s isn’t ashamed of anything it puts on the pies, and is willing to specify where each component was produced.

Perhaps more important, the franchisor has pledged to start a website, “Behind the Pizza,” where consumers can meet the farmers who produce 10 of the ingredients that go into Domino’s products. Visitors will learn about the trip from farm row to delivery box.

Sure, there’s some hype to the promotion. The Associated Press has reported that not all the cheese used on the new Wisconsin pie is actually from that state. And a buyer from Domino’s isn’t toodling down a dirt road in his dirt-caked pick-up, buying a block of cheddar or mozzarella from a guy in overalls named Clem.

Truth be told, the buy-local/sustainability movement is a multi-layered phenomenon. Ideally it’s serving what was produced a turnip’s throw away from the restaurant and picked that morning. If that’s not feasible, the next best thing is serving something seasonal and fresh, regardless of where it’s from. And if that’s not do-able, it’s providing food with a narrative of where it came from and how it got there.

At least Domino’s is addressing the mega-trend of the moment.
We’re in the midst of a cultural revolution that’s reshaping the way America eats—and lives. The shift to local foods holds profound implications for parties ranging from the local café to grade schools, parents, banquet managers, community planners, even residential developers.

It’s nice to see that chain restaurants aren’t sitting apart, idly watching truckloads of farm-fresh produce roll past.

No comments: