What’s the Deal with “Eat REAL”?

With a rising demand for organic produce, free range livestock, and dairy and gluten-free options, clean eating has become more than a popular trend.

Over the recent years, the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) has used its influence to support, guide, and endorse food businesses using ingredients and products that are healthy and safe for consumers, and sustainable for the environment.

By re-structuring the food industry, the USHFC hopes to prevent diet-related diseases by giving consumers access to great food that supports a healthy lifestyle without putting existing food businesses in distress.

What does REAL certification really mean?

Food businesses dedicated to meeting the golden standard upheld by the USHFC can earn Responsible Epicurean Agricultural Leadership (REAL) certification. This certification is a trusted, nationally-recognized commitment to excellence for restaurants, caterers, food trucks, and other vendors who make holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship a priority when running their businesses.

Food businesses with Eat REAL certification strive to…

What's the Deal with "Eat Real"?

How can I get REAL certified?

In order to receive your REAL certification, your food business must undergo a voluntary review process where a registered dietitian evaluates your nutrition and sustainability practices against the REAL criteria. You may be asked…

  • How many menu items are available in reduced portion sizes?
  • Are sauces, dressings, and stocks made from scratch?
  • How many seasonal menu offerings are available?
  • Are customers automatically served water or can they readily access it on their own?
  • Are sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) listed on the children’s menu?

For more examples of nutrition and sustainability key performance indicators your registered dietician will assess, visit the FAQs on the Eat REAL website. If you’re ready to get started, you can start your Eat REAL certification process now.

Interested in Eat REAL, but don’t own a food business?

At the UT Culinary & Catering Program, we prepare our students for a number of culinary careers by teaching them the importance of creating well-rounded menus and working with like-minded local vendors. Chef-owner Whitney Ross, a recent graduate of our 12-week certificate program, is changing the face of street food in downtown Knoxville, Tenn. His food truck, Dinner Bell Fresh, serves only plant-based, vegan dishes, proving that healthy eating can be convenient and fun.

Do you have a vision like Whitney’s? Let’s make it happen!

Register for a free information session to see how 12 weeks at the UT Culinary & Catering Program can help you make a difference in your community. Contact Pam Quick at quickp@utk.edu or 865-974-3181 to learn more.