It was a packed house at the Elizabeth's on L on Tuesday night. The first all raw and vegan restaurant in DC couldn't have been a better venue to launch the REAL Certification program and formally announce the first restaurants to earn the REAL designation. 16 local restaurants were newly minted with the Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) Certification, the nation's first nutrition and sustainability best practices certification program created by the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC). The USHFC, a non-profit and non-governmental agency, was founded in 2011 to combat obesity, diabetes and other food related diseases. Its mission is to promote access to organic and sustainable food and beverages and is dedicated to help Americans eat healthfully.
The organization was started by Lawrence Williams who has a deep rooted passion for fitness and health. He recognized the increased trend of Americans dining out but the lack of an institution that encouraged restaurants to focus on nutrition and healthiness of its menu. With the staggering statistics on obesity and the rise of diet-related diseases, the REAL certification will set standards and connect consumers interested in healthier foods with restaurants that meet that demand. USHFC is at the forefront of leading the revolution to change the way a nation of excess approaches and thinks about food.
Utilizing a flexible points-based system similar to LEED, restaurants obtain the REAL certification after earning points using the REAL index, which covers topics including composition of menu offerings (lean meats, vegetables and fruits), nutritional content and quality ingredients (reduced processing and additives, healthier oils, organic products), portion sizes, local sourcing, and sustainability/animal welfare. USHFC, along with its Registered Dietician partners, will monitor and ensure continued compliance with nutrition and sustainability best practices through random audits of operations.
USHFC hopes to increase transparency and to hold restaurants accountable by highlighting the role restaurants play in the health and waistlines of the general public.
Passed hors d'oeuvres were prepared by Elizabeth's Gone Raw, one of the REAL certified restaurants, and offered a taste of the restaurant's menu.
Dishes including creamy vegetable soup, delightfully sweet "bacon" wrapped dates, and mind-bending vegetable burger all tasted so fresh and crisp, as if the ingredients came straight from the garden. The small plates were flavorful and distinct, a wonderful combination of textures, and precise execution of a well planned menu that focused on quality and regional products. Wellcraft Soda also offered a botanical soda made with boysenberry and honey that was all natural and very refreshing.
A huge applause to DC’s first 16 REAL certified restaurants:
THE HEIGHTS: theheightsdc.com