The sweetgreen Food Ethos

sweetgreen is a destination for simple, seasonal, healthy food. (photo: Lindsey Love)
We believe the choices we make every day about what we eat, where it comes from, and how it’s made have powerful consequences on the health of individuals, communities and the planet.

We’re sweetgreen, and this is our food ethos. We want to feed more people better food, and we use this as a framework — it guides us in every decision we make. We’re always looking for ways to source smarter, to make better decisions and to help sweetgreen and its customers be a positive force in the world and on the food system. We feel a great sense of responsibility and pride to change what it means to be in the business of feeding people. We wanted to take a minute explain how we think about food and sourcing. Pay attention next time you’re in a sweetgreen — you’ll see this food ethos in action.

1. Scratch Cooking

sweetgreen Nolita team member Ellie prepares Brussels sprouts this past fall. (photo:Jonathan Schoonover)

sweetgreen prides itself on serving real food. There is simply nothing better than whole vegetables, whole fruits and whole grains, so these items are delivered to our stores every morning. We don’t have commissaries (read: off-site commercial kitchens) — our team dices, slices, spices and roasts these ingredients in-house every day, and you can see them in action in our open kitchens. Scratch cooking isn’t easy to do, but we’re able to do it because we have simple recipes. And we can have simple recipes because we get fresh produce teeming with natural flavors that we simply don’t mess with.

2. Transparency

The source list at sweetgreen West 3rd. (photo: Masha Maltsava)

Every sweetgreen has a source list on the wall — we keep it updated so you know where your food comes from. On any given day, our restaurants serve food from 100 different farms, and we partner with 250 farms throughout the year. We believe in a transparent supply chain, and we go to great lengths to work with farmers who are doing the right thing.

3. Local Sourcing

Jim Ward of Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA (photo: Smita Jacob, Hogger & Co. Photography)

We source from partners and growers we know and trust, letting their yield dictate our menu rather than us dictating what they should grow. We’ve learned that the food with the best flavor is the food the land wants to grow, and no one listens to the soil more than farmers. Last summer, we visited one of our Boston farmers, Jim Ward, of Ward’s Berry Farm. Jim was growing a lot of local Hubbard squash — one of his favorites — and seeing his crop inspired us to swap Hubbard squash for butternut squash in our winter seasonal, which is a real win-win-win in terms of taste and our food ethos. This winter, we’re proud to be sourcing 7,000 pounds of Hubbard squash from Ward’s — give it a try at a Boston sweetgreen.

4. Sustainability

Meet steelhead — a delicious, sustainable alternative to salmon. (photo: Jonathan Schoonover)

Since day one, we’ve prided ourselves on sustainability, from our store design to our waste management. But sustainability manifests most in the food we serve. The world can’t afford not to think and eat sustainably, and we take steps at sweetgreen to positively impact the food system. Last summer, we teamed up with Blue Hill’s Dan Barber on a wastED salad to bring awareness to food waste in this country, and we’ve altered a few recipes in light of what we learned during that collaboration. And this season, we’re proud to introduce steelhead, a sustainably raised fish that’s a delicious alternative to the “big four” fish — salmon, bass, cod and tuna — our society has been overfarming and overfishing for too long.

There you have it, our approach to simple, seasonal, healthy food. Stay tuned for more from us here on Medium — we’ll use content here to explain the why behind everything we do, from local sourcing and community investment to hiring and app development. If you have questions about steelhead or our sourcing decision, shoot us a note at ama@sweetgreen.com (ama = “ask me anything”). We’ll happily nerd out over this with you.

— Jonathan, Nicolas, Nathaniel and the sweetgreen team