Pickwick Landing and David Crockett State Park Restaurants Achieve 'Eat REAL' Certification
Tennessee State Parks restaurants at Pickwick Landing and David Crockett State Parks have achieved Eat REAL Certified Status, a nationally recognized standard for food service operations focused on sustainability and nutrition. Tennessee State Parks is the only state parks system in the nation to earn certification and among only two national park systems.
“Tennessee State Parks prioritizes health and sustainability across our entire system, from our operations and management, to the amenities and activities available to visitors,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Eat REAL certification complements our other programs, including Healthy Parks Healthy Person and Go Green With Us, that benefit visitors’ personal health and protect our public lands.”
Eat REAL ® (Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership) certification is a trusted mark of excellence for food and food service operators that have gone through a rigorous review process to evaluate the healthfulness and sustainability of their operation.
The Eat REAL Certified program in Tennessee is established through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and Eat REAL. It has recognized more than 100 food service operations across the state. Tennessee’s first state park to announce it had received certification was Henry Horton State Park in May 2018.
Highlights from Pickwick Landing State Park’s review include offering a wide variety of healthy menu items, including Pasta Primavera and a Black Bean Burger. Most purchased produce is organic and the restaurant prioritizes cooking in-house from scratch. Recycling is available for restaurant patrons and park visitors as well as utilized by park management. Staff also compost food scraps, minimizing the environmental impact of food waste sent to the landfill.
“Our guests like how versatile the menu is,” said Angie Martin, hospitality manager at Pickwick Landing’s Captain’s Galley Restaurant. “Many dishes can be tailored to the way they prefer it, including selecting your animal protein of choice or vegetarian.”
Accomplishments at David Crockett State Park include offering low-sugar food and beverage options, purchasing minimally-processed protein items without any unsafe additives, and providing transparent nutrition and allergen information. The restaurant prioritizes waste reduction through composting, recycling, using reusable tableware and avoiding plastic bags for to-go items.
“A lot of the sustainable requirements for the certification were already in place, like composting food scraps and using earth-friendly to-go containers,” said Nathan Watson, hospitality manager at David Crockett’s Crockett’s Mill Restaurant. “We have received a great response from visitors on our vegetarian and vegan menu offerings. It shows that people are looking for healthier offerings.”
“The Eat REAL partnership with Tennessee State Parks has allowed us to accelerate our shared mission of creating a healthier environment for Tennesseans and visitors across the state’s beautiful parks system,” said Nikkole Turner, Eat REAL Tennessee program manager.
Other Tennessee State Parks currently in the process of seeking Eat REAL certification include restaurants at Cumberland Mountain State Park, Montgomery Bell State Park and Natchez Trace State Park.