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Carrotmob Rewards Restaurant’s Sustainability

Hot & Cool Food Trends

We’ve all heard plenty over the last several weeks about the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that began in New York and spread across the country and beyond. Picket signs and sit-ins like this are examples of the “stick” method of free speech and activism.

Then there are the lesser-known “carrot” actions, like those which were carried out by MBA students at Missouri State University this week. The students staged what is called a carrotmob—rewarding a business for doing the right thing (carrot vs. stick), by organizing a “mob” of consumers to show up in support that of that business with open wallets.

Sometimes referred to as a "buycott" and usually organized through social media, carrotmobs have been around for a couple of years now, popping up here and there around the globe. But they seem to have picked up steam in recent months (steamed carrots anyone?). Carrotmobs were staged at some venues last month as part of the first annual National Food Day in the U.S.

In this most recent case, the beneficiary of the carrotmob was Farmers Gastropub, a restaurant in Springfield, Mo., near the MSU campus. The eatery operates as sustainably as possible, using a great many locally-sourced foods. But it wanted to take its efforts even further. Bill Griffiths, co-owner of the Gastropub, found out about a huge greenhouse in the area that wasn’t being used, and wanted to put it to use,  buying seeds to grow more local, fresh organic foods for the operation.

The MBA students heard about Griffith’s idea and decided to reward his efforts with a carrotmob.  A mob of more than 400 hungry consumers showed up at the restaurant over a period of just three hours, bringing in about $2,000 more than the usual take for a Wednesday night, earmarked for use in the name of sustainability.

Thanks in large part to the students’ carrotmob, Griffiths and his son-in-law plan to have many new vegetables growing in the hydroponic greenhouse within a couple of months. (Perhaps including carrots?) They hope that many of last week’s young carrotmobbers will be back to sample the fruits (well, mostly vegetables) of their labor.

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