CHICAGO (April 22, 2001) Zoo lovers will have a new Earth-friendly dining option on Earth Day when the new Eco Café opens at the world-renowned Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago. Whole Foods Market, the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, has partnered with the zoo in support of the zoo's new environmentally conscious café that will open today.

The Eco Café will sell a variety of organic and all-natural snacks while educating consumers that purchasing decisions, whether at the Eco Café or at Whole Foods Market, can have a positive impact on the environment. By buying organic and naturally grown foods, consumers are supporting farmers who employ organic and sustainable methods to grow their crops.

“As a leader in the organic and natural foods industry and an active participant in the local community, it makes perfect sense for Whole Foods Market to partner with Brookfield Zoo to create the Eco Café,” says Dan Rodenberg, the midwest regional president for Whole Foods Market. “Whole Foods Market has been able to provide valuable insight about organic foods to Brookfield Zoo, an organization that shares our commitment to the community and the environment.”

Eco Café Equals Earth-Friendly

It is the hope of Whole Foods Market and Brookfield Zoo that when consumers are exposed to this important message they will realize that our daily decisions, including the foods we choose, have an impact on the environment.

Organic foods set the standard for top quality freshness, texture, flavor, and variety. These foods are produced without the standard array of modern toxic and persistent chemicals commonly used on conventional food products since the 1950s. Organic farmers select the most environmentally friendly solutions to stop pests and disease from affecting their crops. These include practices such as crop rotation, the release of beneficial insects, and adding aged composted material and plant wastes to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients.

Good for You and the Environment

Most of the organic and natural foods sold at the zoo's refreshment stand can be found at Whole Foods Market. The Eco Café will serve a variety of organic and all-natural snacks and beverages, including hot dogs, nachos, chili, gourmet pretzels, popcorn, potato chips, frozen bananas, soft-serve frozen yogurt, ice cream bars, candy bars, cookies, coffee and tea.

“As a conservation center, Brookfield Zoo is always looking for ways to help people care for the Earth. Our mission is to help people develop a sustainable and harmonious relationship with nature,” said Marty Dubina, deputy director for Brookfield Zoo. “Through the Eco Café, we hope to help people learn more about how their food is produced and encourage visitors to make more Earth-friendly choices when it comes to purchasing these products,” Dubina added. Other environmentally friendly efforts at Eco Café include:

  • Using molded fiber tableware that is 100 percent biodegradable, made from bamboo, not trees.
  • Displaying educational materials about the products sold at Eco Café as well as providing zoo guests a take-home brochure that lists various resources for finding out more about organics and the products sold at the eatery.
  • Encouraging guests to reuse their cups or recycle them in containers located near the facility and throughout the park.
  • Using cleaning products by Earth Friendly Products that are not tested on animals, do not contain environment-damaging phosphates or chlorine, and are biodegradable.
  • Providing staff with organic cotton T-shirt uniforms. Non-organic cotton is a crop that requires heavy use of pesticides. Clothes made of organic cotton, like those worn by staff and sold in the zoo's gift shops, help support a healthier environment.
  • Using unbleached napkins and coffee filters, as is the case in all of the zoo's restaurants. Paper products bleached white with chlorine produce dioxin, which is an extremely poisonous chemical that has contaminated much of the country's water tables.
  • Providing guests with benches made from recycled plastic.

Brookfield Zoo is known throughout the world for its innovative naturalistic, multi-species exhibits and its international role in animal population management and conservation. Brookfield Zoo is devoted to helping people develop a sustainable and harmonious relationship with nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located at First Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield, Ill., just 14 miles west of downtown Chicago. For more information, visit the zoo's Web site at http://www.brookfieldzoo.org/.

Whole Foods Market believes in the promotion of organic farming, in products manufactured by socially responsible companies, and in acting locally to affect global change.