Fort Worth

Blue Zones Approves First Healthy Restaurants in Fort Worth

Project is aimed at improving the community's health

Getting healthy in Fort Worth is a community-wide effort. The privately funded Blue Zones Project continues to roll out easier ways to be healthy where you live, work and play.

And that includes going out to eat, which can still be a healthy option if you look for a certain designation.

When the dinner bell rings, there's no deep-fried fare on the menu at Righteous Foods, just plenty of healthy choices.

"We're about 80 to 90 percent organic produce and meats all year long," said Lanny Lancarte, owner of Righteous Foods.

Open about six months now, Lancarte's eatery embodies the city-wide Blue Zones effort to make healthier choices easier with their menu items, herb garden and organized weekly bike rides.

"We incentivize all our employees to ride their bikes here," Lancarte said.

They are efforts that earned the West 7th Street business the honor of being one of the first Blue Zones approved restaurants in the city.

"We're both in line with the same goals," Lancarte said.

That goal would be eating and living healthier.

Offering healthier alternatives is something Hillary Biediger set out to do when she opened Juice Junkies on Foch Street. And when she learned about Blue Zones, she reached out to the project to get involved.

"I thought, 'I have to be a part of this. This is what we're about,'" she said.

Biediger's fully organic juice bar is also now Blue Zones approved. Business has been so successful in Fort Worth that within a year of opening, she opened up a second location in Keller.

"I opened the store and, 'Bam!'" she said. "It's just very apparent that people were ready and we just get busier and busier and busier."

To get designated as a Blue Zones approved restaurant, the owner must complete the Blue Zones Project Restaurant Pledge and adopt a number of best practices Blue Zones encourages. For example, plates should be smaller than 10 inches in diameter, no salt should be on the table unless requested, only fresh fruit or vegetables should be offered as sides and fruit should be offered as a dessert as well.

In order for the city to qualify as a Blue Zones Community the project must reach a certain number of individuals, work sites, schools, grocery stores, community policies and restaurants. At least 25 percent of all independent or locally owned restaurants must take the pledge and get recognized. Blue Zones said that will be about 59 of the city's 259 qualifying restaurants.

The city hopes to achieve that over the course of several years, and when it does Mayor Betsy Price said the benefit will be more than just health related.

"Selfishly, for the city, it's better economic development," she said.

Price said that companies looking to set up shop in Fort Worth now specifically ask about the community's health, in addition to questions about the work force and schools.

"They're very interested, because their health premiums are so high and lost productivity with sick employees or sick kids," Price said.

While participation is completely voluntary, those who already make a living on healthy living say it's more than just a fad.

"People really do want it," Biediger said.

"We've been really, really blessed with business," Lancarte said.

For more on the requirements to become a Blue Zones designated restaurant click here and scroll to page seven.

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