Live Nation grooving to local grub at its concerts

2013-08-13T00:00:00Z 2013-08-23T02:15:31Z Live Nation grooving to local grub at its concertsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

This just might be music to foodies' ears. One of the nation's premier concert promoters is overhauling its concessions to serve only local produce and humanely-raised meats.

Live Nation announced July 24 that all produce served at its 38 amphitheaters around the country will be sourced from within about a 100-mile radius of each venue. Additionally, all meats — some 285,000 burgers, 260,000 hot dogs and 280,000 chicken tender meals per year — will carry either Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership or Animal Welfare Approved certification. In the Chicago area, Live Nation operates First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park and FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

The change will cost the company about an extra $1 million a year, but concertgoers won't see that reflected in food or ticket prices, says Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. He believes the good will generated by serving better food and supporting local farms will be compensation enough. "That's good for business in the long run, and good for the environment and the animals in the short run," he says.

Additionally, the company has brought on celebrity chef Hugh Acheson as a consultant to help guide the changes. Acheson, an outspoken proponent of local and sustainable agriculture, is best known for appearances on Bravo's "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Masters." He says he is fascinated by the challenge of providing ethically sourced food on such a large scale.

The overhaul was triggered when Live Nation officials decided to offer a vegetarian option at their amphitheaters. "As we dug into it, what came second to us was that what's important isn't just what's on the menu, but the supply chain behind it," Rapino says. "And if it's going to be local and we're going to look at the supply chain, let's make sure we're doing the right thing and make sure the animals are treated well before they get to market."

The vegetarian option — a rice bowl with vegetables and possibly tofu being developed by Acheson — will be added to menus later this summer. Healthier choices are being planned, as well.

The move comes as sports arenas around the country continue to overhaul their own food offerings to better appeal to America's growing appetite for good grub. For several years now, ballparks and other stadiums have been touting their own healthier and gourmet choices, from sushi to fine wines to artisanal sausages and Dungeness crab salad.

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