Hungry Isla Vista residents can now make even healthier choices at Silvergreens, which recently began printing nutritional information on the backs of customers’ receipts.
UCSB graduate Jay Ferro, who started the restaurant in 1994 to give locals a healthy eating option, said the printouts are part of a program called Nutricate that he patented several years ago. Customers can now receive information about the amount and daily recommended percentage of calories, fat, carbohydrates and proteins they’re eating, specific to the items they order.
Ferro said the Nutricate receipts, which were officially introduced at Silvergreens on April 3, are a response to the growing concern about obesity in America.
“I think it was one of those ideas that was ahead of its time,” Ferro said. “Times are much different now.”
Silvergreens Assistant Manager Brian Rocha, a fourth-year business economics major, said the new receipts are designed to help Silvergreens’ customers make healthy food choices.
“There’s so much potential,” Rocha said. “What excites me is what the receipt can do for society. It can help people lead better lifestyles.”
Rocha said 70 percent of restaurantgoers customize their orders, and the Nutricate receipt is the only method that accounts for the nutrition changes of a customized order.
“The receipt is now valuable,” Rocha said. “That piece of paper that people have been throwing away for so many years now has a purpose.”
Nick Bolton, a second-year business economics and communication major, worked with Ferro to implement the new program.
In addition to giving information on the customer’s meal, the Nutricate receipt provides tips about how to make healthier choices in the future, Bolton said.
“For instance, if a person orders avocado on a sandwich or walnuts on a salad, the nutrition tip on the receipt may tell the consumer that although these foods are high in fat, they are considered good fats,” Bolton said. “The reason I like the receipt is because I used to be fat, and the receipt educates you about how to better your meal. The receipt gives you a way to be accountable for what you are eating.”
Ferro said Silvergreens is the first and only business to use the Nutricate receipts.
“A college town is a great place to debut because these really are our country’s future leaders,” Ferro said. “Students are on top of trends and many future lifestyle choices form during these years.”
Rocha said McDonald’s also recently began to include nutritional information on its wrappers, and other restaurants have put the information on their menus. He said he does not think these methods are as effective, because they are costly to alter when restaurant offerings change, and are not adaptable to individual orders.
Shawn Imai, an intern for Student Health’s Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) program, which educates the public about healthy food choices, said he thinks Nutricate will make people more conscious of what food they order.
Even if people only look at the receipt for five minutes, that is five minutes out of the day that people are more conscious of their own health,” Imai said.
While he knows the Silvergreens menu offers some less healthy choices, Rocha said he does not think this conflicts with the new program, which could spread to other locations, depending on customer demand.
“Not everything at Silvergreens is healthy. The ‘Rocha Sandwich’ isn’t healthy,” Rocha said. “There is no need to be afraid of showing people the unhealthy offerings at Silvergreens, because the receipt educates on how to eat that same meal in a healthier way.”
A few customers have thrown away their receipts because they did not want the nutritional information, Rocha said, but most customers have expressed interest in the new program.
Shayna Rothlein, a second-year biology major, said she thinks Nutricate will be effective.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Rothlein said. “Usually when you order something off a menu, you don’t think about whether it is good for you or not.”