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Sustainability Restaurants Hero Mobile

The Sustainable Way: Restaurants Focus Locally

By Jack Chang | 2 min

When it comes to being more sustainable by reducing carbon emissions, food production is a big part of the challenge.

According to U.N. estimates, the world’s agri-food systems produce 31 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, due to processes all along the supply chain. Cow burps and flatulence emit methane as does fertilizer production. Carbon is released as salmon, avocados and other ingredients are transported hundreds of miles to markets.

But sustainability-minded restaurants have no shortage of ways to green up their operations. The farm-to-fork movement pioneered in California has already created a roadmap for sustainable dining: sourcing ingredients locally, buying from organic farms, integrating food education into the dining experience.

Certification systems such as USDA Organic, Certified Humane or Napa Green signal to customers that the food on their plate or wine in their glass has arrived there in a responsible way. Especially in California, discerning diners place a premium on being assured that their food was produced sustainably, and restaurants go out of their way to advertise their environmental bona fides.

  • Restaurants such as Plant Food + Wine in Venice extend the sustainability concept to restaurant operations. Plant Food + Wine received the Sustainable Restaurant Award from the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles in 2019 for eco-friendly practices such as using energy-efficient appliances, environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals and both compostable and recyclable carry-out containers.
  • The Green Restaurant Association website offers a bounty of tips on how to adopt sustainable restaurant operation practices.
  • Fish in Sausalito was recognized by the California Legislature for its support of fish populations as well as its equitable treatment of fishermen who bring in the daily catch.
  • The sustainability opportunities aren’t just available to higher-end restaurants. Just look at Burger King’s marketing of the plant-based Beyond Whopper or the emergence of the Organic Coup fast food chain with several California locations.

From vegan to macrobiotic to fair trade-sourced, the sky’s the limit for restaurants distinguishing themselves in the sustainability sweepstakes. Given the environmental implications of the global food system, that’s a reason for hope and for creativity.


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