It's true that the farm-to-table movement itself is nothing new. We've been hearing about it—and witnessing its expansion—for years. A menu full of at least somewhat sustainable food has become standard practice for hip, progressive-minded restaurants, and many consumers have been growing increasingly interested in eating at environmentally-friendly locales.
What is new, though, is an ability to accurately measure the "green" claims boasted by so many restaurants. There are online calculators that promise to track restaurants' carbon footprints, to be sure, but their numbers often fail to include every single one of the restaurants' carbon emissions (like the amount of electricity it takes to fuel the kitchen, for instance), which, in turn, become greenhouse gases.
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That means there are lots of restaurants out there touting themselves as "green"...when in reality, they could be far from it.
Sustainable Restaurant Group in Portland is hoping to chnage all that. They're taking real calculations that qualify restaurants' greenness, and publishing them online so that diners can choose their eateries with a lot more knowledge about whether or not they're really doing their part to help the planet. The firm tapped Blue Star Integrative Studio, a building evaluation firm, to create algorithms capable of "deeply" tracking all the operations of the modern restaurant along with the operations and emissions of its supply chain. And the
As David Jaber, Blue Star Integrative’s director of optimization, told Fast Company: “I think any restaurant can take on the challenge of climate impacts of their supply chain, when they actually need to for business reasons. If you look at any array of drivers or market developments in larger restaurants with the larger supply chain footprints, the time to tackle the challenge is now, if not already.”
Of course, there's more that these restaurants can do with the numbers than simply promote themselves. The goal is for them to see exactly how much carbon they're currently emitting, and then make necessary changes to cut back on that number (especially if it's unnecessarily high).
And the ultimate goal is to have the entire system become standard practice for restaurants everywhere—not just ultra-hip ones in, say, Portland.
“We just want to get other people on board with the same ideals and thought processes we have," Kristofor Lofgren, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Restaurant Group, said. "To start shifting the industry in a more thoughtful direction.”