Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
Like every other holiday I can think of, Earth Day comes but once a year. I’m planning to celebrate it more often, namely by going out to eat at the best environmentally friendly places I can find - like the ones below. Please join me.
Cindy’s Waterfront, Monterey Bay Aquarium - Monterey, California
I wish I had a handy joke about eating fish at an aquarium: I don’t. (If you do, please forward!) Surprise or not, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has always served very good sustainable seafood. And it’s about to get even better.
MBA’s revamped restaurant Cindy’s Waterfront debuts on April 27; chef Cindy Pawlcyn will feature wild-caught and sustainably farmed fish that meet the standards of the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Pawlcyn’s menu includes dishes like true cod soft tacos with lime-cumin vinaigrette; Monterey Bay calamari with Cindy’s curry vinaigrette; and for the non-fish group, Hunan grilled chicken salad with sesame noodles and peanut sauce.
Uncommon Ground - Chicago, Illinois
Named 2013’s World’s Greenest Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association, this place boasts the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country at its Devon Avenue location. Tours of the farm begin in early May and continue every Saturday through October.
Uncommon Ground has near zero waste (an average restaurant in America generates 100,000 pounds of trash a year; through recycling and composting, Uncommon Ground diverts 95% of its waste from landfills). The majority of the food it sources (71%) is vegan or vegetarian, and 24% comes from within 300 miles (this is where a full-on rooftop farm comes in handy).
Sweetgreen - Washington, D.C.
There are now 16 locations of this organic salad shop around the mid-Atlantic (D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania). They offer dishes like Earth Bowl (warm grains, arugula, roast chicken, cheddar, corn and spicy broccoli), and you can determine the dressing situation (on the side, light-dress tossed, medium-dress tossed, heavy-dress tossed).
This summer, Sweetgreen is opening its first New York City location in the NoMad Hotel. Sweetgreen’s eco cred is impressive: 100 percent plant-based compostable bowls, cutlery and cups; 100% of its energy is offset by wind energy credits, and some stores have solar panels on the roof; 100 percent of the proteins served are hormone-free, antibiotic-free and all-natural. The company even puts on an annual music and food festival in May, and of course, it’s carbon neutral. This year it features Phoenix and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Couloir Restaurant - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Skiing is not an eco-friendly sport. Enter Couloir, whose eco-friendliness includes sourcing the majority of ingredients from within a 250-mile radius (which, as they say, “is not a small feat in Wyoming”). Chef Wes Hamilton uses only free-range and natural meats for dishes such as Rogue River pear and chicory salad with raisin vinaigrette, and house-smoked, port-brined buffalo tenderloin.
Couloir is a big supporter of Jackson Hole’s Vertical Harvest, an innovative urban vertical greenhouse that employs people with developmental disabilities. It is also the first restaurant in the ski industry to be part of 1 Percent for the Planet, donating at least 1% of its sales to environmental businesses.
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It's important to focus on your impact on the environment. Composting can be a difficult and expensive task. A great alternative can be an auto composter, like the Liquid Food Composter. We purchased one a year ago and can never look back. All of our food waste and bio degradables just disappear down the drain in under 24 hours! We don't have to deal with the manpower required for a real composting program and there is literally no smell in my beautiful kitchen. Check them out at: http://www.powerknot.com
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