Archive for the ‘Local’

Cork and Knife – Restaurants Tackle Their Own Inconvenient Truth05.07.08

Some restaurant sustainability metrics are assembled by Cork and Knife

The average American meal has a shockingly large carbon footprint, usually traveling 1, 500 miles to the plate and emitting large amounts of CO2 in the process, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Each meal created produces 275 pounds of waste a day, making restaurants the worst aggressors of greenhouse gas emissions in retail industry, says the Boston-based Green Restaurant Association [GRA], a non-profit organization that works to create an ecologically sustainable restaurant industry.

A recent NRA [National Restaurant Association] study shows utility costs are a big line item for restaurateurs, accounting for a median of between 2.3 percent and 3.6 percent of sales, depending on the type of operation.

According to Zagat’s 2007 America’s Top Restaurants, 65 percent of surveyors said they would pay more for food that has been sustainably raised or procured. According to 2007 National Restaurant Association research, 62 percent of adults said they would likely choose a restaurant based on its environmental friendliness.

Discussed in the article, which focuses on the Washington DC market, Chef Todd Gray of Equinox (Washington, DC), Chef Barton Seaver of Hook (Washington, DC), Chef Nora Pouillon Restaurant Nora (Washington, DC), Tom Holland of Juice Joint Café, George Velazquez of Napa 1015, Citronelle (Washington, DC), and Maziar Farivar of Peacock Grand. Also briefly mentioned, Sweetgreen, Le Pain Quotidien and CakeLove and JavaGreen both working with Clean Currents.

Posted in 1000 Food, Sourcing and Supplies, 4200 Recycling, GRA, Local, Seafoodwith 1 Comment →

Whitney Gaunte, Fish (Sausalito, CA)02.01.08

Owned by Bill Foss and around since 2004, a new kitchen crew came to Fish in November 2005, led by Whitney Gaunte. The hook (ahem) is sustainable, fresh, local fish. A fixed menu is supplemented by specials. Nearly universally recognized as expensive, and they don’t take plastic, Fish is about fish – and there’s a fish market there too.

More on Fish from around the web: The Chronicle (twice), Foodhoe, Sausalitoeats, Yelp, Metroactive, Citysearch, Tripadvisor, Fork and Bottle , and Off the Meat Hook, which gives us our conclusion: “Delicious but crazy expensive”

Posted in Chefs, Local, Restaurants, Seafoodwith No Comments →

Betting on a vertical farm… or not01.24.08

Widely reported around the net a couple weeks ago, some sources indicate that development has begun on a $200 million vertical farm facility in the desert of Nevada. Or maybe not. The city and county apparently don’t know anything about it. The design apparently originates with one Chris Jacobs – but it’s just that, a design. So, the whole story may be bogus, but it raises some interesting questions. If we can’t trust the headline, we probably can’t trust the numbers (and there are only a few available), but for the sake of exercise…

As reported, the 30-story facility is large enough to feed 72,000 people. That’s about 13% of the population of Las Vegas – 8 of these (for $1.6 billion) is enough to feed the city (feeding the tourists is another problem). It would take about 4200 of these to feed the country (303,300,000 / 72,000). They’re anticipating $25 million from produce and $15 million from tourists. Presumably the tourist revenue will drop off as these things spring up like weeds. Ignoring tourists and pesky things like inflation, and with a stated annual operating cost of $6 million, the farm complex would break even in about 10.5 years ($200M / $19M net/year).

The most-often-cited source (Next Energy News) reports that “Revenue from the 30 story Vertical Farm would approach $40 Annually” – an obvious typo. At Restaurant Reformer we’re sure that’s supposed to be $40 million.

For those counting food-miles as a measure of sustainability, building a farm near the city could be a very good thing. As a contained environment, things like pests are excluded physically and seasons are irrelevant. There’s a lot to be said for farming in a building, but what’s the real story?

For that, the Restaurant Reformer follows the breadcrumbs to Dr. Dickson Despommier’s vertical farm site, where we find an economic analysis that appears to have a bit more research behind it (thanks to Jackie Baumgartner, Locky Chambers, Alexis Harman, Jun Mitsumoto and Jordana Rothschild). This material is the basis for some more-respectable stories on the subject, including New York Magazine, CNN, Wired, and the BBC.

Despommier’s numbers are a bit different – a 21-story building that costs $84 million to build, $13.5 million/year in pre-tax revenue from lettuce. That gets into the black a lot faster than the Vegas theory (84 / 13.5 = 6.25 years).

They’ve done all the heavy lifting over at Despommier’s vertical farm site, so we’ll leave the expertise to the experts. The story got picked up and carried around the net, so that suggests there’s some interest in the idea – even if it’s not happening in Vegas today.

Posted in 1100 Agriculture, Localwith No Comments →

Megenity, Mercury Cafe (Denver, CO)01.13.08

Far out on the edge of sustainability in food service, we find a place in Denver, Colorado. Featuring a living wall, greywater recycling, two wind turbines, no air conditioning, 99% organic, 80% local food sourcing, Marilyn Megenity at the Mercury Café is pushing hard on the sustainability front, with a specific goal of being completely off-grid.

More on the Mercury Café at the BBC, the Denver Post, and Greenprint Denver.

Posted in 2700 Greywater, 3000 Energy, Air Conditioning, Local, Organic, People, Restaurants, Windwith No Comments →

Frasier and Gaier: Summer Winter (Burlington, MA)01.11.08

Located in the Burlington Marriott, chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier present New England cuisine at Summer Winter (opened in 2007). With food sourced locally, and grown in their own greenhouse, they eschew large food suppliers.

Posted in Local, Restaurantswith No Comments →

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