Eating righteously

Responsible summer dining has arrived
By LINDSAY CRUDELE  |  June 9, 2008

080606_Restaurant_main

Worried that your favorite dining haunts leave a big, fat carbon footprint? Take heart. Boston-area chefs are embracing green-movement technology on several fronts. It might be trendy, but it also happens to be moral. (Can the same be said for the tall-food movement?)

Several local spots follow guidelines promoted by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national nonprofit group dedicated to supporting eco-friendly eating out. The GRA specifies everything from appropriate take-out packaging to energy-saving strategies.

“Working in restaurants for years and seeing the waste that occurs, it's almost sickening,” says Jim Solomon, chef and owner of the Fireplace, in Brookline. “The green thing has really exploded over the past year.” The Fireplace has replaced its takeout packaging with biodegradable options and upgraded its refrigerators to more energy-efficient models.

“It's just the right thing to do,” agrees Michael Leviton, executive chef at Lumière in West Newton. Lumière is GRA certified, and while Leviton's new location, Persephone, in South Boston, is not, he strives to maintain the same integrity at both locations. Sustainably sourced supply guidelines are good for your conscience and your palate, he insists.

“In order to present the best possible food on the plate, that requires the best possible ingredients,” he says. “That means knowing how it was raised, knowing where it came from, and getting it as fresh as possible, which leads you to [buy] locally, sustainably, humanely, and organically.”

Not every restaurant observing green practices bothers with the GRA certification process, but benefits are evident for those who do, says Leviton. Industry-wide, the organization advocates for change with national players, he explains. While it’s one thing for small, independent locations to go for green goals, big change really results as larger chains adopt the practices too.

Matt Reiser, Upstairs on the Square's wine director, who has spearheaded the Harvard Square hot spot's green initiatives, agrees. “We had no idea how much work it could possibly be,” he says. “I cannot imagine how someone could take a restaurant green without that guidance; [the GRA] really [is] the saving grace to getting this done.”

Howard Leibowitz, executive director of the Boston Public Market Association — which coordinates the city's farmer's markets — aims to ascertain the best way to supply restaurants with local food. The association met with top Boston chefs at Henrietta's Table this past February, and determined that while many restaurants wish to retain current supplier relationships, a desire exists for local specialty food and fish sourcing. Restaurateurs expressed concern, however, with transportation options, not wanting to drive to many local farms.

“My sense is that the next frontier is the ‘neighborhood’ restaurants and creating delivery options for them,” says Leibowitz. “The next step might be to find a group of restaurants in one neighborhood; South End and JP come to mind.”

Going green isn’t always immediately cost-efficient, especially in the nascent stages of these initiatives. Leviton says his recyclable menu and paper replacements cost more now, for example, as do new cleaning chemicals. But bigger savings are possible — switching from standard kitchen bulbs to compact fluorescent ones can save you $2000 a year, he says.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: 30 ways to have fossil-free fun in Boston this Summer, It's easy staying green, It is the heat, More more >
  Topics: Food Features , Nature and the Environment, Tom Menino, Environmental Protection,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY LINDSAY CRUDELE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ON THE CHEAP: GRASS FED BEEF  |  May 09, 2012
    If you, like me, have ever found yourself pressing your nose winsomely against the window of the itty bitty "TT Bar" at Jamaica Plain's Ten Tables, you will appreciate the newly easy access to the restaurant's prize cheeseburger at its new adjunct spot, Grass Fed.
  •   ZOMBIES RIPPED MY FLESH  |  September 24, 2012
    I died too quickly in the zombie apocalypse. It was the last, fatal bite I remember most clearly: I had just zigzagged to safety through a grove of lurching undead. As I slowed to bask in my success, I felt the gruesome rip of Velcro at my hip — and it was over.
  •   ON THE CHEAP: GRIDDLER'S BURGERS AND DOGS  |  April 18, 2012
    With the news that former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni has gout, I write my latest dispatch to you between bites of salad, haunted by the Ghost of Lunches Future.
  •   ON THE CHEAP: SUYA JOINT  |  March 07, 2012
    A new Roslindale Square restaurant offers hearty stews, dumplings, and rice dishes prepared in home-style West African tradition.
  •   ON THE CHEAP: MAXIMO'S TAKEOUT  |  February 15, 2012
    Somewhere between the sub and the home-cooked supper, Maximo's Takeout offers salvation for the overbooked.

 See all articles by: LINDSAY CRUDELE