Grab and Green

It's 5:30 on a weeknight in February. You find yourself the last in a line of cars at the nearest burger joint. The choice seemed easy. Grab some grub on the way home for the family. They have 45 minutes to eat before Johnny's hockey game. You don't have time to think about the choice and really don't want to be bothered. You hand over a remarkably small amount of money and are handed a sack full of food. You check to see if the order is complete. Four burgers and a fried chicken sandwich in foam containers. three large orders of fries in greaseproof boxes and four large drinks in 24 ounce plastic cups with plastic lids and straws, a handful of napkins and half a dozen packs of ketchup in foil pouches. The beef and chicken are produced on chemical and resource intensive factory farms, the fries and drinks are laden with corn and soybean products that are made cheap by public subsidies and produced with enormous chemical inputs, the whole meal is served up in packaging that will almost entirely end up in a landfill. It was the easy choice, but was it the right choice.
Until recently it has been the only choice. But there are restaurants and operators that are trying to deliver good food responsibly. They are taking baby steps as the market allows and responding to a growing number of consumers wishes to deliver a more responsible product. Making the right choice is becoming easier and and may be as simple as driving a couple doors further down the road.  This must be an active choice. You have to decide to patronize responsible outlets. I offer a list of criteria for making that choice. 
• Reducing the use of toxic or potentially toxic chemicals in cleaning supplies.
• To purchase as much food as possible that has been grown and processed with the minimum chemical impact. Not necessarily organic but responsibly produced where such options are available.
• Offer a menu that is less meat laden.
• Offer a menu that allows for enough flexibility to take advantage of seasonality and local goods.
• Limit use of disposables but when necessary use recyclable and compostible materials.
• Purchase products packaged with recycled content.
• Practice responsible waste reduction and handling.
• Ongoing self monitoring of green practices.
• Educate and persuade operators and patrons about the importance of sustainable food service practices.
The restaurateurs that embrace these practices, in whole or in part, should be applauded, recognized and patronized for making these commitments.
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