Friday, June 4, 2010

eating out sustainably

While it's hard for a large restaurant chain to serve food that is responsible to the environment, consumers, and it's employees, a few big-name restaurants are doing some things right. Here's a list of places you can eat out without having your conscience ruin your dinner:

Nationwide (U.S.A.)
1. Chipotle: The uber-popular burrito chain buys its pork from Niman Ranch, which raises its animals in a humane and sustainable way, following the Animal Welfare Institute's Animal Husbandry standards. In addition, Chipotle reports that 35% of their beans are organically-grown, their dairy products come from hormone-free cows, and, when possible, produce is purchased from locally grown producers. And to top all that off the restaurant is trying to use as many environmentally-friendly products (like napkins), appliances (Energy-Star), and even buildings (some are LEED-certified). 

2. Burgerville: This restaurant's name may conjure up images of greasy patties, buns, and fries, but in reality Burgerville is hoping to change the face of the burger joint. While they serve  your standard fast food fare, you'll also find items like the Grilled Asparagus and Tomato Melt on their menu. Talk about original! Their meat is all antibiotic-free and raised locally, their eggs are from cage-free chickens, and they recycle their cooking oil into biodiesel fuel. Very cool.

Southeast +Cali
3. Evos: At first glance Evos's menu seems little different than your standard fast food chain's, including burgers, wraps, fries, and shakes. But look a little deeper and you'll see they could not be more different from your neighborhood McDonald's, Subway, or Taco Bell. Their fries, called "Airfries," are cooked sans-oil by using a circulating hot air method. And they have an extensive sustainability profile; one-third of Evos's energy comes from wind power, they use certified organic and fair trade products, and use disposable products, such as napkins, made from recycled materials. And that's just a few of the great things they do.

East Coast + Kansas + Cali
4. Pizza Fusion: This pizza joint uses organic ingredients, builds its facilities using LEED standards, gives customers discounts for bringing back pizza boxes to be recycled, serves food in biodegradable corn starch containers, and the list goes on. And on.

Virginia + Oregon + Vermont
5. American Flatbread: This artisanal restaurant serves flatbread pizzas, salads, and desserts, all made from organic and mostly seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. And besides selling sustainable food, the company also gives back to communities by donating organic bread to hospitals, supporting Vermont's Organic Food for Public Schools program, and holding "Benefit Bakes" to raise money and awareness for different community causes. Don't live in Virginia, Oregon, or Vermont? You can still enjoy their organic flatbread by buying it frozen in a grocery store near you.

Sources I used for this post:
Eco Friendly Eating at Sustainable Fast Food Restaurants,
Other Sustainable Sources,
Chipotle: Sustainable, Delicious, Profitable,
Evos: Organic, Healthier, More Sustainable Fast Food. Seriously.,
Sustainable Fast Food Chain

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons Artists: sun dazed, scaredy kat, and Carl Black.

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