The Hired Belly is making plans for Earth Day (April 22). The challenge: Where to dine for the occasion? Today's restaurant menus abound with buzzwords intended to appeal to our carbon conscience. But where can you find the greenest meals?
An excellent place to start is at Green Table (greentable. net), the go-to website for any restaurant serious about rethinking the way it conducts business-or for diners interested in supporting a green philosophy.
Conceived in 2007 by former journalist AndrÃ© Lariviere, the Vancouver-based Green Table Network has already seen significant success in its drive to help B.C. restaurants become engaged and environmentally responsible at every level. Now the launch of Green Table 2.0 promises to take the program across the country, starting with Ontario.
The idea behind the relaunch, says executive director Lariviere, is to bring down the cost of participating and encourage more restaurants and customers to jump on board. The program mirrors the successful Ocean Wise program, which has brought awareness to which seafood species we should consume-although the Green Table process to certification is more comprehensive.
Ultimately, the goal is to present the diner with a choice of restaurants that employ proven and realistic "green" practices from kitchen to table.
For restaurants, ingredient sourcing is key, with preference given whenever possible to local farmers and suppliers. But it's also about conservation in all areas, such as not automatically leaving lights on, moving from bottled water to inhouse filter systems and zeroing in on reducing kitchen waste and recycling.
One of the greenest joints in the city might come as a surprise. Not only is Cactus Club fully Green Table certified, it was the first major chain to establish sustainable policies and practices at all of its locations. And it also enjoys the enviable reputation of having built the city's first LEED certified restaurant at its new English Bay location.
The list of Green Table restaurants, which is growing, spans the dining spectrum, from white linen fine dining to pubs and delis. One of the more intriguing is Woodlands Smokehouse. A locavore's dream come true, the multitasking commissary recently opened its doors at 485 Commercial Dr. near East Hastings (ph. 604-681-0660). Walk in to the practical, spotless space and you'll be greeted by seductive aromas wafting from the smokehouse-and you might come nose to nose with a whole roast pig, as we did. However, beyond the excellent chorizo, intriguing four meat cervelat or puffy sausage rolls, Woodlands offers everything from fresh baking to bison sausages and tea infused doughnuts-available for complimentary sampling on Earth Day.
Another top to bottom Green Table choice perfect for Earth Day is Rocky Mountain Flatbread (1876 West First Ave. and 4816 Main St.), which from day one has left no stone unturned in its quest to be carbon neutral. In fact, the restaurant is a founding member of Green Table. RMF also puts its money where its mouth is, working hard to take the message beyond the restaurants with school outreach programs that teach kids from an early age the value of growing your own food and of giving back to the community.
On Earth Day both locations are offering a "Potato Fusion Workshop," where participants will be shown how to plant their own organic potatoes in burlap sacs with salad greens on the top. At the end you can take their recycled Ethical Bean burlap sacks home and watch their potatoes and greens grow. Cost is $20 per person, with all proceeds going to The World In A Garden and Project Somos. firstname.lastname@example.org
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