Food waste is a critical environmental issue, now more than ever before, as we continue to plunge into the depths of our pretty scary international climate crisis.
Of the many things we can do on a daily basis to reduce food waste, such as compost and meal planning, one of the most important, in my opinion, is supporting local initiatives.
Community brings about change far more powerfully than a single individual, so why not hop on the bandwagon once in a while and give them the support they need to make a real impact!?
From burger joints to cafés, there's starting to be quite a handful of restaurants throughout the country that aim to leave no trace through a variety of innovative means, and it is important that we join them in taking responsibility for the health of our beautiful planet!
Here are just a few restaurants across Canada that are hard-set on eliminating food waste and sure to inspire you to do the same, or at least go have a bite to eat!
Located in St. John's, Newfoundland, The Sprout is a vegan and gluten-free restaurant that has been prioritizing waste reduction from the get-go. They recycle everything from glass and plastic to paper, compost organic waste, and even have reusable plastic to-go containers, which customers can return for a 1$ refund!! Their menu is composed of local produce (and local beer! Yum.), which is also great for the environment as reduces transportation emissions, while providing the community with healthy, delicious meals!
Osco!, which is part of the InterContinental Montreal Hotel, launched the Chef's Garden in 2014, which is... wait for it... located on the ROOF of the hotel!! and includes 50 planting boxes filled with select veggies and herbs. All the harvested produce appears in the table d'hôte of Chef Matthieu Saunier! Being a certified Green Restaurant, they also introduced a composting project in the same year in order to eliminate food waste, which in turn fertilizes the garden for delicious and organic produce!
As a part of Durham College’s Centre for Food in Whitby, Ontario, Bistro 67 is a full-service, teaching and learning restaurant that's also certified by the Green Restaurant Association, a non-profit organization that provides the tools they need to become more environmentally sustainable. Not only do they recycle and compost all kitchen waste, they have their very own fruit trees, gardens and greenhouses on the school grounds, which are maintained by the students, so they basically serve local foods they grew themselves!
With five locations across Canada, (Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto), Craft Beer Market is the largest LEAF-certified restaurant in Canada, which stands for Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice.
Not only are their beer operating systems Bullfrog-powered, which offers 100% green electricity, they support the health of our oceans by making sustainable seafood choices through Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. On top of that, their still and sparkling water comes in reusable glass bottles, and even their uniform includes Levi’s waterless technology jeans.
Craft Beer Market have a composting and recycling program, and they only use biodegradable to-go containers, napkins and other paper products. They are so green, even their plates use 70% lower emissions compared to other brands.
Nuburger, in Winnipeg, MB, has mastered the art of the nutritious burger, having won numerous awards for tastiness, all the while reducing their carbon footprint through fresh, local products. While all their burgers are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are also available and they recycle and compost nearly everything, as their takeout packing and napkins are either recyclable or biodegradable. They were even voted one of Canada’s Greenest Restaurants by L.E.A.F. in 2015!
The folks at Gourmet Market and Café Mountain Mercato, located in Canmore, Alberta, absolutely detest throwing food away, which makes for very clever recipes, and they recycle as much as possible. They've also switched to Bullfrog energy mentioned above and installed an edible garden in the back parking lot, growing everything from radishes, mint, parsley, rosemary and even some edible flowers. They use these fresh herbs and veggies in their soups, salads and paninis and the rest of the food they serve is all local, fresh and certified organic!
The Coup, based in Calgary, Alberta, offers local, organic food along with rennet-free cheeses and non-GMO soy products and grains, and all their products arrive in minimal packaging. They recycle everything that can be and only use paper products that are post-consumer recycled. Even the receipt paper is BPA and phenol-free, and even better: they plant 36 trees per month through Tree-Canada to off-set the little amount they do waste! They use compost in their garden from the food they don't use, thus producing delicious veggies for the menu. They also have bee hives nearby, and run on 100% wind power!
The River Café, also located in Calgary, have completely eliminated the use of bottled water by introducing in-house filtered still and sparkling water in reusable bottles. As they reduce energy consumption and water use, the folks at the River Café are constantly on the lookout for better ways to further reduce their carbon footprint. They work with Ocean Wise in order to make sustainable seafood choices and also participate directly in growing the food they serve on the menu.
They even created a ‘garden apprentice program’, so that the kitchen staff can spend some time throughout the growing season sowing, tending and harvesting organic produce, which has led them to create an extensive edible container garden on site. They grow edible greens, berries, herbs and flowers and feature “just picked" ingredients on their menu! The staff is so passionate about growing food they even share fruits from their own gardens, and anything that isn't directly grown by them is is sourced from urban farmers.
Not only do they use compost and recycle, all the paper products in the restaurant, including the ones used in the office and washroom are green products and their to-go containers are made of 100% biodegradable materials. Finally, they use green energy through wind generated electricity and green gas thanks to Bullfrog Power!
Eliminating organic waste is a top priority for Terra Breads bakery, located in four different neighborhoods in Vancouver, BC, as most of their waste is generated from food scraps. They use colour coded bins for recycling and composting and truly produce no garbage at all unless customers leave their own personal garbage on the table, because all napkins and cutlery are compostable!
Canada is striving to reduce its carbon footprint through an ever-increasing number of sustainability programs, and it is crucial that we, as individuals, recognize and support these endeavors!
As Montrealers, we are so lucky to live in a city that hosts cultural and artistic events that inspire and shape our level of social responsibility.
One of these events is happening soon and you seriously do not want to miss it:
As of December 23, Cinéma du Parc is showing Theater of Life, a beautiful film about life, food and waste produced by the National Film Board of Canada. In this deeply moving documentary, world renowned chef Massimo Bottura (whose restaurant won World's Best Restaurant this year!!) works alongside a number of amazing chefs in an an extraordinary soup kitchen in Milan to create culinary masterpieces from food that was destined for the dumpster, in order to feed those in need, such as refugees, recovering drug addicts, former sex workers and more.