The New Age in Sustainability for Restaurants

The New Age in Sustainability for Restaurants?


When looking for a nice place to have dinner on a Saturday evening, the typical protocol includes checking yelp, or maybe asking a friend for a recommendation. What we want to know is what type of cuisine is being served, how good the service is, and what is affordable. But what most of us don’t think about is where our food is coming from when we go out to eat.

A new phenomenon is emerging in the restaurant industry that is putting a spin on traditional family owned businesses. A recent article sheds light on Manuel’s Tavern, an Atlanta restaurant that has been in popular destination for decades. But recently, Manuel’s has made new additions to its building. It created a permanent chicken coop on its roof where the restaurant employees collect fresh eggs from daily. These chickens consume organic feed and Manuel’s patrons get to enjoy dishes with organic food straight from the source. While the locavore movement is gaining speed, this new phenomenon is taking it one step further. It is not getting produce from local farms, but actually producing the food itself.


The farm-to-table movement as it is known is even helping the economy while being environmentally sustainable. After interstates and transportation technology became more advanced, it became more economically feasible to import produce from further and further away. Soon enough, being able to buy imported goods felt like a product of our growing economy. We could afford to ship food thousands of miles to have as big of a variety of choices as we wanted. But businesses are becoming increasingly more aware of the profits that they could be making if they switched to local.


With the rise of the locavore movement came the rise of the farm-to-table movement. Many think that the market for these types of restaurants is small, and that there probably are not any near them that use locally sourced foods or in the case of Manuel’s, produce the food themselves. In fact, the farm-to-table movement is growing so rapidly that chances are a restaurant near you is a supporter of it. In fact, I myself wasn’t aware of this phenomenon until recently. And upon doing a little research, I found out that one of Charlottesville’s most popular restaurants, The Local, is actually a strong supporter of this movement. Although it is one of the most well known places for both residents and UVA students to go for a bite to eat, I still never thought of the possibility that it operated under the farm-to-table ideology.


If more information and awareness about this new movement became available to more people, many would be more inclined to think carefully about where they choose to dine. As the knowledge gets around more, support for these restaurants, and in turn, local businesses increases immensely. More restaurants will look to this as a strategy and rethink their current system of importing. Manuel’s owners are aware that it might take some time for their system to catch on, but they’re confident that once the word gets out, people will be supportive. They themselves said they never understood the value of paying more for organic and local produce, but they now see the positive impact regarding sustainability and of course, profits for them. All it takes for these issues to emerge is more education. So next time you think about where to go for that burger craving, don’t consult yelp or a friend. Look into restaurants that support the farm-to-table movement. By Bruce Schoenfeld


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