‘Going Green’ in a Brown Economy: A Restaurant’s Nightmare?

Living in Los Angeles during the ‘Age of Going Green’ has put me in the center of the battle between the sustainable folk and those to get off on using styrofoam (zombie food to go!)

2007-116-rising-sea-levels

Unfortunately I can’t be too judgemental on the restaurants that haven’t (yet) jumped onto the Green train. Why? Because with the current state of our economy, it is impressive to even have a restaurant that can stay open, let alone transform its entire food and production system to be more environmentally friendly.

What does it mean to be Green?

  • Adios to Styrofoam (the biggest offender): Styrofoam is not biodegradable and is filled with toxic chemicals that don’t make the Earth happy.
  • Get Rid of Energy Eating Equiptment: Regular refrigerators and other kitchen/cleaning appliances require quite a bit of energy to run. According to Panasonic, the average refridgerator eats up about 1000 kwH of energy per year, but they just introduced a new fridge that boasts a 350 kwH/year energy use. (I am not endorsing the product but that is a pretty impressive reduction.)
  • Low-Flow Faucets/Flushers: Restaurants consume a ridiculous amount of water, from dishwashing, cooking, and bathrooms. Low-Flow faucets increase the amount of air in the water and ultimately lower consumption. Double flush toilets, well, no more “if it’s pee let it be” rule.
  • Sustainable Eating: For a restaurant to be gastronomically green (and not in a way that causes food poisoning) it has to serve foods that come promote the long-term health of the ecosystem: foods from local sources, organics, foods produced with sustainable agriculture (energy/resource conservation), etc.

Consumers want their restaurants to be Eco-friendly these days so they can feel like they are making a small contribution to saving the world with each bite of their lunch. This is easier said than done.

Reading an article in the LA Times, the exec chef from the Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica gives a little perspective on how difficult it truly is for a restaurant to ‘Go-Green”.

It is much easier to go green at home, and much less expensive. But if you are fixed on eating out on a regular basis, http://www.dinegreen.com provides a pretty conclusive link of restaurants around the US that are certifiably Green.

The economy sucks, we all know that, but what would suck even more is UNIVERSAL ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSE!!!!!! (cue dramatic music)

Bill HR 875: The Patriot Act of Food


While it may seem that my arguement below is skewed to the left and based simply upon liberalist banter, I must stress that my conclusions are based off of what I read in the actual text of the Bill.

To be more specific, I suggest you read over the following sections:

  • Section 201: Administration of National Program
  • Section 401: Prohibited Acts
  • Section 403: Notification and Recall
  • Section 405: Civil and Criminal Penalties
  • Section 506: Regulations

In my humble opinion, after reading over this bill, the establishment of Food Safety Administration seems like a small death to civil liberties. The administrationwill have the power to determine what food passes regulation standards based on very broad (and some arbitrary) guidelines left up to the determination of the the ADMINISTRATOR (dun dun dunnnnnnnnn)

The motivation behind this bill is to keep our food safe and out of the hands of contamination and bioterrorists. Though (if passed) this might prevent the occasional tomato and peanut scare, it seems like more wasted funding for another one of our government’s anti-terrorist moves that will do nothing more than infringe on our rights as citizens.

Anyone remember the Patriot Act? Well, more than anything else this seems like the beginning of government intervention into multiple realms of domestic life, a change none of us were hoping for.

Obama, you might want to get your wife’s organic garden at the White House approved. Those veggies could be lethal.

Obama Loves Monsanto: Bill HR 875

Congress is working on a bill: HR 875 (aka the Food Modernization Act of 2009) that if passed would allow only ‘federally sanctioned’ seeds and produce to be grown and consumed in the name of ‘food safety’. The passing of this bill would also mean no more backyard gardens, community growing spaces, or small farms, as these are obviously an enormous threat to public health.

The Future of Food? Yeah, this looks safe...
The Future of Food? Yeah, this looks safe...

The monopoly man just rained some bills on Monsanto, literally.

I don’t even know how to begin this entry besides the obvious action of staring at my computer screen with my mouth hanging stupidly open. IS THIS THE KIND OF CHANGE WE SHOULD HAVE HOPED FOR OBAMA?!

While the intent of the bill is to assure a large-scale public safety in food regulation, the catastrophic repercussions seem to really outweigh the benefits. Lets compare them together shall we?

Pros:

  1. Cleaner food distribution
  2. Standardized Prices (this could be good or bad)
  3. More government push towards environmentally friendly growing techniques (one would hope)
  4. Less parasite outbreaks from bad food (though these usually come from commercially produced products, anyone remember the peanut butter scare?)

Cons: (sorry this is obviously bias) Under the provisions of this law you could NOT legally:

  1. Buy heirloom seed and then harvest and re-use your own seed.
  2. You could ONLY legally purchase governmentally distributed seeds (aka Monsanto’s zombie seed of death!)
  3. You could NOT raise your own seed and sell, or even GIVE them to a neighbor.
  4. You would no longer be able to take your kids down to the local “pick-your-own” blueberry or strawberry farms, or buy from the roadside backyard grower of garden vegetables, or even grow your own vegetable plants, fruit trees, or nut trees, for your own consumption!!

For more information, read the FACTS at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875

Here is a link to read about the current status of HR 875 that is being considered by Congress.

PLEASE read up and take action to make sure this doesn’t get through. If this is some kind of attempt at saving capitalism, it will have contradictory effects, and simultaneously destroy our local sense of sustainability, and our ability to complete basic tasks (eating) without the interference of GObama.

I’m Going Vegan! (attempting)

Alright folks, So all this promo that I’m giving to various vegan inspired diets and environmentally friendly eating is (and I must be truthful) somewhat contradictory to my own eating habits. Sure, you might find me at a late night diner after a long night munching on a cheeseburger…..but not anymore!

In an effort to practice what I preach and stay true to my Grassroots Gourmet ideals, I am becoming a vegan! or at least trying it out for as long as I possibly can! I need your support because this definitely will not be the easiest transistion, but luckily for me, I love vegan food so, as long as I don’t go too low in funds I think this should be a beautiful lifestyle change. 😉

Anyone willing to take on the challenge with me?

Wish me luck!
Wish me luck!