The restaurant industry is known as being an industry full of waste. Meat is fed corn that has been grown with petrochemical fertilizers. Produce is 'protected' with harsh pesticides. Provisions are trucked in from who-knows-where. Food scraps from the kitchen and huge meal portions end up in the trash. Recyclable material is thrown out. Broken or damage fragments of decor sit in landfills never fully wasting away. When you think about the overall carbon footprint of these activities, it must be astronomical.
Some restaurants, however, are trying to change that; Sublime, one of the area's few vegan restaurants, is conscious about attempting to reduce its overall carbon footprint, one small step at a time. Executive chef John Lenhard and Jay McCobb of Farmer Jay's Pure Organics showed us how.
For years, Sublime has strived to be as sustainable as possible. First off, being a vegan restaurant, it is able to avoid all of the environmental problems associated with the production of meat: no factory farm waste pools, less farmland used for dishes. Lenhard talks to lcoal vendors in an attempt to source products as locally as possible. The kitchen saves the food scraps to donate to local animal sanctuaries. When the old table tops are changed out, they are also donated to local wildlife organizations.
With sustainability in mind, the restaurant has taken the next step: starting its very own garden. About four years ago, the restaurant installed a rooftop garden. Two years ago, McCobb was brought in to consult. Since then, the program has expanded to include a house with a dedicated garden and in-house gardeners. Right now, the garden does not grow enough to meet all of the restaurant's demand, items picked fresh are frequently used as specials and as means for customer education. Before being used, freshly-picked tomatoes are frequently displayed at the entrance of the restaurant, at the hostess stand. According to Lenhard, "I wouldn't say marketing, but it's a great way for people to understand what we do as a plant-based restaurant. People can see fresh heirlooms displayed and get excited about eating local products."