One issue that weighs on everybody’s mind these days is the size of their ecological footprint. It’s simple enough to recycle, turn off the lights, and conserve water, but there’s a larger impact that is harder for us to control: businesses that destroy the Ozone in pursuit of a profit, the vehicles we use to keep the economy moving, and the impact of our eating habits.
However, several businesses and establishments are already taking steps to help preserve our precious ecosystem. In the D.C. area, Restaurants are leading the charge in sourcing sustainable products and serving them in delicious ways. Many of these restaurants go above and beyond in how they approach their responsibility to the environment.
Chaia is a new kind of taco shop. Entirely vegetarian, and most of their menu can be made vegan, Chaia specializes in unique, seasonal tacos full of vegetables from farms and gardens in the DC Area.
Not only is Chaia dedicated to sourcing their food from local and sustainable sources, but all the food is also Organic. In the Winter months they source the food from farmers in Tuscarora.
On top of that, all their packaging and service-wear is compostable, and they work to reduce their waste impact as much as possible.
The food itself is delicious. Artisan tacos made fresh daily, with handmade tortillas and freshly picked vegetables. They even do delivery! If you’re looking for a fantastic new place that is environmentally friendly with a unique vibe, Chaia might be for you.
4. Luke’s Lobster
Luke’s Lobster prides itself on the top-quality of the food it provides the D.C. area on a daily basis. Anyone who’s tried their lobster rolls can attest to that. Less-known is their commitment to the environment that they work in every day.
Luke’s recently achieved a B-corp certification by meeting rigorous standards on everything from environmental impact to employee life, accountability, and transparency. There are only 2000 companies in the world that have managed to gain that certification, which shows the levels Luke’s is willing to go to ensure it makes the best impact possible on the community and environment around it.
Urbana is the kind of company that knows no limits when it comes to delivering something delicious and sustainable. Not only is all the pasta hand-made, but the veggies and herbs that make up the delightful Italian flavor are all hand-picked from the rooftop garden.
Executive Chef Ethan McKee and Lead Bartender Lauren Mathews are both dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of their company as much as possible. Thus, the seasonal menu of freshly-picked rooftop veggies. Yet they even go so far as installing a high-tech food waste removal system, that reduces the waste down to a gray water that can wash through the normal sewer systems.
This greatly reduces the amount of food that needs to be sent to a landfill, and more companies should follow their example. In the US, the degradation of concentrated amounts of food in landfills contributes to nearly 25% of all methane emissions. By keeping their food waste at a minimum, Urbana does us all a great service.
Founding Farmers is, like many other entries on this list, a unique sort of restaurant. It was founded in 2005, by the North Dakota Farmer’s Union. The majority share of the restaurant is actually owned by around 47,000 mom-and-pop farms from across the country.
This project came together in an effort by the farmers to find better ways to get their products directly to consumers. In doing this, they also wanted to break the corporate tradition of wasteful, unsustainable food sourcing.
They specifically source their food from farmers who uphold the highest standards when it comes to environmental responsibility. They compost their food waste, use no bottled water, and donate their excess grease to be converted into biofuel.
All of the food there is delicious, but if you’re going to their DC location, try to get there for breakfast or brunch. Their brunch menu is quickly becoming legendary in the area, with their traditional American flavor making you feel good all the way around.
1. Sweet Green
Like you, and many of the restaurants on this list, Sweet Green is exceptionally aware of the consequences of the choices we make. They understand that they’re the link between Producer and Consumer, and they’re out to change what that means.
For Sweet Green, that means completely transparent supply lines, cooking all their food from scratch, sustainable production and sourcing, and emphasizing animal welfare. Everything from waste management to store design is considered in the pursuit of being more environmentally friendly. They source their food from multiple local farmers around the country. Their multiple locations mean each one is more attentive to the community than serving corporate interests. They’ve even partnered with the ASPCA to make sure all their animal products match sustainability and animal safety standards.
Even with all this, they still remembered to make their food delicious and eclectic. The constantly varying menu means you can find food like koginut squash alongside a cauliflower curry, each expertly prepared with some of the finest ingredients they can find. Because of that, Sweet Green comes highly recommended as one of the eco-friendliest, and delicious, restaurants in the DC area.
Each of these restaurants holds the same basic value: deliver delicious food in a way that is environmentally responsible. Yet each of these restaurants delivers on those values in unique and creative ways. Each one comes from a different culinary tradition, yet they all show how we can progress into the future with a heightened awareness of how our choices impact the world around us.