Are you concerned about the climate crisis, but don’t know how you can make a difference? As consumers, we all have an opportunity to make more “climate friendly” choices—starting with our food system.
Our friends Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz have a simple idea that could create big social impact. They have proposed adding an optional 1% surcharge on California restaurant checks as part of a new public-private initiative called Restore California. The funds generated would be used to support farmers who adopt regenerative carbon farming practices.
Simply put, carbon farming practices (like those we have implemented at Stemple Creek Ranch through the Marin Carbon Project) build healthy soil by increasing carbon retention, and drawing down carbon dioxide emissions in the air that contribute to global warming. These practices include planting hedgerows and native trees, cover crops and crop rotation, composting and more. Adding just 1% to your restaurant check would provide millions of dollars in funding to aid other California farmers in implementing these regenerative practices.
Our own Loren Poncia was recently quoted in this Washington Post article, Restaurants Put Climate Change on the Menu, spotlighting Myint, Leibowitz, and their proposed restaurant surcharge initiative.
“This could potentially help a lot of farmers and ranchers who don’t have the capital to implement carbon farming practices, which can be expensive, risky and take time to learn what to do,” says Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch in Marin County, CA. “For consumers, it’s a chance to vote with their dollars and commit to helping combat climate change in a way they’ll barely notice on their check but will collectively add up and really help,” says Poncia. “Global warming is here. We only have so much time to implement change. Things are getting worse, not better. It’s never a bad thing to build better soil.”
In California, eligible farmers would complete an assessment for funding consideration. The Restore California program will serve as a complement to California’s existing government funded Healthy Soils Program, which supports carbon farming practices.
Myint and Leibowitz are no strangers to leading the charge when it comes to the marriage of food and climate. As restauranteurs and food activists, they set a new standard in conscious consumerism by opening The Perennial, San Francisco’s first eco-friendly eatery. The restaurant tackled climate change through a multi-pronged approach including hyperlocal sourcing, energy efficiency, eco-conscious design, food waste prevention and consumer education.
After three years in business, the husband-wife team decided to close the successful restaurant in order to focus their efforts and create greater impact through their two non-profit organizations.
They founded the Perennial Farming Initiative and its component program, Zero Foodprint, in 2014. The nonprofits build awareness and provide resources to restaurants and food service providers who want to reduce their carbon footprint. To date, around 30 restaurants have achieved carbon-neutral status under the program with many more on the way. They are true visionaries and we are so proud of the work they are doing.
To read the full article and learn more, click here.