While each of us individually can aim to make better food choices, our impact is limited without the participation of heavy hitters like restaurants. Fortunately, these local initiatives incentivize eateries to go greener.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Blue Table Restaurant Program requires participating restaurants to implement environmentally friendly changes (e.g., no straws, plastics, or styrofoam) and apply Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommendations, which rate seafood sustainability on factors such as total population, bycatch, impact on ocean habitats, and more. Bonus points to restaurants like Tequesta’s Hog Snappers and Delray Beach’s Lionfish that include invasive species on their menu to impel elimination. Check out one (or more) of the eight Blue Table–approved restaurants:
• 1000 North
• Carve Surf & Coffee
• Hog Snappers
• Papa Kwan’s Coffee Shop
• The Cooper Restaurant
• Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar
• Cucina Cabana
• Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
Through the Florida Oceanographic Oyster Restoration program (FLOOR), 15 local restaurants donate their leftover shells to reef-restoration efforts. The program researches and restores oyster-reef habitat in the St. Lucie Estuary and southern Indian River Lagoon—a critical component of the area’s delicate ecosystem. “Last year we collected 32,280 pounds of shell, which went toward building 12 reefs,” says Lorae Simpson, director of scientific research at the Florida Oceanographic Society. “To date, recycled shells have been used to build over 138 reefs encompassing over 66,000 square feet.”
And while the pandemic launched more than its fair share of inconveniences, some COVID-19-induced changes to restaurants actually benefit the environment, such as the proliferation of QR code menus in place of one-time-use paper menus and a greater emphasis on compostable packaging to accommodate the surge in take-out orders.