The Nature Conservancy is holding the People’s Choice 2012 Green Plate Awards. The awards go to restaurants that focus on sustainable seafood, free-range or grass-fed meats, organic produce, local and seasonal foods, and water conservation. Restaurants in Connecticut, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Richmond, New York City, Denver/Boulder, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco are all in the running. Each region has five finalists that local residents can choose from, and there will be one favorite green restaurant chosen in each region.


One of my all-time favorite sustainable restaurants, The Tortilla Press in Collingswood, N.J., is in the running, and I’ve already cast my vote. There are several other fine restaurants in New Jersey up for the honor, too.


I like to support contests like this to let restaurant owners who are striving to do things sustainably know that people out there appreciate what they’re doing. It takes more of an effort (and often more of an investment) to visit farms and markets to buy local produce and find sustainable meats. It’s much easier just to call a distributor and order whatever they happen to have. So when a restaurant works to be eco-friendly, it’s important to let them know it’s appreciated in any way possible. This is one small way.


If you live in any of the regions that the People’s Choice 2012 Green Plate Awards cover, pop over and vote. If you don’t live in those regions, they’re taking suggestions for cities and regions to add for next year's awards.


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