Getting back to our local food roots
How Atlanta locals embrace the organic movement through green dining and catering options.
Friday, July 30, 2010 - 10:29
Photo: Marj Joly/Flickr
As a response to the need to quench locals' thirst for sustainability, the green dining sector continues to explode in the city of Atlanta. Options range from organic restaurants and juice bars, to the city's own green brewery. The overwhelming desire to eat locally has inspired a unique niche in the booming metropolis, and the unfolding success stories of such ventures are proof of the eco-friendly spirit of its people.
Included in Atlanta's catalog of organic and local catering options is Parsley's in Dunwoody, which proudly serves locally grown organic products and has been labeled, in combination with The Gardens event facility, "the premier eco-friendly caterer and event facility in the city of Atlanta." The company completed solar panel installation by Soenso Energy (of Marietta, Ga.) in July of 2008 and has since diverted over 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from consumption, while producing 145 kWh renewable energy monthly. All of Parsley's serving utensils are biodegradable and compostable, and the company partners with Closed Loop Organics to compost and recycle its materials to avoid an inevitable landfill trip.
To keep the bevy of organic restuarants on track, the Green Foodservice Alliance, a division of the Georgia Restaurant Association, implements sustainable food service practices and ensures that the local industry is familiar with all eco-friendly policies and procedures. The Alliance's mission is to educate restaurant owners and operators on energy efficiency, product waste impact and the positive effects associated with non-toxic sanitation.
What it takes
However, you may wonder, what hoops must one jump through in order to be labeled a Certified Green Restaurant? Credentials include being Styrofoam-free, using sustainable furnishings and building materials as well as sustainable food sources, efficiency in water and fuel consumption, waste reduction and recycling, chemical and pollution reduction and the use of eco-ware if disposables are necessary.
In the name of disposable eco-ware, one local company has tackled the issue first-hand (or first-fork, as it were). GreenPlate, Inc., is a non-profit organization, launched in 2008, dedicated to raising awareness about petroleum based plastics and their effect on the environment at large. Furthermore, they assist local restaurants in reducing their environmental impact in a cost-neutral way. Founder and executive director, Polly Sattler, has been an activist and lobbyist in Atlanta for over 16 years, and is passionate about the plastic peril.
The most valuable service offered by GreenPlate is foodservice consulting, where a GreenPlate consultant will assist members in gaining collective discounts, green product news, services, sourcing, and pricing. The consultants help restaurant owners and staff to reduce their carbon footprint by conserving water, reducing energy, replacing plastic items and overall waste management, while reaping the many benefits of good will partnership.
Furthermore, the Georgia Green Dining Guide outlines dining and grocery options that purchase, prepare, store and serve food in a way that fully embraces the environment. The site offers reviews and information about individual establishments and events that promote the sweet nectar of organic consumption. In fact, if you're in the market for a green-minded partner, the Whole Foods Singles Meet-Up Group in Roswell's own Whole Foods Market allows eco-conscious singles to mingle around organic food, drinks and inspired conversation. Before you know it, you'll be discussing the invaluable role of biodiversity over a sumptuous tofu stir-fry.
When it comes time to wash down that delectable organic meal, look no further than Atlanta's own Sweetwater Brewery for all of your refreshment needs. Sweetwater is well-known for the finest of hoppy delights, but it's their involvement in local environmental efforts that rank them high on the list of praise. One such high-profile partnership is with the Upper Chattachoochee Riverkeeper non-profit organization, which has aimed, since 1994, to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed, for the people, fish, and wildlife that depend directly upon it; most notably the 3.5 million Georgians who rely on it as a water source. Since its creation, the non-profit has prevented untreated sewage from washing into the river, removed a great deal of trash and pollution, and forced governments and industries to comply with local clean water laws. Be sure to purchase your "Save the Hooch" T-shirt on the brewery's website, where all proceeds go directly to the cause, and you can proudly proclaim "you gave of your liver to save the river." Bottoms up!
I strongly encourage you to jump on the local organic bandwagon and rediscover your city's edible offerings in a new light, knowing that not only are you supporting local businesses, but making a statement regarding your support for the reinvention of the way we all enjoy food. Go forth and taste!
Atlanta's green dining and catering
(Courtesy of Green~Well, Metro Atlanta/North Georgia green living and natural health directory)
Naturally Gourmet Catering, Lawrenceville
Personal chef catering service featuring all-natural and organic foods
Seasonal, local, organic catering
Sage Kitchen, Metro
Personal chef and catering service featuring natural and organic foods from around the globe
Blue Bicycle, Dawsonville
Featuring locally grown food
D Morgan's Restaurant & Wine Bar, Cartersville
Devotion to fresh, seasonal ingredients
Farm 255, Athens
Local, seasonal and sustainable food
Farmstead 303, Decatur
Fresh, simple comfort food
Herb 'N Fare, Atlanta
Sources local, organic farmers and sustainable businesses
*First organic Thai restaurant in Atlanta*
Organic Thai food
Lov'n it Live, Heart of the downtown business district of East Point
Organic, vegan, living foods restaurant
*Food made fresh daily*
My Panini, Atlanta
Certified by the Green Restaurant Association
R. Thomas' Deluxe Grill, Atlanta
Vegetarian, living foods, juice bar, etc.
Certified by the Green Restaurant Association
Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta
Seasonal, local, sustainable food and boutique wines
Woodfire Grill, Atlanta
Local organic produce, artisan meats and cheeses, sustainable seafood
World Peace Cafe, Sandy Springs
*Run by volunteers — great atmosphere*
Juices Wild, Sugar Hill
Raw juices, real fruit smoothies, panini made with local and organic ingredients. Offers panini/juice stations for parties
5 Seasons Brewing Company, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta
*Three Atlanta locations — incredible brews! — Locally owned and operated*
Take home & delivery
Jamie's Food for Thought, North Metro Atlanta
Professional personal chef, healthy gourmet meals made with clean ingredients
Off the Vine, Atlanta
Delivers organic, in-season produce to home or office
Vegetable Husband, Atlanta
Delivers fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables to the Atlanta in-town area
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