Earlier today I wrote about Le Pain Quotidien, a certified green restaurant. Did you read that and wonder, "What's a certified green restaurant?" I bet you did. 

The Green Restaurant Association awards restaurants that meet their standards with the certification. The GRA is a non-profit organization, and it "helps restaurants and its customers become more environmentally sustainable in ways that are convenient and cost-effective." 

Certified Green Restaurants™ meet the following standards:

   1. Use a comprehensive recycling system for all products that are accepted by local recycling companies.

   2. Free of polystyrene foam ("Styrofoam") products.

   3. Commit to completing four Environmental Steps per year of membership. (refer to Environmental Guidelines)

   4. Complete at least one Environmental Step after joining the GRA. 

When I'm visiting a city, I like to eat at at least one green, sustainable, organic or farm-to-fork restaurant when I'm there (remember when I ate at Founding Farmers in DC?). I think it's important to support these types restaurants whenever possible. When I visit a restaurant that isn't specifically trying to be one of these things but I see them doing something environmentally friendly, like using biodegradable take out containers instead of styrofoam, I'll e-mail them after my visit and let them know I noticed it. 

The GRA website allows you to search for one of their certified restaurants to make it easy for you to find one. This isn't the only way to find an eco-friendly restaurant though. If you don't find something that strikes your fancy at the GRA site, try Local Harvest or use your search engine to search for "name of city organic restaurants."

Be aware, often when searching for organic restaurants, you'll end up with a list of vegetarian restaurants. Organic does not necessarily mean vegetarian. Meat can be organic. And vegetarian does not necessarily mean organic. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Find a green restaurant
If you're looking for a green restaurant, here's a way to find one near you.