How often do you leave food on a plate at the restaurant? Even if you’re a dedicated doggie-bagger, sometimes food gets left behind. Perhaps you’ve taken the lettuce off a sandwich or you’ve left the pickle uneaten. There’s often a little something left on your plate when you leave the table.

 Food left behind on plates in restaurants usually gets scraped into the trash and ends up in the landfill. A growing number of restaurants are starting to compost this food, either on their own or by using a service that hauls it away and composts it for them. This practice, which MSNBC calls the table-to-farm movement, completes the cycle for many restaurants that are trying to do business as sustainably as possible.

A small industry of food-waste haulers is emerging, companies that collect the waste from restaurants and take it to commercial compost facilities or farms where it will be turned into compost that can be used to grow more food.

Sure, there’s a cost to restaurants for this type of service, but the Portsmouth Brewery restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H., found that when their employees separated food from the rest of the restaurant waste, they were able to renegotiate the cost of trash pick-up because there was less to pick up. The money they saved from renegotiating offset the cost of hiring EcoMovement to haul away the restaurant's compostable waste.

Do you know of any restaurants that are taking the leftover food from the table and making sure it ends up back on the farm? 

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

The table-to-farm movement
Table-to-farm is the logical next step in the farm-to-table cycle.