The money will go to a public fund that helps farmers who use practices that reduce carbon in the atmosphere.
It would still be optional for customers, but if all diners at a certain eatery pay it, the haul would be more than enough to make the establishment carbon neutral, Anthony Myint, an organizer of the initiative, told CNN.
Myint is a restauranteur who started a non-profit that’s behind the program.
The San Francisco branch is in the city’s Mission district and carried a social mission as well, donating 75 cents from every meal to a local food bank.
After Myint’s daughter was born seven years ago, life changed. Concerned about her future, he said he and his wife thought deeply about how to preserve the world in which they wanted her to live. For the couple, that meant fighting climate change.
Restaurants across California can get involved
He said he hopes restaurants will proudly display the Restore California logo in their window or on their website, like others do now with a LEED or Fair Trade certification. The goal would be to drive more traffic to restaurants that have made a choice to help the environment.
According to the Perennial Farming Initiative, which hosts the program, returning carbon to the soil can improve the crops’ resilience, flavor, nutrient density and tolerance to droughts.
Myint said he believes that improved farming processes are the future. “In 20 years, people will think of composting the way they think about recycling now,” he said.
Promoting sustainable farming practices
In the restaurant industry, fighting climate change isn’t about what ingredients chefs use. “It’s how they’re produced,” Myint said.
And that means contributing to farms that are producing food in ways that don’t add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Subsidies for food produced by industrial farms makes them artificially cheap, but the money from the restaurants’ extra upcharge can help sustainable farms stay competitive.
“It’s an exciting and enthusiastic approach to climate change,” Myint said. “You’re contributing with things that you like.”