An Open Letter To The Industry About Dirt
And a tangible thing you can do to save it.
April 19, 2018 ● 2 min read
By Chef Anthony Myint | Illustration beastfromeast via iStock
Would you like to save the world?
Okay look, I know you’re trying to get ready for service tonight and you don’t know if your cook/dishwasher/runner/mushroom order is showing up tomorrow, and your restaurant is just barely making ends meet in numerous ways. Me too.
The good news is that you can still make it happen.
First an example of how: there’s one-tenth of one ranch in Sonoma County where the cows and the ranchers are using nature to fight climate change. Each year, the soil on that ranch takes in as much atmospheric greenhouse gases as NOT burning 250,000 gallons of gasoline.
I live and work near this particular ranch, but it’s not unique: the U.S. contains another two million patches of grazing land just like this, waiting to be converted to carbon ranching and to become part of the solution to climate change. Around the world, there are already thousands of people and organizations and universities working on carbon ranching. Somehow, almost no chefs know about it and the public is only just starting to support it financially.
But you’re going to change that.
Food is a big part of climate change, but unlike energy and transportation, food production can REVERSE climate change. It’s not about chard stems and stem cell meats, it’s about millions of acres, billions of dollars, trillions of pounds of compost and the priceless cultural capital that we chefs possess. We can essentially do the opposite of deforestation and repopulate the world’s soil with organic matter, which would go a long way towards solving climate change.
At Zero Foodprint, we’re trying to make sustainability meaningful and measurable by establishing a baseline. Restaurants become carbon neutral by contributing a few cents per diner to projects like the one I mentioned, or to ones like this, at DrawDown.org.
You can make this contribution happen however you like. Raise the price of your burger or get customers to chip in 25 cents each.* Or even if you just absorb the cost, for most restaurants, simply gaining one 4-top per week, would make the prospect profitable. Overall, just making these small contributions establishes one’s role in creating the sustainable food system we’d all like to see—becoming part of the solution. We all want to do good, and now it’s convenient.
Join the Zero Foodprint movement now, and sign up for this year's Earth Day pledge.
*At Mission Chinese Food diners contribute 10 cents towards emissions reduction projects to make the restaurant carbon neutral. At a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, the contributions are 35 cents per diner.