New Sustainability Ranking System Shows You How to Save the World by Eating


We remember the days before big chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks pledged to make sustainability a top priority, back when “organic” was the only health-food buzzword people cared about and using “sustainability” in a sentence usually meant we’d have to define it at least once*. But things are different now. More and more restaurants are scoring publicity by advertising their sustainability commitment, and it can be hard to judge which restaurants  are actually living up to sustainability standards and which ones are falling short.

Enter the UK-based Sustainable Restaurant Association’s new global sustainability ranking system that’s available to any restaurant in the world. The ranking system basically measures how well a restaurant fits the SRA’s tenets of sustainability (Society, Environment, and Sourcing) and then assigns a score of one, two, or three stars depending on how well they do.

The scores are then publicized to let eco-friendly consumers know where they can go to get sustainable (and delicious) food in the hopes that they’ll put their wallets where their mouths are and support sustainable dining. So far, over 500 UK restaurants have been SRA ranked and the Association provides over 1,200 restaurants with advice on how to find sustainable alternatives to traditional restaurant practices, meaning that they (and their customers) are working to save the world one bite at a time. Now that’s our kind of activism.

* For the record, being sustainable basically just means keeping an eye on how many of the planet’s resources we’re consuming.

PicThx The SRA


McDonald’s Serving Sustainable Fish Now, Still Not Serving Sustainable Beef


McDonald’s USA gets an environmental pat on the back this week for making a move towards sustainability and serving Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish at all of their U.S. eateries.


Sustainability Becoming ‘Standard,’ We Contemplate What That ‘Means’

The local/DIY/artisanal/craft/micro-brew is the hippest of hip right now in the food world. The part of me that wants humans to inhabit the earth for a long time rejoiced when I saw this story from the National Restaurant Association indicating that sustainability is now “more standard operating procedure than a trend.”

I have to wonder if this sentiment is authentic or just an empty pander to the demands of eco-conscious consumers. The vagueness of this report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute makes me suspicious that “sustainable” will just become another meaningless label – similar to “free range” simply denoting the size of an animal’s still-tiny cage – where some token amount of the packaging was made from post-consumer materials or some such thing.

Hopefully these efforts in “sustainability” include some creative thinking along the lines of recently announced edible packaging. But in a country where we rinse our sidewalks with drinking water and pay extra money to have our tap water filtered and bottled, I don’t think Big Landfill has anything to worry about.

via National Restaurant Association/photo courtesy d-olwen-dee on Flickr


Mars Mission Astronauts Will Have Just Two Menu Options, and Both Seem Pretty Miserable

I’m sure being locked for three years in a pressurized metal container would be enough to turn anyone into a green, hulking rage monster, but imagine if your only diet options while up there were to go completely vegan or only eat pre-packaged space food.

Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to see us when we’re hungry.

In preparation for a planned journey to Mars in the 2030s (about 18 years from now) scientists are racing against the clock to create a sustainable meal plan for a team of six to eight astronauts to last the duration of the trip, or a whole two and a half years. Laid out, this will come out to approximately six months getting there, six months back and 18 months in between doing like, science and stuff.

The main problem with such a trip is the distance, says Maya Cooper, one of the senior researchers on the Mars Meal Plan Project. “Mars is different just because it’s so far away,” she explains, “We don’t have the option to send a vehicle every six months and send more food as we do for International Space Station.”

To tackle this issue, Cooper and her team are experimenting with a “Martian Greenhouse,” which will allow astronauts to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables to be used in their 100% vegetarian meals, as meats and dairy products won’t last the trip. They are also considering the alternative of having all pre-packaged meals which will have to sustain a five year shelf life.

Citing the importance of variety to both psychological health and nutrition, researchers say the ideal would be to combine the two menus, though Gizmodo joked that a third option could be to make a preservative-chocked McDonalds run the night before the launch.

Personally, I think all three options are bunk, but hey, even vegan pizza is bound to sound better than soggy fries after the first three to four hours (or you know, seasons). Let’s just hope Cooper and co. can get their act together in time.

[Via Huffington Post]