Sustainable restaurants in California are going a step further to stop climate change by adding a farm-to-table and back-to-farm-again surcharge that allows patrons to support climate smart farming practices within the state. This Fall, participating restaurants will begin adding the optional one percent surcharge intended to offset emissions by paying farmers to store carbon in healthy soil and vegetation.
The initiative is a joint partnership by the Perennial Farming Initiative, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Air Resources Board. So far, 25 restaurants have joined the program, with a total of 200 expected by the end of 2019.
Globally, farms emit about 13 percent of all carbon emissions. In the U.S., California is an agriculture powerhouse and therefore has the potential to be a big part of the climate solution. In fact, one third of all vegetables in the U.S. come from California, as well as over two thirds of all fruits and nuts.
“Farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of the battle against climate change,” Karen Ross from the California Department of Food and Agriculture said in a press release. “This partnership is an opportunity for eaters and buyers to share in land-based solutions.”
The primary concept of the fund is to support “carbon farming,” which encourages the storage of carbon in soil and vegetation. The fund would pay farmers $10 for every ton of carbon they successfully remove from the atmosphere. Examples of climate-smart practices include more gentle tilling, rotating crops, or composting.
The surcharge is voluntary; however, customers have to explicitly ask their server to remove it from the bill– meaning that participating restaurants add it automatically. During the pilot at Mission Chinese in San Francisco, not a single customer opted out of the one percent surcharge.
“This issue of climate change is obviously massive,” Chef Anthony Myint of Perennial Farming Initiative told KTVU, “future generations don’t have the chance to opt out.”
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