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Restaurant Eco-Frenzy: How Green Can You Go?

Russ Parsons takes a look at local restaurateurs and chefs jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, including Michael Blobaum at Wilshire, Neal Fraser at Grace, and Maury Rubin at the City Bakery and his new Birdbath project in Pacific Palisades. But without surefire guidelines, it's no easy feat:

In large part, that's because eco-friendly and "sustainable" are still so loosely defined that they can include a dizzying maze of factors: how the restaurant was built, how and where the ingredients were grown, the nature of the materials used to serve them, and how the leftovers are disposed of.

There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, chefs and restaurateurs are still trying to sort out just what "sustainable" means, and beyond that, how it fits into running a viable business.

Although not mentioned in the article, we can't help but wonder if the LAT's review of Santa Monica's Abode a few months ago was the catalyst for this piece. In it, Leslie Brenner reamed the restaurant for using the terms "eco-friendly" and "sustainable" in their press materials, but noted its use of leather chairs and ingredients from around the world. That wasn't a a fair assessment, and Parsons proves our point: "Sustainable" still needs defined. Providence chef Michael Cimarusti grapples with serving local seafood vs. leaving a carbon imprint, but says he "couldn't be a seafood restaurant" if he relied on only mackerel, squid, and sardines. But he does follow the Seafood Choices Alliance program and serves only fish that is rated a "smart choice." Why judge? If one chef does just a few things to save the planet, isn't it better than doing nothing? It's no longer just the right thing to do---it's good for business, too. But will 'not enough' ever be enough?
· A Scathing Critique of Abode's...Sustainability? [~ELA~]

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