Restaurant luminaries unite
to fight climate change
Restaurant luminaries today gathered on Wednesday at the Bourke Street icon, Grossi Florentino Restaurant, to launch Food for TreesTM – a carbon capture scheme that commits the restaurants to tree plantings in and around Melbourne.
The set-up of Food for TreesTM has been funded by five of the most successful businesses in Victoria’s food and wine industry:
Food for Trees founding members:
Grossi Florentino Restaurant, City
De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley
Soul Mamas Restaurant, St Kilda
100 Mile Café, City
All Nations Hotel, Richmond
At Wednesday’s launch, the restaurateurs said they were motivated by a desire to do the right thing by the environment and by their customers.
Leanne De Bortoli – De Bortoli Wines:
“Consumers want and should be able to choose to minimise the environmental impact of everything they do, including eating and drinking. Food for TreesTM gives customers the choice of environmentally-conscious dining.”
Guy Grossi – Grossi Florentino:
“Most of us in the restaurant industry like to get our hands dirty. Food for TreesTM is a direct and practical way we can do our bit to reduce the impact of carbon emissions.”
Paul Mathis – 100 Mile Café:
“Many people in the restaurant industry are looking for a way to reduce their impact on the environment. We hope they will join Food for TreesTM and help us achieve the goal of one million new trees within ten years.”
Trees planted by Food for TreesTM will be overseen and managed by the Port Philip and Westernport Catchment Authority – a State government authority - ensuring that trees are planted where they will have the greatest environmental impact.
Food for TreesTM is aiming to plant one million trees within the next 10 years, expecting to capture in the order of 250,000 tons of carbon emissions, as well as cleaning waterways and providing habitat for native wildlife in and around Melbourne.
To kick off the scheme, the founding Food for TreesTM members are planting approximately three hectares in the Yarra Valley. As well as capturing harmful carbon emissions, the new trees will create a corridor of native habitat, providing homes for wildlife including the Helmeted Honeyeater which is on the brink of extinction. The Helmeted Honeyeater can only be found in Victoria and is the State’s bird emblem. Only 100 of the birds remain, mostly in the Yellingbo State Park near Yarra Junction.
Melbourne’s restaurant patrons will be able to identify Food for TreesTM members by the Food for TreesTM logo on restaurant doors and tables, or they can visit http://www.foodfortrees.com.au/ to find Food for TreesTM members.
Charitable Acts and Ethical Marketing are emerging trends that will proliferate through Food Media over the next ten years. Thanks to our concerns about the changing nature of diets and the integrity of the food we provide our families, the hospitality industry will in many ways lead the charge on a grass roots level and in time consumers and retailers will follow suit.
On a global level, Marketing Moguls have been seeking out local causes for some time that will offset their much criticised consumerism by allocating ethical marketing budgets to be sunk into causes that have synergy with their businesses.
For many years now, Mars & Uncle Bens have been supporting Guide Dogs for the visually impaired. Cigarette Mega brand Phillip Morris has funded Meals on Wheels in some states of the USA and one of American Express' charitable funds supports food education programs for teenagers where they are teamed with local chefs and farmers, who volunteer their time to teach and give hands on experience in the hope of garnering a more positive future.
In last week's New York Times an article entitled Friends with Benefits espoused the generosity of restaurants to charity despite themselves running on 'razor thin margins'. In the best case scenarios this is played out within the local community or with neighbourhood charities.
In the cases of celebrity chefs as much as US$8million has been raised by one US chef's foundation over six years, while less notorious chefs have enjoyed the best success in fundraising when multiple restaurants band together. It also provides a social outlet for hospitality industry personnel faced with the daily pressure cooker environment of running their businesses. Naturally this also provides restaurants with the kind of publicity that 'money can't buy', but although potentially looked upon favourably by the taxman, it isn't always enough to get bums on seats.
The Food For Trees carbon capture program, sees Melbourne restaurants banding together to invest in a cause. This particular one has been initiated by Rob Patten, a Social Worker and Ethical Business Developer. In this scheme they are seeking to enlist other restaurants to join this Not for Profit Organisation by committing an investment to contribute to the planting of a million trees over the next ten years.
They ask nothing of punters than to support the venues involved, so they are asking that you choose to dine responsibly in the venues that support the cause. In return the community will benefit by the carbon offset of emissions created by the tree planting and the restoration of nature corridors that will assist in aiding the fight against climate change by restoring large tracts of bushlands where the original ecological benefits of forestry and wetlands can be restored.
The particular benefits of the Food for Trees scheme are that the plantings are not plantation plantings. They are permanent plantings that won’t be cut down in 10-20 years’ time. They are also plantings that do more than just capture carbon emissions. They will provide native habitats, clean waterways, repair landscapes, increase biodiversity and create a healthier environment for us all to live in. And that means a more sustainable environment for us to produce healthy produce and develop a more positive outlook for future generations.
Although I was overcommited and unable to attend this particular launch, I applaud the passion of the restaurants who have sunk money into getting this program off the ground. The idea that customers will differentiate between an environmentally responsible restaurant and one that is not, is debatable in the current market. I wholeheartedly believe however that there is a segment of the younger community who will embrace this, along with old punks like myself.
For the restaurants that participate there is the opportunity for ongoing PR, Marketing kits, media exposure, events, weblinks and staff planting events which should assist with morale and camaraderie in the workplace as well as capturing a wider audience. At an investment of $4 per tree, I would say that it is worth it, especially when tax considerations are accounted for.
Lets get behind it no matter on which side of the hospitality fence we sit. Food for Trees - Make a meal out of climate change.
Watch the ABC's video taken at the launch here
To measure your carbon footprint, go here.