Eating out is an uber-common part of many an urban young person’s social life, and one we don’t often consider a big part of our ecological footprint. The food waste from restaurants, along with the plastic, cardboard, and other recyclable materials they often don’t recycle, is actually a massive piece of a city’s environmental impact. According to an analyst at the EPA’s waste division, food waste has become the “no. 1 material that goes into landfills and incinerators,” and almost ten percent of a restaurant’s total food purchases end up thrown away. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some New York restaurants working to reduce waste.
A mere thirty miles north of New York City, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture sits nestled in Pocantico Hills. The center cultivates produce on their all-season farm and offers classes on sustainable agriculture. The site is also home to one of the two Blue Hill restaurants: Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where your experience will be menu-free, and your meal will consist of a surprising, ever-changing set of courses made of food grown at Stone Barns and other HUdson Valley farms. If you don’t feel like making the trek upstate, Blue Hill’s Manhattan location is located in Greenwich Village, and offers both a four course tasting menu and a Farmer’s Feast that changes according to the weekly harvest.
This all-day cafe and all-night cocktail bar opened in Crown Heights last year on a mission: sustainability without sacrificing an ounce of style, or taste. The spot is the brainchild of Claire Sprouse, who’s devoted years to decrease waste in restaurants and bars. Hunky Dory achieves this by sharing ingredients between the bar and the kitchen, along with emphasizing dehydration, fermentation, and jarring in their cooking and mixology. Food waste gets turned into cocktail infusions, and what’s leftover gets composted.
The UN estimated that 70% of fisheries worldwide are currently in or nearing crisis, but barely any sushi restaurants are thinking about sustainability in their fish sourcing. New York City only has one omakase spot, Mayanoki, that centers thoughtful sourcing, working directly with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program and the James Beard Smart Catch Foundation. With a fifteen-course omakase that clocks in under $100 dollars and doesn’t contribute to the crisis in our oceans, you can feel a little less guilty about indulging your raw fish craving.
Blenheim restaurant is named after the Catskills farm that supplies most of its meat, honey, syrup, and produce. Blenheim’s proprietors call their approach “grown to order,” taking “farm-to-table” to the next level. Even the interiors emphasize reducing and reusing: the lamps are made from old milk jugs once used on the farm, and old tools are repurposed as wall art.