Environment

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Jose Luis Magana/AP
Founding Farmers, Washington D.C.

Farmers Open “Washington’s Greenest Restaurant”

September 30, 2008 06:00 AM
by Isabel Cowles
The North Dakota Farmers Union has opened D.C. restaurant Founding Farmers, which features produce from family-operated farms across America.

Restaurant Aims to Go Green, but Stay in Black

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A group of North Dakota farmers have spent nearly $6 million building a restaurant in the nation’s capital that showcases produce from small farms; they hope it will be “Washington’s greenest restaurant.”

Launched by the North Dakota Farmers Union, Founding Farmers is located just a few blocks from the White House and features food from family-owned and -operated farms. Although many of the suppliers are local, the restaurant also gets provisions from North Dakota and from farmers in other distant states.

In addition to offering food from specified sources, the building for Founding Fathers is also environmentally conscious, certified with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building standards.

Although the restaurant was a risky investment at a time of economic insecurity, Ralph DeRose, general manager of Founding Farmers says, “We believe we are doing the right thing, doing it the right way, and the profit will come.”

Eating Green in America’s Cities

Founding Farmers is just one of many green restaurants cropping up across the country. In New York City, Boston and Chicago, environmentally friendly eateries are already a staple. In addition to providing ecofriendly food, many of the green restaurants are also economically viable. According to Christopher Fillie, a restaurant contractor who specializes in LEED construction, “There’s a misconception that it’s only some kind of a bleeding heart thing and will be expensive. But the reality is that the cost of doing business poorly is going up—like the cost of energy, for example.”

Restaurants are among the biggest energy guzzlers. According to Pacific Gas & Electric's Food Service Technology Center (FSTC), restaurants use more energy worldwide than any other type of retailer, consuming nearly five times more energy per square foot than any other kind of commercial building.

Reference: LEED; The North Dakota Farmer’s Union and Founding Farmers

Related Topic: Restaurant Reforms

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