The sustainable food movement is best known for its association with “slow food,” but as a growing number of consumers are looking for more healthy, sustainable food choices, a growing number of restaurants are catering to eco-conscious professionals and families in need of a quick bite to eat. Organic lunch trucks are capitalizing on the lunch truck trend, and many popular “quick food” restaurants now offer sustainable options, including humanely raised meat, organic beans, and rBGH-free sour cream at Chipotle Mexican Grill, and organic yogurt and antibiotic-free chicken at Panera Bread. Even the classic fast food burger restaurant has been re-imagined as a source of fast, inexpensive, and sustainable food.
A sustainable burger joint is a great green business opportunity for eco-conscious foodies and others who love the Earth as much as they love a nice juicy burger.
Planning Your Green Burger Joint
The make-or-break factor for any burger joint is the quality of its meat, and as a green burger joint, you’ll have to pay extra attention to sourcing your meat because conventionally raised red meat has one of the largest ecological footprints of any food. Choosing organic, grass-fed, or “beyond organic” meat can substantially reduce the ecological footprint of your burgers, while also being more humane for the animals and healthier for consumers.
Choosing organic, local, and fair trade produce and other ingredients is another great way to reduce the impact of your menu. Some eco-conscious burger joints also take part in the seasonal food movement by offering certain items during certain seasons only to highlight locally grown, in season produce.
Sustainable food isn’t the only way you can green your burger joint. Here are some more things to think about when planning your green burger joint:
- Choosing energy efficient appliances and lighting.
- Choosing green building materials such as low VOC paints.
- Using a green cleaning service or green cleaning products.
- Using compostable to-go boxes and other packaging.
- Composting food waste.
- Recycling used cooking oil as biodiesel.
- Printing menus and advertising materials on recycled paper with eco-friendly inks.
- Using renewable energy to power your restaurant.
- and more!
Three Great Stops for a Greener Burger
Founded in 1961, Burgerville is a fast food burger chain with 39 locations in Oregon and Washington that has been going green since before it was fashionable. Burgerville’s classic burgers, salads, and other foods are made from humanely raised, antibiotic-free meat and eggs, locally grown produce, and in season-only specialties such as milkshakes made with fresh Oregon blackberries. Additionally, the company purchases wind power credits to offset 100% of all electricity use for both its restaurants and corporate offices, recycles used cooking oil into biodiesel, and is currently implementing a recycling and composting program that it expects will reduce waste by 85%.
EVOS is a Florida-based burger chain found primarily in the Southeast and California. It combines naturally raised meats with organic or fair trade produce and other ingredients to produce great burgers, salads, wraps, and more. It also offsets some of its energy consumption with renewable energy credits, uses energy-efficient appliances and lighting, uses eco-friendly building and cleaning materials, and more.
VGBurgers, located in Boulder, CO, is not just sustainable, it’s vegan! Founded by snowboarder Tim Gargiulo, the restaurant’s unique 100% plant-based burgers, salads, burritos, and more are organic, locally grown, and served in compostable dishes. Not only that, VG Burgers is 100% wind-powered and committed to zero waste.