April is a special month for those in the food and wine industry. It’s Earth Month, a time to reflect on our impact on the world and to take action to make positive changes. It’s the nudge we all need to revisit our priorities and recognize our role in protecting the planet and its resources while also creating sustainable solutions that will remain.
Sustainability is more than just planting trees and reducing waste. Sustainability is the key to a healthy and vibrant future. It’s essential that we develop sustainable practices with food and wine that support ecological, human, and economic health. This means taking proactive steps to ensure that our actions do not negatively impact the environment or society. This is easier said than done, however, but with extreme desire and purpose, chefs, wine buyers, and restaurateurs can really change the practices of an industry as a whole.
We must strive to use resources responsibly, reduce waste, and create policies that promote equitable access to resources for all people. By investing in sustainability now, we can create more prosperous futures for generations to come.
Sustainability is also about promoting environmental awareness and taking action to reduce our carbon footprint. We can start by looking at our daily habits and finding ways to make them more sustainable. For example, buying organic and biodynamic wine instead of conventional wine helps support sustainable farming practices while also protecting the environment. Packaging is a huge problem in the food and beverage industry. Minimizing excessive packaging and opting for eco-friendly packaging will make a massive difference (e.g., glass bottles vs organic boxed wine or Styrofoam to-go containers vs biodegradable boxes and no plastic utensils).
Atlanta is a city that is working hard to become a leader in sustainability. Restaurants in are doing their part by sourcing ingredients from local farmers and focusing on eco-friendly practices helping to create a more sustainable food system that benefits everyone involved. Their efforts will reduce the environmental impact of their operations and support our local economy. With this commitment, we can all work together to create a healthier environment and prioritize farmer prosperity.
As restaurants strive to reduce their environmental footprint, it is important to recognize their efforts in order to encourage more sustainable practices. By recognizing these restaurants, other businesses can be inspired to follow suit and help create a culture of sustainability within the restaurant industry.
Slow Food Atlanta recently awarded local businesses with a Snail of Approval award, which is given to food and beverage establishments that are pursuing and practicing Slow Food values in their business. This goes far beyond making good food – it’s about making commitments to the environment, local communities, employees, and purveyors, as well as Slow Food’s core values of anti-racism and anti-oppression. Each Slow Food local chapter honors businesses with the Snail of Approval based on evaluations focusing on sourcing, environmental impact, cultural connection, community involvement, staff support, business values.
A few restaurants we would like to mention that recently received the Snail of Approval award who not only prioritize supporting Georgia’s organic agriculture, but they also have a wine list that shares the same values.
Little Bear, Summerhill: Chef Jarret Seiber is one of the most creative chefs in Atlanta and with one look at his menu, you’ll immediately know you’re in the right place. As each dish arrives at your table, it is apparent that Chef Jarret and his team are using local ingredients to create unique and delicious dishes that emphasize the thoughtful work of farmers who raised, milled, or grew them. Little Bear’s wine list is equally as thoughtful, offering exclusively natural/minimal intervention wines. Their wine list is small, yet mighty. Little Bear even had a riff on everyone’s favorite Espresso Martini, a refreshing Espresso Tonic using Atlanta’s very own Portrait Coffee, proving that local isn’t just food, but also coffee.
Talat Market, Summerhill: Co-owner Chefs Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter have created one of Atlanta’s best restaurants using Thai techniques and featuring local Georgia ingredients. We can’t say enough good things about this establishment. From their must-have “surprise” Daiquiri of the Day, to the wine list that pairs exceptionally well with their dishes full of heightened flavors, to the Crispy Rice Salad that you won’t want to share, Talat Market never disappoints. Add this casual, laid back restaurant into your monthly rotation of places to visit. You’ll thank us later.
Miller Union, West Midtown: Miller Union, one of the most exemplary examples of sustainability, is proving that all it takes is making a conscious decision to support local farmers, reduce food waste, and prioritize ethical animal husbandry. On any given weekend, you might spot co-owner and Chef Steven Satterfield at one of Atlanta’s community farmers markets. There is something so special about seeing a chef in their element, selecting the best ingredients to create a delicious meal. Shopping for the freshest and most flavorful ingredients is a unique opportunity to get closer to the source. With each bite, when dining at Miller Union, you can enjoy knowing that you are supporting the south’s sustainable agriculture. It then goes without saying that Miller Union will have a wine list that is worthy of being framed. Neal McCarthy, co-owner and wine expert, selects only the best for the list at Miller Union – even the By The Glass selections are knockouts. Be sure to give yourself an extra 10 minutes to peruse through his collection. Whether you’re looking for something special for date night or just want to try something new, the hidden gems on his wine list will definitely surprise you.
We would be remiss not to mention the other business that received the Snail of Approval award. All of these businesses are changing the way we eat and drink in Atlanta. Shoutouts to Capella Cheese, Condor Chocolates, The Deer and The Dove/B-Side, Evergreen Butcher & Baker, Fresh Harvest, JenChan’s, Little Tart Bakeshop, The Spotted Trotter, and Xocolatl.
We all have a role to play in creating a more sustainable future and Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to show our commitment to protecting the planet. Let’s take this chance to reflect on how we can make small changes that will help create a healthier and greener world for everyone.