Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tree Huggers vs. Sushi

Sunday night was the second annual Project Green Fork Spring Supper. This year it was held at Sekisui Midtown and each of the 14 PGF certified restaurants created a special roll for the evening. Margot McNeeley, PGF's executive director, warned me in advance to skip lunch. "Everyone is getting 32 pieces of sushi!" she told me in an email.

When we sat down and looked at the menu, I got very excited. Then I realized I was only looking at HALF of the menu. To prepare ourselves for the feast, our table of seven immediately began stretching out our stomachs with beer and sake.

By the fourth course we realized that eight courses was going to be a challenge. We also realized that we were the only table eating every single piece of sushi on our platters. (Margot was counting on 2 pieces per person of each roll, but we always had at least 3, sometimes 4 each!) We simply could not let such amazing food go to waste!

By course six, people actually started leaving. (And by people, I mean wusses.) This was no longer a dinner, it was a meal of epic porportions. We had no intension of leaving. (In my friend, Mary's, photos, I progressively sink down in my chair as the night unfolds--I was sooooooooo full.)

It's a good thing we stayed because the seventh course was the most incredible. Ben Smith (of Tsunami) created the most amazing jalapeno ice (think sorbet) to top his delicious seared walu (a kind of tuna). It was sooooooooo good.

After eating eight courses and drinking who knows how many beers, our table outlasted everyone (even Margot!). As we said our goodbyes, we passed around a recycled oyster tub full of leftover jalapeno ice. And yes, we ate it with chopsticks!

It was a great evening and one we won't soon forget. But the really important message here is that FOURTEEN restaurants have gotten certified by Project Green Fork in the last year and a half.

Colleen says that Tsunami went from using a 6 yard dumpster to a 4 yard dumpster that they don't even fill up! Size wise they could also reduce their pick ups from 2 times per week to once per week, but due to the amount of fish scraps they produce, they stay with the more frequent pick ups.

Their recycling pick up is also quite impressive. On average they fill 8 city-issued recycling bins with glass & plastic. And they have a huge rolling cart that's at least the size of two city-issued garbage bins overflowing with cardboard. That's in just 6 days of business.

And compost? They fill up 6 to 8 five gallon buckets per week.

Now take Tsunami's results and multiply them by 14. Then imagine what it would be like if every restaurant in town got PGF certified--or at least made a major effort to reduce waste, recycle, and compost! Margot is compiling some stats now, but I think it is safe to say that we should all be encouraging our favorite restaurants to get with the program.

Once restuarants get certified, they are supposed to continue to find ways to keep reducing their enviromental impact. For example, Colleen just started an herb garden on Tsunami's secret back patio. It's just one bed right now but she plans to expand it soon. It cost about $125 (that includes plants & dirt) and only took 30 minutes to put together. They'll save tons of money on herbs AND avoid the cardboard box and plastic bags it is usually delivered in. Not to mention the gas that the delivery truck uses.

Margot, Tsunami, and the other PGF restuarants are an inspiration. They are definitely making Memphis a better place for our children!


Sassy Molassy said...


Stephanie said...

I was at a PGF-certified restaurant today, and my to go stuff went in a plastic bag. It was very disappointing.

Awesome job, Ben and Colleen!

That meal looked FANTASTIC. Glad you had such a fun night!

Stacey Greenberg said...

yes, i hope the plastic bags are the next to go! to get certified you need to have an energy audit, recycle, compost, stop using toxic cleaners, and ban styrofoam.

you can always bring your own to go bag. i do!

Stacey Greenberg said...

from Margot:

PGF is up to 20 restaurants!

p.s. Altho I hate plastic bags too, many PGF restaurants get them from customers and reuse them. ALSO< they CAN actually be recycled. They can be scrunched up and put into a #2 plastic. One day, we'll ban them as well. In the meantime, please reuse or recycle.

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