July 22, 2013
Today, Greenease launched its search engine for finding DC restaurants with sustainable, local, and healthy foods.
Their launch coincides with Eat Local First Week, a celebration of local food in DC where Greenease is a sponsor.
Greenease’s rather plain-looking search engine lets you filter restaurants on a variety of criteria: with locally sourced food, sustainable seafood, or free-range meat; with healthy options like grass-fed meats, hormone-free meats, or organic; and with gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan food.
“What consumers don’t know is that almost 90 percent of the animals raised and slaughtered in the United States are from industrial farms. These huge factory farms contribute to negative environmental impacts, use of hormones in animal feed, and provide poor and unsafe working conditions, and inhumane treatment of livestock,” says founder Vanessa Ferragut.
Their database includes 400 restaurants in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Ferragut, for example, loves an Italian restaurant called Coppi’s Organic, which serves up local foods like brick-oven pizza and butternut squash ravioli. To verify local sourcing, the Greenease team actually spent the past few months calling up farms to make sure they supply the restaurants in question.
“You’re actually voting with your dollar. Every time you buy something, you’re making a conscious decision to spend it on this or that,” says Ferragut.
As the sustainable and slow foods movements grow, so too do the businesses that cater to them. Real Time Farms is a crowdsourced guide to where your food comes from at restaurants and farmers’ markets. Live Green, based in DC, offers a membership plan with discounts to green businesses and special events. Door to Door Organics is an online grocery store for organic food.
The challenge for all these companies is to actually get users to change their behavior. Ferragut used to work in event planning, where she helped social impact organizations make their events greener and more environment friendly. She started creating a database of the best vendors and hotels, but she soon realized that the event planning industry wasn’t ready to go green.
“A lot of people are talking about going green; it just seems like very few people are willing to action it,” she says.
That’s why she’s realistic about her goals for Greenease. She knows that most people won’t stop going to their favorite chain restaurant; she’s just asking them to try an organic one, too. But she can’t imagine not fighting for this cause.
“One of the sayings that I absolutely love is, ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,’” she says.
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