May 18, 2017

Eco-friendly restaurants find a home in Squamish

— Discover Squamish
The owners of Fergie’s Café, Jake and Jessamy Freese, outside their restaurant. — David Buzzard

From using compostable utensils to growing their own vegetables, some Squamish-area restaurateurs are going through great lengths to help the environment. 

One company is even going so far as to get certified by Green Tourism Canada, a program that rates how well a business conducts its operations in an environmentally-friendly manner. 

“That’s really about recognizing what we’re already doing and giving us a roadmap to do better in the future,” said Jessamy Freese, co-owner of the Sunwolf resort, which operates Fergie’s Café. “That’s pretty exciting.” 

Freese did well in the assessment, and judging by the amount of effort her company has put into doing things the green way, it’s little wonder why. 

She says Fergie’s Café uses a “closed-loop system”, which means it grows many of its vegetables on-site and uses raw waste from food scraps as compost that would fertilize more produce.

The ingredients that can’t be grown on their property are purchased from local providers in the province.

Jeff Park (right) and Pat Allan from Araxi in Whistler teamed up to open The Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar in downtown Squamish. - David Buzzard

The company also uses compostable cutlery, to-go containers and cups.

Compostable materials are not to be mistaken with biodegradable, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Biodegradable materials can break down and return to nature, but can leave a toxic residue.

For something to be considered compostable, no toxic residue may be left behind. 

Freese also says that her company will be allowing people to tour the garden and learn about how a closed-loop system works.  

“There’s an educational aspect of it as well,” she said.

Other Squamish restaurateurs are doing everything they can to make sure their services are green.

For one operator, eco-friendly practices start with what’s on the menu.

“I would say that the number one thing is that we have 100 per cent organic produce at all times,” said Nicolette Richer, co-owner of The Green Moustache. “We never compromise on that.”

While many people know organic ingredients are good for their bodies, they often forget that it can be good for the planet too, she said.

Nicolette Richer, owner of The Green Moustache, an organic juice and eatery in downtown Squamish. - David Buzzard

Because pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals are not used to grow organic products, this means toxic chemicals are not released into the environment when producing this food.

Furthermore, Richer’s restaurant is vegan, which means animal products such as meat and cheese are not used. 

Eliminating animal products can help curb methane emissions, which are a frequent by-product of animal farming.

Choosing plant-based foods can be more environmentally efficient, because animals have to be fed large amounts of food that could otherwise feed people, she said. 

“Being vegan is also good for the planet, as well as being organic,” Richer said.

In addition to an environmentally-conscious menu, Richer says The Green Moustache also has virtually no food waste because her company orders exactly as much as it needs each day.

The restaurant also uses compostable utensils and cups, and does not bottle any of its products, which cuts down on litter, she said.

The Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar has also been finding ways to stay green. 

For co-owner Pat Allan, cutting down on food waste is just good business sense. 

“We definitely try to minimize waste as much as possible because you can’t make money on it,” said Allan. 

In addition to ordering only what is needed, Allan says the restaurant does everything it can to use every part of an ingredient. 

For example, if the restaurant were serving pork, Allan’s chefs would try to find ways to make use of every part of the pig. For instance, instead of throwing out the bones, they could be saved to use in soup. 

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