New initiative aims to mobilize the restaurant industry to fight climate change

Restore California will fund farmers to switch to regenerative agriculture practices.

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SOURCEModern Farmer

Anthony Myint believes that you can use food to fight climate change.

The San Francisco chef has a new project in the works. In January, Myint hopes to formally launch Restore California, a joint initiative with the State of California that will enlist the golden state’s restaurant industry to support climate-beneficial farming practices.

“If you can imagine a scientist at Exxon discovering a fuel additive that made it so burning gas had no emissions and in fact it subbed emissions out of the atmosphere to make more gas, that would be an amazing discovery,” Myint says. “In some ways, it feels like food and farming are actually offering that same opportunity to actually solve and reverse the problem and almost nobody is aware of it or taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Participating restaurants will add an optional one-percent surcharge to customer’s bills. Customers will be able to choose whether to pay the surcharge, and these funds will go directly to Californian farmers implementing practices that will sequester carbon.

Myint says there are better ways to farm, but he believes the current food system rewards conventional practices.

So far, he’s had 33 restaurants join the initiative. But he says he’s aiming to get one percent of California’s restaurants to sign up for the surcharge in its first year. He estimates this would generate about $10 million a year to help farmers sequester carbon.

Restore California will offer a funding boost to the state’s Healthy Soil Program, which already pays farmers to implement practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Myint says that the program hasn’t yet received sufficient funding to make an impact.

He’s hopeful that if his initiative takes off, it will certainly benefit state efforts.

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