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Lexicon of Sustainability

Watchword: Restaurants

Watchword: Restaurants
To draw attention to the best and brightest ideas in sustainability, the Lexicon of Sustainability's Food List project defines the words that are integral to a healthy, transparent, and accountable food system. Each week, we explore a new word through artwork, films, recipes, and written works. See all Food List words here. 

Restaurants: The sustainable food movement owes a great deal to the pioneering efforts of chefs and restaurants that have helped make the idea of locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients a reality for today’s consumers.

From the efforts of revolutionary chefs like Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver, Bill Telepan and Ann Cooper – whose work began in the kitchen and now includes bringing healthy, sustainable eating to children nationwide – to Barton Seaver and other chefs, including groups like the Chefs Collaborative, who have stepped up as activists and thought leaders to help make our collective food consumption more sustainable.

This week’s Food List focuses on chefs and restaurants committed to building a sustainable food movement and on the resources that make their kitchens more sustainable.

Title: Farm to Table
Location: Black Cat Farm, Boulder, Colorado
Featuring: Chef Eric Skokan

Farm to Table is the most direct journey food can take to your table, from a farmer’s hands to yours. At Black Cat Farm, 250 heirloom and heritage cultivars are grown that range from regional classics to exotics. Produce is harvested from the farm every day, allowing for each gathering to be selected based on flavor. The huge variety of produce grown allows Chef Eric Skokan a limitless palette of flavors, colors, and textures from which to build his award-winning cuisine. The Black Cat’s menu changes daily and always has a sense of discovery and delight.

For Eric, cooking in season means cooking in the moment. It’s harvesting what is perfect and inspiring in the morning, then rushing to the restaurant and serving it that very afternoon. Eric believes that the shorter time between harvest and service, the better the food will be.

Civil Eats: San Francisco restaurant faces climate change head-on

Hosting a “living pantry,” The Perennial in San Francisco brings farm-to-table to the next level. While many of the greens and herbs served in the restaurant are grown in a closed loop aquaponic system across the bay, Chef Chris Kiyuna is also able to harvest greens from his “living pantry” – an area of the restaurant where the greens will float until just moments before being served.

In their aquaponics system, fish and vegetables symbiotically co-exist. In fact, a bulk of the Perennial’s food waste will go into creating feed for the catfish and sturgeon growing in the system, whose waste will nourish the greens in an age-old combination of water-filtration and fertilization. Inspired to focus on food and climate change, the founders of The Perennial “want to give people the sense that they can make a difference” by observing the benefits of natural, closed looped food systems.

Learn more about this "mega-sustainable" approach to farm-to-table cuisine.

Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes by Chef Ann Cooper

Add some zest and extra nutrition to everyone's favorite breakfast with these delectable pancakes from Chef Ann Cooper, the "Renegade Lunch Lady" and founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.

Do you have a favorite local restaurant or chef that excels at sourcing farm-fresh ingredients? Share it in the comments below, and follow us for more on Chefs & Restaurants throughout the week.

For the past three years, the Lexicon of Sustainability has sought out the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming to gain their insights and experiences on this important subject. What began as a photography project to spread their knowledge has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book, and a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon. See more at

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