If you live in California, you may begin to see an optional surcharge on your restaurant checks. The one percent tax is not mandatory, but it can make your meal more sustainable.
The new surcharge profits are going to Restore California, a division of a non-profit which provides grants to farmers engaged in carbon farming, the practice of replenishing farming soil to increase the amount of carbon dioxide it can sequester.
The optional tax went into effect in some restaurants in January of this year and builds upon the State of California’s existing programs to incentivize regenerative agriculture that improves soil health and water quality and protects against drought.
The program was piloted by Chef Anthony Myint and his partner Karen Leibowitz, who own restaurants in San Francisco, where the tax is being piloted. The couple experimented with a three percent tax in their restaurants and, after minimal push-back, brought the idea to the City Council. Given that the state’s restaurant industry generates $97 billion in sales a year, a one percent tax on just one percent of these restaurants would mean as much as $10 million towards making our food systems more sustainable.
Without implementing sustainable farming practices, our food systems will be hard-pressed to support restaurant dining, let alone adequate nutrition for an entire global population. This innovative surcharge is a great solution for getting diners to give back to the land while they enjoy fine cuisine.