LEAF Releases Annual Guide to Canada's Greenest Restaurants



Annual LEAF Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants Released In Time for Earth Day

Victoria, BC, April 17, 2017 -- Food trends come and go but eating green and being sustainable continues to be a growing movement for Canadian restaurants. Support for environmentally responsible restaurant practices means a steady increase in green dining options, as shown by Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF), who released their Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants this week in honour of Earth Day.

“Canadians are increasingly aware of their environmental footprint,” said LEAF President, Janine Windsor. “Choosing LEAF certified restaurants, cafes, or food trucks means they are making a difference and supporting the highest standards of sustainability.”  

LEAF’s top five most sustainable restaurants in Canada are: Locals Restaurant - Food from the Heart of the Island, Comox, BC; River Cafe, Calgary, AB; The Coup, Calgary, AB; Degrees, Winnipeg, MB; and Chic Alors!, Quebec, QC.

There are now 85 LEAF certified restaurants across Canada and all of them have been reviewed in ten areas of sustainability. Once certified in one of three levels they are able to display the LEAF decal, which shows diners they are choosing a restaurant commitmented to green foodservice practices. Many use renewable energy, compost their waste, and use eco-friendly cleaners. Others no longer offer bottled water and all LEAF certified restaurants have eliminated styrofoam packaging. Most have made significant changes to energy consumption and waste management, which has resulted in significant financial savings.

“LEAF certified restaurants are foodservice leaders not only in their communities but across Canada,” Windsor adds. “They’ve committed to on-site audits, continual improvement, and are showing the industry that going green can be great for business.”

Follow LEAF on Twitter @LEAF_Canada, on Instagram @LEAF_Canada, and on Facebook L.E.A.F

Green Energy Essential To Sustainability In The Foodservice Industry

It’s no surprise that the foodservice industry uses a lot of energy. It has to. Refrigeration, cooking, lighting, and temperature control are all intensive uses of energy that most restaurants need to run effectively. And all this energy use has a cost that hits pocketbooks and the environment. That’s why choosing a renewable energy provider who offers energy from renewable sources such wind or low-impact hydro power is a great way for restaurants to do their part.

Many of LEAF’s certified restaurants choose Bullfrog Power as their green natural gas: a climate-friendly alternative to conventional, polluting natural gas. Making this choice means restaurant kitchens can operate their facilities with a much more sustainable approach that will significantly decrease their environmental footprint.   

These restaurants are also demonstrating environmental leadership by helping to advance the growth of renewable energy in Canada. More than 115 community-based green energy projects, such as Nelson Solar Garden in BC, and Vulcan Solar Park in Alberta, have come online thanks in part to support from Bullfrog Power customers.

Serving up authentic French food in Calgary, Cassis Bistro is Level 2 LEAF certified and proudly chooses Bullfrog Power to fuel their ever-busy kitchen. Deciding to go green was an easy decision for the team:

"The restaurant industry can be extremely wasteful and taxing on resources,” says Cassis owner Andrea Brassart. “Having a renewable energy program is essential to helping us offset the energy we require to operate. We are very grateful for the program that Bullfrog offers."

"Where you source your food from, is the first step to achieving a sustainable restaurant. Sourcing is key. We compost everything possible and are proud to be part of the HOP composting program. HOP picks up all of our food scraps and turns it into high nutrient soil." 

LEAF President Janine Windsor notes that Canadian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental footprint and wanting to choose restaurants that are committed to being sustainable.

A recent national survey conducted by Environics Research Group* showed that more than 70 per cent of Canadians believe the country needs to generate more renewable energy in order to meet the demands of the future. Which means LEAF certified restaurants are leaders in the foodservice industry and showing the way to a greener future.




The Calgary Zoo has always had sustainability close at heart. Their conservation efforts focus on the wild animals and wild places they care for and are connected to the zoo’s overall operations and environmental footprint. The zoo is a bustling tourist attraction with concessions and restaurants that host visitors and events throughout the year. They are a big facility with committed staff who decided they wanted to make a significant commitment to a greener future.

In 2015 they began an official journey that aligned their foodservice practices to the same goals that govern the safekeeping of the animals they care for. They dedicated a Green Team to celebrate the sustainable practices they already had in place, such as their LEED certified buildings, while also championing new initiatives that would move the zoo’s sustainable operations forward. They became designated as a 100 per cent Ocean Wise partner, made excellent progress around local food partnerships, supply chain management, and waste management. LEAF auditors recognized the changes that were made and earlier this year the Calgary Zoo became LEAF’s first Canadian tourist attraction to attain Level Two LEAF Certification.

Concession Operations Manager, Carmel Nicholls, told LEAF that the zoo made a big commitment to composting and waste management that focuses on both their kitchens and guests.

“Every time a child looks at the backboard of one of our three-stream bins and puts their empty milk carton in the blue bin, we’re making an impact,” says Nicholls. “We also changed our packaging and back-of-house procedures.”

This focus on waste diversion shows the impact a big facility can make when it focuses on making sustainability a priority. In 2016 the Calgary Zoo recorded a 53 per cent decrease in waste per guest during their peak visitor season from May to October. With 1.31 million visitors annually, this is a significant green change that will continue to have lasting impact.

The zoo team has also made some commendable changes to their foodservices by increasing both the size of their on-site gardens and the amount of local suppliers. Their chefs harvest herbs and vegetables from onsite gardens – a farm-to-table mentality they are especially proud of. Combined with the zoo’s composting program, very few organic items end up in waste and instead become part of the natural compost cycle.

It’s this dedication to continuous improvement that stood out to the LEAF audit team, who were impressed by how such a large facility could implement widespread environmental practices. The Calgary Zoo is hopeful that other industry partners will follow their lead by taking a more aggressive approach to changing foodservice practices.

When asked about her take on the future of foodservice sustainability, Nicholls wants to see the restaurant industry take bigger steps to reduce the amount of landfill waste that is produced each year.

“It’s also not hard to make small changes that have huge impacts. If every restaurant in the industry would commit to a greener approach, the ripple effect would be amazing,” she says. “Our LEAF Certification will increase awareness about our green journey with our visitors, donors, and the public. LEAF is making a wonderful impact in the foodservice industry and we are proud to partner with them in creating a more sustainable future. ”

COOPSCO is largest group to attain LEAF Certification

Level 2 LEAF Certification COOPSCO recipients

Level 2 LEAF Certification COOPSCO recipients

Towards the end of 2016, 25 food service facilities operated by 17 cooperatives of the COOPSCO Network in Quebec were awarded LEAF Certification. The major-scale project was run by Bleu Innovation and took over a year to complete. It was supported financially by the MAPAQ (Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l' Alimentation du Québec) through the Québec Food Marketing Support Program, which aims to encourage increased purchases of Québec food in the institutional market.

The COOPSCO Network is owned by more than 400,000 members (mostly students) in 60 school-based cooperatives in high schools, colleges and universities. They are known for their social and environmental commitments in their communities, so aiming for LEAF certification was a perfect fit. However, achieving LEAF Certification for facilities of this size is no small feat. For facilities that need to produce hundreds or even thousands of meals each day, local food purchasing and major procedural changes can be difficult. Despite this, some of their locations (COOPSCO St-Hyacinthe) were able to achieve up to 50% local food purchasing! But LEAF Certification is about much more than just food. 

Le Cafélix at the Universitaire de l’Outaouais uses programmable thermostats to reduce energy use, and was able to decrease food waste by over 10% last year by conducting food waste audits. The cafeteria in Lapocatiere has a heat recovery system that captures heat from the swimming pool, and COOP HEC Montréal has a large garden for produce and uses all energy efficient LED lighting. The St-Hyacinthe locations also have menus with 30-60% vegetarian and vegan items, and geothermal energy. The Cafétéria Principale in l’Université de Sherbrooke uses mainly Energy Star appliances.

Congratulations to the students and staff of COOPSCO on an incredible achievement and continuing to show leadership in your industry!

LEAF Certified COOPSCO Food Service Facilities

Region of Outaouais
-Cafétéria of the Campus Gabrielle-Roy of the college and university cooperative of the Outaouais
-Cafélix Coopsco of the college and university cooperative of the Outaouais
-Café student of the Cité Collégiale of the collegial and university cooperative of the Outaouais
-Cafétéria of the Polyvalente Mont-Bleu of the collegiate and university cooperative of the Outaouais

Montreal Area
-Café l’Escale of the Co-operative Library of the Cégep de Maisonneuve
-Café Le Capharnaüm of the Student Co-operative Association of Édouard-Montpetit College
-Caféria of the Valleyfield College Student Association
-Caféria Decelles of the Coop HEC Montréal
– The main HEC Montréal Cooperative
-Restaurant the Cercle de la Coop HEC Montréal

Region of Montérégie
-Cafétéria of Coopsco St-Hyacinthe
-Café Bistro of Coopsco St-Hyacinthe

Region of Mauricie
-Cafétéria of the Shawinigan College of Coopsco Trois-Rivières
Central-Québec Region
-Cafétéria of the cooperative association F.-X. Garneau -Cafresia of Coopsco Ste-Foy
-Cafétéria du Cégep, Coopsco Victoriaville

Region of Saguenay Lac-St-Jean
-Cafétéria of the student association of Chicoutimi -Cafétéria of Coopsco college of Alma

Lower St. Lawrence Region
-Cut-the-Mouth of the Institut de Technologie Agroalimentaire, Coopsco La Pocatière
-Cafétéria of the Cégep De La Pocatière, Coopsco La Pocatière
-Cafétéria of the Coopérative du Cégep of Rivière-du-Loup
-Cafétéria of the student co-operative association of the Rimouski College

Eastern Townships Region
-Caféria of the Co-operative of the University of Sherbrooke -Cafétéria of the Solidarity Cooperative of the Cégep de Sherbrooke -Bistro of the Solidarity Cooperative of the Cégep de Sherbrooke

About Bleu Innovation

Bleu Innovation is mandated to implement the LEAF certification in Québec by accompanying and certifying food establishments (restaurants, cafés, cafeterias …) in an eco-responsible approach that targets all operations of establishments. www.bleuinnovation.com

Level 1 LEAF Certification COOPSCO recipients

Level 1 LEAF Certification COOPSCO recipients

Radical Gardens leads as first LEAF certified restaurant in Timmins, Ontario

Timmins, Ontario recently gained its first LEAF Certified restaurant. Radical Gardens completed an audit and was able to achieve Level 2 LEAF Certification this spring. We talked to owner, Brianna Humphreys about the process, her philosophy and their accomplishments.

LEAF: Do you have a food or sustainability philosophy? What is it?

RG: Yes, food sustainability is a mainstay of life for us. We started as a sustainable farm and still continue to farm. I guess our philoshophy is that: We need to give back into the Earth as much as we take.

LEAF: Describe your journey to sustainability – where did you start, and where are you now?

RG: I started out as a pretty small time hobby gardener and then it got out of control and then I bought a restaurant. Since the environment is key to our survival as farmers we made sure to create out restaurant with that in mind.

LEAF: What are the benefits of LEAF certification for Radical Gardens?

RG: The benefits are really for our customers, this certification allows them to really feel comfortable knowing that we are very serious in our commitment to sustainability.

LEAF: What sustainability accomplishments have you made at your restaurants that you are most proud of?

RG: Our composting for one. Any food waste that we may have gets sent back to our farm. Also our disposables and the fact that 90% of it decomposes or is recyclable.

LEAF: Why do you think sustainability is important in the restaurant industry?

RG: It is really important for any Business; if you don't come to realize that the Earth allows you the ability to run your own business no matter what it is we will lose it. For the restaurant industry specifically, there can be a large amount of waste created from our line of work, it is best to make sure you leave this place unstained.

LEAF: What sustainability goals are you striving to reach in the future?

RG: Our next goal is to purchase a large industrial composter that makes fertilizer and energy.

LEAF: Did anything surprise you about becoming LEAF certified?

RG: Actually i was pleasantly suprised to see that the certification process is rather in depth and pretty rigorous. I'm glad this certification is held to such a high standard.

Visit Radical Gardens today: RadicalGardens.com www.facebook.com/radicalgardens/ 163 5th Ave, Timmins, On

LEAF Releases 5th Annual list of Canada's Greenest Restaurants

LEAF Marks Five Years Certifying Canadian Eateries for Sustainable Practices

VICTORIA, B.C., April 22, 2016 – If it’s one thing Canadians enjoy, it’s eating out. With so much selection and so little time to prepare meals at home, the resultant environmental footprint from a growing roster of overflowing eateries is immense. In fact, the foodservice industry is one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries with tons of food waste, heavy carbon imprints from food sourcing and deliveries, and an energy output five times higher per square foot than other commercial enterprises. But that is changing, one LEAF-certification at a time.

“We are certainly seeing an upswing in interest and engagement towards making operational changes for greater sustainability, particularly so on school campuses,” said Janine Windsor, president, Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF), a third-party certifier of sustainability for food establishments.

Recently the COOPSCO in Quebec signed on 28 of its campus facilities to convert to a greener business model that incorporates sustainable practices such as sourcing local and organic ingredients, reducing waste and saving energy. The move follows other

campuses in Alberta and Manitoba that have earned LEAF accreditation for their restaurants and/or culinary schools.

Five years in, LEAF expects to see the list of certified restaurants jump from 50 to 90 this year, saving each member thousands in energy and operational costs from the eco- upgrades.

Hundreds of indicators are measured to determine where a restaurant stands in its green efforts. Upon becoming certified at levels one, two or three, restaurants are than able to display a LEAF decal that ensures diners they are making the most environmentally and socially responsible choice.

In addition to the 28 establishments to be certified by the summer, Degrees at the University of Manitoba upgraded to the highest certification at Level 3, and Care Bakery recently joined the list in Calgary, the city with the most certified restaurants.

Other highlights from this year's list - Top 6 most sustainable restaurants in Canada are:
Locals Restaurant - Food from the Heart of the Island, Comox, Vancouver Island, B.C. Boxwood Cafe, Calgary, AB

River Cafe, Calgary, AB
The Coup, Calgary, AB
Degrees Restaurant, Winnipeg, MB Chic Alors!, Quebec, QC
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About LEAF

Established in Calgary in 2009, LEAF is a non-profit organization that helps restaurants reduce their environmental impact and makes it easy for diners to identify green restaurants. The organization provides a benchmark to measure the environmental sustainability of foodservice establishments in Canada and fosters sustainability by working with the community to support the local economy.

Website: www.leafme.ca Twitter: @LEAF_Canada Facebook: L.E.A.F.