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Edmonton’s Highlevel Diner launches new menu with carbon footprint info

File shot of High Level Diner.
File shot of High Level Diner. Global News

An Edmonton non-profit that focuses on the environment has teamed up with Highlevel Diner to help the restaurant launch a new menu that includes carbon footprint levels.

“I think now people are a little bit more mindful of what they’re eating,” Debbie Parker, co-owner of Highlevel Diner said.

“People are concerned about their environmental impact.”

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Parker said the diner was approached by the team at the Northern Climate Stewardship & Sustainability Society to be involved in the pilot project. The new menus, which include the footprint levels, were launched this week.

The carbon footprint level shows how much greenhouse gas will be generated by an item, based on what happens during its production.

“Certain foods have a larger carbon footprint than others,” John Latimer, the president of NCSSS said. “Everything from growing the food, production in the farm, agriculture, transportation, refrigeration — all that stuff factors in.”

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Highlevel Diner launched new menus this week that include carbon footprint information.
Highlevel Diner launched new menus this week that include carbon footprint information. Courtesy / Debbie Parker

While Latimer said NCSSS approached several Edmonton restaurants, Highlevel is the only one to join the project so far.

“I think just as a whole we’re conscious,” Parker said. “It just goes along with our train of thought… that it might be something that people would be interested in seeing.”

READ MORE: Edmonton not-for-profit making ‘huge, positive impact on the environment’

Latimer said that the group launched the project in hopes of increasing carbon literacy for Edmontonians.

“It’s a two-part thing: it’s an easy way for us to talk to people about climate change, and it’s an easy way for people to start to understand our carbon footprint,” he said.

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For example, the Highlevel Diner’s spinach pie is rated at a green carbon level at 0.88 kg CO2e. Comparatively, the restaurant’s Guinness cottage pie comes in at a red level of 4.61 kg CO2e.

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Carbon footprints of some Highlevel Diner menu items.
Carbon footprints of some Highlevel Diner menu items. Courtesy / NCSSS

Latimer said the data analyzed by the NCSSS found the estimated per capita carbon footprint for an average Canadian was 19,500 kg CO2e.

“Typically animal products have a higher carbon footprint than plants, fruits and vegetables,” Latimer said.

“We took the information from the recipes from the Highlevel Diner, and we looked at the portions, and the serving size, and we basically just— you look at how much goes into each meal and how much its portion, and you can come up with a reasonable estimated carbon footprint of that meal.”

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Parker said while the diner team wanted to add the information, they don’t want to push any decisions on patrons.

“You could equate it to nutritional facts on a bottle,” she said.

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“Some people couldn’t care less, they ignore them. And then other people are interested in reading them and knowing the facts.”

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She added the diner does source most of its ingredients from local providers in the province.

“The vast majority of our protein is coming from local sources,” Parker said. “We also don’t want to take away from that. We have a long, long relationship with a lot of our local farmers.

“I think that Canadians and even people in Alberta do really care about [the environment], or are looking for ways to make that impact, to do something to help,” she said.
Putting the finishing touches on vegan tourtiere with Highlevel Diner
Putting the finishing touches on vegan tourtiere with Highlevel Diner

NCSSS plans to examine data from the restaurant sales in about six months to determine if the addition of the footprint levels on the menu have changed customers’ ordering habits.