"We want to see a more sustainable food service industry in St. Louis," says Olivia Engel, the Green Dining Alliance Program Coordinator.
That's how this group came to the table. Made up of eight Maplewood restaurants, Earth Day organizers and the Green Dining Alliance, they've formed the nation's first green dining district, in Maplewood.
"We recycle, we compost, we buy local ingredients, we use sustainable ingredients in our chocolates," says Brian Pelletier the owner of Kakao Chocolates. "We try to do everything we can to make the smallest footprint that we can."
While many of the ingredients in Kakao chocolates creations come from local farmers and vendors, the trend has spread across town and dinner tables in local restaurants.
"A lot of times you'll see our chefs over at the Schlafly farmer's market and then that evening you'll see the items that they bought on the menu," says Rachelle L'Ecuyer, the Maplewood Director of Community Development.
The Schlafly Bottleworks supplements their menu with vegetables grown in their ever expanding garden. The dining designation has to do with sustainability practices in addition to the local businesses using a farm to plate mindset with their menus.
"Our member `Pie Oh My` needs egg yolks for their pie crusts and here at Kakao they need egg whites for their marshmallows," says Engel, "So the two can trade back and forth instead of just throwing it away."
The green dining district hopes to turn these greens into some eco-tourism greenbacks for Maplewood.