Credit: Kyle Bastien

André LaRivière brings the food service industry into the post-Gore world of climate-change consciousness with the Green Table Network

André LaRivière is out to change the world, one restaurant at a time. The founder and executive director of the Green Table Network has tackled one of the last holdouts of old-world thinking in his attempt to bring the food service industry into the post-Gore world of climate-change consciousness.

Yes, we’ve all seen the radical makeover of local menus, with little symbols indicating local this and organic that. But behind the swinging kitchen doors, it’s often business as usual.

“There’s an entrenched kitchen culture,” LaRivière explains, “a way of doing things that begins at cooking schools.” For example, it’s common practice for the first arrival of the day to turn on all the lights and all the ovens – even if the first customer won’t be arriving for another six hours.

It’s not that chefs don’t care about the planet, LaRivière says, but it’s a cutthroat business with little time to think about doing things differently.

The Green Table Network offers members an eco-audit: a detailed checklist ranging from eco-friendly supplies, to energy efficiency, to recycling programs. The network also provides resources, offering consultations and connecting restaurants with suppliers.

LaRivière’s background as a radio producer is quickly apparent: he loves to talk. He can deliver a five-minute monologue on peak oil on cue.

But get him talking about food, and his real passion becomes clear. “Although we definitely need to change our food system, I think one of the things we can’t lose and we have to rediscover is our food culture,” he begins, warming to the topic.

“If as a society we can reconnect to food and rediscover the history, the body of knowledge that we have about food and how we sustain ourselves and be part of nature, then we have a chance of surviving.”