California restaurants could add 1% carbon-fund surcharge to bills

Illustration for article titled California restaurants could add 1% carbon-fund surcharge to bills
Photo: Milkos (iStock)

Restaurants around the country have already made news by adding employee health-care charges to customer bills as their own line items. They generally total 2-3% of the total bill, and some restaurants have made them optional. California diners may soon see another line-item addition on their checks: a 1% fee that will help fund California’s Healthy Soils Program. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Restore California Renewable Restaurants is behind the initiative, which will use the 1% charges to pay farmers who remove carbon from the atmosphere and employ “climate-beneficial” farming practices. The charge will be optional for customers.

Restore California Renewable Restaurants is an entire program that enlists restaurants and customers in promoting regenerative farming and carbon sequestration in the soil. The 1% surcharge specifically focuses on compensating farmers and ranchers who file a carbon farm plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The organization says not only does carbon sequestered in the earth remove said carbon from the atmosphere, but it improves soil quality and produces higher-quality crops. The program would use the carbon fund generated by restaurant bills to compensate farmers $10 per ton of carbon they remove from the atmosphere.

Mission Chinese restaurant pioneered the program, and has been adding a 3% charge to bills for six months now, ABC-7 reports. It’s added up to $18,000 to date.


“If one-percent of restaurants in California participated in this program, that would generate $10 million towards healthy soils,” Mission Chinese cofounder Anthony Myint tells ABC-7. Whether one percent of restaurants will have an appetite for presenting customers with yet another charge on their bills remains to be seen.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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The problem with any carbon tax—and I say this as a Washington state voter who has opposed Jay Inslee’s efforts on this front and often jokes “hey, here’s a guy running for president who failed to persuade voters in his home state, where half the people live in range of one of the crunchiest lefty cities in America, on his pet issue, he can fail to persuade the whole country!”...

...anyway, it’s in getting tax-averse, broadly libertarian people (which, in a nutshell, Americans are, at least in practice when you aggregate the way we vote) to support it.

Maybe in San Francisco and LA, and maybe in the Central Valley if you couch it in terms of “help local farmers”, but it seems like just another great big pile of cannon fodder for the right-wing media to paint California as North Korea without actually accomplishing anything.