8 Fast Food Chains That Serve Local, Organic, Vegan Food
Fast food is going green! More and more in-and-out restaurant chains are replacing industrial-grade lettuce and factory-farmed meat with fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken and beef that are raised locally, humanely and organic wherever possible. Here are eight you might want to check out the next time you’re famished and need something wholesome, quick and affordable, too.
Sweetgreen: What’s so sweet about Sweetgreen? For starters, pretty much all their salad ingredients are locally sourced, and often organic. Their meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free. And the restaurants themselves are green from top to bottom: They use 100 percent plant-based compostable packaging and re-usaable salad blaster bowls and bags. Reclaimed and Forest Stewardship Council-certified materials go into the construction of their facilities, along with low-VOC paint and energy efficient LED and fluorescent lighting. They compost food scraps in their kitchens and have composting and recycling stations so customers can compost their packaging and recycle their bottles. Plus, Sweet Green offsets 100 percent of their power with wind energy credits. The quickly expanding chain can be found in 27 locations in and around Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Go for the salads, but don’t leave without a cup of their yummy frozen yogurt.
Veggie Grill: The gluten-free, soy-free items on the menu here are also free of meat, dairy, eggs, saturated animal fat, cholesterol, antibiotics and trans fat. Their “chickin’” and veggie-steak proteins are made from organic or non-GMO soybeans, wheat and peas. Plus, they serve super grains, a whole-grain blend of millet, buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice. Need something to drink? Try their homemade lemonade, organic teas, and locally produced craft beer and wine, all of which are free of high-fructose corn syrup. Find them in California, Oregon and Washington state.
Lyfe Kitchen: This chain strives to “be a place that reflects your values towards health, community and sustainability.” It serves “organic whenever possible.” There’s a big emphasis on locally raised fruits and vegetables. If you’re looking for breakfast, try a morning tofu wrap, or steel cut oats with dried cranberries and toasted almonds. For lunch, savor the vegan unfried buffalo “chick’n” (NOT!) strips and a vegan antipasto, or the quinoa crunch bowl, made from quinoa tabbouleh, fresh crunchy vegetables and fireman’s hot sauce. For now, you can eat at Lyfe Kitchen in California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas and Chicago.
Dig Inn: A chain in New York City, Dig Inn sources local, seasonal ingredients for items like their “Natural Hero” sandwich, made from house-made spicy beef and chicken meatballs with grass-fed cheddar, fresh parsley and whole grain Dijon mustard. Cluk’N'Kale is naturally-raised roasted teriyaki chicken served with sweet potatoes and kale and apple salad with ginger dressing.
Chipotle: Probably the biggest fast-food chain with a commitment to sustainably raised food, Chipotle’s website says that “whenever possible, we use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.” The chain also sources organic and local produce “when practical.” Wiggle room aside, Chipotle has shown that fast food chains can steer a greener course when they put their minds to it. The company has put solar panels on restaurants, uses low VOC paints and energy-efficient lights, and paper products made from unbleached paper. Chipotle is pretty much everywhere.
Elevation Burger: This growing chain, currently in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, the Carolinas, Florida and Indiana, serves burgers made from 100 percent USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range beef. The veggie burgers are made with organic whole grains, too. Try their “half-the-guilt” burger — one organic beef patty and one veggie patty of your choice. Want a smaller portion? Order the kid-sized burger, even if you’re only a kid at heart.
Native Foods: The chefs at this chain have taken the word “native” to heart, making all their vegan cuisine from scratch – including cheese, tempeh, and of course, their nachos, chilis, soups and salads. Their menu, which is 100 percent plant-based, showcases seasonal dishes as well as fun stuff like the Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl with tofu, grilled veggies and quinoa. Give them a try if you live in California, Colorado, Oregon, Chicago or Washington, D.C.
Tender Greens: The salads and entrees you’ll find here are composed mostly of freshly picked, locally grown produce and beef from grain-fed, hormone/antibiotic-free beef and free-range chickens. They tap small local farmers, ranchers, artisans, boutique wineries, local breweries and coffee roasters. Says the company on its website, “there should be a conscious connection between the one who eats the food and the sources of that sustenance.” Who can argue with that?
Do you have a favorite fast food restaurant that serves locally produced and organic food? If so, share below.
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By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich
Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.
Mapping Social Vulnerability<p>Figure 1a is a typical map of social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract level based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) algorithm of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002" target="_blank"><em>Cutter et al.</em></a> . Spatial representation of the index depicts high social vulnerability regionally in the Southwest, upper Great Plains, eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, and southern Appalachia, among other places. With such a map, users can focus attention on select places and identify population characteristics associated with elevated vulnerabilities.</p>
Fig. 1. (a) Social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract scale is mapped here following the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). Red and pink hues indicate high social vulnerability. (b) This bivariate map depicts social vulnerability (blue hues) and annualized per capita hazard losses (pink hues) for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019.<p>Many current indexes in the United States and abroad are direct or conceptual offshoots of SoVI, which has been widely replicated [e.g., <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-016-0090-9" target="_blank"><em>de Loyola Hummell et al.</em></a>, 2016]. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html" target="_blank">has also developed</a> a commonly used social vulnerability index intended to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, and after disasters.</p><p>The first modeling and mapping efforts, starting around the mid-2000s, largely focused on describing spatial distributions of social vulnerability at varying geographic scales. Over time, research in this area came to emphasize spatial comparisons between social vulnerability and physical hazards [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9376-1" target="_blank"><em>Wood et al.</em></a>, 2010], modeling population dynamics following disasters [<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11111-008-0072-y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Myers et al.</em></a>, 2008], and quantifying the robustness of social vulnerability measures [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0152-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate</em></a>, 2012].</p><p>More recent work is beginning to dissolve barriers between social vulnerability and environmental justice scholarship [<a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304846" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chakraborty et al.</em></a>, 2019], which has traditionally focused on root causes of exposure to pollution hazards. Another prominent new research direction involves deeper interrogation of social vulnerability drivers in specific hazard contexts and disaster phases (e.g., before, during, after). Such work has revealed that interactions among drivers are important, but existing case studies are ill suited to guiding development of new indicators [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.09.013" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Rufat et al.</em></a>, 2015].</p><p>Advances in geostatistical analyses have enabled researchers to characterize interactions more accurately among social vulnerability and hazard outcomes. Figure 1b depicts social vulnerability and annualized per capita hazard losses for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019, facilitating visualization of the spatial coincidence of pre‑event susceptibilities and hazard impacts. Places ranked high in both dimensions may be priority locations for management interventions. Further, such analysis provides invaluable comparisons between places as well as information summarizing state and regional conditions.</p><p>In Figure 2, we take the analysis of interactions a step further, dividing counties into two categories: those experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019. The differences among individual race, ethnicity, and poverty variables between the two county groups are small. But expressing race together with poverty (poverty attenuated by race) produces quite different results: Counties with high hazard losses have higher percentages of both impoverished Black populations and impoverished white populations than counties with low hazard losses. These county differences are most pronounced for impoverished Black populations.</p>
Fig. 2. Differences in population percentages between counties experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019 for individual and compound social vulnerability indicators (race and poverty).<p>Our current work focuses on social vulnerability to floods using geostatistical modeling and mapping. The research directions are twofold. The first is to develop hazard-specific indicators of social vulnerability to aid in mitigation planning [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04470-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate et al.</em></a>, 2021]. Because natural hazards differ in their innate characteristics (e.g., rate of onset, spatial extent), causal processes (e.g., urbanization, meteorology), and programmatic responses by government, manifestations of social vulnerability vary across hazards.</p><p>The second is to assess the degree to which socially vulnerable populations benefit from the leading disaster recovery programs [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1675578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Emrich et al.</em></a>, 2020], such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) <a href="https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Individual Assistance</a> program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) <a href="https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Disaster Recovery</a> program. Both research directions posit social vulnerability indicators as potential measures of social equity.</p>
Social Vulnerability as a Measure of Equity<p>Given their focus on social marginalization and economic barriers, social vulnerability indicators are attracting growing scientific interest as measures of inequity resulting from disasters. Indeed, social vulnerability and inequity are related concepts. Social vulnerability research explores the differential susceptibilities and capacities of disaster-affected populations, whereas social equity analyses tend to focus on population disparities in the allocation of resources for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Interventions with an equity focus emphasize full and equal resource access for all people with unmet disaster needs.</p><p>Yet newer studies of inequity in disaster programs have documented troubling disparities in income, race, and home ownership among those who <a href="https://eos.org/articles/equity-concerns-raised-in-federal-flood-property-buyouts" target="_blank">participate in flood buyout programs</a>, are <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063477407" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eligible for postdisaster loans</a>, receive short-term recovery assistance [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.102010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Drakes et al.</em></a>, 2021], and have <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/25/texas-natural-disasters--mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">access to mental health services</a>. For example, a recent analysis of federal flood buyouts found racial privilege to be infused at multiple program stages and geographic scales, resulting in resources that disproportionately benefit whiter and more urban counties and neighborhoods [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023120905439" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Elliott et al.</em></a>, 2020].</p><p>Investments in disaster risk reduction are largely prioritized on the basis of hazard modeling, historical impacts, and economic risk. Social equity, meanwhile, has been far less integrated into the considerations of public agencies for hazard and disaster management. But this situation may be beginning to shift. Following the adage of "what gets measured gets managed," social equity metrics are increasingly being inserted into disaster management.</p><p>At the national level, FEMA has <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/20200220/fema-releases-affordability-framework-national-flood-insurance-program" target="_blank">developed options</a> to increase the affordability of flood insurance [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2018]. At the subnational scale, Puerto Rico has integrated social vulnerability into its CDBG Mitigation Action Plan, expanding its considerations of risk beyond only economic factors. At the local level, Harris County, Texas, has begun using social vulnerability indicators alongside traditional measures of flood risk to introduce equity into the prioritization of flood mitigation projects [<a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/Portals/62/Resilience/Bond-Program/Prioritization-Framework/final_prioritization-framework-report_20190827.pdf?ver=2019-09-19-092535-743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Harris County Flood Control District</em></a>, 2019].</p><p>Unfortunately, many existing measures of disaster equity fall short. They may be unidimensional, using single indicators such as income in places where underlying vulnerability processes suggest that a multidimensional measure like racialized poverty (Figure 2) would be more valid. And criteria presumed to be objective and neutral for determining resource allocation, such as economic loss and cost-benefit ratios, prioritize asset value over social equity. For example, following the <a href="http://www.cedar-rapids.org/discover_cedar_rapids/flood_of_2008/2008_flood_facts.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 flooding</a> in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cost-benefit criteria supported new flood protections for the city's central business district on the east side of the Cedar River but not for vulnerable populations and workforce housing on the west side.</p><p>Furthermore, many equity measures are aspatial or ahistorical, even though the roots of marginalization may lie in systemic and spatially explicit processes that originated long ago like redlining and urban renewal. More research is thus needed to understand which measures are most suitable for which social equity analyses.</p>
Challenges for Disaster Equity Analysis<p>Across studies that quantify, map, and analyze social vulnerability to natural hazards, modelers have faced recurrent measurement challenges, many of which also apply in measuring disaster equity (Table 1). The first is clearly establishing the purpose of an equity analysis by defining characteristics such as the end user and intended use, the type of hazard, and the disaster stage (i.e., mitigation, response, or recovery). Analyses using generalized indicators like the CDC Social Vulnerability Index may be appropriate for identifying broad areas of concern, whereas more detailed analyses are ideal for high-stakes decisions about budget allocations and project prioritization.</p>
By Jessica Corbett
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