Cowbell is the first restaurant in Toronto to get LEAF certification for its green ways

Cowbell is the first restaurant in Toronto to get LEAF certification for its green ways

Ring my bell: Cutrara and company get a green thumbs-up (Image: Google) 

When it comes to providing environmentally sustainable cuisine, locavore haven Cowbell walks the walk, according to Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF). The new Alberta-based organization, which aims to help diners recognize green restaurants, spent hours extensively examining Cowbell’s energy and water use, its menu and the way it deals with waste and recycling, among other criteria, before giving Cowbell the distinction of being the first LEAF-certified restaurant in Toronto.

Mark Cutrara, Cowbell’s co-owner, considers it an honour. LEAF offers a certification on three levels, with three representing the ultimate in culinary green-dom. Cowbell got a level two, but Cutrara says it’s difficult for a non-vegetarian restaurant to get much higher—and if there’s anything Cowbell is not, it’s vegetarian. “Meat production in itself is less sustainable,” he says. “And I’m not about to go and change the name of the restaurant to Veg-Bell.”

LEAF was particularly impressed with Cowbell’s dedication to buying local—almost always within 200 kilometres of its Parkdale locale—and its policy of buying direct from farms and using whole animals. The fact that Cowbell uses lots of second-hand decor (salvaged tabletops and cabinets, old church pews for seating) was also acknowledged, though we wonder if LEAF is aware that just about every other bar and restaurant on West Queen West is decked out in old stuff, too.

Other restaurants that have been certified include River Café in Calgary and RAW Fernie in B.C. All certified restaurants have to pass yearly audits to retain their certification.