Your Chef and Climate Change: Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern

As Ohio’s first certified green restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern maintains two core principles—to use local, organic and sustainably produced ingredients and to operate under environmentally conscious guidelines.  Since the opening of The Greenhouse Tavern, owner and chef  Jonathon Sawyer has opened up several other enterprises—Noodlecat, Brick & Mortar Pop-ups, Tavern Vinegar Co., and Sawyer’s Street Frites—under these very same principles.

Why source sustainable ingredients from local suppliers?

We truly believe that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant directly correlates to the quality of its food. For instance, we constantly strive to source locally produced and non-processed ingredients at Sawyer’s Street Frites in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Even the Tavern Vinegar Company recycles by utilizing otherwise wasted beer & wine to make a great tasting product. The bottom line is that if you start with a better ingredient you make better food.  It simply makes our jobs easier.

Has your restaurant been affected by the drought, ocean acidification, or any other changes in climate?

Buying locally means we really face the same hardships that the farmers do.  If the fields are dry then that affects the amount and the quality of our product.  If there is a storm or the lake gets too cold, boats don’t go out and fish. It forces us to work with the landscape of the Cuyahoga Valley and stay connected to the land around us.

What challenges have you encountered in trying to find local suppliers of sustainably cultivated food?

We strive to get as much locally as possible and cook with the seasons. There are some things that are impossible for our farmers to keep up with for our volume of business and other things that just won’t grow in our climate.  But we make the best of it and try to find a quality product that was sustainably or organically produced elsewhere, or we just don’t use it.  Peach season is short in Ohio, but when they’re here, they’re the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. You’ll never find New Jersey peaches on our menu, and you’re sure not going to find them in January.

What’s on your Sustainability Wish List?

We’re always looking to replace or modify our pantries to be more local.

The true challenge of being in the Midwest and partially landlocked is figuring out the proper seafood channels.  The perch, white bass and black drum are all abundant in Lake Erie and we continue to utilize this source. Walleye is being over-fished so we no longer serve it at our restaurants.

How do you think climate change will affect agriculture and the restaurant industry in the future?

I’m worried about how it will affect smaller farms that don’t have the resources or government insurance to cover price hikes in the market.

Photo credit: The Greenhouse Tavern

Learn more

Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants

The Slow Food Guide to New York City: Restaurants, Markets, Bars

Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant

Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm


More Ethical Foods Restaurant & Chef Interviews

chef william dissen market place restaurant

Your Chef And Climate Change: William Dissen of Market Place Restaurant

In an interview with EthicalFoods.com, Chef Dissen discusses his efforts to source and promote local, sustainably caught seafood. Read more

What Is Bio Plastic?

Quick Facts About Your Bio Plastic Takeout

The demand for biodegradable packaging has taken off in the last few years and subsequently a growing number of businesses are sending out your takeout… Read more

Chef Daniel Corey of Luce San Francisco

Chef Daniel Corey talks to us about seasonal menus, Luce’s green certification and the trend toward sustainability in the restaurant industry. Long before San Francisco-based… Read more

Ça Va Brasserie Malone

Certifying Sustainability

Defining sustainability in the restaurant industry, let alone measuring it, has proven to be an incredibly difficult task. A range of new businesses have emerged… Read more

Waterhouse Restaurant, London

Waterhouse Restaurant London

Waterhouse restaurant in London is anything but a one-dimensional concept. Not only does it offer a menu that emphasizes local and seasonal food; it also… Read more

Restaurants in West Marin Feeding Evacuees of the Sonoma Napa Fire in Northern California

Bittersweet: 16 year old celebrates birthday with other fire evacuees in West Marin West Marin offers shelter, food and support for families fleeing the Sonoma… Read more

grass fed beef

Local Seasonal and Grass-fed 50’s Diner Food at Grazin’

At Grazin’, a 1950s-style diner in Hudson, N.Y., owners Dan and Susan Gibson, together with their daughter and son-in-law, serve only the best. For them,… Read more

Chef Art Smith Interview: Restaurants Going Green

The colorful eatery is one of a growing network of restaurants around the country to embrace sustainability and become a Certified Green Restaurant. Southern Art… Read more

Recycled Shipping Container Restaurants

Recycled Shipping Container Restaurants

From ice cream made to order to a globe trotting Singaporean kitchen, restaurants are turning a source of industrial pollution into a source of inspiration. Read more

Locally Sourced Gourmet Winter Menus

Chef Clayton Chapman provides ample inspiration for creating local, sustainable, handcrafted food in the dead of the Nebraska winter. Read more

Local Seasonal Food In Restaurants Local Farmers And Local Organic Distributors

Farmer, Distributor, Restaurant: Getting Local Food On The Plate

On all sides farmers, produce distributors, and restaurants are gathering around the concept of local, seasonal food. Find out what it takes to get local… Read more

Sustainable Seafood In Restaurants

Chefs Sourcing Sustainable Seafood

The US produces more than 100 aquatic species for consumption, making the management of these fisheries an important topic in both environmental and ethical terms.… Read more