By Kate Miley
Richmond-area foodies have spoken, and your favorite “green” restaurant in the city is Max’s Positive Vibe Café. Thanks to a late flurry of mobile and online votes from loyal fans, Max’s took the 2012 People’s Choice Nature’s Plate Award, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and OpenTable.
The Nature’s Plate contest highlighted sustainable and environmentally friendly eateries in major cities around the country. To qualify as truly green and be eligible for the award, restaurants must use sustainably harvested seafood, sustainably raised meats and/or local produce.
Max’s Positive Vibe Café goes above and beyond these minimum criteria, however. The restaurant not only features local and organic ingredients in its dishes, but also integrates a social component into its concept of sustainability.
Founder Garth Larcon was inspired by his son Max, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at a young age. In launching the restaurant, Larcon sought to create career opportunities in the food-service industry for others diagnosed with physical and cognitive disabilities.
“Sustainability not only applies to the ingredients we use, but it also applies to the continuation of [our employee] training program,” says Larcon. “We can provide careers and opportunities that can stay with people for years. That is sustainability in a different, community-based sense.”
Max’s Positive Vibe Café captured this year’s award against some impressive contenders: The Blue Goat, The Empress, Mint and Selba. All four nominees are known for their commitment to environmentally friendly practices and excellent food.
Recent trends reveal a dramatic shift toward sourcing local foods and using more sustainable practices for farming and fishing. The Nature’s Plate Award is intended to recognize and encourage restaurants like Max’s that are leading the way.
That sustainable food is increasingly on the tips of people’s tongues (both literally and figuratively) represents a very positive vibe indeed.
Diners who visit Max’s — and other fine green restaurants in our area — will enjoy great-tasting meals, to be sure. You will also enjoy the satisfaction of supporting a healthy environment and other meaningful social causes.April 05, 2013
Kate Miley is a field correspondent intern for The Nature Conservancy.