As It Happens

Edmonton diner adds carbon footprint info to menu — and red meat is the worst offender

Highlevel Diner has teamed up with an Edmonton non-profit to launch a menu that includes the total estimated carbon footprint of each meal.

Highlevel Diner co-owner Debbie Parker says the menu is meant to 'get people talking'

Debbie Parker is a co-owner of Highlevel Diner in Edmonton. (Submitted by Debbie Parker)


If you walk into Edmonton's Highlevel Diner with a craving for a meal with the lowest carbon footprint, Debbie Parker will likely recommend the Thai Coconut Green Curry. 

Or, you could just look on their menu. 

The restaurant has teamed up with an Edmonton non-profit to launch a menu that includes the total estimated carbon footprint of each meal.

"The whole idea is to get people talking," Parker, the co-owner of Highlevel Diner, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Each meal is colour coded with either a green circle for a low carbon footprint, yellow for medium and orange for the highest. (Submitted by Debbie Parker)

The diner is the only restaurant in Edmonton to partner with the non-profit, Northern Climate Stewardship & Sustainability Society (NCSSS), which works with communities to tackle climate change on a local level.

Parker said that when they approached her with the pilot project, it seemed like a perfect fit. 

The diner already offers a 10 per cent discount for customers who ride their bikes, and conversations about the environment are often heard at the diner.  

"We've noticed an increasing number of people that are concerned about their own carbon emissions and carbon footprint," Parker said. 

The footprint for each meal is calculated by how much carbon is generated during the farming, production, transportation and cooking of each meal. 

Each meal is colour coded with either a green circle for low level, yellow for medium and orange for the highest. 

For example vegetarian dishes, like the Thai Coconut Green Curry, are given a green rating. 

While meals with red meat, like their Guinness Cottage Pie, are given an orange rating. 

According to Parker, most of the feedback from customers has been positive, but some have accused the diner of being against the meat industry. Parker says that is not true. (Submitted by Debbie Parker)

Parker says that while most of the feedback has been positive, not everyone is impressed with the project.

"I think they feel that we're against maybe the ... meat industries, the dairy and all of that kind of thing," Parker said

Parker says that is not their intention, and that they've supported the local Alberta beef and dairy producers for almost 40 years. If a customer wants to order the steak, there is nothing wrong with that. 

What the restaurant is trying to do, Parker says, is offer their customers more options and see where the conversation leads. 

"It just gives people the option similar to, you know, nutrition facts on a label … if you're concerned about your sodium intake or sugar intake then that would be something that you're going to pay close attention to," she said. 

So far Parker says they have not been able to tell if the pilot project has steered customers toward meals with lower carbon footprints, but that will be what they are looking for at the end of the six month project. 

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Kevin Ball.


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