California program offers diners optional climate-friendly farming practices at a cost

A new program in California is offering those dining out a way to help fund climate-friendly farming practices.

Participating restaurants will add a 1% optional surcharge to your meal to help Bay Area farmers reduce their carbon footprint. For example: a $40 meal will now be $40.40.

A total of 130 restaurants who are part of San Francisco Restaurant Week which kicked off Wednesday  and runs through the end of January, will have the charge built into the meals on their special prefix menus. 

The surcharge program is voluntary  for restaurants and  patrons have the option to opt out.

Prubechu Restaurant in the Mission neighborhood proudly serves up the cuisine of Guam.

"It's what our grandmas, aunties and uncles cook for us when we were young, so our main goal is to spread the word," said co-owner Shawn Camacho.

The annual 10-day promotion gives frugal foodies a chance to try different restaurants with special prefixe meals.

Camacho said he will continue with the climate surcharge afrer restaurant week depends on whether  there's pushback by patrons.

"There are so many taxes now,  even though I support it personally, it is driving prices up," said Jeanne Carstensen, a patron at Prubechu.  

The idea for a climate change surcharge came from Anthony Myint, the co-founder of Mission Chinese Food

He implemented a 3% climate change surcharge that started  last April.

"The restaurant industry and the food system can be used to create solutions to global warming," said Myint. 

Myint is also  co-founder of Zero Foodprint, the nonprofit that is partnering with the state of California to manage this program to help farmer do business in environmentally friendly ways that create healthy soil. 

Several diners thought the extra charge was a good idea. 

"A couple dollars here and there. It's a good thing  to do," said Theresa Fisher, a patron at Mission Chinese Food.

"I also think it's a great idea that it's optional," said Bozsho Margaretich.

But others were skeptical. 

"There needs to be accountability for the person going to the restaurant so that we know where the money goes," said Jeanne Carstensen.