Edible Bozeman

Serena Rundberg at Inspired Madess looks to combine delicious food with eco-concious practices

In a world of Styrofoam to-go containers, wasted leftovers, and dripping faucets, Serena Rundberg at Inspired Madness is looking for change.

A food connoisseur from a young age, Rundberg moved to Bozeman in 2005 to start Nova Café, a downtown favorite. Now the proprietor of Lot G, Feed Café, and The Daily Coffee and Eateries, Rundberg’s company Inspired Madness has quickly made a name for itself for delicious food and environmentally sustainable restaurant initiatives.

“I had no idea how much waste was in restaurants before I owned one,” Rundberg says. “Seeing what really happens in back of house can be shocking because of the amount of waste and energy it takes to produce food for the general public. I immediately wanted to look at ways we could reduce our carbon footprint.”

Rundberg and her team have set out to make their restaurants “near-zero-waste” enterprises. “I call it the ‘near-zero-waste measures’ because, for restaurants, it’s almost impossible to be truly zero-waste,” she says.

But what does near-zero look like? It’s likely more complicated than you think. Rundberg’s restaurants practice some of the more standard environmentally friendly measures: composting, recycling, no single-use to-go containers. They also use energy-efficient lighting and heating, reduce their water usage, buy condiments in bulk, use paperless payroll, and rely on local food systems for their dishes. At Lot G, seventy percent of the menu is made from regional and local foods.

Recently, Lot G became certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). Awarding one to four stars to environmentally responsible restaurants, the GRA awarded two stars to Lot G. The GRA awards stars based on a meticulous point-based checklist that examines everything from composting practices to staff education.

To Rundberg, the GRA certification is vital to their credibility. “I personally like the idea of having some kind of accountability to what we’re doing for sustainability,” she says. “For me, it’s important to not just say we’re doing things, but show we’re doing things.”

The measures Rundberg and her team have taken to get near-zero-waste may seem overwhelming to implement. But even small, incremental change can make a big impact. In a state with abundant protein and grain sources, we can all take advantage of our local food systems.

“It’s good for the local economy to keep products here, and less fossil fuels are used,” Rundberg says. We can compost and use energy-efficient products. And, of course, we can continue supporting environmentally conscious restaurants like Lot G and Feed Café. And with goodies like the Bapple Breakfast Sandwich at Feed Café, it’s an absolute pleasure to support.

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