Climate anxiety has its hooks in me, though I’ve recently found some substantive relief. I admit, I don’t like reading about the climate crisis, and I don’t like listening to smart people talk about it. When I hear about the June global surface temperature increase of 1.89 degrees Fahrenheit (as compared to 20th-century averages), I want to turn away from the news, and sometimes I do. But now, something else has its hooks in me that’s helped.

Farmers are finding support for climate-smart agriculture from restaurants, cafes and food brands like Dean’s Sweets in Portland that donate 1% of sales. The effort is overseen by the nationwide nonprofit Zero Foodprint. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer, File

As a small-business owner, I am aware of how our business might be adding to this downward climate vortex, and I try to measure our environmental footprint. This year, we made a much-needed switch from plastic to fully recyclable boxes for 50% of our packaging supplies. We have 50% left to figure out. Our course correction is ongoing.

What finally allowed me to turn toward the issue, rather than turning away, was stumbling upon a nonprofit group called Zero Foodprint. In the two minutes it took me to drive across Portland (yes, in my non-electric car), I happened to turn on Maine Public Radio to catch the Zero Foodprint co-founder Anthony Myint on the program “Climate One.” His sane, smart voice felt like it was talking directly to me. The next day, I contacted the group and our business easily became a member, the first in Maine.

There are two things I love about being a part of Zero Foodprint. One, Zero Foodprint’s strategy is clear, direct and impactful. Their model is to pay farmers to practice regenerative agriculture to sequester carbon, which is both good for the soil and good for the climate. And two, being part of Zero Foodprint is easy. This is crucial. There’s so much to do as a small-business owner, I need our participation to be as clear and simple as possible.

Here’s how it works:

• We raise and send in 1% of every purchase to Zero Foodprint. (The customer always has the right to opt out.)


• Other restaurants and food businesses around the U.S. do the same.

• Zero Foodprint distributes these funds via grants to support farmers and ranchers who want to apply healthy soil practices and use their land to solve climate change, but need the funding to implement regenerative farming projects.

• Zero Foodprint, along with restaurants, cafes, food brands and farmers, shifts farmland from climate problem to climate solution.

So far, Zero Foodprint has pulled over 4.5 million gallons worth of gas emissions out of the atmosphere, just since starting in January 2020.

While grants are now being established and given to farms in both Colorado and California, Maine could be next. Of special note, two of the nine members of Zero Foodprint’s board of directors have close ties to Maine: Holly Arbuckle of Singing Pastures in Damariscotta, and Dorn Cox of Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport. Plus, there’s Jackson Regenerational Farm in Atkinson; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and Maine Farmland Trust, among others already practicing climate-smart agriculture. The momentum is here to make our state a major contributor to climate solutions.

So here’s the ask: Contact Zero Foodprint ( to see about becoming a member. Be the next Maine business to do this, so we can create a critical mass of funds and support to turn climate change around. If it’s easier, contact me, and I’ll tell you about our experience and how to take the next step. Let’s restore our planet one meal, one lobster, one latte, one chocolate at a time. There’s no better place than Maine to eat our way out of the climate crisis.

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