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Uncommon Ground greenest restaurant in U.S.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chicago diners have many tasty dining options, but one Chicago restaurant stands out for being environmentally friendly.

It's an honor that co-owners Michael and Helen Cameron were starving for. Not only has their restaurant Uncommon Ground received a four-star rating from the Green Restaurant Association, they were also chosen as the greenest restaurant in the country.

"We really try to be very connected into our communities and really provide a place of happiness and comfort," said Helen Cameron.

There are over 100 environmental steps in place at Uncommon Ground including LED lighting, solar panels, composting all organic matter and powering the restaurant's vehicle with biodiesel created from the fryer oil. Even the tables are made out of fallen trees from Jackson Park.

Perhaps the most visual green feature of the restaurant is the rooftop garden.

"This year we produced well over 700 pounds of produce, which isn't bad, we've only got about 640 square feet up here," said rooftop farm director Dave Synder.

The garden is being used as a model for other restaurants including one in Mumbai, India.

Even the small landscaped area produces all sorts of food for the restaurant, including grapes, currants, strawberries and a variety of herbs.

For customers, the restaurant does not just offer a green alternative but excellent food as well.

"We always tell everybody that's coming to Chicago they should come to Uncommon Ground because the food is excellent, the atmosphere is great, and we've never had anything we didn't like," said out-of-town customer Julie Jansen.

The second-greenest restaurant in America is their other location in Lakeview. The goal of these restaurants is to provide diners with a top-notch meal while at the same time offering food that is produced locally, free of herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics.

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