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Dining with Justice:
A Guide to Guilt-Free Eating

The current recession has created millions of unemployed Americans and left countless others homeless. The average working family has less money to spend and is struggling to reduce all costs that aren't critical to survival.

One easy expense for consumers to cut out is eating out, meaning a loss of income for moderately priced restaurants. Many industries, particularly restaurants and retail, have suffered as a consequence. Restaurant owners and managers now have a greater incentive to increase profits by cutting corners with food quality, health and safety, and labor rights. Consequently, workers have been increasingly apprehensive of speaking out about work grievances, fearing job loss and prolonged unemployment. Instead of pursuing all bad apples that exploit workers, YWU set out to create the first guide to socially responsible restaurants in San Francisco.

Unlike traditional restaurant guides, our guide highlights food establishments that follow labor laws and treat their employees with dignity and respect. We believe that good employment practices and good food go hand in hand. Restaurant owners who care not only about the food they serve but also the people they employ should be commended. 

We believe that better working conditions mean less turnover, better service, more care in the preparation of our food, a friendlier atmosphere and an overall superior dining experience. To determine which restaurants are eligible for inclusion in the guide, we have surveyed workers and employers in restaurants of different price ranges, neighborhoods and cuisines in San Francisco. We will make our guide widely available to local patrons as well as tourists so that they may be aware of the impact of their dining choices. Additionally, we are releasing a detailed report on working conditions in the San Francisco restaurant industry.

There is a lot of buzz around green businesses, sustainability, and local sourcing, and now more people ask about the working conditions of the people that prepare our food, serve our meals and wash our dishes when we eat out. Our guide raises the questions, “What kind of restaurant do I want to eat at? Do I want my dollars to fuel worker exploitation or do I want to support businesses that treat their employees like human beings?” Dining with Justice 2011 is our second edition. We will continue publishing an annual guide to SF restaurants. Keep an eye out for us in 2012!

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