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One of Carmo's goals is to balance the oceanic ecosystem by harvesting fish for consumption that would otherwise not be touched because they are not the "traditional dining room fish." This solution (creating unique meals with available fish) impacts the Life Under Water UN SDG by addressing two key targets: target 14.4 (maintaining fish stocks within sustainable levels) and target 14.B (supporting small-scale fishers). In a similar way, Carmo used wild boar as the protein portion of its dishes because, at one time, they were very high in number and needed to be killed. Rather than killing them for sport and not reaping the benefits of their meat, Chef Dana found ways to incorporate the wild meat into his dishes. According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, wild boar is an invasive species in South Louisiana with negative impacts (e.g., uprooting plants and trees that are necessary to stave off coastal erosion) that cause over $70 million in agricultural damage in Louisiana annually. By serving wild boar, Cafe Carmo’s operations impact UN SDG target 15.8 (preventing invasive alliances species on land and in water ecosystems) by allowing harvested boar to be creatively prepared for paying customers. Carmo also supplied thousands of free meals to poverty-stricken areas of the city of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and again amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This solution helps the No Hunger goal.
Carmo Cafe pursues a healthy relationship with the ocean closest to home by using sustainable seafood sources for all non-vegan dishes, making life below water a vital part of the story. Carmo Cafe began its sustainability journey in search of heart-healthy and environmentally friendly sources all in one. This works by creating a bridge between good food and a happy community. Carmo uses over 82 species of fish in its dishes, whereas most restaurants use only five. The reason behind this decision is that there is an abundance of fish not harvested because they are not the “popular” dining room fish. Chef Dana aims to try to even out the ecosystem by harvesting those species that no one else is willing to touch. Instead of having cheaper fish harvested from large companies, Chef Dana prefers to be in touch with specific fishers, which guarantees that he can have his fish caught and delivered with only a few days of work. This ensures that his fish are fresh and no parts are wasted.
Similarly, Chef Dana chooses his meat options. By avoiding big-name processing and butchering companies, the quality of meat and food is increased dramatically. Because Carmo uses fresh meat, the dishes found there are never antibiotic or steroid-induced, which makes for clean eating. This also helps the animal population by keeping them in their natural habitats and away from human-caused body modifications. This is why life on land is affected by Carmo.
The inspiration for Carmo came from Chef Dana’s love for the disappearing Amazonian regions and his knowledge of the heightened taste and benefit of home-grown food. Not only is Carmo a restaurant where people can eat, but it is also a library, cinema, and museum with interactive iPad displays where people can learn about the Amazon and why it is important that people begin to take on the responsibility of preserving it: “The concept is that about 80+% of what is on a person’s plate comes from or originates in the tropics. The level of deforestation has increased, and with that, of course, forest fires have increased. Rainforest scientists are predicting that we are somewhere between 5-10 years away from the complete desertification of the Amazon. Once that feedback loop stops, we’re done. We need to stop deforestation and start reforestation. There is hope, but we do not have much time.” Chef Dana explained that he has a great knowledge of what is happening because he has visited many regions suffering from commercialization and deforestation, and he wishes to stop it to the best of his ability: “It’s not that people don’t care; people don’t know.” Another reason Chef’s concepts of obtaining food are as they are is that he remembers how life was when he was growing up and living off of the land: “I grew up on a farm where my grandparents grew all of their own food; everything eaten was a direct or byproduct of the animals and crops on the farmlands, and what we didn't have, we bartered our goods with those who had them.”
The impacts that Carmo has on the environment are incredible. From the perspective of both land and sea animals, Chef Dana works to balance out the ecosystem by harvesting the “not-so-popular” on fin and hoof. Through his countercultural ways of procuring his restaurant goods, he is working hard to show that others can certainly do the same. One restaurant doing this is fantastic but he wishes to see more take a leap after him.
Chef also employs people from all walks of life, which is consistent with AimToFlourish’s goal of gender equality and nondiscrimination. The restaurant provides a calm, cool, laid-back environment where all may feel welcome. Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on other business owners when they see how well-received guests are by the multi-background staff employed at Carmo.
Carmo is working to promote healthy food options for the community with individuals’ health and well-being as long-term goals. All meat options are fresh, and the same can be said for the produce and other ingredients in the dishes. Carmo’s ingredients skip the factories and warehouses where preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients can be found.
These innovations, along with many others, help this business by making the business stand apart from the crowd of other restaurants in the area. Carmo is setting a high standard for the food industry. This is a standard whereby the old ways of obtaining a stocked pantry are simply subpar. Carmo seeks to provide only the best, freshest, and most healthy of foods and knowledge for its consumers. While Carmo stands alone as of now, hopefully others will follow suit when they learn of the great benefits that these changes bring about.
Carmo benefits the environment at large in a number of ways. First, Carmo acts as a balancer in the fishing and hunting industry. Where most restaurants are looking and competing for the same exact animals, Carmo sources meat locally and prepare dishes creatively. This balances out ecosystems on land and in the sea. The end goal of Carmo is to correct overfishing and hunting and to keep certain populations from going extinct.
Carmo also benefits society and the environment by continuing to bring about awareness of the disappearing Amazonian regions. This is accomplished through the many educational resources that the restaurant has, as well as all of the decorations and artwork displayed in the dining rooms.
Dana Honn, Chef, Owner
Carmo Cafe is an innovative restaurant in the Warehouse district of New Orleans, Louisiana. The restaurant, along with its principles, attracts people from around the world to enjoy stories-- and of course food-- inspired by the Amazonian regions.