This fall, a little green snail will be showing up on a few restaurant menus. It's a tiny icon that carries a lot of weight.

This fall, a little green snail will be showing up on a few restaurant menus. It's a tiny icon that carries a lot of weight.

"What it tells you is that you are looking at a restaurant that is green and fair," says Bear Braumoeller, chairman of the board of Slow Food Columbus, who awards this designation known as the Snail of Approval.

The local chapter of an international organization that strives to spread a sustainable food philosophy only recently awarded its first recipients. It's a program Slow Food Columbus had been working to establish for years. They wanted a way to vet applicants-to ensure the logo carried tangible meaning. So the group, made up of volunteers, put the burden of proof on restaurants.

"One of the first things we ask for are receipts," Braumoeller says. There's no standard application to fill out, but rather a set of guidelines to prove the restaurant is good, fair and sustainable. More specifically, chefs must show food is scratch-made, good tasting and good for you; sourcing and restaurant practices are sustainable; and everyone in the chain of production, from farmer to employees, is treated fairly.

Four restaurants earned the certification this year: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Skillet, Portia's Cafe and Heirloom Cafe. Braumoeller wasn't surprised by who made the list-but he was amazed by the depth of their commitments. Jeni's provided evidence they are a committed-to-do-good B Corporation. Heirloom Cafe wrote about their zero-waste program. Portia's proved their attention to detail, requiring servers to write on the backs of used order slips. Skillet showed an unparalleled level of local and sustainable sourcing.

"These people are doing the right thing with precisely zero expectation," he says, adding they are sustainable because it's the right thing to do, not because they seek recognition.