Overall, participants in the survey were most interested in restaurants that took actions to protect the environment, such as reducing energy usage and waste and using biodegradable or recycled products.
"The problem is that most of these actions are not visible to diners," Schubert said. "The customers don't see what is happening in the kitchen and that is one reason why people are unsure if a particular restaurant is green."
The second most important green practice to diners, after environmental action, was the use of organic products and serving locally grown food.
Least important to diners was having restaurants donate some of their profits to environmental projects or pay fees to reduce their ecological footprint.
There were some age and gender differences in how diners viewed green practices at restaurants.
Women and those aged less than 35 were more likely than others to believe dining at green restaurants would be healthier.
Those under 35 were also more likely than older people to say it was important for restaurants to use organic foods and to pay fees to reduce their ecological footprints.
Women were much more likely than men to say it was important for restaurants to donate to environmental projects.
There was one thing that nearly all participants agreed on.
"Customers made it clear that the quality of food was most important for them, and they were not willing to compromise quality to eat at a green restaurant," Kandampully said.
Survey participants also expressed confusion about which restaurants in the area were truly "green," he said.
"Restaurants that engage in green practices should market themselves that way, using that fact as a competitive edge," Kandampully said.
"The responses clearly showed that i
|Contact: Jay Kandampully|
Ohio State University