Blog, what have I gotten myself into?

05 Sep

Here it is, my first post. Normally, this would say all those things about me that people may or may not find interesting. Where I am from, what I am here for, what the restaurant is all about. Well, that will all come in time. What this is about is the conversation. I want people to talk and think. Maybe, think and talk, that might be the better order.

This may or may not inspire you to do anything. Who knows. But, the point is that for just a few minutes while you are reading this, I hope you think about food and those who are affected by your choice of your next moment of consumption. I wish I could say your next “meal”, however, meals sometimes seem a thing of the past, now there is no rhyme or reason to when, what or with whom you eat, Hence: your next moment of consumption.

Questions
What do your food choices say about:

  • – you?
  • – those who made it?
  • – those who sold it?

Tell us about it. We’re all figuring this out together.

2 Responses

  1. FoodPilgrim says:

    Over the past year or so, since “retiring” (ie choosing a smaller income by leaving the stress and self-absorption of the workplace behind in order to enjoy my life and not just survive), I think I’ve become more aware of how nearly every choice I make as a consumer affects someone else’s ability to earn a decent living. This fact most recently impressed me after vising some Fair Trade coffee producers in Central America this summer and seeing how such a simple decision as what brand of coffee to buy can make the difference between a farmer living in poverty or having the hope of supporting his family as a member of the middle class. That awareness also previously influenced my decision to shop farmers markets whenever I can remember to do so and, frankly, when it’s convenient. The problem there for an ignorant consumer like myself is knowing which products are locally grown and which are shipped from another time zone, and whether those purchases of non-local produce are also helping directly support a farmer rather than a middle man packer/shipper/broker. It would be nice to have a better sense of how to apply Fair Trade principles to purchases of local products and not just to those affected by international free trade agreements like NAFTA or CAFTA. It would also be nice if I had the creatiivity to develop or discover recipes to fit the locally available produce, as opposed to my usual tack of deciding first on the recipe and then going out shopping for the ingredients.

    I’m looking forward to enjoying one of your meals this weekend. Keep it up!

  2. Sara says:

    This topic is eternally frustrating. Since when did having a meal come with so much societal guilt? I think that dining ANYWHERE in the U.S. – a restaurant, the local coffee shop, home – has become so laden with the need to be right. Right for your body; right for the environment; right for the locale. . .

    How did we get ourselves into this mess? Whom do we blame? Fast food allows us to spend less that 30 seconds thinking about what we ingest. The Olive Garden allows us to have the same “Italian” food with frightening consistency all across the country. The grocery stores have reduced our knowledge of raw ingredients to disembodied Nutrition Facts, blind faith in USDA labels like “Organic” or “Reduced Fat,” and an obsessive need for all our meats to be hygenically wrapped and bright red.

    So what do we do? It is easy to say you can and should dine at restaurants that source locally; shop at farmers’ markets. But where is the solution for your Average Joe? The organic section is EXPENSIVE, and dining out is a luxury few can afford.

    Trust me – I say this knowing full well that my own well being relies on people going out to restaurants! But until the proper solutions start to become more cost effective, they simply will not be embraced. Know why? Because you can’t shop local at a Super America, or Super Target for that matter. You can’t buy diapers or Sudafed at a farmers’ market. Convenience is what drives our populace and their ever quickening pace.

    We – as people in the restaurant industry – can start this process by making sound decisions in what we serve in our restaurants. We can and should support local, organic, sustainable food. But that is one step in a crazy conga line of many! We can preach on our menus till we are blue in the face. Who will take the next step? When will we see Big Agriculture take a step towards educating the public to the choices they have? Your average consumer has no knowledge of WIid Acres, Tim Fischer or the Southeast Minnesota Food Network. Why? Because Hormel and Goldn’Plump are cheaper.

    I will be the first to admit that I am a hypocrite. I shop at Cub. I eat at fast food restaurants. I even (gasp!) drink the occasional bottled water. I am also a realist.
    I fiercely applaud the efforts of people like Scott, Lucia, Alex and the myriad others in this town who actively source out the best local, healthy, sustainable food they can get their hands on. I respect their dedication and passion, not to mention that their talents speak on their own. The question I pose is how do we get Rainbow Foods, Sysco, Bix, US Foodservice, etc. on that bandwagon. Not to belittle these chefs’ efforts, but until we change how people think – what they demand with their pocketbook, what they cook in their homes – we are fighting a losing battle.

    So what do my food choices say about me? That I am trying… My guilt is harbored in convenience.

    What do they say about those who made the food I choose? That they are numerous – some fight a noble battle, and some fight for a lower cost per pound…

    And what do my choices say about those who sold it to me? That we all need to take a step back, and gain some perspective.

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