Cue the R.E.M. song, one more time.

10 Sep

Don’t worry people, this is not the end of the world

This is a conversation that has been going on for a long time.  Is it safe?  Remember the food laws that are in place are there for a reason.  They are there becuase of mis-education, improper handling of food, and liability.  Food laws are not there to protect us from the food.  The are there to protect us from the people who have been handling our food.  I was asked a number of times in the last couple of years, how the news about salmonila, e-coli, (insert break-out here) affect us at the restaurant.  My answer is: it doesn’t.  We know where our food comes from. Simple as that.  I have not been informed by any of my farmers of any of the food that they are growing having these problems.  ( I should knock on some wood right now, I know.)  If we did, we would address the issue right away as we should.

I would love to hear your thoughts, how safe do you feel about the food in restaurants that purchase direct from farmers?

4 Responses

  1. Becky says:

    I fully support the practice of restaurants buying food directly from local growers, cutting out the middle-men distributors in favor of sourcing from quality farms. I love the taste, sense of place, and quality that provides, and I appreciate the environmental and sustainable impact of local sourcing. So I’m all for it! But here comes the big “if,” which is closely related to your point, Scott. I feel this way ONLY IF the chef is asking the right questions of those farmers. ONLY IF the chef cares about the food on his or her table. ONLY IF the growers are respectable, ethical, and producing safe food.

    When I eat at a restaurant, I am putting my trust, completely, in the proprieters and chefs. I trust they don’t spit in my soup, hide arsenic in the spices, sneak beef bits into dishes they call vegetarian, or store their meats at unsafe temperatures. So, too, do I trust that they are buying food from sources they trust, and serving food that they themselves would feel safe to eat.

    For that very reason of trust, I am selective in my choice of restaurants. (The fewer cockroaches I see, the higher my trust level and likelihood of patronage!)

    Unfortunately, not all restaurants are going to deserve that trust. Which is why there are laws. And which is why I will continue to be an active participant in my diet — understanding where my food comes from and placing my trust in chefs and grocers who I feel have earned it. There’s my 2 cents.

    PS, For people who follow the link to the Dara Moskovitz article but don’t read the comments that follow it, I’m emphasizing here the link to the Dept. of Ag article that refutes the myth: (http://www.mda.state.mn.us/food/business/safelocalproduce.htm).

    Scott, thanks for what you’re doing at Corner Table and on this blog! And thanks for not hiding arsenic in your spices. 🙂

  2. HungryinSW says:

    When selecting a restaurant I always proceed with caution regardless of whether or not they are sourcing local foods for their menu. You have to look at the individual behind the wheel and the restaurants reputation in the very least. There’s always the cursory glance at the environment, when you walk into the place, but I’ve typically done my research before I make a reservation. That being said, I have never been uncomfortable eating locally sourced food from small farms in this market which is both a tribute to my preliminary research and more so, to the hard work of many local chefs. I think there is an additional layer of transparency that the staff benefits from when purchasing product this way, much more so then they would get from a Sysco etc. I feel they get the same luxuries we get when purchasing a CSA. If the farmer isn’t transparent and willing to talk or let us look, then there are plenty of other places to source from. And I honestly feel that farmers who are willing to grow a diversity of products rather then ride government subsidies from mass producing corn are in it for more then turning a profit.

    At the end of the day I feel that farmers can better tend to a flock of 50 then a flock of 500, and that the same care is passed when restaurants source from there purveyors.

    Hoping to get to Mill City this weekend, and if not I’ll probably be by Rustica to see if I can wrestle away one of those sandwiches.

  3. kat says:

    We decided to start purchasing our vegetables from a CSA this year so that we knew that it was coming directly from a farm that used organic growing methods & was very open about what they were doing. I feel like restaurants that by directly from the farms are doing the same thing, choosing to buy from right where the food is grown so they know how its grown. That said I feel like the quality that restaurant is going to serve is going to be better.

    It also says something about how that chef & restaurant are willing to cook & develop menus. When you are purchasing directly from a farm you put yourself into the same boat as the farmer worrying about weather & rain & how that effects the crops. So, if the hail destroys the salad green crop or tomatoes you do without instead of buying some flown in from halfway across the country & change your menu based on what is available.

  4. Jen says:

    I feel really quite safe with both farm driven restaurants and farmers market purchases and it’s for similar reasons that you noted – a smaller chain. And in general i like to think these producers have more responsibility. With such a short supply chain, you not only know your buyer/seller but it’s a face. I have to think that some of this ridiculous economic mess is related to having too many layers between the money ‘managers’ (maniacs) and the ‘real people’. I heard once that there was a successful fund manager who encouraged his clients to send him photos themselves – he kept them on a wall in his office to remind him that it wasn’t a game, but real people who depended on him to manage their money. (Fairytale or not, it is a great concept)

    But enough of that tangent. Knowing that I can probably come back week after week to the same famer in the market is great. And I am greedy, I love daily specials at restaurants that get fresh local products – generally it’s going to be something interesting and with really good ingredients.

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