A restaurant is either committed to real food, or they aren't. I am so tired of reading, "We use organic, sustainable and local ingredients where possible"... Do you realize how subjective that is?!
When I ask questions about ingredients used in a restaurant kitchen (and, all of us should, always), the response is generally, "it's too expensive to buy everything organic" or "you wouldn't be able to afford our food if we used everything organic, but our salad greens are from a great local, organic farm" or, "our meat is locally raised without hormones" or "we support local over organic and know our farmers."
My thoughts on local versus organic are pretty clear — it is not simply an environmental debate — but, if a chef or restaurant is telling you their food is healthy and well-sourced it simply should not be serving pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and processed ingredients, for your health and the health of our shared soil and water (which in turn affects your health too!).
When someone makes the statement that they make every effort to support local, and organic and sustainable, or are committed to a better food system, they should be following through.
Ask what "where possible" means, before assuming the restaurant uses and will be serving you true, clean ingredients. As my son and I agree, if a restaurant is truly committed to a good food system, and supporting small, local, organic farmers, and are against GMOs (as we all should be for good reason), then these restaurants do not serve Heinz ketchup, Tropicana orange juice, or serve conventional produce delivered from a food service company. Good chefs and restaurant owners who are committed won't serve you fresh organic greens tossed in conventional oil and sugar, or fry "sustainable" food in toxic oils. Restaurants that are truly committed probably don't serve fresh tomatoes during the winter months in Toronto for good reason, and, more than likely change their menus constantly to take advantage of what is available and best (bonus for creativity!).
When someone makes the statement that they make every effort to support local, and organic and sustainable, or are committed to a better food system, they should be following through, otherwise, it's just a lame effort, or a marketing tactic. And, we shouldn't stand for it.
By no means am I minimizing any effort, or small steps forward, I applaud them all... change can't always happen overnight (so, I've been told). But we all deserve honesty and full transparency.
Once again, the solution is simple... ask where your food is coming from. Trace your food back to where it comes from. Who grew it or made it? Where was it packaged? What did it go through before arriving on your plate? Everything you eat is either doing good for you, or doing the opposite. Know that every dollar you spend is a vote for more of that something to be made, and that with every bite, you are voting for the kind of food system you want, whether you are deliberate about it or not. So, along with having an appreciation for eating better now, your wise choices benefit us all, and your children and grandchildren will thank you, too.
If you are spending $30 (or more) on an entrée at a "sustainable" restaurant, believing that it's better food, it shouldn't include tomatoes that are coated in a petroleum wax. Well, that's my opinion, anyway.
Also on HuffPost: