Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Restaurants claiming food is local might be lying

Are all those menu items labeled “farm-to-table,” “locally sourced,” and “sustainable” really what they say they are? Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley found that in the urban Tampa/St. Petersburg area when restaurants claim local, it's not always true, Adam Harris reports for Pro Publica. "In the aftermath of her investigation, several restaurants changed their menus and chalkboards to reflect true food sourcing. I spoke with Reiley about the investigation and how what’s going on at Tampa Bay restaurants might be happening at places near you." (Reiley photo: The chalkboard at Boca Kitchen Bar Market in Tampa lists a fish purveyor, Captain Kirk Morgan, who has never sold fish to the restaurant)

When asked about the value of farm-to-table, Reiley told Harris, "It’s a term that I think is bordering on bankrupt. I know a bunch of restaurants here that are doing everything right, that are really working through local purveyors, that work closely with local farmers and get all their seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, etc., who really object to the term 'farm-to-table.' They haven’t figured out a new term that they like better, but they bristle a bit when you call them that."

Reiley told Harris that after her story published, "I was getting a hundred emails an hour. And half of them, each hour, were from people in Seattle, in Portland, in Southern California, in the Finger Lakes of New York, from all over the country. … This wasn’t people saying, 'I’m so sorry things are lousy in Tampa Bay, and you have all those bad apples.' It was people everywhere saying, 'We know this is happening here.' I think it’s a national phenomenon, definitely." (Read more)

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