healthy foods and supporting sustainable farming does not have to stop when you
go out to eat! In fact, chefs and restaurant owners in Chicago and around the
country are leading the charge to bring foods from small, local farms to your
plate when you dine out.
Good Food Festival & Conference is exploring the theme,
Your Choices Matter this year and we polled a few of our ethics-minded
local restaurants to see what choices they make and why. Here is the question
we put to chefs and restaurant owners:
are making healthier food choices these days, buying more whole foods, shopping
at farmers markets, being part of a farm’s CSA. From your perspective in the
food industry, what food/sourcing/cooking choices do you make that matter and
here are their thoughtful replies:
Trattoria No. 10
Trattoria No. 10 and all Rosenthal Group restaurants, we choose only animal
proteins that have been 100% raised without antibiotics. Giant agribusiness
administers 80% of all antibiotics used in the U.S. to promote rapid growth and
keep animals alive in horribly unhealthy conditions. This practice not only
provides the perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria which
sicken hundreds of thousands and kill more than 30,000 humans each year,
it also is quickly rendering useless the very antibiotics doctors use as their
first line of defense against bacterial infection. Of all the food
choices we can make, for us, this is, by far, the most important.
Luckily, the sources of meat raised without antibiotics often come from small,
local family farms.
Dan Rosenthal, owner
Autre Monde Cafe
try and take a 360° approach in evaluating our food choices. In some cases grass-fed
is a great option but the land demand is high and the yield is low so we look
at other options such as grass-finished. There are a host of considerations
that we need to evaluate especially with protein choices so we challenge
ourselves to evaluate all of the considerations and make the choice that feels
like the best choice.
obviously also love utilizing our greenhouse and continually refine and expand
our growing program.
Monde's greenhouse photo]
everything is another tenant we adhere to. The true Mediterranean diet is based
in this philosophy - waste not, want not. So by making everything to order and
using all or as much of the product that comes through our doors as possible
the benefit is twofold, eliminating waste and providing a more unadulterated
and inherently tastier product
also exchange our cooking (fryer) oil. It is picked up by Solvent Solutions and
recycled into cleaning products. This is one of our favorite initiatives
one thing we would love to see is better solar technology to run industrial
kitchens. There is no doubt that even the most diligent restaurant finds it
difficult to limit energy use. Running a kitchen off solar energy we would be
huge for the environment and the money saved could be impactful in funding
other projects we would like to fund.
Christine Tully Aranza, owner Autre Monde Cafe
choices are determined by the quality of the animals’
life, pasture feed, non-gmo feed, and price. All of these have equal
importance to me. I want to know that my farmer is doing what he can to
raise happy animals. I have to be able to sell an animal at a cost that turns a
profit and a cost the customer can tolerate. It is a delicate line.
I think the most important part of sourcing is buying what is local, non-gmo,
and pastured, free-range animals. Support local and we will be supported
Sean Sanders, chef/owner Browntrout
most important decisions I’ve made are the ones that most affect the future of
food – doing the difficult work of searching out sustainable sources of seafood
and building those relationships is the hardest one because Chicago is a long
way from the ocean, but it’s important nonetheless because those decisions
still affect the earth’s resources and have a very real impact on the people in
the fishing communities and their future. Purchasing food is never out of
sight, out of mind. Every purchase has an impact and that’s why we have taken
the step of serving only sustainably sourced seafood. We buy all of our meat
and dairy from small-scale, local farmers who raise their animals on pasture.
This affects the health and well-being of each animal which I believe makes
better, healthier food. The same goes with our small local vegetable and fruit
farmers – to me, it’s not really about the “food miles,” it’s about community
and relationships. When we make feeding each other our common endeavor, the
very nature of human relationships and everyone’s good spirit comes out and
that lifts everyone up."
Paul Fehribach, chef/owner Big Jones
in Chicago our elsewhere, be sure to support the efforts of restaurateurs like
these who have the kind of Good Food ethics you have when you shop. We at FamilyFarmed.org work hard to introduce
thoughtful Chicago restaurants like this to diners at our Localicious party that features
over 40 local restaurants, craft breweries and distilleries – celebrating the farmers who grow our food
and the chefs who transform it!
Photo of Autre Monde Cafe's greenhouse, by Ature Monde