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Do you really care what farm your food came from?

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I notice now at every high end place I am learning that my cow came from Creekside and my bacon from Benton's. I don't know hoot about these farms and frankly I don't care. If I am paying 35 dollars for some lamb I would assume it came from a good place. I could always ask if I were wondering where my steak came from, and a lot of these farms don't even sell to the public so it's not like I am going to be ordering up some if I thought it was good. So this seems like this is just another strike of pretentiousness by the food industry, as if Caw Caw Creek pork is something to "ooh" over.

  1. I'm happy to know what farm my food came from. To me, it shows that a certain level of care and thought was put into the selection of ingredients that is on my plate. Any restaurant can order generic food from the distributor and I'd have to disagree with your comment that a $35 meal means it's from a good place. Some restaurants will cut every corner they can. I can see how it might be considered pretentious and some establishments might treat it that way but the ones I frequent do so because they take great pride in the quality of food they serve.

    7 Replies
    1. re: piano boy

      But how do you know anything about the farm? For instance, there could be a million Creekside Farms, and just because it is a farm doesn't mean you know anything about their processes. I'm sure McDonald's could describe their hamburgers as having beef from x farm.

      1. re: observor

        Sagacious hillbilly runs a blog. you can listen to him talk of butchering chickens. He sells them too, if you live anywhere nearby. That's if you really want to know your supplier. ;-)

        1. re: Chowrin

          I'm not sure where you're from, but it's probably Creekstone farms in Kansas you're thinking of (they sell to all the high-end NYC places) and Benton's is in Tennessee.

          I only say this because that means they may be coming from a well-respected farm but that farm is half way across the country. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

          Plus everyone is using Benton's/Creekstone's now among the high-end restaurants

        2. re: observor

          People know about individual farms by hearing about them, reading about them, and even visiting them. You may not choose to do so, in which case the name of the farm is meaningless **to you.** But for those who are interested, the name of the farm may be a significant piece of information.

          All agricultural methods are not equal, and there are plenty of restaurants that charge high prices for commodity foods. If you're good with that, I'm not going to try to change your mind. But the fact is that an increasing number of people care about where their food comes from. IMO that's a good thing.

          1. re: observor

            "But how do you know anything about the farm?"

            Well, by visiting, like the case of Benton Farms, or by paying attention to the details in the menu, and remembering the really good ones.

            It's really not all that hard, and can be informative down the line.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              The majority of customers at the high-end restaurants in Charleston, SC are tourists...I doubt they are going to go to Beaufort , South Carolina, to see the farm that provided their pork before they head off to the airport.

              1. re: observor

                To some extent, it's like providing a citation in a paper. Most people don't go and check every citation they see, but it still lends credibility and accountability. Basically, it's nice to know that a restaurant holds itself to a standard in sourcing its food and that you can find the same product or look into how said product is made if you're curious.

                More generally: in a lot of ways, I feel like citing the farm where a food was made is often as much an indication of the chef's humility as it is a marketing ploy. It's about giving credit where credit is due, acknowledging that part of the reason your chicken (or whatever) is so tasty was that a dedicated farmer took the time and care to raise it well.

                I know that sounds hokey, but I also know that a lot of chefs have a deep and honest respect for such things.

        3. I despise purely organic growers. I'd rather have a smart farmer using pesticides when warranted, rather than avoiding anything that's going to get mouldy because it won't sell. Or, who sells you mouldy produce without bothering to tell you that "it's mouldy, cut that part out."

          So yeah, I kinda like supporting people who do things right.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Chowrin

            Sorry, I have to disagree. Farmers using pesticides are not "doing things right". They're doing, perhaps, what they feel they have to to continue to grow crops in a monoculture - acres and acres of corn or soybeans or what have you. This has cost us literally feet of topsoil, contaminated rivers and groundwater, and numerous other problems that are beyond the scope of this conversation.

            We need to use fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Agriculture has become a major polluter. It's a problem. I'm not claiming there's an easy solution, or a quick one. But we're not seriously looking for a solution, either.

            Organic farmers ARE "doing things right". I'm glad that option is available. When I have my own garden, it is organic. I find it odd that you express hatred for people who are trying to serve the environment as much as it serves us.

            1. re: ZenSojourner

              You might be interested in an opposing argument from an actual farmer, Amy Hepworth, who is a supplier for (among others) the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn:

              "She does not take an absolutist’s position on chemicals, for instance, arguing that today’s “gentle” synthetics are unlike pesticides of the DDT days, when growers sprayed willy-nilly any “shit that worked.” Hepworth chooses how to grow based on what’s best for the soil. In many instances, the best option is organic, but in others, it’s not. In her view, it’s sometimes better to use a small amount of something synthetic than a huge amount of something natural. Consider a disease called apple scab. “One organic control is five pounds of sulfur per acre every time it rains,” Hepworth explains. “Twelve to sixteen times a year.” Sulfur kills other things, not just apple scab. It can also coat apples with residue, and, when she was using it, Hepworth suspected that it harmed her earthworm population. She switched to a synthetic, noncarcinogenic fungicide that treats apple scab specifically. “It does the job in small amounts,” she says. “Six ounces per acre. I used it three or four times last year.”

              Here's the complete article:

              http://nymag.com/news/features/48929/

              1. re: small h

                Sulfur is a chemical and to my knowledge is not allowed for organic orchards. I admittedly do not know as much about organic orchards as I do farming, so possibly that's wrong.

                However, I don't see that as an opposing argument anyway. As I said above, there are no easy answers. The problem is not only that we are overly dependent on chemical fertilizers (and btw, chemically farmed soil is so low on beneficial microorganisms as to be nearly "dead"), but also that we are making no serious attempt to change that.

                It looks like what you're talking about above is one attempt to address these issues. So how that's an "opposing argument" I don't see. I just wish agribusiness would make similar changes.

                1. re: ZenSojourner

                  I don't think you understood that excerpt at all. The farmer I quoted tried both organic and non-organic methods, and chose those that did the least harm to her crops. Sometimes that was the organic choice, and sometimes it wasn't. You don't seem to allow for the possibility that the organic method is not always the ideal method - that's how I interpret your statement that "Organic farmers are doing things right," because the converse of that is "Non-organic farmers are doing things wrong." But that isn't always true, and that's what the article shows.

                  And you'd do well to abandon your fear of chemicals. Water is a chemical, and you wouldn't last three days without it.

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    Organic farming rules don't prohibit the use of chemicals, they prohibit the use of **synthetic** chemicals. Chemicals that are derived from plants or minerals are allowed. And sulfur isn't the nastiest thing an "organic" farmer can spray on crops. Nicotine sulfate is a deadly poison, and is perfectly allowable. Pyrethrum kills insects indiscriminately. And rotenone is only moderately problematic until it gets into the water supply, where even miniscule concentrations are extremely toxic to fish. These are all chemicals, they're all deadly, and they're all used routinely in organic farming operations.

                    Moreover, your claim that "chemically farmed soil is so low on beneficial microorganisms as to be nearly "dead" is simply incorrect. Yes, overuse of pesticides will kill microorganisms in the soil. But that's true whether the pesticides are synthetic or organic. Do you really think dead soil where the micro-organisms were killed by nicotine is "healthier" than dead soil where they were killed by an organophosphate? The trick isn't to use organic pesticides, it's to use whatever pesticides you choose responsibly.

                    There are some organic farmers who are good stewards of their land. And even the most abusive "organic" growing practices are better than the most abusive conventional practices. But make no mistake about it - an organic certification doesn't mean that the farmer is "doing it right." Neither does the fact that a farmer decides that organic methods are inappropriate mean that s/he's "doing it wrong."

                    If you want to learn more about this issue, I recommend "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. It's an accessible and informative book about various growing methods. A little superficial, but some depth was sacrificed in order to make it a compelling read.

                    The upshot of the book is there's nothing inherently good or bad about going organic. All sustainable farming is not organic, and all not all organic farms are sustainable. There's a fair degree of overlap, but if you really care about where your food comes from, pay less attention to labels and more to specific facts.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Rotenone is in fact prohibited from use as an organically these days. I still use it.

                      As I said, I don't know that much about what is and is not allowed in organic orcharding.

                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                        If by "these days" you mean 2005-2009, you're correct. But as of 2010, use of rotenone is once again allowed. Looking at the CFRs, though, it turns out that the use of nicotine sulfate (as well as other "natural" pesticides like arsenic and strychnine) is prohibited.

                        You keep talking about what is allowed and disallowed in "organic orcharding." The USDA's National Organic Program has rules about what's allowed for "organic crop production." It makes no difference whether those crops grow on trees or in the ground. The rules for farming and orcharding are the same.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          OK, let me rephrase that then - I don't know much about what is normally USED in organic orchards, which may or may not be allowed by the "official rules". For instance, I know that arsenic and strychnine are prohibited (and have been) by organic standards (actually I think they're prohibited altogether and have been for a long time). But I don't know about sulfur compounds, which are common antifungals (if I recall correctly) in orchards, whether organic or not. Not sure if sulfur is allowed by the rules because it's not something I ever had to worry about. In any case, what I've done for one or two trees isn't going to translate to an entire orchard, regardless of whether it's run as organic or as a typical agribusiness.

                          If rotenone is back that's fine with me.

                          My point originally was that we need to find ways to grow crops with as little environmental impact as possible. Where that is happening - whether it meets the standards of being "perfectly organic" or not - that's a good thing.

                          Unfortunately where it's happening is in a minority of the land under cultivation in this country. Growing totally "organically" is one way to attempt to minimize the destruction of our topsoil and the pollution of our rivers, streams, and groundwater. At no point have I said it's the ONLY acceptable solution.

                          I STILL don't see where the person to whom I was originally responding gets off "despising" people who are working towards such a goal. It makes no sense to hate all organic growers. In fact it's an attitude of deliberate ignorance that boggles the mind.

                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                            deliberately tying one hand behind one's back is NOT a good way to run a farm, nor a business, nor cook a meal.

                            If you've had cholent, you'll understand ;-)

                    2. re: ZenSojourner

                      Almost every farmer uses pesticides. Pesticides can be both organic and non-organic, but it does not necessarily mean that one is more toxic than the other. Sulfur, for example, can be used as an organic pesticide. It kills many things, including beneficial bugs. You cannot apply it when it is over 90F because it may damage plants. This often limits its usefulness. I try to use organic farming techniques in my own garden as much as possible, but there are times that applying a non-organic chemical is better.

                      Here's a link describing organic pesticides: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt...

                      Here's a link that

              2. Yes. And I'll take it a step further. I rarely eat meat unless I DO know where it came from. I choose not to support factory farms and animal abusive practices- it's called voting with your dollars.

                If you can't tell me where my meat came from, I'm not going to eat it.

                You can assume that your $35 lamb "came from a good place", but unless you know what that place is, I think you'd be wrong.

                1. Lately that information just makes me grumpy. I can buy Knollcrest eggs and Cato Corner cheese at the greenmarket, and I know what they cost. When a restaurant proudly lists those suppliers on a menu, all I can see is the mark-up. If I were more knowledgeable about wine prices, I'd probably be angry all the time.

                  24 Replies
                  1. re: small h

                    what in the world are you talking about? how would you expect there to not be a mark up? you have a chef back there working on salary, a full kitchen staff, the rent or mortgage for the building the restaurant is housed in, operating costs for all the lights and the water... those things aren't free and the money to provide them doesn't just fall out of thin air.

                    if you want the experience of dining at a restaurant, you have to pay for it- the entire experience.
                    anyhow, i am one of those people that care about where things on my plate come from. both as professional in the food industry and a consumer. i like to print the farm's name on the menu, not just to inform the customer as to where their food came from, but also to aid in perpetuating the farm's reputation for good product. i like to help our local producers.

                    1. re: monpetitescargot

                      I'm aware of the costs inherent in running a restaurant, and I certainly don't expect to pay wholesale prices for goods + labor + overhead. But if you're trying to convince me that the act of slicing cheese and putting it on a plate justifies a charge equal to quadruple the cost of the cheese (for that is what it works out to), you will not get very far.

                      1. re: small h

                        If the cost bothers you so much, just avoid the restaurant. The cost most likely does not bother other patrons. Otherwise, the restaurant would go out of business.

                        1. re: raytamsgv

                          I don't need to avoid entire restaurants, just individual dishes. Because I do a quick cost/benefit analysis: could I make this myself? would it be cheaper and as good? If the answer to both these questions is "yes," I order something else. Bouillabaisse - order. Dim sum - order. Cheese plate comprised of cheeses I can get 10 blocks from my apartment for a fraction of the price - do not order.

                          See how easy?

                          1. re: small h

                            This is going a long way from the original question. The OP was not about what it costs, but where it's from.

                            I take that to be a question about the farm's practices, not whether you can buy the same cheese down the street.

                            Do you care about the provenance at all- you *can* buy the farm eggs, etc over the industrial- but do you?

                            1. re: cheesemonger

                              I started out pretty close to the original question and merely kept answering other posters' questions as they arose. If it wasn't clear from my first contribution that I do buy the farm eggs, I do. That's how I know what they cost. But the farm's practices aren't as important to me as the farm's product. If a farm had superior practices and inferior product, I would walk on by. And that there is even further from the OP. But hey, you asked.

                            2. re: small h

                              I love this!

                              1. re: small h

                                Not quite so easy - a restaurant may have the ability to properly age a wheel of cheese that the nearby market cuts up and sells while it's young. And sometimes a restaurant will serve cheeses will interesting accompaniments you might not have thought of.

                                But yeah, I eat out a lot less than I cook at home, and like to see a little more of the kitchen's influence on the finished dish. I understand the beauty of a perfect $8 apricot, but it's still just an apricot.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  And I admire an assembly of micro-greens placed just so with tweezers on a long, skinny porcelain plate with little dots of dressing and a beautiful piece of burrata (shout out to Scarpetta!). Which I could maybe do but am too clumsy and impatient and lacking in long, skinny porcelain plates. There is some wiggle room.

                                2. re: small h

                                  That is also pretty much why I almost never order the cheese plate on its own too ;-)

                                  I do exactly the same quick analysis when deciding what items to pick. This probably explains why I generally save the consumption of those big name cheeses, charcuterie and produce for at-home events.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    You know, bringing out the digital scale and the calculator, would ruin my meals. I go to restaurants to enjoy.

                                    That enjoyment might be from something I cannot get, a prep that I do not care to do, or have the time for, or for the innovation of the chef. I can do a great beef tenderloin on my Lynx, but I still will order beef tenderloin out, so long as that is what I want, and sounds good enough to enjoy. I will pay the price, if I want it, and not try to dissect it into the lowest common denominators with the price/gram calculated in.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Added to which, on a cheese platter, you can sample a variety that has been put together by someone who knows those types of cheeses. I'm not likely to go to a shop and buy a few bites of a half a dozen plus cheeses. It's a tasting opportunity, just as wine pairing is. I could also buy the bottle of wine for much less than the glass sometimes. And, sometimes I'm just in the mood for it, regardless of price margin.

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        You have more cash than I do. Or at least, your posts suggest that you have more cash than I do. So while I also go to restaurants to enjoy, my enjoyment is affected less by "bringing out the digital scale" than it is by spending money on an evening out and feeling like I've overpaid.

                              2. re: small h

                                Maybe it's different with eggs and cheese, but FWIW the fruit, vegetables, or meat you buy from Farm X at a farmer's market tend not to be the same quality as those provided by the same farm to a well-regarded restaurant. The ongoing nature of the farmers' relationship with folks in the food-service industry means that they get the pick of the harvest.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  I don't doubt it, since I've seen chef's assistants walk off with the "good" strawberries time and time again. That's one reason I didn't mention raw material type foods in my first post. Another is that these mostly require some prep, and some skill to prepare. A poached or fried egg, though...not so much.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Do you have any actual proof that this happens or are you just guessing?

                                    1. re: taos

                                      Well, I don't have videotapes, but have discussed the issue with both farmers and restaurant people. It's not exactly a secret. Chefs (well, some chefs anyway) are willing to pay a premium for the best of the best, and growers (ditto) are willing to accommodate them.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Plus, there is much more perceived possibility that a chef will become a long-term customer, than than the average joe.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          OK, that's different. If the restaurants pay a premium price they get premium goods. That is completely logical. I thought you were saying that for the same price, restaurants were getting the pick of the crops just for being large and regular customers.

                                          1. re: taos

                                            restaurants pay wholesale except for really extraordinary products, like a special edition small-quantity farmstead cheese the farmer just can't let go for a wholesale price. they still get best-quality stuff. often the farmer/purveyor knows *sigh* that s/he will be credited on the menu and wants the ingredients to reflect the farm in the best possible light. also, if the product is substandard, the chef will find another source.

                                            the farmer wins thru the wholesale arrangement 1) by having good restaurants in their farm's "portfolio" which increases their desirability to other restaurants, stores, wholesalers, farmer's markets & shoppers and potential csa subscribers, etc. and 2) by having a steady customer who doesn't pay retail price, but buys in bigger quantities and, again, who promotes the grower/producer, either verbally or by putting a word or two down on a printed menu, website, or other communication to the restaurant's customers.

                                            1. re: taos

                                              My understanding is that the premium paid is a over standard wholesale prices. It's probably still less than retail.

                                              1. re: taos

                                                or they get a premium goods by showing up EARLY.

                                            2. re: taos

                                              I have no doubt that restaurants get the pick.

                                              1. re: observor

                                                um... not always true. retail consumers will generally pay more.... especially for prime cuts like pork loin or chops or filet mignon, whereas restaurants want a wholesale price... and the farmer makes less. esp. during prime farmer's market season. at times, it's impossible to get anything from a farm unless they specialise in selling directly to restaurants. sadly.

                                        2. The local restaurants that we frequent buy their meat and produce from the same farmers that I buy from at our farmers' market. There is nothing pretentious about informing your customers that the food they are about to eat was raised with care. I am an omnivore, but I refuse to eat meat that comes from a factory-farmed animal that has spent its entire life in torment. But that's just me.

                                          1. Nope.

                                            1. How does one know that the food came from the farm that they said it came from. I'm told that substitute farms abound.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: beevod

                                                You're told by whom please?

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  That was another CH thread that I can't find right now. Gorgeous little farms that would have you come pick your slick-hided, well-rounded cow raised on their happy pastures for slaughter. Then would go out and buy a cow at auction, have it processed and delivered as the cow you picked. I think it happened in the NW US somewhere. Someone called them "Potemkin farms". Don't know if Beevod is referring to that or not.

                                                  Something similar happened here this summer. Sausser Farms (sprang out of nowhere last spring) offered an incredible CSA share deal of $35 for an entire season of weekly produce. That's $35/season NOT $35/week. Not only were they not able to deliver to the approximately 1000 families that signed up, what they did deliver was often found to be typical grocery store produce, not their own nor from other local farmers. I thought when I saw their offer back in the spring it had buyer beware all over it. Further investigation showed they had pulled something similar in another state and they have now disappeared from here.

                                                  I think Beevod has a point. I'm sure what happened here isn't an isolated incident nor is it rampant but it encourages me to stick with the established growers I know, have visited or will check out based on recommendations from people I trust.

                                                  I'm lucky to be able to do that. It's much harder for folks in an urban/suburban setting.

                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                    Thanks. I was really more thinking about restaurants and I guess making the assumption (silly me) that they do some checking out of local vendors before putting their names before putting it on their menu.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      When you come right down to it, you can't be sure what the restaurants are doing vs what they say they are doing so there is an element of trust. Whose to say the ground beef is really ground beef? But, there was a restaurant in the DC area that claimes to be sustainable and all and there was a huge article in the Washington Post disputing it--front page even. It must have been a slow news day.

                                              2. I like when there is a small part, tucked away on the menu, discussing their sourcing. I'm not a big fan of each dish having it included (which borders occasionally, as you say, on pretentious). However, perhaps b/c I worked in a restaurant that was very serious about sourcing, and would never have passed off some knock-off, I think sourcing can say a lot about the perspective of the chefs running the show.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Cachetes

                                                  "borders occasionally, as you say, on pretentious"

                                                  I don't think it *borders* as much as it has launched a successful, full-scale invasion of pretentious and claimed all pretentious territory in the name of Local Sourcing. ;) There's a scene in the movie Baby Boom where a waiter in a posh NY eatery describes the specials of the day using a string of adjectives so purple and florid that you forget that he's talking about meat and vegetables! Every time I see stuff like, "Tournedo of Goose Hollow Farms free-range organic beef" I think of that scene.

                                                2. It's not that people genuinely care that their food comes from Full Circle Farms in Carnation, Washington (vs, say, some other farm down the road), it's that "our produce comes from [specific farm]" signals that the restaurant cares about its ingredients. This has the added bonus of making it seem as though other restaurants are serving you second-rate produce that fell off the back of the Sysco truck.

                                                  On the other hand, I don't feel like it necessarily means much of anything about the quality of food. Any idiot can make a mess of good ingredients, just as a good chef can turn low-quality stuff into a delicious meal. Only the former would make me feel ripped off.

                                                  1. I've always had the feeling it's because enough people ask the servers about the source that they just tell you at the start.

                                                    As long as it's tasty, I can't say that I care where it's from.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                      The funny thing is....Sysco still buys from a farm. It's just a farm that produces millions of pounds of lettuce and puts pesticides on it and ships it across the country.

                                                      So "Sunshine Farms" may just be the largest vegetable supplier in the country and is part of Sysco or US Foods and thus "Sunshine Farms Lettuce" can be put on any menu and most customers would say "Oh Wow that's local!"

                                                      1. re: wreckers00

                                                        I think you're kinda thinking what I'm thinking.

                                                        My interpretation of the question is "What's in a name?" Lets say we said that the sign out front said "Our pork comes from DT Meadows and our produce comes from Davwud Acres Farm" would people stop?? Not likely, they'd think it was some quality farm somewhere close. So it becomes a "What's the point" issue. If people don't take the time to find out what the farm is all about, it's just there for pretense.

                                                        Do I care?? Yes. I'd like my meat to come from some farmer doing things the natural way that's close by. I also want my meat to taste good and not cost an arm and a leg. If trucking it in is cheaper and it tastes better, that's the one I want.

                                                        DT

                                                    2. No. I understand the capitalist system.

                                                      If purchased from 7-11...it will be from the cheapest vendor. It will not be healthy but will probably not have actual toxins in it.

                                                      If purchased from Giant...commercially grown. Will wash produce. Meat will not be "organic." BFD

                                                      If purchased from premium vendor...will still wash produce...meat is meat.

                                                      If from fine dining establishment...assumed good quality and washed properly. I don't care about it's exact provenance.

                                                      1. I do get where you're coming from: I'm not really keen on having my menu turn into an encyclopedia entry either. However, I think I have to side with the others here. When I order a pork chop at a restaurant and I know the guy who raised the pig, and I know he runs a good shop (because I keep up on this stuff), I also know that I'm dealing with a restaurant that cares about the same things that I do (ie, good quality meat, raised outside of a factory farm). I don't know that it's really safe to simply assume that price will guide you to the highest quality. And when it comes to things like cheeses or breads, it's even more helpful to know whether you've liked or hated that product in the past.

                                                        1. To me it says that the restaurant cares about what they offer up to me as a diner, and takes the extra steps to ensure it's the best that they can offer. Note that this doesn't mean the best there is, or the most expensive -- but that instead of buying from Sysco or or other faceless corporate entity, they take the extra time to source the product from a farm with a name and an actual person behind that name. It takes extra work to do that...and I appreciate that effort on my behalf.

                                                          It also says that they have made a commitment to that source, creating an ongoing business relationship with them...and while there are some who will lie, and there are times that for various reasons (bad weather, etc) they can't get something from that source and HAVE to substitute...I think that the majority (not all) of restaurants that care enough to go to that trouble also care enough to not lie.

                                                          Then there's the legality of it all...there are cases where someone says they source something from XXX...XXX gets wind of it and says "funny, they've never bought from me" and has the right to pursue legal action. Goodwill (one's reputation in the marketplace) is a recognized and legal financial asset, and a restaurant serving up slop in place of a named farm's superior product is harming the goodwill of that farm.

                                                          But then again, I'm a little skewed -- I live in a country where the butcher shop posts a certificate naming the farm and the vital statistics of the cow you see in the case in front of you -- often including a photograph of the cow, as well as birth date, butcher date, breed, and weight. Mildly obsessive? Kinda...but also gives one a feeling that you know EXACTLY what you're buying.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            And you will pay more for that. I'm a big cynic and I can see dollar signs in peoples eyes when they do stuff like that.

                                                            DT

                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                              Um. No. The butcher where I bought last week's groceries was cheaper than the big stores...the the meat was very good.

                                                              Do you not think the fact that the restaurant gives a damn is worth a few extra coins? I'm not talking about double the price, because if the food isn't good, the market simply won't support it. Don't you think YOU are worth it?

                                                              But give me cheese and meat and wine from farms where I can go and talk to the people who produced it any day.

                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                and speaking of dollar signs, what about the fact that when you buy locally, your dollars circulate in a local economy instead of leaving the county, state or even country? local food production and support of it aids in keeping money in your own community, instead of florida for produce, south america for onions or china for garlic. this is one of the reasons it is important for me to know where my food came from.

                                                                and for all those who keep saying that you could plop any generic farm name on a menu and people will believe it, that's not true. some of us are quite educated as consumers, and as someone said earlier, have visted these farms or know these farmers. also, you can learn a lot about your local farms from just taking a stroll around a farmers' market in your area.

                                                                1. re: monpetitescargot

                                                                  As I said above, I'm all for getting my food stuffs from local farmers. I even don't mind paying a bit more for it. It just better be worth it.

                                                                  What I'm talking about is when a trend like this comes along there is no shortage of people who want to get on board because they see increased revenue.
                                                                  Until I die you will never convince me otherwise that "CAB" is just a way of places charging you more for your burger.

                                                                  DT

                                                            2. Yes, I care where my food comes from.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                The "brevity is the soul of wit " award goes to Tommy!

                                                                (and..ditto!)

                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                  That wasn't the question.

                                                                  1. re: observor

                                                                    Sure it was. Food comes from farms. You asked if people care what farm the food comes from. I care where my food comes from.

                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                      The question, if you take into account the narrative, was "Do you need to be informed what farm your food came from on your menu?" Since there are incredibly few people who would eat food from a sewer, it is safe to assume most everyone cares where their food comes from, but don't necessarily need to be informed of the specificity on a menu.

                                                                      1. re: observor

                                                                        No, the question was "Do you really care what farm your food came from?"

                                                                        You don't. That's your prerogative. Other people do. That's their prerogative. Stop telling them they're wrong.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          The OP actually cares:
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3264...

                                                                2. I see it like nutrition labels: even if I can't make sense of all of the information and have no idea what riboflavin is, having the information is useful to those who understand it, is subtle encouragement for the rest of us to learn more, and encourages transparency and accountability in food sourcing.

                                                                  1. The best sausage I've found is from Terranova's...does that mean anything to you??? Maybe not, but the fact that it's local, handcrafted and less than a mile from my walk-in is really important to me. I'd like them to stay in business...maybe listing them on my menu will help that happen.

                                                                    My prediction for the near future is that local sourcing is the most important trend we can embrace. Environmentally conscious farming will trump organic farming and meat/poultry sales will be driven by the humane/hormone free suppliers.

                                                                    Do I need to see every farm on every menu? No. Do I want my product sources to be sustainable, local, artisan, handcrafted? You Betcha.

                                                                    I have guests pulling Monterey Bay sustainable fish charts out of their wallets every day...times are changing and people (for the most part) want to be informed. I, for one, am happy with the trend.

                                                                    1. Benton's isn't a farm. It's a guy and a shop.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: fullyfunctional

                                                                        yeah-- why would anybody possibly care if their bacon came from this guy:
                                                                        https://bentonshams.com/order/index.php
                                                                        or from some nameless short-cutting wholesale supplier?!? it couldn't possibly make any difference right? ;-P

                                                                        most. hilarious. thread. ever.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I'm sure these products are delicious, but because the site doesn't state otherwise, I suspect that the pork is factory-farmed.

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            it's about whether someone, a customer (who was informed about sourcing) might recognize a small artisinal purveyor over the nameless wholesaler, note the reference on a menu, and say "i'll order that"-- or would continue to patronize an establishment which sources food/ingredients with some care and upholds relationships with small, artisinal, and/or local farms/purveyors. my position is of course the customer in many cases is very informed and does care. some establishments cater to informed customers, and some others assume their customers are uninformed and are not very transparent with their sourcing. the op wants to defend the latter type of establishment and make fun of the informed customers for caring about where their food comes from. i hold the opposite opinion.

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              but if you are looking for artisan pork products made from humanely raised animals, a good rec would be la quercia. i use their excellent products all the time. they ship, i think.
                                                                              http://www.laquercia.us/home/what-we-...

                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                +1, soupkitten -- well said.

                                                                        2. Yes, I do. I would always choose to be informed over ignorant in any given situation.

                                                                          30 Replies
                                                                          1. re: luniz

                                                                            This is really what it boils down to, and I'm amazed that not everyone on the planet agrees with you. Actually, I take that back: I'm not amazed one bit. People seem to revel in not knowing and proclaiming that they "don't understand x".

                                                                            1. re: luniz

                                                                              Exactly. Lack of knowledge of a difference doesn't mean there isn't a difference.

                                                                              1. re: luniz

                                                                                Oh, c'mon. Dontcha know that ignorance is bliss?

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                  It's called the "Bozone Layer" from The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational

                                                                                  "Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future. "

                                                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                                                    Thanks for the great new word!

                                                                                    To the OP, I would always prefer to know where my food comes from. I also know a couple of farmers so if I see Pavelka's Point or Saltfork farms on a menu, I'm more likely to eat there, because it also supports my friends.

                                                                                    1. re: morwen

                                                                                      I do like that, "bozone" (just trying it out)

                                                                                  2. re: luniz

                                                                                    And how would knowing the source make any difference whatsoever? I do not go to a restaurant to make a political statement. I do not go to it to feel good about myself for doing something for the planet. I go to a restaurant to enjoy the food and company.

                                                                                    As for being ignorant? Well, let me think. I drive a TDI, which is an efficient vehicle. If it's less than a mile, I walk; I own a bike for those warmer days. I go to stores/sources that are on my usual routes. 6 days a week I exercise 90 minutes a day so I have minimal impact on health costs. I drink tap water.

                                                                                    All that and more, but I'm ignorant because I only care about how restaurant food tastes and not the source? That is not a view I share. I would say that the source is irrelevant (especially if one is concerned about carbon footprints) and mostly for those that like to tout faux-knowledge or a misguided fulfillment of being green.

                                                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                                                      If you care about your carbon footprint, knowing the source of your food should be all the more important to you. Which burns more fossil fuel: driving a truck full of produce 50 miles down the road or flying it 5,000 miles on a cargo jet?

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                        In addition, if one cares about the taste of the food, the closer to the source, in general, the better. I'll take an apple picked today on the farm next door over one that's been flown thousands of miles picked weeks ago.

                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          You do realize that the answer to that question is "well, it depends", right? And that it's pretty rare you'd ever actually face the trade-off between "50 miles by truck" and "5,000 miles by plane"?

                                                                                          1. re: lavaca

                                                                                            Agreed. The supply chain is relatively efficient. Transporting food for thousands of people is very likely more efficient than thousands of people driving to pick up their food.

                                                                                            But this is all beside the point. Some point obviously care where their food comes from, and others don't, and it's unlikely that anyone will change their minds. Good for them.

                                                                                            1. re: lavaca

                                                                                              Sorry, it doesn't depend. The same produce, grown using the same methods, has a far smaller carbon footprint if it's trucked 50 miles than if it's flown 5,000.

                                                                                              I don't know how rare that situation is, but it happened to me last month. The local supermarket had California asparagus one week and stuff flown in from Peru the next. Guess which one I bought?

                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                Okay, stop. Almost no long-haul food transportation is performed by airplane. Food from across the country comes to you by train or truck. Food from another continent comes to you by boat. Any food that is so perishable that it must be transported by airplane is either ridiculously expensive (such as $35/pound fresh Alaskan salmon outside of Alaska) or only available in very special circumstances. Your "truck vs plane" example is a false dilemma.

                                                                                                Furthermore, conditions and methods of production vary significantly between regions. As such, "all else held equal" simply isn't a reasonable assumption to make when comparing foods from different regions. There are certainly arguments one can make against eating produce from far-flung regions of the world, but they are beyond the scope of either your claims or this discussion as a whole.

                                                                                                1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                  You don't believe asparagus is airshipped from Peru to the US? I'm not going to argue with you. But seriously, you should read up on the subject.

                                                                                                  The simple fact of the matter is that transporting food to the consumer **by any means** burns fossil fuels. And generally speaking, there's a direct correlation between the distance the food was transported and the amount of fuel burned. It's not exactly rocket science...

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    Fine, so fresh Peruvian asparagus is shipped by air. Good for it. Air travel still only makes up a tiny percentage of food transportation (unless you're in England, apparently).

                                                                                                    However, in no way is it reasonable to say that the distance from farm is an absolute measure of total environmental impact. Do you not understand the concept of efficiency?

                                                                                                    1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                      or Australia...or New Zealand or the Bahamas or Martinique or Sri Lanka...or any other island nation(s)...

                                                                                                      http://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/...

                                                                                                      it doesn't really matter whether the CO2 emissions are coming out of a jet aircraft, the exhaust pipe of a truck, or the smokestack of a freighter...the longer it travels, the more impact it has.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Your link's not working. Anyway, I mentioned England because more food is delivered there by air than to any other country. Most long-haul food transportation is still by boat.

                                                                                                        I thought people had figured out this 'food miles' foolishness by now, but I guess not.

                                                                                                        On travel:
                                                                                                        The relationship between distance traveled and energy used is fairly linear for a given means of transportation. However, the relationship between energy used and distance traveled per unit of freight is not linear. As a result, short-haul transportation is often far less efficient than long-haul transportation. Perhaps you've noticed that most of the food at your farmers market gets there in the back of a station wagon or pickup truck.

                                                                                                        On production:
                                                                                                        What's easy, cheap, and energy-efficient to produce in one region may not be easy, cheap, or energy-efficient to produce in another. The difference can be dramatic when things like hot house tomatoes are involved.

                                                                                                        In short, calculating the total energy costs of a unit of food is far more complicated than "it came from far away, therefore it's bad".

                                                                                                        1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                          Regardless of how it's shipped, where it comes from, what the product is, etc., what it comes down to is knowledge which is what the OP is protesting. Knowing what farm the food comes from just adds to it.

                                                                                                      2. re: lavaca

                                                                                                        It's not just Peruvian asparagus that gets air-shipped. Plenty of other crops, from Dutch tomatoes to Chilean apples to Chinese garlic find their way from one continent to another in the bellies of cargo jets. Sure, more produce moves by road and rail than by air, but your statement that "almost no long-haul food transportation is performed by airplane" is simply incorrect.

                                                                                                        And while it's true that mode of transportation is just one of the factors that determines a product's total environmental impact, it **is** one of those factors. And as I noted above, there's a correlation between the distance something is transported and the amount of fuel consumed transporting it. Is that really so hard to understand?

                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                          Chilean apples and Chinese garlic are definitely shipped by sea. I tried my best to coax numbers out of Google and got nothing greater than 1% of all produce being shipped by air, although air transport does account for much more than 1% of total carbon emissions. I have explained why you are wrong on food miles above.

                                                                                                          Your continued insistence that explaining a small part of the issue is the same as explaining the entire issue makes further discussion of this matter futile.

                                                                                                          1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                            Excellent! So everybody involved can move on now. Yaaaaay!!!

                                                                                                            1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                              Just because most of a crop is shipped by sea doesn't mean that some of it isn't shipped by air. And the share of produce being shipped by air cargo is increasing dramatically with each passing year. But that's a distraction from the real issue here.

                                                                                                              The real issue is that moving stuff burns fuel. Yes, container ships are more fuel-efficient than trains, which are more efficient than trucks, which are more efficient than VW buses driven by aging hippies. But nobody's shipping hundreds of tons of produce cross-country in VW buses.

                                                                                                              The most efficient shipping method depends largely on the quantity to be moved and the distance it is to be transported. But it generally burns more fuel to put food put on a ship that sails halfway round the world to a rail terminal, where it's put on a train and hauled to the middle of the country and loaded on a truck that drives it to a store, than it does when food is grown locally and taken directly to the point of sale.

                                                                                                              Your assumption that I'm opposed to non-local food is incorrect. I routinely buy and consume rice from South and Southeast Asia, wine and cheese from Europe, and coffee from all over the globe. It's hard to understand I'm "wrong on food miles" when I've made no statements about food miles, other than to state the obvious - moving things long distances tends to burn more fuel than moving them short distances. Only a fool would argue that it doesn't.

                                                                                                          2. re: lavaca

                                                                                                            Not to mention that the farther produce is shipped from it's source of harvest the less nutritional value and flavor it has when it reaches you (except of course for some site-frozen produce and a few fruits like bananas (and bananas, potatoes, tomatoes are great examples of varieties lost due to demands for shipping qualities). A fruit or vegetable's food value begins to degrade immediately upon being picked. Plus, fresh produce bred to withstand long shipping distances is bred specifically for that with little or no attention paid to its inherent nutritional value or flavor. So not only are you receiving less nutrition and flavor for your buck even if you ate it in the field where it was grown, it's even less of a good thing when it reaches you. Farmers selling their crops locally can choose to grow varieties that don't ship well but have more food value and flavor because their market is at hand.

                                                                                                            If I want the biggest bang for my food buck in terms of flavor, nutrition, efficiency and ease of delivery, I'll buy from the guy down the road whenever possible. Since he's set up a block away from the grocery store my personal carbon expenditure is no more than driving to the grocery store. Sometimes his prices are a few pennies more, sometimes a few pennies less, but certainly never enough more to buy from Food Lion when I know his stuff tastes better and is better for me.

                                                                                                        2. re: lavaca

                                                                                                          Not true. Produce is airshipped around the world all day, every day.

                                                                                                          I've had my (non-food) shipments bumped from an airplane to make room for ferns for the floral industry. Really.

                                                                                                          So yeah - grapes, asparagus -- anything with a fairly short shelf life flies.

                                                                                                        3. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                          most people are forgetting the refridgeration costs. plus the dramatic decay in nutritional value and taste.

                                                                                                        4. re: lavaca

                                                                                                          The answer is that it's irrelevant. The amount of energy spent on raising the food is far greater than the energy it takes to transport the food; even if it's across long distances, you're looking at less than a 10th of the total energy. What does make a HUGE difference is how much the buyer travels. My Whole Food is 10 miles (one way) away, and a good farmer's market is more than that. I still go to them once in a while, but I don't pretend that it's for anything other than quality food.

                                                                                                          Knowing where something is from doesn't put the consumer in some special realm. In most cases it just assuages their conscience. That's their own thing and no one here has an issue with that. But, putting yourself on a higher plateau because of it is ridiculous. You may have issues with "living conditions" of animals and being green, but many of us don't. Besides, good food is good food. For a restaurant to have good food, it has to have good ingredients, and that usually means it being fresh/local.

                                                                                                      3. re: ediblover

                                                                                                        Is being concerned about carbon footprint only about feeling good about yourself to make a political statement? Do you drive a TDI, bike, drink tap water, etc. to feel good about yourself? Is it pretentious? Is it touting faux knowledge? If not, why is it any different for someone to want to do the same in terms of food? You've just picked a different avenue, not necessarily a better one.

                                                                                                        1. re: ediblover

                                                                                                          Whether you like it or not, just about every choice we make with how we spend our money is already a political statement.

                                                                                                          When you choose to ignore the source of your food- you are making a political statement that says "I don't care" about good farming and animal husbandry practices. This allows bad practices to continue, because you fund them. I choose not to fund them.

                                                                                                          I want good food that tastes good. That's my statement- I want food that's been cared for- on the farm and in the kitchen. And that's how I vote with my money.

                                                                                                          1. re: cheesemonger

                                                                                                            (claps and cheers)

                                                                                                            1. re: cheesemonger

                                                                                                              +1

                                                                                                        2. I made the conscious decision to start buying local meats late last year, like many to get away from cruel factory-farmed methods. Farmers' markets are really kind of hit or miss for meat and eggs around Richmond and although the famous Polyface Farms of "Food Inc." fame does do deliveries here they have a minimum order amount, delivery charges and a crappy pickup system (sorry, Joel, it's true). Then I found Lulu's Local Foods, which is a pretty awesome concept--I pay $75/year for membership and while the prices are higher than the supermarket it's about par for the local "health food" stores and often cheaper, and the quality of everything I've gotten has been fantastic. Pastured meats, eggs, local produce, even bread and pasta--and best of all I can shop online, no minimum or mandatory order, and go pick it up on my way home from work. No fighting the crowds at farmers' markets and often I'm ordering from the same farms. And I know where my food came from.

                                                                                                          http://flf.luluslocalfood.com/about/a...

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                                            I've been transitioning to locally and humanely grown proteins, but I'm not 100% there (there's something about being thrifty that is ingrained in me, but I know...the bigger picture).
                                                                                                            To the OP's point, writing the minutiae about the provenance of your pork chop can be tedious IF the chef/owner is just doing it to look good/trendy. OTOH, some chefs dedicate their practice to living what they preach, and support small farmers.

                                                                                                          2. I care. For me it's not simply about the "organic" controversy. I appreciate when a restaurant makes a conscious choice about where they source their farm items, perhaps even developing a direct relationship with the producer instead of a general distributor. I appreciate it when they acknowledge that the quality of ingredients is important. Their chosen farms often support less economical farming practices that are more humane, better for the environment, or produce a better end product. It's a win-win to acknowledge the source on the menu.

                                                                                                            Even if you can't buy directly from the grower, if it's amazingly good you may learn to look for it on other menus and be willing to pay a little more for it.

                                                                                                            1. i sure do.

                                                                                                              1. Absolutely I do.

                                                                                                                1. maybe not knowing the exact farm, but I made some steak tartare last night from beef from a nearby locker. I. wouldn't do that with supermarket stuff.

                                                                                                                  1. I agree with the poster who likes to see such information in a separate place on a menu.

                                                                                                                    In a dish description, I find it a little too precious.

                                                                                                                    1. I'm none too familiar with most farms that might be listed on a menu (or an extra page), at this moment, the ony one I can think of is Elysian something or other where apparently some good lamb can be had.

                                                                                                                      How about a double whopper from Morningstar Farms :-D

                                                                                                                      1. observor, I believe the answer to your question is: "some people do, some don't."

                                                                                                                        I assume this isn't surprising.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                          But apparently his point is that those who do, shouldn't.

                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                            I've found that you can't change the worldview of those who so strongly feel that their worldview is the "correct" worldview. I've also found that those discussions in particular, when they occur online (or in bars or any other social environments) tend to be the ones that go on, pointlessly, meandering, for hours and hours and hours.

                                                                                                                            That's why I answer them straight off the bat.

                                                                                                                            Question: Do you care?
                                                                                                                            Tommy's answer: yes.

                                                                                                                            Now, if the OP actually wants to learn from my experience or understand my worldview, he'll question me and open himself up to discussion. But it so rarely happens this way that I'm more than pleased to just say "yes" or "no." With any luck, it annoys him, but hopefully makes him think. Making people think is my goal.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                              sheesh Tommy talk about your Sisyphean goals (sp?)

                                                                                                                              I like the quote attributed to Dorothy Parker "you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think"

                                                                                                                        2. I'm happy to know it, but not going to freak if I don't. I used to be super picky about it, but during the god awful year of '08, unemployment paid a visit to my house and for a period of time, I simply could not afford to fill my fridge with only the best organic and locally sourced foods.
                                                                                                                          Since that time, I've really relaxed my views. I like my food fresh and delicious, and as crueltry free as possible, but I'm not going to twist myself into a knot to know exactly where everything came from.

                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                            I agree about relaxing! The notion that people who buy their foods from Aldi or Shopper's Food Warehouse somehow are making a statement about not caring about where their food comes from and how it was raised and treated is an elitist notion.
                                                                                                                            Some folks are oblivious to conversations such as these. I do not think that they do not care, I think they need to put food on their tables and they NEED to do it as cost-effectively as possible. If a family with minimal means puts forth a nutritious meal, wherever it's from, well then, they are to be commended, not judged.
                                                                                                                            It is a luxury to be able to avail myself of the amazing products at my farmers markets and artisinal stores. I feel so fortunate that I can occasionally buy that grass-fed beef from a PA farmer for $18 a pound, or that pousin from WVA for $9 -$12 a pop.
                                                                                                                            I am fortunate indeed.
                                                                                                                            I also dip into the clearance section of meats at my Safeway and buy in bulk from Costco.

                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                              Amen

                                                                                                                              DT

                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                yup. when you can that's great, when you can't - no apologies.

                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                  mono- Please take a look at the original post. It is about someone caring (or not) whether their $35/plate lamb comes with a background/farm/provenance, not about feeding a family on a limited budget. These are separate issues.

                                                                                                                                  It's not elitist to care about your food, especially when you are asked to shell out a good bit of money on the protein on the plate.

                                                                                                                                2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                  Agree completely, but to split a hair...

                                                                                                                                  Just because you are sensitive to the cost of food doesn't mean you don't care where it comes from. Doing the best you can within the constraints you have is never a bad thing.

                                                                                                                                  For some folks at some times that means feeding your family on commodity loss-leaders from the local grocery. At least you're cooking for your family.

                                                                                                                                  Other times, other folks may spring for a dozen cage-free eggs or hunt down some local veggies. Again, that's a good thing.

                                                                                                                                  Some people have the time, energy, and money to buy the finest produce from local growers and eat only animals that they knew by name when alive. More power to 'em.

                                                                                                                                  I have a tremendous amount of admiration for those who struggle to eat as responsibly as possible within the constraints they have to deal with. And a fair amount of respect for those who don't have any constraints and are purists about where their food comes from.

                                                                                                                                  As far as those who know they could do better if they tried and have aspirations to follow through - well, put me in that camp. It's those who should know better and choose not to care who bother me.

                                                                                                                                  Our food costs more than the amount the bar-code scanner rings up at the supermarket cash register. And the more that each of us recognizes the indirect costs and chooses to pay a portion of them to the extent possible, the better.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                    ding-ding-ding! We have a winner.

                                                                                                                                    This single post should be a sticky on the screen of anyone who visits CH.

                                                                                                                                    Extremely well said, Alan.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      and his point carries over into so many aspects of modern life. the price tag in your face is not necessarily what you've (we've) been paying over the years or in the years to come.

                                                                                                                                      the specifics of that would take this way off topic.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                      LIKE button.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                        I think this is extremely well thought out. Having had the experience of needing to cook and eat on all sorts of budgets has really pushed me to know myself better as a cook, and gain a tremendous amount of respect for people who feed themselves and their families well and continue to care about food quality at any income level.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                          long time lurker...first time poster
                                                                                                                                          I've been reading posts for awhile now and have finally summoned the courage to go ahead and jump in the discussion. luckily, i don't think i am saying anything to controversial. :)
                                                                                                                                          i completely agree with the posts above. i care where my food comes from, and particularly what farm. on weekends i work for one of the vendors at my local farmers market and i have been able to get to know many of the farmers there. this has opened up opportunities for me to bring home the foods that I care about.
                                                                                                                                          having said that, i can not feed myself, and the boyfriend (who consumes a massive amount of calories) on this alone. i have to fill in the gaps with regular old stuff from the grocery store. my point is that everyone’s situation is different. you can care where your food comes from and not be so militant about it that you accuse others of trying to poison their families when they buy supermarket chicken. on the other hand, you can but stuff from the grocery store without saying that the whole thing is rubbish and you are stupid if you care. i feel like i am constantly trying to explain myself to one group or the other. it is refreshing to read a post that sums up how i feel about it.
                                                                                                                                          it seems to me that both life and food are about balance
                                                                                                                                          anyway…my two cents

                                                                                                                                          1. re: girleatseverything

                                                                                                                                            Well said. And welcome!

                                                                                                                                      2. I think that it depends on which farms are used as source material.

                                                                                                                                        Personally, I like to know. I realize that Benton Farm applewood smoked, thick-sliced bacon, or their country ham, will be good. Farmer John's pig ranch, well, who knows?

                                                                                                                                        Some seafood restaurants go so far as telling you who the fisherman was, which boat, and line caught, or otherwise. I've had a hostess, come over and mark though the details, and tell us that the ahi was now from _____, and was line-caught off of Molo`ka`i, just 4 hours before.

                                                                                                                                        I have never minded, and include the details in my reviews, in case others care.

                                                                                                                                        Enjoy,

                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                          Thank you. I care.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                            yes, you may know that your fish was caught in this ocean by this fisherman.

                                                                                                                                            But how do you know whether that fishermen used a purse seine net to catch it and killed a dolphin catching your fish or that while he was pole fishing he caught 4 endangered bluefin tuna and then caught your Ahi tuna.

                                                                                                                                            ya know? Just because you know where it comes from doesn't make it sustainable, or nice or good in any way.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wreckers00

                                                                                                                                              I am not paranoid. That helps.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: wreckers00

                                                                                                                                                This makes no sense whatsoever. If an ahi tuna is line-caught off Moloka'i, then you absolutely do know that it's sustainable.

                                                                                                                                                If it was line-caught, then the fisherman didn't use a purse seine net. And if it was caught off Moloka'i, then he didn't catch any bluefin in the process, since there aren't any there.

                                                                                                                                                Oh, and by the way, bluefin tuna isn't an endangered species. Overfished, yes, but "endangered" is a legal term. Here's a list of all the endangered fish species in the US - the bluefin isn't on it: http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/Speci...

                                                                                                                                                The scenario Bill descibes is a perfect example of how information on a menu can provide the consumer with information that is useful in making dining decisions.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                  First of all, just because they say it was line caught doesn't mean it was...I don't think there is too much fact checking regarding that. And secondly, all the menu has to say is "Freshly caught sustainable ahi" it doesn't have to tell you who the captain was and what time he goes to the bathroom.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: observor

                                                                                                                                                    Not every customer is going to fact check every reference on a menu. But a restaurant that routinely misrepresents its sources will get busted sooner rather than later. Well-regarded suppliers are justifiably proud of what they produce, and they know what restaurants they sell to.

                                                                                                                                                    As far as what a menu **has** to say, well, it doesn't have to say anything about the dishes. So you'd prefer "freshly-caught sustainable ahi." That's reasonable. Somebody else might think any description beyond "tuna" is "just another strike of pretentiousness by the food industry." And there are those who do care that the fish was locally caught by hook and line.

                                                                                                                                                    None of these opinions is any less valid than any of the others. You started this discussion by asking if people care about sourcing, but persist in arguing with anybody who does. The fact of the matter is that it's not any more unreasonable for me to care than it is for you not to. If you can't appreciate that, there's really no point in having this discussion.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: observor

                                                                                                                                                      How will you ever know that "Caw Caw Creek's" pork is something to ooh over if no one tells you that's what you're eating?

                                                                                                                                                      It's just information. You can use it or ignore it. Not sure I understand why this peeves you.

                                                                                                                                                      jb

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                        observor just likes to do this. (S)He had a cheesesteak post on the Philly board a few months back that I remember:
                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7350...

                                                                                                                                                        And then one hometown:
                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6972...

                                                                                                                                                        Some people just like to argue for the sake of argument.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                          wow. that cheesesteak thread is HILARIOUS! and an eye-opener '-D

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                            >>"Some people just like to argue for the sake of argument."<<

                                                                                                                                                            No they don't.

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3...

                                                                                                                                                            ;-)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                              alanbarnes: You are correct about the technical term on "endangered". You're also correct that Bluefin are rare there...although they have been fished there as far as I know.

                                                                                                                                                              I was honestly just making the example that just because a restaurant menu says something (and even if that menu is true) doesn't mean the truth is what you really want. (by the way line-caught doesn't mean the fisherman went out and reeled in a few unsustainable species, like the bluefin)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: wreckers00

                                                                                                                                                                I absolutely agree. The fact a restaurant identifies sourcing doesn't necessarily mean those sources are good ones. But it does provide information that can be useful to an informed consumer.

                                                                                                                                                                So, for example, people who know about fishing in Hawai'i know that local troll-caught ahi are sustainable. There's minimal bycatch, and unlike longliners or purse seiners, the handliners can "shake" non-target species with minimal mortality.

                                                                                                                                                                Is this something that every diner at Mama's Fish House in Pa'ia needs to know? Of course not. But it's useable information.

                                                                                                                                              2. If you are paying the price, then you want to know where it comes from. I joke that in many respects our product is a byproduct of the beef and lamb industry. We build saddles, and the hides we use are from cattle, the linings are wool. I want people to know that we are using the highest quality Hermann Oak leather on the entire saddle and the wool is also the highest quality from Nugget.

                                                                                                                                                It is not about "hoping" the end user will buy directly from the farm, but moreso that you can know of the quality control that is done.

                                                                                                                                                25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                                                  I was buying Stubben saddles in the 60's and 70's, and immediately saw a decline in quality when they switched from their traditional hide suppliers. I don't think that many consumers (who don't live off the land) realize what an incredible difference shifting from one farm or another can make. These nuances show up in cheese, olive oil, meat, and almost all farm products than I can think of. Some of us get it, and some of us don't.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                    Do you make your restaurant choices based on whether or not you expect the food to taste good, or whether or not you approve of the suppliers the restaurant lists on its website?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                      and those are mutually exclusive . . . in what way?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                                        According to both of the posts above mine, they are.

                                                                                                                                                        Where I live, there are far more restaurants churning out mediocre dishes from local / organic / free-range / etc products than there are restaurants churning out great dishes from generic lowest-cost slop. Funny how that works out so well for me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                          "According to both of the posts above mine, they are."
                                                                                                                                                          ______

                                                                                                                                                          ?
                                                                                                                                                          I don't see it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, I don't see it either. I also don't get the comparison she's making between

                                                                                                                                                            1) mediocre dishes from local/organic whatever products
                                                                                                                                                            2) great dishes from generic low cost slop

                                                                                                                                                            I don't see how more of #1 "works out so well"

                                                                                                                                                            I also don't believe you can really get "great" dishes from any sort of slop.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                                              "garbage in, garbage out..."

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: morwen

                                                                                                                                                                It's pretty much always garbage out, regardless of the farm.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                                                No, the comparison is this:

                                                                                                                                                                A restaurant using good ingredients is by no means guaranteed to turn out great dishes.
                                                                                                                                                                A restaurant turning out great dishes is likely to be using good ingredients and it is thus reasonable to assume that a restaurant known for creating good food is using good ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                              yeah, but according to your profile you're in Seattle, good for you (effin' beautiful area!) doesn't work so well for a lot of us (central midwest nuthin').

                                                                                                                                                              and actually while this may be grounds for a different topic, I kinda hope the loca/organic fare stays kinda off the radar of most, so it isn't dumbed down in this area where if you eat in any mom and pop it already is or in the city it would just be a marketing tool with no real concern for the product.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                In my area Silver Diner bills itself for its "local" fare. I don't know how local but the food is bad enough that it really doesn't matter--it's just a bad chain.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                  silver diner does that? I ate there exactly once in the 10 years I lived in DC. that's the sort of dumb-down I'm referring to.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                    Here you go:

                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.silverdiner.com/food-philo...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                      while I'm sure it's better than TGIF or Bob Evans, in the words of Marge Simpson "Holy-moly Maggie how did ya turn applesauce into THAT?"

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                  I live in Indiana, and we have a farmers' market every Saturday of the year. Lots of veggies (grown in hoop houses) local meat, poultry, dairy, etc. in the winter months. You don't have to live in Seattle to eat well all year.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                    true, where I am at the moment it's just not so formal, you drive down the road and once or twice a week somebody sets up a stand where their land meets the road, or the neighbors sell us eggs or I can even find raw milk through the grapevine, same thing really. Seattle just has a more temperate climate and varied selection.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                      Our local growers are doing increasingly amazing things in winter. Still no tomatoes, corn, or green beans, but we've got all of the crucifers, parsnips, carrots, spinach, and wonderful salad mix. Stored potatoes and sweet potatoes. Keeps me going.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                    It's a double-edged sword. Seattle has both a lot of people who care about good food and a lot of people who view eating as a political statement. This, as you mentioned, leads to a lot of restaurants that are happy to serve perfectly lousy food that people will praise anyway because "it makes you feel good about yourself" or some such.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                                    OK, either I am totally misunderstanding what you are trying to say, or you are misunderstanding what the 2 posts above yours are saying.

                                                                                                                                                                    What I see from those 2 posts is that when you know your suppliers and they supply high quality raw materials, it's good for your customers to know that too so they can know that they are getting high quality, trustworthy goods. In other words, these are raw materials suppliers that the customer would approve of, which go into making a high quality end product.

                                                                                                                                                                    If your raw materials are high quality the likelihood of turning out a high quality end product goes WAAAAAAY up.

                                                                                                                                                                    If your raw materials are "slop" then the chances (and I do mean "chances" as in buying a lottery ticket) of getting a high quality end product go through the floor.

                                                                                                                                                                    So by these lights, caring about where the food comes from (approving of the suppliers) and "tasting good" are highly likely to go hand in hand.

                                                                                                                                                                    If a bad cook screws that up, it's hardly the fault of the suppliers.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                                                      Both posts say that quality outputs come from quality inputs, which is generally true, and then take that to mean that quality inputs imply quality outputs, which is not really true. I suppose the distinction is meaningful if you are otherwise indifferent between two restaurants, but I find it far more practical just to look for quality restaurants and assume that a competent kitchen is competent at sourcing as well as cooking. It tends not to steer me wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, this is my point, if it's a well reputed restaurant it doesn't seem that the sourcing needs to be heralded about in the item descriptions.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: observor

                                                                                                                                                                        I guess that's the whole problem at the center of this topic: I'd agree that it's not the citation on the menu that convinces me that I'm at a good restaurant - the quality of the food on the plate will do that (or not).

                                                                                                                                                                        BUT.... there are lots of other perfectly good reasons for citing food sources on the menu. And honestly Observor, it's sort of frustrating that those who like citations on a menu have been characterized repeatedly as suckers who can't make that distinction or are being fooled by crappy restaurants with good sources.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: observor

                                                                                                                                                                          You've made your point abundantly clear. The problem is that the chefs of many "well reputed" restaurants disagree with you. And so do many of their customers. As a matter of fact, if you were to avoid restaurants that disclosed their sourcing, you'd miss out on meals at many if not most of the best restaurants around.

                                                                                                                                                                          A quick glance at menus from restaurants in Northern California shows that the folks at Chez Panisse are proud of their vegetables from Chino Ranch, pork from Becker Lane Farm, lamb from Elliott Ranch, and duck from Sonoma Liberty. Quince is featuring Watson Farm lamb and Paine Farm squab. The French Laundry notes that its oysters are from Island Creek, rabbit from Devil's Gulch, and lamb from Elysian Fields Farm. And Aziza, where I'm having dinner tonight, is serving Star Route Farms lettuces, Full Belly Farm beets, and Prather Ranch beef. They get their rabbit from Devils Gulch, too, and dinner is far more affordable than at Mr. Keller's place.

                                                                                                                                                                          The notion that any of these places "churn[s] out mediocre dishes" is absurd. Each of them is Michelin-starred, and not only are they some of the best restaurants in the area, some of them are considered to be among the best in the country. And every single one of them identifies sourcing.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                            Did anybody actually make the claim that restaurants that make a big deal of their sources are necessarily worse than restaurants that don't? I sure didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                                              Um, yes, you did. You were the one who said that making choices based on sourcing and making choices based on tasty food were mutually exclusive. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7456...

                                                                                                                                                              2. We've had to remove a number of responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.