(in no particular order)
the Pearl Cafe (Front St in the same building as the Trailhead)
Scotty's Table (lower level of the Wilma)
SaWaDee (in the summer they grow their own veggies)
I may be missing some but that is a good start. Trying to add more local food/chef connections every day.
So, if there is this 0 to 10 scale, what might be the numbers on these restaurants? Maybe some are more of an 8 and some are more a 3?
I am not sure how conscientious most of these restaurants are about GMO's, especially in their cooking oils etc.
There is also the issue of supply and demand - increasing the demand of local chefs and consumers but the production has had a hard time keeping up.
Then there is the issue of local (and healthful) food in schools......
Here are some restaurants:
Please click on each link for details:
New members not up on our site yet:
other food & drink vendors and suppliers
Since this is something that you know more about than (probably) the rest of us, maybe you can start to firm up an understanding for us. Maybe get an idea of which places are the most organic. I'm not sure how one might go about this, but I would very much like to favor restaurants that are more organic.
Biga Pizza. Bob Marshall, Chef and Owner, does an amazingly good job of getting as many Montana products on his menu as possible, including: wheat, oil, greens (seasonally), foraged mushrooms, pork, beef.
The Catalyst is a close second, if not tied. At least according to my entirely unofficial and arguably less then educated OPINION!!
Erika Fredrikson from the Independent did a cool article last August about local foods available in town. I'm not sure if this link is the best - it seems to start into the middle of the article, but anyway, a good resource.
As far as "organic" I just don't know. But I gotta guess The Good Food Store Deli is probably the most officially organic place in town.
That other one does seem to start in the middle, but this one ends nowhere near where the other one picks up. I've noticed the Indie's archive search system is a little off in general. Perhaps there is a middle page somewhere?
A) consuming more food from close by is an excellent thing. And,
B) Consuming organic food is ten times more excellent.
And having it be officially organic isn't even that big of a deal to me. The biggest part is that pesticides are not used and there is some care about having a symbiotic relationship with the planet (as opposed to an abusive relationship).
Why do you believe that organic is ten times better? I'm curious 'cause I've thought about this a bunch.
For me, I think that 80% or more of the sickness in america comes from gick that is used on our food. For years we have heard that beef is bad and it turns out that what's bad about it is the pesticides stored in the fat. Grass fed organic beef is, IMOO, one of the best things a human can eat today.
When I shop, I buy almost exclusively organic. The idea of eating the stuff that is soaked in pesticides really bothers me.
I like the idea of the local stuff. I do have some concerns about the math involved with some of the claims of less fuel. After all, a lot of the food is moved around on trains or huge trucks that get a pretty good efficiency per pound. I think it is possible that your average famers market food might not do as well as we like to think in petroleum used per pound of produce sold. In fact, I am reluctant to do the math because it might show that the stuff from 1500 miles away uses less petroleum than something from the bitterroot. I do think the economics is very good and I think the community factor and local good will is the tops! I just cringe when I hear people talk about the petroleum aspect.
Then there is the idea of organic. My concern is not so much gasoline, though that article I can't remember the name of said usage was slightly higher for national delivery. No, my biggest concern is packaging. Packaging equals a greater cosumption of resources, increased energy usage to make the packaging materials and deliver them, more plastic in the world, and more garbage. I haven't heard Le Petit claim to be organic (have they?), yet, because they don't have to worry about their bread needing a high shelf life so that it can make it through thousands of miles of delivery, they are free to use a wax paper bag to hold their bread. And it tastes fresher because it is. Mmm. In my opinion, you can't put chemical free food into a plastic container that is off-gassing for several thousand miles and will continue off-gassing for billions of years (when the sun explodes) and still call it organic.
Well, you could buy organic produce and bulk items with your own containers. Works well. However, large companies have skewed and simplified the meaning of organic. These days it usually just means mono-cultures that aren't sprayed with pesticides. (I can't imagine that people in Southern California could grow chemical free food if they wanted to, considering the amount of air pollution alone. That's just my personal opinion though. No scientific studies as far as I know.) The current definition of organic is not really an effort to encourage responsible growers, this is exclusively about making money. Of course, I'm glad these large farms that were already in place are not spraying so many chemicals anymore. I will buy an organic tomato at the grocery store over non-organic if they have been delivered from about the same distance, but the insincere representation bothers me and I feel that the name organic lost it's meaning several years ago. The only real way to know what you're getting is to know your grower or meat supplier and the best way to do that is to buy local.
All of this sounds like I'm being self-righteous and would never touch a non-local and organic meal! Nope. Although I've made a lot of headway in cutting down on packaging, especially plastics, yesterday I bought a carton of yogurt and a carton of "organic" soymilk that probably contributed to clear cutting of the Amazon forest. Still, I would like to get to the point where I can have those all local/organic meals on a regular basis. I just prefer to have local first because local often strives to be organic here in Missoula and mostly because I feel more connected to my community and to the food I'm eating. Studies have shown that when your mind feels more connected to your food, your body actually absorbs more nutrition! Talk about an incentive for eating responsibly.
Okay, so next we mix into the picture something like spud: delivery to somebody's home once a week. The math works out that it does save fuel, and has an overall lighter footprint in many ways. There are 70 orders, the van is filled for "route K" which is a collection of houses in the same neighborhood. Far more efficient than 70 people making a trip to the grocery store.
So, I really like the idea of eating food that has a lower petroleum footprint, but just because it came from 50 miles away instead of 1500 miles away does not, unfortunately, mean that it has a lower petroleum footprint. On a related note: there are some CSA's in the seattle area where the food is grown in the neighborhood and delivered by BICYCLE! Is this an awesome fit for missoula or what?
But, of course, ultimately, nothing has as good of a petroleum footprint as a garden. Hats off to the thousand gardens project.
As for eating local: another big upside is that you can visit the farm and find out if they are aligned with your principles.
I also think that supporting local economies is crucial. Irrespective of the petroleum needed to bring food to market, local money spent locally grows in a way local money spent at safeway can't. I worked on a farm in Whitefish for two summers, it wasn't certified organic because certification is expensive and arguably political. They didn't use pesticides (I remember swatting moths with a badminton racquet for a few hours one afternoon), and they used organic fertilizer. Their products were as organic as any that come with the label, even if they weren't "organic." So there's nuance to this discussion.
I also think Paul is right and we can trace much, if not all, of our disease to pesticides and herbicides on our food. But I think there are a lot of chemicals that we use in addition to food gick that cause many of those diseases too. Importantly, organic methods reduce the nasty effects on the rest of earth - and that's huge. So many ecosystems are on the verge of collapse, largely due to chemicals that end up in the environment - a lot of the fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides etc. are washed right off the fields and into the creeks after the first watering.
So, to bring this together...To help the earth at large, organic is certainly the way to go especially knowing that many products aren't available locally (in Montana at least). But to help your community, buy local!! Paul's point about knowing the farmers, touring the farm, and even lending a hand is important too. To co-opt a quote from Forest Gump - "organic is as organic does" and you can find unofficially organic food grown locally by good people.
Ultimately you have to do your homework and learn how your food is grown as best you can.
Robert Sunset wrote:
I hear they are building some kind of organic restaurant in the same building as the Missoula Food Co-Op on the west side of town near Lowell School. I thought it was supposed to open last month but they are still hammering away over there.
Might be something to check out.
Do you know who might really know? I could send them an email.
Emma Olson wrote:
Red bird is on Higgins, near the Wilma. It is set back a bit into an old building. They do have very good appetizers which change relatively often, leading me to believe that they use seasonal if not completely local organic food.
One of the things that sticks in my head is the idea that "local" often means "not organic". The only time it is organic is when they say "organic". And, of course, the best stuff is "local and organic".
I think it would be cool if the indy did something where they went to missoula restaurants and tried to guage how organic they were.
Service was slow, though friendly. We ordered a cheese plate for an appetizer. The server simply set the plate down and politely said, "Enjoy." At other restaurants, the server would've took the time to describe the various items on the plate and pairing suggestions such as, "That is such and such cheese and it pairs very well with that apple slice there which is a such and such apple from X."
Nikki's dinner, Chicken Breast Joanne, was a mess of different flavors that didn't work well together. The main ingredient, chicken, was cooked dry.
I ordered Pork Confit. The savory griddle cakes were very good. As well as the ginger aioli. But the pork was so salty that it hurt my tounge and the portion of pork was huge. It was a huge waste of pork because it ended up in the trash and not in my gut.
Tab was a hundred bucks and totally not worth it. To be fair, about $35 were spent on wine, party because the dinner was so slow coming out that we felt the need to drink more in order to pass the time.
We ate at The Catalyst for lunch today. Super friendly and efficient servers. Very good food. We'd go back and recommend it. Coffee was a medium roast instead of the common burnt up dark roasts many other places have elsewhere. The big bowl of yogurt that came with the granola breakfast special had an awesome tangy taste and went well with the granola. Fruit was perfectly ripe.
I don't recall the sandwich Nikki got but she said her meal was far superior to last night's dinner. Which I would agree.
Cost $21.50 and way more worth it than the $100 spent at Scotty's Table.
Now, pizza for dinner?
"Charlie" - Charlie Hopkins, the mushroom man...
I think that this restaurant is challenging the silk road, red bird and the pearl for the title. Not only is there a healthy focus on local and organic, but the quality is amazing too.
I've decided that I need to do more research.
In the past, I've had a hard time picking "the best" restaurant in Missoula. Before last night, I had been to the top three at least three times each. And I think the silk road was edging out in front, followed closely by red bird, and then the pearl. I'm going to try riverside a couple more times to sample more from their menu, but I suspect that riverside is going to pull ahead of the silk road.
I think the prices are way too low - I'm worried about the longevity of the restaurant.
The place was packed. We had to wait a couple of minutes for a table.
I really need to try their dinner.
I have now had lunch twice at riverside. And dinner once. I've had dinner about three times at red bird, three times at the pearl, and five times at the silk road. Twice at Scotty's table.
In my opinion the best restaurants in Missoula are:
2) the silk road
3) red bird
4) the pearl
5) scotty's table