I have a problem: I'm a cook in Butte, Montana. This is my favorite place on Earth and I'm overwhelmed with potential whenever I walk out my door and look around. I just don't quite know how to harness this potential.
I love cooking. I went to culinary school, I constantly read cookbooks, I've worked in fancy restaurants and plan on working in more. I want to be better! Everyday!
I also read a good amount about permaculture and frequent this site for answers to daily problems. Applying permaculture to professional kitchens is always on my mind.
I hate most restaurants, they are disgusting and wasteful, even most of the "farm to table" ones that claim to be otherwise. I fight an internal battle every time I get a new job: I love the growing and preparation of food for the enjoyment of the masses, but is what I do morally right? I would like to make it so.
I'm curious if there are other line cooks/chefs/service workers on here that are interested in changing the industry. Maybe some of you already are, and for some reason I've been in the dark.
One day I want to open a place of my own. Actually at this rate, one day I will HAVE to open a place of my own, I want to do it correctly, I want to be a benefactor to my environment, and I want that environment to be Butte, Montana.
Some things I've seen that I like:
Joel Salatin suggesting that all restaurants should keep chickens (I would hope to keep many other animals as well)
Rocket Mass "French Top" Cooker (I'd imagine these are difficult to permit, also interested in induction cooking suites with a sustainable electricity source)
All the food for the restaurant being grown within 100 miles (This may seem obvious, but I'd like to be much more strict about this than other, similar restaurants)
Any excess food that can't be preserved would be given to those in need
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
posted 3 years ago
About three years ago, I moved out of Seattle. In Seattle, I had farm-to-table at my fingertips both in restaurants and at the grocery store. Now that I am in suburbia, I don't. It's such a setback. I'm demoralized by it every damn day. I had a party over the weekend and finally broke down and drove 45 minutes to go to a grocery store where I could find produce that I could live with to feed my guests. And what did they say? "Wow, where did you get those tomatoes?" They actually asked. It makes a difference and then I can talk about it in a non-elitist way.
Here's my point: ANY major steps towards sustainability in a restaurant is light years ahead of what most of us are having to choose from on a daily basis. Is it perfect? No. But, it is so vasty far ahead of my current local food choices, I wouldn't hesitate to do the the farm-to-table thing for the moment while you dream big. Is farm-to-table perfect? No. Is it better than no options? Hell yes.
Farm to table does support local farmers.
One farmer I know will give a bunch of food in return for a few hours of weeding.
On the other hand his restaurant clients pay top dollar for those same vegetables.
He also hosts farm to table dinners on the farm,often with chefs who don't have their own restaurants.
Meanwhile he sells no spray corn and wheat flour to Whole Foods and has a csa program.
He isn't the only one doing this.
When I was a service plumber the chef at the restaurant I was servicing was buying tomatoes from a farmer.
Naturally I stopped to talk with her,and we hit it off.
She insisted on giving me some of her amazing produce,even though I hadn't a dollar in my pocket,and she was selling it for top dollar to the chef.
The chef commented that she did this all the time,and the farmer laughed and said she would give her stuff to the hogs rather than get less than top dollar out of a chef...
So basically,the farm to table restaurant can charge top dollar,and thus pay top dollar. This allows the remainung produce to be sold at different,often lower prices.
I am in no way coming out against farm to table, you're absolutely correct that it is light years ahead of most restaurants. I'm hoping to start a conversation about the future of restaurants, and what a zero waste, closed loop kitchen might look like. If nothing like this exists yet, what's the closest thing and how can we improve upon it?
Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars