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More Farm-to-Table fakery? A look behind the menu


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Tampa Bay Times looks the rampant misinformation on menus. "Florida crab" which comes from India. Local pork from a butcher who doesn't sell to the restaurant.

 

If you buy food, you are being lied to. Chefs cut deals on the side. Restaurants change purveyors but don't change the labeling on the menu copy. If a name brand meat is worth $5 more, why would they change it? Homemade dessert from the Sysco catalogue.

 

(I saw the article via a link in Quartz.)

 

 

Dorsey said he buys pork from a small Tallahassee farm through food supplier Master Purveyors. But Master Purveyors said it doesn’t sell pork from Tallahassee. Dorsey said he uses quail from Magnolia Farms in Lake City. Master Purveyors said the quail is from Wyoming. Dorsey said he buys dairy from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka through Weyand Food Distributors. Weyand said it doesn’t distribute Dakin.

 

 

http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/restaurants/

 

Even the guy who offers "F**k Monsanto Salad" acknowledges he buys the greens from a grocer who doesn't verify sourcing. But he does charge for the organic, allegedly higher cost ingredients.

 

 

 

 

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I find it interesting that the writer of the piece glosses over the fact that when she reviewed those restaurants, she praised them for their F2T efforts. In a radio interview the other day, her mea culpa was also pretty scanty. Apparently, her investigative instincts have only recently been awakened. Curious.

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You raise a fine point, but I'm not sure I'd choose the food there over the salt mines.

 

Anyway, what's the legalese on this? can the restaurants be sued for the difference between what people will pay for grouper and tilapia, lobster and surimi, local and sysco?

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In NJ, a restaurant can be fined for describing food as kosher which hasn't been certified in accord with the appropriate authorities. But that a truth in advertising issue.

 

I suspect a Florida meat dealer might have a case if a restaurant advertises it sells Painted Hills etc beef but doesn't. I doubt a customer could claim damages.

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Wow! Maybe we're just lucky. I know some farmers who sell to restaurants and we tend to frequent those restaurants. I also know other restaurant owners/chefs who make no pretense about it. They buy where they can afford to buy and while they don't advertise that they shop that way, if asked, they will tell you they bought the shrimp at the Asian market or wherever it was. I'm never really wild about some of those sources, but admire them for their honesty.

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Ginny & I just read the entire (verrry long article) & think it's excellent. Spending 2 months/year in the Tampa/St Pete area, we are familiar with many (actually most) of the places she talks about, although we admittedly haven't eaten at more than 2 or 3 (since I've always thought the claims pretentious and not resulting in better tasting food anyway). Now, I wonder whether some of my disdain for "farm to table" has been due to not really getting the better stuff &, therefore, finding little difference in taste. Of course, I remain skeptical of most of this anyway.

 

Yes, these owners/chefs are frauds. However, anyone who thinks the "homemade sauce" (or "gravy") at most of the red sauce places we grew up with was ever made in anyplace resembling a home, never looked in a kitchen and saw the industrial sized cans. This is not new. It just pisses me off more since these new generations of snake oil salesmen are so sanctimonious about themselves and shameless when caught.

 

eta: I'll be sure to talk to Rich about Bern's "organic" farm when he returns from his current trip to Bern's wine event. But I gotta say: if you think the provenance of the little tossed salad that Bern's gives with all its dinners makes a difference, you've probably missed the point of Bern's. When they tell me that they're pouring cheap wine into the 1980 bottles of Cab. and resealing them, then I'll care.

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I took a different track on this. I asked the people at KaiKai Farm where they feel their vegetables get a good presentation. Loaded question, of course.

 

Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach

The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens

 

Both chefs have cooked in the KaiKai farm table dinners.

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The only thing I can think of is that the Tampa reviewer is leaving her job. This story was an act of bravery for which the editor of the paper deserves credit, too. Generally, a restaurant reviewer will adamantly insist they are not PR enabelers, but how often do they take on a story such as this? Of course they will write up a chef cheating his workers or being overworked or taking drugs, etc. But to do an exposé such as this is unheard of, so far as I know.

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