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Local Food in Restaurants

In April 2016, Tampa Bay Times writer Laura Reiley sparked a firestorm of controversy with her four part series on local food sourcing in her part of central Florida. The social media sites exploded with readers' comments and nothing probably changed on the outside. But inwardly, all who took the time to read her words were changed forever. Some readers had never thought about their involvement in their local food scene; some trusted too much, some felt cheated, some felt vindicated, but all felt enlightened and suddenly more powerful. Congratulations, Laura!

What Ms Reiley exposed was the previously suppressed subconsciousness in all of us: We want to trust and take the words of others to be the truth. We want to eat differently and healthily and we thought we were doing the right things - shopping at farmers' markets, seeking local honey and food sources, asking for local farmers' and fishermen's fare at area restaurants. But lies and profits and greed thwart our plans. Time to throw up our hands and pop open a can of Chef Boyardee?

Not so fast! Use this opportunity to seek better options. Ask tougher questions, insist on clarity, continue your education. Consider your family's qualifications for what feeds your body and your soul. Is price your number one goal? Then learn to grow what you can. Do you know the difference between pasture-raised or grass-fed or cage-free? Ask and decide what is important to you. Do you care how a vegetable or a meat animal is grown? Do you know the seasonality of farming for your area? Is convenience worth sacrificing a few extra dollars? Find the locals who prepare value-added deliciousness and stay out of the drive-through lane.

“Trust and transparency” are buzz words for local farmers and fishermen who open their businesses and practices to their shopping community. Find them and support them with your dollars. They work hard for only one reason – you.

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