The second criterion expands on the first. Does this food service establishment offer some of the following: locally sourced food? organically produced food? seafood that is wild-caught? If the answer is yes, his criterion will ensure higher nutrients in the food.
Locally sourced food is food that comes from the surrounding area. “Local” has become a buzz word in the farm-to-table movement, and can mean from the city or town in which the establishment is located, or surrounding areas. Our dear friend, the High Priest of Pasture and pioneer of local food systems, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, put the boundary at 150 miles years ago, when he refused to mail a steak to Michael Pollan for his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Joel’s reasoning: to support his local economy, maintain the freshness of his product, and not support big oil, which is necessary to transport foods over long distances. “Locavores” (those that desire to eat food that is locally produced) allow for a maximum of 100 miles from where it is grown or produced, to where it is consumed. What is gained by sourcing and eating local? Not only the relative freshness of the food, but also supporting local food systems, the local economy, and reducing our reliance on food that comes from across the country or around the world. That translates into “food security”.
For our purposes, organically produced food is that food that is either certified organic or produced according to or beyond certified organic standards. Certified organic standards ensure that toxic chemicals–fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, etc.– are not used in the growing process. Currently, the organic label ensures that produce labeled as such is not GMO. For meat and poultry to be organic, animals must have the ability to graze on pasture–otherwise known as “access to pasture”, and be fed 100% organic feed and forage. They may not be administered antibiotics or hormones. These standards are the same for dairy cows. While not guaranteeing that dairy cows are pastured, any grain that is fed must be 100% organic. Organic standards safeguard us and our food supply from the GMO corn and soy that is “standard” fare in conventional farming operations. All of this is good for the animals and the land, and great for us. However, the process of becoming certified organic can be long, cumbersome, and expensive. This prevents many small farmers from becoming certified, although they may abide by the standards in their farming. Many larger farmers, (such as Joel Salatin again), refuse to buy into the system, and proclaim their products as “beyond organic”. It would be helpful for you to know the definition of “organic” as described above, so that you may determine if the food served by the establishment you are patronizing is organically grown or produced, even if it is not “certified organic”.
Wild-caught seafood is another variation on the above: it ensures the seafood you are eating has come from its natural habitat, and that it has eaten what it would normally eat. “Fish farms” regularly use hormones, antibiotics, and “aquatic biocides”, which end up in your fish! Wild-caught seafood is more nutrient-dense than that which comes from farms, because they have eaten their native diet. Fish and seafood that has been farmed is fed mostly corn and soy, and sometimes the waste of factory-farmed livestock–EWWW! Remember that more than 90% of the world’s corn and soy is GMO these days, so your “freshly farmed fish” is full of GMO feed…and possibly other undesirables. So…one more time with feeling, we are what we eat eats, so eat wild!
To sum up Spoon No. 2, we are looking for:
- locally sourced = fresh
- organic = no GMOs, chemicals, antibiotics or hormones
- wild-caught = no GMOs, soy or corn
All of them mean higher nutrient value in the food you will eat!
Questions you can ask at the food service establishment:
- Do you source your food locally? If yes, from which farms?
- Is your food organic?
- Is your fish wild-caught?