Organic. Farm-to-table. Locavore movement. Locally sourced. Sustainable farming.
These are just some of the buzzwords that have redefined today’s fine dining. Helping the environment, local businesses and (hopefully) our health, eating at farm-to-table restaurants is just part of what makes these win-win initiatives. Although they all have slightly different meanings, the general concept is the same – consuming food that is grown in a way doesn’t cause undue harm to the environment and that restaurants serve relatively close to the source.
It makes sense. Food that is locally produced doesn’t have to be preserved to travel thousands of miles to make its way to your plate from South America, Europe or Asia. But with a large variation of climates in the US and many different options for eating, what is “locally sourced” in one part of the country might be very different from what one finds 3,000 miles away. Recently, we checked out the seafood scene across the country. This time, we explore inspirational and sustainable dining.
One of the best (but possibly frustrating) parts of farm-to-table restaurants is that the food may be a surprise. Unlike chains that strive to keep the menu similar across the country, a locally sourced menu can change as foods come in and out of season, or even on a daily basis. In fact, many such establishments don’t bother to print menus. Also, some restaurants may be more costly than what you may be used to (and a few of these gems are downright extravagant in their pricing). Just like the produce department in your grocery store, organic dining often costs more for consumers. We welcome you to try these restaurants for yourself and let us know if you can taste the difference.
Farm fresh eats in New Hampshire and Massachusetts
Sustainable farm-to-table dining doesn’t get more authentic than the Woods Hill Table. Located in Concord, Massachusetts, and with food sourced from their partner farm in Bath, New Hampshire, Woods Hill Table has won many awards for their farm-to-table cuisine.
A Sustainable New York State of Mind
New York State is home to a myriad of opportunities to try locally sourced foods and wines. Blenheim Restaurant has two locations – a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, where proprietors Morten Sohlberg and Min Ye let their former careers in design shine through and a farm in the Catskills that hosts weddings and events. The farm provides the poultry, pork and lamb and greens that you can enjoy at both locations.
As you may have heard, many restaurants in New York’s Finger Lakes Region have embraced the locavore movement. Although some organic restaurants come with higher price tags, if you want locally grown, organic food on a budget that won’t break the bank, then don’t miss Café DeWitt in Ithaca. Serving breakfast, lunch and brunch, their bread, cheese, eggs, beef, sausage, chicken, greens, yogurt, coffee (and even their maple syrup) all come from regional and organic sources. Co-owner Josh Eckenrode is dedicated to farm-to-table cuisine, and explains that it doesn’t stop there: “Our goal is to offer delicious, locally sourced food and be sustainable in our business practices. We collaborate with local and regional farmers, to offer a unique dining experience that is within reach of almost any budget. Plus, we believe that even relatively small investments in sustainable practices helps. By composting and using only biodegradable take-out containers we do what we can to take positive steps toward taking care of the environment.”
“We collaborate with local and regional farmers, to offer a unique dining experience that is within reach of almost any budget. ”
The Garden State's culinary treasures
Locals know that the state is flush with outstanding farm-to-table dining. However, if your associations with New Jersey stem from what you’ve seen on MTV, visiting these delightful culinary treasures will remind you that there’s a reason it’s called the Garden State.
Some of our favorites include Eno Terra, with their motto “Eat local drink global,” it is a farm-to-table must. Located just outside Princeton, on Route 27 in Kingston, local farmers, fisherman and grass-fed farmers and poultry producers, including their own Eno Terra Canal Farm, provide most of the food you’ll consume at Eno Terra.
In the beautiful hills of Central New Jersey, you’ll find Ninety Acres, a culinary experience worth the hour’s drive from Manhattan. Located at the Natirar Mansion, you will experience more than a restaurant. Visitors can tour their sustainable farm and cooking school, or hear the birds as they take a short hike along their rolling hills and beautiful park setting in Peapack and Gladstone.
North Dakota farmers get our vote in and around the Capital
In the nation’s capital, Founding Farmers has a strong reputation for sustainability and putting farmers first. Born out of a mission to support family farming in their restaurants (several locations in greater Washington, DC, plus First Bake Cafe & Creamery outside Philadelphia), all of their restaurants are Certified Green Restaurants® and offer made-from-scratch American favorites. The restaurant is a collective, owned by the North Dakota Farmer’s Union. Serving American standards such as burgers, BBQ pork ribs and chicken pot pie, you’ll enjoy a hearty meal that pays homage to our nation’s farmers.
Heart and S.O.L.E. in Virginia
Roanoke, VA is home to Local Roots, a farm-to-table must-try. With a “S.O.L.E. philosophy” (Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical), Local Roots seeks to provide the freshest food produced in the region’s small and medium-sized farms. Their menu changes seasonally, and sometimes – depending on what’s fresh – daily. With locally sourced vegetables, meats, cheeses and more, you are sure to find something that will pull at your heartstrings.
Experience more than a meal in Tennessee
More than a meal, Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN, offers a range of experiences. Part farm, part restaurant, part inn, you can mingle with teams of experts, including a chef, baker, sommelier, cheesemaker and butcher. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy their cooking classes and wine tastings, go fishing or pamper yourself at their onsite spa. Blackberry Farm serves “Foothills Cuisine®,” which blends the sophisticated and local traditional cooking, highlighting dishes that are indigenous to Blackberry's Smoky Mountain heritage.
Great farms bring great options in Georgia
Looking for somewhere relaxing and reliably local? Savannah’s Green Truck Pub sources everything “from meat to corkboards” close to home. Their beef comes from Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet, GA, and their produce (in season) also stems from local sources. Savannah is also home to Husk, which serves Southern cooking. Husk is proud of its relationship with local organic farmers, beekeepers, sustainable oyster producers and other regional suppliers.
A Noble newbie in Alabama
A relatively new venue on the farm-to-table scene, Mobile’s The Noble South Restaurant is run by a chef who is as local as most of the ingredients on the menu. Offering an eclectic mix of options, specials change according to what’s fresh and available in Alabama today. The minute you walk in, you’ll smell the tempting aroma, as you hear the friendly Southern accents welcoming you in. Pick up a delicacy and taste for yourself: it’s a feast for all the senses.
Eating Well in America’s Heartland
No cheese please, Wisconsin
It’s no surprise that Baraboo, Wisconsin, is home to the Cheeze Factory Restaurant. But don’t get confused by their name – despite being in Wisconsin, you won’t find any actual dairy products here. A 100% vegan and non-GMO eatery, this institution has its own TV show, “The Restaurant Show,” where you can learn how to make some of the dishes served at the restaurant. Although not strictly farm-to-table, many items are designed for gluten-sensitive patrons and (of course) vegans.
Mission-driven in Minnesota
In the heart of Minneapolis, you can experience local, sustainable, organic food at Birchwood Café. More than an eatery, this mission-driven establishment serves seasonal foods that highlight what is fresh now. A very popular spot, especially on weekends, you will find that whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner, it’s worth the wait.
Iowa's answer to fresh Indian cuisine
Authentic and organic Indian food in Iowa? It might not be what people expect in Iowa, but with a strong tradition of farming, it is no surprise that there are excellent farm-to-table choices. LT Organic Farm is a little different. Not only is it a working organic farm with a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) option, but it is also has an Institute for Preventative Medicine under the auspices of a Cardiac and Pulmonary Specialist and Registered Nurse, a cooking instructor and organic farmers and a seasonally open farm-to-table restaurant. The menu changes depending on what’s fresh and includes Indian, Caribbean and Mediterranean dishes. Conveniently located just outside of West Des Moines, it’s a must-try stop as you drive along I-80.
“A working organic farm, an Institute for Preventative Medicine under the auspices of a Cardiac and Pulmonary Specialist, with a cooking instructor and a seasonally open farm-to-table restaurant”
Capturing the cool breezes in Colorado
Powered 100% by wind energy, Denver’s Root Down Restaurant prides itself on choosing food from farmers who follow humane practices. More than 50% of its foods are sourced locally, and the restaurant focuses on sustainable practices, including its building, which was constructed from reclaimed, reused and recycled materials.
Captivating flavors in Cali
If there ever were a bucket-list topper, The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, is probably it. With 3 Michelin stars, and prices that reflect this honor, this restaurant epitomizes decadence. The French Laundry is part of Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant group, which includes, among others, Ad Hoc – Addendum in the Bay Area, Per Se in Manhattan and The Surf Club Restaurant in Miami. The French Laundry changes its menu twice a day, and works with several farms to provide local flavors.
For a more cost-friendly dining experience, San Diego’s Nutmeg Bakery and Café offers a sustainable option for breakfast, lunch or brunch. Collaborating with local farmers, coffee roasters and fishermen, diners can start their day with something delicious.
Can you taste the difference?
Did we miss your favorite farm-to-table place? Can you taste the difference? Next time, HearingLife’s Connected Living will highlight America’s best barbeque joints. If you have a must-try place, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to exploring what’s hot and would love to hear from you.
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