I don't even know how to begin this blog. It stems from frustration that has been brewing for many, many months. It started with Sea Love being listed on the menu of a restaurant who we DO NOT sell to. I am not opposed to selling to this restaurant, but they have never placed an order through me or anyone else who I sell to. THEN, while working the Wilmington Farmers Market at Tidal Creek, which is an amazing Producer-Only market happening each Saturday from 8-1, another farmer mentioned a similar instance in which a restaurant listed his greens on the menu but they hadn't made a purchase in months. And yesterday, it happened yet again. Same story, different restaurant.
A friend of mine tried to make lemonade out of my situation by saying, 'well it's good advertising to be listed on so many menus". A) if a restaurant has this type of integrity, I don't want to be listed on their menu and B) it dilutes the restaurants who I, and other farmers, DO sell to. These restaurants pay more for their locally, and often organically grown products. These restaurants have relationships with their farmers. These restaurants constantly change their menu based on what can be provided locally and not off of a an 18-wheeler truck, which picked up their produce from a barge, at the port, shipped from another country.
I will not pubicly call out or shame these restaurants because I do want them to come around and make better choices. Instead, if you're as fired up about this as I am, I invite you to get to know your farmers. Have relationships with your farmers. They will not only sell to you via markets or CSA's, but also tell you their fave restaurants and chefs because trust me, we all have a list. I know who orders from me once a week, once a month and once a year. My customers know my fave 4-5 locals spots. Visit your local famers market and if you can't make it to a market, shop at a co-op, like Tidal Creek or Whole Foods who carry tons of local products. I know personally, as a vegetarian, almost everything I eat comes from the ground. I would much prefer it came from the ground within a few miles, grown by someone I know and not sprayed with pesticides.
Sorry to vent and uncover a nasty truth that is happening in restaurants, but I know how hard I work to make a quality product and my farmer friends are no different. It's hard, laborious work that often doesn't pay the bills. We do it because we believe in what we do, and you should support restaurants who support farmers.
Restaurants, Brewers, Makers and Bakers who use Sea Love is listed here.