by Guest Blogger, Dan McKee
Making the conscious decision to eat local food is a smart choice, I believe this and the more research I do the more convinced I am, however it doesn’t come without sacrifices. Saying goodbye to fast food, choosing not to consume pasteurized milk, ditching boxed stores in favor of farmers markets, etc… all of these sacrifices are positives (trust me, your body will thank you later).
But giving up on dining out? Well, that’s where I draw the line. I’m not going to do it.
Fortunately though, I don’t have to. To the contrary, I go out to restaurants now more than I ever have before. And, I am still eating local. There’s no mystery or secret to what I do, just an added measure of foresight and a little bit of creativity.
First: technology is your friend. Use it. Before heading out the door, or while on the move (provided you have a smartphone), jump online and do some research about eating local in area restaurants. By searching for “local food San Jose” I was able to find a handful of spots, including a cafe, a wine bar, and a bistro, all within close distance that served local food. Many restaurants, even the mom and pop variety, now have their menus posted online, which makes the process of finding places with healthy local options easier now than it’s ever been.
There’s also a variety of online directories, such as Eat Well Guide and Chefs Collaborative, that can be worth checking out depending on where you live. Directories aren’t going to have every place, or necessarily even the best places, but they can make for a great starting point.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give to those who are hungry (both metaphorically and literally) for a wholesome dining experience is that when in doubt, ask around. Shop at a food co-op? What establishments do they recommend for eating local? Know any local farmers? See if they have any suggestions. As a last resort you can always go straight to the source and ask restaurants directly. If the wait staff isn’t in the know, the chef surely is. You might be surprised to find that some restaurants have local food options, yet never promote it on their menu.
Dining out shouldn’t have to be a compromise between knowing what foods are good for you versus settling on what’s readily available. By choosing to seek out and dine at restaurants that prepare local food from scratch, it sends a loud message that sustainable foods matter and that there’s a market that’s willing to support it. The places a person chooses to eat, or in this case not eat, speak volumes on what they believe about nutrition and to what degree they’re willing to stand behind those beliefs. Put in the time to do some research, choose wisely, and eat in confidence. The reward is worth the effort.
Based out of northern California, Dan McKee is an advocate for all things related to medical self care and smarter nutrition. He serves as the communications manager for eclaireMD, a group of engineers and doctors who are passionate about improving health care. Currently the team is busy developing a mobile diabetes tracker app.