The day after Thanksgiving, we wanted to take visiting family to a restaurant that served good, clean, fair food. Fortunately, we knew that Somnio’s Cafe — our CSA member — doesn’t just say they support local food, they serve it. And it’s delicious!

Identifying restaurants that buy locally can be difficult. That’s one of the reasons local farmers are coming together to issue a list of restaurants that buy from them. We want to make sure that chefs that buy local get the credit they deserve.

Chefs like Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club and Todd Duplechan at Trio keep farmers in business. And foragers like Valerie Broussard, formerly at Barr Mansion, is sure to keep the menu at the restaurant at the new W Hotel as local and as interesting as possible. Their local food efforts, knowledge and dedication should be rewarded.

As soon as GroACT (the now-forming Growers Alliance of Central Texas) has the results in, we’ll share them with you. In the meantime, here are some questions to ask your server to ensure your choices really support your local farms and local economy:

SEVEN SIMPLE QUESTIONS FOR YOUR SERVER
About the Menu

1. How often does your menu change?
(Frequent changes are good, usually means the chef is cooking seasonally)

2. Can you highlight some of the locally-sourced items on your menu?

3. How often does your menu feature local foods? Is it usually just one weekly special or more?

About Sourcing

4. How does your restaurant define local?

5. How does your restaurant source local food? From which farms or distributors?

6. Are these farms certified organic?

7. We prefer eating humanely raised, pastured meats. Do you know if your meats are raised this way?

Encourage more Local Food

Be sure to tell your server and chef that you’ll be back as their menu features more local, organic choices.

Note: When in doubt, the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers, and policymakers) recommends avoiding the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (that test positive for as many as 67 chemicals) in favor of the “Clean 15.” See foodnews.org for details.