It has been long since I’ve written a blog… my apologies. I moved across the country from our wonderful Virginia farm to Montana – what an adventure with 2 dogs, 2 barn cats (loose in the car!), and 2 kids plus me. Montana really is incredibly beautiful, absolutely stunning. And, we moved to Butte. While I really like the old NYC character of Butte America (that is what it is called here), I am very concerned (health-wise) that I moved into an active mining town and the biggest superfund site in the US. :0 I am still trying to figure out how to contend with that by hopefully finding land outside of Butte… we’ll see.
So, on to the topics… believe it or not, they are all related. I almost never eat out because the food I raised and source is better quality than I can find out, with only a few restaurants that can meet my (not get violently ill and ethical) standards, and they are not near me: The Plant Café Organic in San Francisco is one of my faves! Here is their byline: 100% ORGANIC. LOCAL FARMS. ETHICAL SOURCING. I’m keeping their caps because, YES!, I love this. Why can’t more restaurants like this exist? I’m not so unrealistic to think that Butte America, a hard core mining town, will have an organic restaurant that serves ethically pasture-raised, non-GMO (or, better, organic), dare I hope for beyond organic meat, but Washington DC (which is where I’m from and going back for work and evening dinners with friends) sure should! Considered the “culinary capitol” of the country and really lacking here! So, I’ve searched and searched for hours and tapped into all of my various amazing social media networks to find so little. I’m going to pick on Founding Farmers because I expected more from them. A Yelp reviewer boasts how they are a restaurant sharing her values of 100% grassfed and organic (spoiler alert, nope, they sure are not).
To be fair, Founding Farmers does not claim this. And, they are a step, or many steps, better than a conventional restaurant and deserve kudos for that. Here I am, a food systems specialist with 20+ years in the field, and I’m having to follow the supply chain to find out that the Founding Farmers beef that comes from Seven Hills in Virginia (which is a beef aggregator and not a farm) is NOT 100% grassfed and finished, it is grain finished, with local grains which are not non-GMO grains. Yes, I do think it is better that they are sourcing locally raised beef and I love that because it feeds the local economies and supports local farmers which is vital for so many reasons including food security and rural economies. But why can’t they have just one grassfed and grass finished beef option?! I did not bother to call the other place they source their beef in Maryland because in looking at their site they claim nothing of sustainability so I’ll make the assumption that they are GMO grain fed beef.
What drives me crazy is the purposeful dishonest labeling that happens throughout our food system. As I’m looking for restaurants that serve ethically pasture-raised non-GMO meats I am finding claims of sustainable, natural beef, grassfed beef, and pasture-raised that are NOT fully 100% raised on pasture and only 100% grassfed and finished. It is purposely misleading and confusing consumers.
Where does this lead the average Joe or Jane that has to navigate through all of the confusion? Well, up a creek unless you live in NYC, Boulder, Portland, or San Francisco (and I’m sure there are other fabulous places – please tell me them!). Otherwise, you will have to do a lot of research and understand how to navigate the smoke and mirrors. For example, I buy all of my meat by the animal, locally sourced, from farmers that I visit to ensure that their practices align with my values – because local does not mean organic and vice versa.
And, where does this lead me? Where am I meant to eat out in DC as a Celiac that follows the AIP diet? I’m not sure. Please let me know if you have recommendations. I’m thinking that grillfish in Dupont Circle and Blue Duck Tavern, on 24th & M NW, look like they are a safe bets. Also, there are the restaurants that source from Polyface Farms! Many in Virginia and some in DC. Unfortunately for me, I am severely sensitive to GMO-grain fed meats which leaves me only with pasture-raised, non-GMO fed, or wild meats. That’s a tough one. I have found that many others with autoimmune issues react to them too, generally without realizing. There were a few other possibilities, like Bareburger and maybe Busboys & Poets, Coppi’s Organic, and DC Harvest, just fyi.
How lucky are those just following a Paleo and gluten-free diet! I’m 5 years in on AIP and very healthy, but still don’t seem to be able to add much, with a few wonderful exceptions: organic peas, soaked cashews, cacao butter (I can make chocolate and hot chocolate!), and French Bordeaux! Ohhhhh yummmm. They were a long time coming.
Lastly, dating while following AIP is challenging especially while living in Butte. I navigate this by have non-food/eating focused dates. Luckily for me that is not hard in Montana: hiking, snow shoeing, skiing, hot springs, and more. And for lodge breaks, I bring my own drinks and food. Otherwise, I do the cooking. No complaints yet. :)