The Local Food Bandwagon. (Hop on, it has tasty snacks!)

From this week’s Philadelphia City Paper:

City Grange, a 70-seat eatery geared toward a complete reliance on local, sustainable products, will soft-open Aug. 6 in preparation for its grand opening in early September. Chef Chris Lichtman says his menu will feature American regional and comfort dishes, and he stresses that the restaurant’s mission statement is serious — in other words, this isn’t just a bandwagon reaction to the “buy fresh, buy local” philosophy steadily gaining ground in Philly. “Everyone here, from the servers to the beverage director, feels deeply about promoting local cuisines,” he says. Yep, beverage director — they have a liquor license and will serve choice beers and wines from local breweries and vineyards. Bite This: Menu items will include a rustic casserole with heirloom tomato, eggplant, onion, shaved fennel, basil, thyme and local goat cheese; and corn fritters, a staple of Amish cuisine.

City Grange

Westin Philadelphia, 99 S. 17th St., 215-575-6904

Sounds tasty to me.

My question: Is “buy fresh, buy local”  a “bandwagon”?  And if it becomes one, is that a bad thing?  After all, it’s not exactly a restaurant fad.  Eating on giant beds?  Serving foam with everything?  Those are fads.  Serving fresh food that’s actually in season?  Not so much. 

I say, if it actually leads to restaurants sourcing their ingredients from farmer’s markets, having seasonal menus and not serving us some nasty-ass pale pink tomatoes from a box?  Load up that bandwagon!

In other Philly restaurant news, Ida Mae’s Bruncherie, a proud purveyor of  fresh,local food, is opening for dinner as of tomorrow.  If their dinner is half as good as their Irish breakfast, we’re in for a treat.  Between this and Bistro Juliana, Fishtown’s on the move.


Check out the Philadelphia Eat Local Challenge on Farm to Philly!

The rules:

  1. Eat one meal per week during the month of September that is made using locally grown ingredients.  Non-local oil and spices are allowed.
  2. Can, freeze, dry, or otherwise preserve two things during the month.
  3. Utilize one new resource for locally grown food during September – that could be a new restaurant, farmer’s market, etc.

This is an easy way to learn more about what’s available locally– and you’ll save money, too.

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4 Responses to “The Local Food Bandwagon. (Hop on, it has tasty snacks!)”

  1. bikelyboy Says:

    The “buy local” part is sometimes not as nice as you think. It is, unfortunately, more often than not today, protectionism disguised as environmental concern. And yes, it is harmful—farm subsidies and unwillingness to trade in agricultural commodities with countries in Africa are probably one of the biggest reasons for poverty there.

    Buy local is useful and should be encouraged if you go the extra mile and actually do the research yourself—factor everything into the cost of your local food: including the greater inefficiency (in some cases) of trying to grow crops in hostile places, cost of irrigation, subsidies doled out. Don’t take the word of someone who is selling something to you.

    In certain cases, food (especially crops like rice, which require a lot of water) grown in the US in some near-desert states is 2 to 3 times as inefficient as food that is grown in a more conducive place *and* transported from Africa/Asia—shipping does not have a large carbon footprint, and refrigeration is unnecessary for grains.

    Like everything, “buy local” is a catchy slogan, and like every slogan, it is sometimes covering up something nasty.

  2. jcleffie Says:

    While I think this post makes some good points (For instance. I don’t think we attempt to make ALL of our food local. As the example of rice shows some foods are best grown in certain areas of the world).

    However, I don’t think the above makes any argument for protectionism. Any US protectionism and it’s accompanying nationalism should be opposed. But the idea that the buy local or slow food movements are the cause of poverty in the developing world is false.

    To take the example of Sub-Saharan Africa, every country there except for Chad is a net EXPORTER of food. People starve in Africa because they are forced to sell their food as cash crops on the world market. Often this is to pay massive debts incurred to institutions like the IMF or World Bank, which are essentially how the developed world (led by the US) steals the developing world’s resources.

    The US and other countries have essentially ripped off these countries and then left them to starve. In this context, it is precisely the world food market that is the source of their hunger.

    A good book to check out that goes through the real roots of world hunger is World Hunger, Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe et al.

  3. World Hunger: Twelve Myths « The Real Potato. Says:

    […] , history , food , media  In a comment that I made in response to a comment on the post The Local Food Bandwagon, I suggested that people should read the book World Hunger: Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe, […]

  4. Alice Diane Celebre Says:

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Regional: Green Buildings Open House, October 4th
    On Saturday, October 4, 2008, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is welcoming the public to visit local sustainable homes and buildings throughout New Jersey and the Northeast to see clean renewable energy at work. Visitors to these buildings will be able to see how their neighbors and businesses are reducing their carbon footprint and cutting their energy bills through the power of the sun, wind, and smart building design.

    The Green Buildings Open House operates in conjunction with the National Solar Tour. Homeowners and facility managers across all 50 states will be showing visitors the latest in recycling, renewable energy technologies, sustainable building materials, and energy efficient appliances.

    Take a local tour to learn how you, too, can save by going green.

    To find the Green Buildings Open House sites nearest you, visit

    Regional businesses, Basil Bandwagon Natural Market, 908-788-5737 – – and Basil Brook Organic Pharm 908-788-6864, will participate in the open house again this year and provide information on Energy Star rated products, solar electric, Solatubes, Solar Star attic fans, passive solar design, solar pool heating, solar hot water, kickbikes, and an all electric car “charged by the sun.”
    Posted by Michael Shapiro, Editor at 12:30 AM

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