In Our Spring 2016 Issue
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
In April, the Tampa Bay Times published a series on the “trend” toward local food in the Tampa Bay area. Unfortunately, what Laura Reiley’s reporting in “Farm to Fable” revealed is that what you see isn’t necessarily what you eat.
From restaurants listing suppliers with whom they no longer work (or never did) to vendors at markets representing bought goods from far-flung locales as their own farm-grown produce, the article revealed that some are only embracing the local food movement as a marketing tactic, rather than a true commitment to sourcing locally and sustainably.
Obviously that’s very disappointing … not only because we deserve to be told the truth as consumers and should be able to expect that from the folks who feed us, but because the people who are doing the right thing in the food industry suffer as a result of these kinds of fallacies. The farmers who grow using sustainable practices, but are just getting by – and need buyers who are willing to pay a little more to do that. The restaurateurs who really do use local ingredients and – to ensure they can still meet diners’ expectations on price – have smaller margins to show for it.
The good news is that, after an initial “it’s not my job” response, State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam seems to be paying attention, and is meeting with the state’s restaurant overseer, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to discuss potential actions. What comes of this is yet to be seen, and there’s always more to the story, but we’re glad the Times chose to shine a light on this topic and hope to see more transparency in our local food system as a result.
That issue aside, let’s talk about this issue of edible. You’ll find a feature on one local farming family where you know you’re getting “Fresh from Florida” because you’re picking fruit right off their trees (A Peach within Reach). Read about two immigrant women who are at different stages of building their food businesses that highlight specialties from their homelands (Sharing the Flavors of Home). And take a quick trip to Tarpon Springs for a taste of Greece just down the road (Greek Revival).
I hope you enjoy these stories and that we can continue to tell them because you truly value local businesses like our own. We’re happy to do our part to support the people who keep us well-fed in Tampa Bay.
-Kay Clark, Publisher/Editor