Earlier this week, Chef Cleetus Friedman announced that he was closing his City Provisions Delicatessen effective immediately. When I read the email announcement, I was in shock, as was everyone in the local food community. At the same time, I felt mixed emotions of sadness and anger. Cleetus was one of the early sustainability pioneers, paving the way for not only farmers, but other chefs, producers, artisans, and the like.
Eating sustainably was not always a part of my vocabulary, until about five years ago. My husband and I decided to make the change for health reasons, which has grown to beyond that. The first change we made was to shop the farmers markets for the majority of our groceries, supplementing elsewhere when necessary. As frequent shoppers of farmers markets, such as Green City Market, we built relationships with the farmers and artisans that extended to their families. It was also a place where we met other like-minded people, sharing shopping and cooking tips. This lifestyle change provoked us to consider seeking out restaurants when dining out, in which the chef shared similar philosophies. Essentially, we had a direct connection to our food, whether we were preparing it or it was prepared by someone else.
Many people ask me, including my clients, why I chose this lifestyle. Some may even say they would rather not spend more on a sandwich, for example. My answer is twofold. I see it as long term. First, I would rather spend the money now, than later down the road in healthcare. Second, I am helping to support local food businesses, not large companies. If that means spending a little more on my produce or meat, so be it. I have even hosted Food Tweetups to connect chefs and their producers, to a new audience, with all the money going to the chef. Some of these events have allowed the chefs to explore new dishes or brought in brand new customers. For me, I consider the farmers, producers, artisans, and chefs as an extension of our family. Their family is no different from ours.