Sunday, April 11, 2010

Forage puts foraging on hold due to yet another arcane city regulation

Progressive urban farmers in Silver Lake just can't catch a break. First, Silver Lake Farms gets hassled for selling flowers, though vegetables are ok; now Forage can't collect produce from local gardeners because it's not "certified." Forage has posted a note on its website explaining that it will still accept produce to be donated to community food programs, but the restaurant will have to source all the food it cooks from farmer's markets. Fortunately, Silver Lake Farms has been making excellent progress towards passing the Food & Flowers Freedom Act; hopefully Forage and its supporters can make some similar progress towards enlightening city officials. Do you think there's a risk accepting produce from the public?

15 comments:

K. Uner said...

Ah, so glad government keeps protecting me from such serious threats as backyard fruit. God forbid I should, you know, decide for myself if I'm willing to take that risk. Ugh.

Daisy said...

Can't we just create an "american liberty: this activity not vetted" warning stamp and let buyer beware? The damn name of the place is FORAGE.

Yes, the government has been helpful with things like cleanliness ratings, building codes for earthquakes, consistent stair step heights, and other actions of value for things that are hard to see. I think Forage on the other hand is not hiding anything and is operating in plain sight.

Word of mouth about food quality and dining experience is SO ACCESSIBLE NOW (yelp etc) that it is time for the city to keep their laws of my chefs. And my cocktails. (Reference the SF crackdown on bartender housemade infusions. Ugh.) We don't need the city here. Go save us some money and leave this topic alone.

RIDICULOUS.

If some city execs needs to keep some admins busy (to ensure they get the same bloated budget next year) and wants to go after unsafe food practices, try the sun-baked bottled water cases in front of Superior Market in the San Fernando Valley. DAY AFTER DAY. In blazing heat. Plastic bottles. With drinking water in them. FACING WEST. That CANNOT be healthy. But I'm not waiting for the city to tell me for chrissake.

Anonymous said...

It was someone from the neighborhood and Silverlake community that called into the Health Department and complained about the Foraging program. Guess you can't trust your neighbors.

Anonymous said...

i met a man named tomas in the czech republic, and what he learned from his time in america he summarized as, "land of the free, as long as there is no rule against it." seems applicable over and over these days.

carter said...

Just another thought - imagine someone not realizing it, yet bringing in fruit with Mediterranean fruit fly, or other produce with vermin so small as to maybe not be detectable, and then infesting the entire kitchen and that same health department has to close the place down.
Personally, there is a reason restaurants fear doing business in LA, as the county has as strict a set of health standards as anywhere in the country, and we all are the beneficiaries.
Eat and stay healthy!

EVAN said...

More to the point. Any one who has ever dealth with the Health Department knows that serving un-certified is a no-no (rightly or wrongly) and Forage took the chance because of the great-PR-gimmickeness of serving backyard produce. This should not be a surprise, unfortunately.

Crystal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

i don't think it's a gimmick at all. i grew up in a place where seasonal, fresh, organic, local produce, fish, herbs, grass fed meat is just a given, especially when you're eating in fine dining establishments. handpicked mushrooms with handmade pasta, cognac muddled with grapes grown in a local backyard, sorbetto from your neighbor's loquat tree. YES PLEASE.

los angeles needs more of this. the city is ripe for a conscious and healthful revolution. go to a field to table dinner, get involved with the csa...it's good to know where your food comes from.

if people have a problem with foraging period, they can go a million other places. just saying.

Anonymous said...

As someone who once was hospitalized for almost a week after eating tainted food in a restaurant that hadn't been inspected in three years, I don't think the Health Dept. regs are at all unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

I applaud Forage for working hard to be a community resource for unused produce but I understand the need for a better control over what they are serving.

There's always risk accepting produce from any source and the reality is that if customers get sick from mishandled produce it's a very serious problem. How do you know that those oranges that your neighbor brought in for juice haven't been picked up off the ground that their dog poops in every day? Would you be supportive of this practice if your child contracted a serious bacterial infection due to tainted produce from an untraceable source? The rules are in place so we are protected as consumers.

Support your farmers markets and the restaurants that shop them and save your home grown for home.

Anonymous said...

It's all fun a games until someone gets hurt: the same critiscisers of the health inspectors would be the first to complain when they get really, really sick.
While I believe in organic, locally grown foods...I also know that mother nature is not always as tame as she seems, anarchism and food don't mix. It's very easy to not realize the dangers of pests and bacteria on food when you grow up sheltered in America.
Forage is a great concept, but it needs to be regulated.

marc said...

There's a very obvious thing that everyone seems to be missing here. The restaurant isn't allowed by the city to serve paying customers with foraged produce that the customers brought in, but they're more than allowed to give it to the homeless and let them get sick. Who is the government protecting? The people? I think not. You protect the people when you protect all people. This is based on business practices and protecting the produce suppliers. Bunk.

Taylor B said...

Unrelated to the Foraging element: I heard awhile back (from a former member of the staff) that, shortly after opening, Forage had to switch from all locally sourced organic produce to getting their food from Sysco because of costs. I've keep eating there because I think it's delicious either way BUT I have been curious if there is any truth to this.

If anyone has any insight here please share.

Silver Lake Farms said...

The gardeners who were bringing their vegetables to Forage are allowed by law - according to City Planning's Truck Gardening Ordinance - to sell their vegetables "off-site".

Even more confusing is this: Growers in the City of LA are allowed to sell their homegrown vegetables at farmers markets. They need to become certified producers via the Department of Food & Ag first of course but with this certification, they would be allowed to sell their vegetables to Forage at farmers' markets. But they can't sell their vegetables to Forage directly? This doesn't make sense....

LBTudor said...

If you have ever been 'inspected' by the agriculture department you would know that all they do is walk around and record your yield. There is no soil testing involved, they don't ask if you spray, they do not taste or take a sample of your produce, nothing. From what I could tell when we were inspected was that they just wanted their fee paid and the amount of produce that your land could produce recorded. You can get your backyard inspected if you want. I say do it and make the inspector go to every single residence and record every tree. Good luck in your fight, I support you from Long Beach.