These days, it’s hard to trust that the food you’re eating was produced in a safe, humane and sustainable manner. But online tools like the Eat Well Guide make it easier to support local farmers, restaurateurs, and others who are doing good by their customers, their workers and the planet. The Guide’s thousands of listings include restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets, stores and more.
Eat Well Guide Project Director Dawn Brighid shared with Rachel’s Network why initiatives like hers are needed as we build a better food system together.
How did this Guide come about?
The Eat Well Guide has been around for over 10 years! We originally took over the Guide from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in 2003. Back then, it only listed businesses that sold “Wholesome Food From Healthy Animals” (that was actually our tagline) as an alternative to meat, eggs and dairy produced on factory farms. But over the years, we expanded it to include all kinds of sustainably raised foods. The Eat Well Guide (which is free for both visitors and the businesses included in it) currently includes listings in many different categories including restaurants, farmers’ markets, coops, farms, B & Bs, and more.
How has the availability of good food changed over the years?
The availability of sustainably-raised foods has grown tremendously. In fact, there has been an enormous increase in farmers’ markets up 123% from 2004. We currently have 25,000 listings and are adding more businesses to the Guide every day.
How does the Guide promote good food?
The Eat Well Guide promotes good food by connecting consumers with the many sustainable food producers we have listed across the county. To us, good food is sustainable food – using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. This form of agriculture enables us to produce healthful food without compromising future generations’ ability to do the same. We hope that encouraging people to buy from these vendors will help to grow the sustainable food system in the US.
Which cities have the highest concentration of “good food” restaurants?
It’s really amazing that there are good food restaurants throughout the country! While there are many listings in obvious foodie cities like New York City, San Francisco, Portland, and Austin, you can also find very committed sustainable restaurants in smaller cities – like Motor Supply Co. Bistro in Columbia, SC and Campo in Reno, NV, among many, many more throughout the US.
Organic and fair trade have certification labels. Any plans to break into certification?
While we aren’t planning on becoming a certifying agency, we do work with groups like Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), a certification for meat and dairy products that come from farm animals raised to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. Partnering with groups like AWA gives us reassurance that the farm is not only using sustainable practices, but proving that their commitment to sustainability goes above and beyond.
What are your plans for the Guide in the years ahead?
Right now we are focusing on finding more delicious listings for the Guide and we are engaging users and sustainable business owners to help us with that process through our mobile friendly site – anyone can suggest a new listing. In the future we hope to create an app, making the process of finding sustainable businesses even easier.
What are the most exciting trends in sustainable agriculture and good food access?
Urban agriculture is a pretty exciting trend! Farms like the Brooklyn Grange, with two rooftop vegetable farms, totaling 2.5 acres, produce over 50,000 lbs of organically-grown vegetables each year. They bring seriously local produce to restaurants and farm stands right in New York City.
Eat Well Guide Project Director Dawn Brighid finds amazing sustainable businesses across the US, so that their hard work and dedication can be shared with the public through the Guide. Dawn also contributes to Ecocentric Blog with a focus on health and nutrition. She has a BS in business marketing and a certificate in health counseling. Dawn is also a certified yoga instructor and is working towards her MS in nutrition.