Locavore’s Guide to Eating Out

Don’t. The end.

Haha. I’m KIDDING. Of course we eat out. Same as Paleo followers, vegans, and even those on Whole30. I’m not a sadist. 

I know I offer a full 5 week meal plan complete with recipes for five meals a day, every day. But I don’t expect every single person to follow the guide 100% to the T for the full five weeks. I mean, we have lives.

Even I skipped a meal a couple weeks ago when we visited Bellingham and had dinner out there. This guide isn’t a dictator ruling how and when you should eat. It’s a template and a GUIDE. It helps you navigate through these eating plans, but there is no punishment if you don’t follow it exactly. I never meant for that.

But for locavore week, I encourage you to follow the guidelines and try to practice eating close to home, figuratively speaking. For the days or meals you choose to eat out, here are some simple ways to make it healthier and more environmentally friendly.

  • Look for “Farm to Table” restaurants. These are becoming more and more popular, even in bigger cities. It’s the first type of restaurant I look for when Chris and I travel for vacation. When we visited Victoria a couple years ago, we found a wonderful restaurant called 10 Acres and had a wonderful meal from a farm not 15 miles from the bistro. The following summer, we visited Vancouver Island again with my parents and found an absolutely wonderful farm-to-table restaurant in Duncan: Alderlea Farm. The farm was literally right outside the cafe. Everything they made came from their farm. It was amazing.

    Farm-to-table restaurants are popping up everywhere. It’s a fantastic way to eat locally, support a local business, support local farmers, and eat the freshest meal around.
  • Locavore restaurants: right after farm-to-table bistros are the locavore restaurants. While not coming directly from a certain farm, these restaurants source everything on their menu within a certain mile radius. A favorite of mine is Local 360 in Seattle. They obtain every ingredient on their menu within 360 miles of their restaurant. Most of their menu items come from the city of Seattle itself.

    Locavore restaurants tend to be trendier than farm-to-table. This sometimes brings the price up a little, but the food is often worth it.
  • Eat for the region. When I visited Denver, I looked for places which served Colorado-ish dishes. I found a great one with bison sausage and chili verde mac and cheese. They had a great cannabis kombucha which I had to try. No I didn’t get high. I just had a very nice experience at a local restaurant.
    A few years ago Chris and I visited Maui for Thanksgiving. We found this little hole in the wall place for breakfast one morning. I swear, it served the BEST local dishes- Loco Moco, breakfast burritos, you name it. We ended up going there nearly every morning and even once or twice for dinner. It made part of my vacation in Hawaii that much more special.I know, eating at swanky locavore restaurants and farm-to-table sounds great and all. Maybe you’ll try them for a date night, but what about casual eating establishments and dinner with the whole family? I got your back.
  • I know it’s a convenient choice, but avoid big chain restaurants. Above all else, avoid fast food places. You will not find local cuisine at a big chain fast food restaurant. WHAT? McDonalds doesn’t get their french fries from the local farm down the road?!?! I know, right?
    Look for a local diner, or a new place. They may not have tons of entrees locally sourced, but they might get one or two things from close by. It’s also more likely you are supporting a community business. And most of their food is homemade. Try their pie. Go ahead, live a little.
  • Look for the season’s specials or seasonal vegetables on a board or ask the server what special seasonal entrees the restaurant offers. Many times I go to restaurants in the fall and they have something like butternut squash ravioli, or root vegetable medley, as opposed to the summer when they have asparagus in their pasta and summer squash medley. It may not be food they got right out of their garden, but it’s seasonal, and likely to be sourced closer than say, across the United States.
  • If the menus are regularly switched out, it’s a good sign the restaurant rotates with the season.
  • Often times, the market priced seafood option is a seasonally available fish. Dungeness crab is a favorite around Washington, and its season just started. So between now and probably mid-June, it’s safe to say if Dungeness crab is on the specials list, it’s fresh and locally sourced.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what items are locally and seasonally sourced. It’s not a rude question, and when I’ve asked, I’ve never been told to shove off. In fact, if the server doesn’t know off the top of their head, I’ve found many times they are happy to go ask. It’s a neat bit of information for them to have, and may help them get a nicer tip.
  • There are always local wines or beers (or ciders). If you are out to eat and want to try something local, go for a pleasant drink with dinner.

Just like everything else in this challenge, being a locavore takes practice. Make progress by taking little steps towards your goal. You’ll be living la viva local in no time.

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