Gardens: A growing trend in restaurants

Gardens: A growing trend in restaurants

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Associated Press says the hottest trend in restaurants in other parts of the country is for restaurant owners to grow their own vegetables. But if you go to a place that claims to grow its own produce, you may want to ask a few questions before eating.

Chefs are getting more involved in the "eat local" movements sweeping the country. But many chefs are deciding to take it to the next level and are growing their produce like tomatoes and herbs. The AP says a third of 2,000 chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association named gardens as the top trend of 2010.

But Utah Restaurant Association President Melva Sine says some restaurants that claim to have their own vegetables might mean to say something else.

"I'm betting ‘local' or ‘backyard' possibly has some other connotation than they themselves are growing it," she says. "Usually, time wise and in every other way, that's just so prohibitive."

She believes the produce is mostly grown by local sources and brought into the restaurants touting "garden fresh" veggies.

But while other restaurants around the country claim to use produce they grow themselves, Sine says she hasn't heard of any restaurants in Utah doing this. Even if they did, Sine says restaurants wouldn't just be able to pick it from their garden, cook it and put it on your plate without inspection.

"If they were to [grow their own produce] then they become a local producer or a local manufacturer and they still have to go through all of the inspection processes," she explains.

She says the food is most likely safe to eat, but if you have concerns, ask who is inspecting the produce and how.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time they are going to have the processes in place," she says.


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Paul Nelson


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