Foraging restaurant and suppliers adapt to new rules

Forage gleans a new strategy: When Forage restaurant opened in Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood, they used produce from customers’ backyards to supplement their normal produce purchases, paying for the backyard produce with food or drink from the restaurant and often noting the donor’s name on the menu (“Judy’s lemonade”, “Jim’s tangerine sorbet”). It worked great for a while — with one Sunday seeing 300 pounds of produce arrive — but before long the county health department took notice and informed Forage that ‘unapproved sources’ like backyard produce were not acceptable. This knocked out Forage’s informal sourcing policy, but there is a silver lining to this Silver Lake tale. A state program administered by the Los Angeles County agricultural commission allows home growers to get a Certified Producer’s Certificate by paying a small fee and undergoing an inspection (this is the process followed by sellers at certified farmers markets). Five contributors have gone through the process already and five more are expected soon. While going through the licensing process, one of the growers has realized that because he and his wife can grow exotic produce that is unavailable from other suppliers and highly desired by restaurants, their backyard might become a serious source of income. For example, they might start growing loroco, a flower used as a flavoring element in pupusas and currently only available frozen, for a neighborhood Salvadoran restaurant. (The Atlantic; and earlier, pre-business permit coverage in the Los Angeles Times)

Corrected, 8/7/10:  In the original version, the Ethicurean mistakenly convoluted two pieces of government regulation in the Atlantic article, incorrectly stating that the Food and Flowers Freedom Act is related to the Certified Producer’s Certificate used by some of Forage’s suppliers. This has been corrected above.

5 Responsesto “Foraging restaurant and suppliers adapt to new rules”

  1. So let me get this straight, if you are growing produce and sell it to a restaruant in LA you have to be LICENSED?!!!   You mean like a food processor?  Are the farms selling to restaurants in LA required to be licensed as well?

    I can understand if a person was making lemonade or sorbet that the restaurant was then selling to patrons, that’s different, but you have to be licensed to sell vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc. now?????

  2. Erik Knutzen says:

    To be precise, the Food and Flowers Freedom act clarified a section of the L.A. municipal code to legalize growing and selling fruit and flowers in a residential (R1) zone.  Under the code, “truck gardening,” meaning growing and selling vegetables in a R1 zone, was legal but not fruit and flowers.  The producer’s certificate issue is a different matter. Thankfully, it seems that the folks at Forage (an excellent restaurant, by the way) and their suppliers have figured out a solution to the certificate issue. 

    I’m part of the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA), a group that spearheaded the Food and Flowers Freedom Act, which was passed unanimously by the city council this summer.  Access to healthy local food is an issue that’s enormously popular. Now is the time for everyone to get together and keep this movement rolling. I’m very encouraged by what this blog advocates for and for the efforts of Forage and the UFA.

  3. Wow. Way too much government. This is the product of people with way too much time and money.

  4. Blakery says:

    Amen, Walter. Amen.

  5. Chris says:

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