Things You Didn´t Know About Organic Restaurants

Things You Didn´t Know About Organic Restaurants

Moises Tussie

With every other restaurant nowadays peddling healthy and farm-fresh food, the word “organic” is tossed around, well, like lettuce.

However, setting up and maintaining an authentically organic restaurant is an enormous challenge. While we prepare for the upcoming opening of Freshbreak, our organic restaurant in Miami, we´ve learned that most people think buying ingredients with the organic label is all it takes to qualify as an organic operation.

Nothing is further from the truth.

This is what you should know about organic restaurants:

  • There is only a handful of USDA certified organic restaurants. Yes, many places boast the words organic on their menus and walls, but the USDA has certified only a few restaurants in the country as such.
  • Organic certification is hard. As in, really hard. Moreover, it is not just about the ingredients. To obtain the USDA organic seal of approval, you must comply with complex regulations regarding cleaning products, food preparation surfaces, pest control and sanitizing procedures.

These include:

  • Cleaning products. Products used to clean floors, tables, tableware and utensils. Only clean water and permitted cleansers are allowed.
  • Procedures for sanitizing containers. Bags and containers that previously held conventional products must be rinsed thoroughly before using them to hold organic products. There is a specific way to sanitize bins and food preparation surfaces that were previously washed with suspicious or forbidden substances.
  • The kind of packaging allowed in the premises. Packaging materials, storage containers or bins that contain synthetic fungicides, preservatives or fumigants can´t be used to hold organic foods. That´s the reason you may have seen some restaurants unpacking the contents of carboard boxes outside their doors.
  • The way food preparation areas are organized. Basically, surfaces used for the preparation of organic dishes cannot be used for nonorganic products of any kind. The goal is to avoid commingling.
  • No one gets certified for marketing purposes. They could, of course. The truth is, many people inquire about the certification, but back away when presented with the list of Organic certification is not mandatory under current NOP (National Organic Program) regulations. It is a voluntary process. The restaurants that decide to pursue it do so out of a real commitment to the organic lifestyle.

While they may sound crazy, these procedures ensure that the consumer will get what they are expecting: toxin-free food in a toxin-free environment. Ingredients that are exactly what they are supposed to be. In other words: organic integrity.

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Our motivation

After reading this, you may wonder what led us to open an organic restaurant. For sure, there is a dash of insanity in an enterprise like this. However, there are other reasons:

To support the organic farming movement. All of us at Freshbreak are organic eaters who love great tasting food. The best way to give back to the community is by sharing our passion. Studies have shown that places with more organic farms and farmers have stronger local economies. Our restaurant will help sustain organic farmers and sustainable farming practices.

To show how it is done. We want to inspire folks to try and make a change for the better in their homes. If we at Freshbreak can create this micro-cosmos where all cleaning ingredients are benign, every piece of food is sourced organically, and contamination is nonexistent, so can you.

To aid the environment. The environmental benefits of organic farming help keep the soil and water clean, free of contaminants. Organic agriculture is a protective measure for our planet, which could contribute to the improvement of some of the environmental issues we face today.

Organic farming practices:

  • Aid the overall health of the soil and maintain its nourishing properties
  • Conserve and protect our water supply
  •  Foster biodiversity
  •  Produce less air pollution than conventional farming

Spread happiness. According to the Green Restaurant Association, restaurants in their group have reported an increase in staff productivity and morale after obtaining certification. Organic operations tend to attract employees who are enthusiastic about a healthy, sustainable way of life. This grants their jobs more significance and meaning.

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