In this week's Tablehopper newsletter, I learned about a new effort to recognize local foods in San Francisco: the restaurants that serve it, the groceries that sell it, the farms that grow it, and the artisans that use it in their creations. Called Eat Local San Francisco, the group's first big event is an "Eat Local Week" from September 23 to 29. During this week, member restaurants will create daily specials that rely on the locally-grown ingredients. As of today, nine restaurants are participating. A slow start, to be sure, but the 23rd is still ten days away, so others may join in before Eat Local Week begins.
The founders of Eat Local SF include such commercial interests as the San Francisco Council of District Merchants, San Francisco Small Business Commission and Open Table (an on-line reservation system), so it seems that eating local has become a marketing hook. That's fine with me, as supporting locally-owned business is one of the main reasons to eat local.
I hope the Eat Local SF efforts encourage restaurants and stores to use more local ingredients and to tell consumers how they use them. Some SF restaurants have been doing this for a while. The Slanted Door, for example, lists farm names on their menu. The current on-line dinner menu, for example, mentions Prather Ranch beef, Allstar Organics summer squash, Star Route Farm baby spinach, Dirty Girl Farm haricots verts, and Catalan Farm sweet corn, among others. That's useful if you have heard of the farms, but not useful if you haven't. It would be far more informative if restaurants made maps showing where their suppliers are based, like the Highwayman pub in Lancashire, UK.