As for the restaurant using "local" ingredients - there aren't many on the menu. A couple of fish (either pompano wasn't offered the night we dined there - or they were out of it - otherwise we would have ordered it) - and tomatoes. Not a cause to complain about a Florida restaurant IMO - since we don't have many good local ingredients here (fish is an exception). And the local ingredients in south Florida are different than those in north Florida. But it's not a reason for a restaurant to boast either. Robyn
Now, now, I am certain that you, and many other's who know and love Florida, are aware of the various climates, crops, microclimates, diversity, four USDA growing zones, a gulf and an ocean coast, that Florida has the benefit of being able to call "local."
Check out this report:
Click Here for Overview of Florida Agriculture
Vegetables and Melons combined comprise almost a quarter of Florida's Agricultural output. The number is $1,446,654,000. To put it in perspective, citrus (excluded from the above number and a category to itself) rings up only $1,242,029,000.
In that Vegetable and Melons category, there is an interesting statistic:
The 2004-2005 value of production and harvested acreage for the seven major vegetable crops, potatoes, berries and watermelons totaled $1,893,183,000 and 219,900, respectively. Production value was up15 percent from the 2003-2004 value of $1,650,000,000 and harvested acreage was down 64,300 acres (or 23 percent) at 219,900, from the 284,200 acres from the 2003-2004 season. All crops except sweet corn and bell peppers showed increases in the value of production.
Then, if one would just look at citrus as an isolated crop, although Florida produces 67% of US citrus production, it is only 18% of Florida's production.
Florida accounted for 67 percent of total U.S. citrus production. California totaled 29 percent, while Texas and Arizona produced the remaining 4 percent. U.S. citrus utilized production for the 2004-2005 season totaled 11.4 million tons. Production was down in all Florida commercial citrus production areas from the 2003-2004 season. Indian River area was down the most at 76 percent. Production did decrease in each of the 30 counties, because of the hurricanes of the 2004 season.
I don't think I need discuss the 2004 Hurricane Season, except to mention the names Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
Pompano is a regular menu item.
Then there is this topic, citing this quote:
''People have a perception that local cuisine is only about tropical fruit,'' he said. ``We have rabbit farms in Ocala. Frog legs come from the Everglades. They make goat cheese in Loxahatchee. There is stuff. You just have to find it.''
Typical of his relationship to locally grown foodstuffs is his connection to Paradise Farms in Homestead, an organic purveyor to top local restaurants. With owner Gabriele Marewski, Schwartz organized a monthly dinner series at the farm last winter to benefit small family farms damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It was so successful, they have reprised it this season, benefiting Earth Learning, an environmental education program.
These ''Dinners in Paradise'' bring local chefs to Homestead in pairs and trios to prepare elegant meals from mostly Paradise-grown products. Guests pay $150 for the pleasure of dining al fresco down on the farm.
'Michael is at the forefront of reminding chefs, `Let's use local products,' '' Marewski says. ``Even bigger than the organic movement is the local and sustainable movement. Our lifestyles are so fragmented that when people go to a place that is holistic, they derive satisfaction. That's what's genuine. The whole thing, the whole package.''
I think it is an excellent reason to boast - just in my opinion.
On a related note, Cattle and Calves make up 6.5& of Florida's Agridollar, Milk is 6%, Poultry and Eggs 5%.
After looking at the facts, it would be difficult to convince me that Florida only produces a couple of fish and tomatoes, and those isolated items are the only thing that Michael's Genuine can boast as "local."
Indeed, there are probably several menu items on quite a few menus on at least the Eastern Seaboard, that Florida can claim as homegrown.