Photography by Brian Tietz

Features


Oh, The Lengths They Go

Local chefs go the extra mile, wrestling with ambiguities, to lighten their footprint and impact on Mother Earth.

Consider this: Buying food from local sources keeps the carbon footprint shallow. On the other hand, it sometimes makes sense for a restaurant to branch out geographically for products that are raised on regenerative farms and in intelligent fisheries. More inconsistencies in the world of sustainable food exist. Plant-based diets, for instance, are good for the body and the planet. This often involves working with protein alternatives. Yet, you have to consider how the ingredients for plant-based proteins are produced, and sometimes manipulating vegetables to taste and feel like meat requires additives that can mess with how you feel. Another example: Carefully sourced, farm-raised fish are healthier and can save depleting wild populations. The catch here? Locally, environmental organizations protest the increase in nutrients the farms can bring, potentially causing more red tide outbreaks. So, what makes the best sustainable restaurants? The answer is not always clear-cut, but today’s conscientious chefs agree the effort is essential for the future of their business and our world. Some local chefs leap quantumly beyond the bounds of early definitions of sustainability and battle with the double-edged sword of inconsistencies. One could point to chef Jeff Mitchell at The Local as the region’s pioneer in restaurant sustainability, and few would argue. “We knew it was going to be a challenge when we first started,” Mitchell, who opened his Naples locavore restauran
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