Sustainable Table has come out with this year's Eat Well Guide, which contains more than 25,000 restaurants, farms, farmers' markets, food co-ops, community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) and other businesses that offer locally grown, sustainably produced food. "We built the Eat Well Guide to make it easier to find good food and to support local farmers, restaurateurs and others who are doing their best by their customers, their workers and the planet," says Sustainable Table.

“People want locally grown, sustainably produced food, so we’re making it easier for them to find it,” says Dawn Brighid, project director of the Eat Well Guide.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

People want locally grown, sustainably produced food, so we’re making it easier for them to find it,” Dawn Brighid, project director of the Eat Well Guide, told Food Tank. “Most American shoppers take into account where their food came from when they’re grocery shopping. They want to support food producers who are doing their best by their customers, their workers and the planet.”

You can search for sustainable food options by location and/or by category with listings in all 50 states and Washington, DC. You can also look at specific city guides for about 20 major U.S. cities to find tailored listings of sustainable restaurants and other vendors. The guide can be especially useful for travelers and newcomers to an area. It was officially launched in 2003 along with the critically acclaimed animation series, The Meatrix, about the dangers of factory farming. Both of these programs fall under GRACE Communications Foundation.

For a farm to be deemed sustainable, it must "produce food while protecting the environment, human health, workers, surrounding communities and animal welfare." The animals are raised on pasture without non-therapeutic antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or the confinement systems used on industrial operations, and the fruits and vegetables are grown without pesticides and fertilizers, and genetically modified (GMO) crop varieties. Some farms are organic certified, while others are transitioning to organic, and many go above and beyond organic standards, according to Sustainable Table.

For restaurants, markets, food co-ops and other businesses to make the cut, they have to show a "sincere commitment" to sourcing locally, sustainably produced food. "Given the wide range of seasonal growing conditions and varying degree of access to sustainable farms in different parts of the country, businesses listed in the Guide are not required to source exclusively from local, sustainable farms, but to source the best ingredients as often as they can."

Sustainable Table's goal is to foster "connections between sustainable food producers and consumers" and "to expand markets for socially responsible farmers and food producers." They hope to encourage more and more businesses to adopt sustainable food sourcing practices as they are able.

“We know that sustainable food vendors offer products that consumers want, but it’s difficult to compete with the enormous advertising budgets of industrial food producers,” Chris Hunt, food program director at GRACE, told Food Tank. “The Eat Well Guide helps to level the playing field by making it easy for consumers all around the country to find these sustainable food vendors for free.”

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