A hungry girl's adventures in Cleveland and beyond.

Eat Right - Local AND Smart

When you go out to eat, there are so many choices! What part of town? What type of cuisine? Fancy or cheap eats? Feast or small bites? 

I love to share my favorite restaurants and places to score great food! I'd like to help you by sharing my rules for dining - eat local and eat smart. 

Eating local is the easy one. Even when I'm travelling, I always chose a local gem. There are so many non-chain restaurants to choose from! If you need inspiration locally or just want to be reminded of some great places, head over to Cleveland Independents. In addition to giving you dining ideas, they give you deals - sign up for their emails and you'll be notified of their discounted gift certificate sales. They also have a great gift idea for anybody on your shopping list - The Deck. It's a deck of cards and each card offers savings at a member restaurant. Perfect stocking stuffer!

The second is a little tougher. The money you spend and the choices you make can impact not only your local community, but the world as a whole. That's pretty big stuff, right? When going out to eat, nothing upsets me more than seeing an endangered fish on the menu. I remember back when I was a much younger lady, I tried Chilean sea bass and thought I died and went to heaven! It was so delicious! I wanted to eat it every day. I guess everyone else in the world thought the same thing because now they are so overfished that they are endangered. I will never eat one again. Yes, I will miss the taste, but I can't eat something I know is likely to be extinct. Would you eat a snow leopard? 

Check out this though provoking info from Care2 Make a Difference:

Bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass are poised to be the European tigers of our day. With a single bluefin tuna commanding up to nearly a half-million dollars on the Japanese market, and a boatload of Chilean sea bass fetching the same, there’s an irresistible economic incentive for pirates, poachers and plunderers to hunt out these rare fish. Sure, eating them is still legal — and there are even “certified catches” meant to encourage good fisherpeople who follow the rules. But when it comes to bluefin tuna, those “good catches” come from best-case-scenario, super-optimistic, fact-blind “science” as interpreted by people who fish for tuna. And when it comes to Chilean sea bass, that “good catch” accounts for a tiny fraction of the actual volume of fish that’s for sale. So if you think you got one of the very few “ethically harvested” ones, you’re probably kidding yourself, and even if you’re not, your dollars are playing an active role in the lucrative market that’s inspiring the pirates to head out on their boats. As a society, we should look at people eating bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass the same way we’d regard someone sitting down to a roast bald eagle.

Read more:

When I see a restaurant offering endangered fish on their menu, I lose my appetite. I certainly won't order those items and I won't patronize the offending restaurant either. I make a point to voice my concerns with the management as well. There are too many fantastic and responsible places to go - I want to support the good guys with my dining dollars. So when you are presented with the menu, make a choice that will be good for you and for the good of our planet too. 

And you can chose wisely when cooking at home too. You would think that Whole Foods would be a leader in supporting sustainable fishing but actually they are not. They are "phasing out" selling the fish but you can still currently find them in the fish cases and frozen food aisles. Costco is actually a leader in the push for sustainable fishing - they won't sell the endangered species. They are putting they profits on the line to back up their beliefs and that is an important reason why I have a membership there. Read more here

You may be thinking, "How do I know if a fish shouldn't be eaten?" A great resource is Blue Ocean's Seafood List. Not only does it tell you what you shouldn't eat, but it helps you pick a substitute. For our Chilean sea bass example, it suggests Alaskan sablefish. Realistically you can't always avoid shopping at or dining at places that sell the endangered fish. You can however make your thoughts known to the owners, shop and eat wisely and put your money where your mouth is.