We all want fresh ingredients. It’s a request that sounds obvious. When we go out and spend our hard-earned money on food, the ingredients used to make it should be the best ingredients available. But for the last couple decades, a series of revelations have shown American consumers that not every restaurant can be trusted to prepare food with the best ingredients.
This gave rise to a new movement amongst American diners — a movement that demands fresh, local, ethically-sourced ingredients in food. Today, you’re likely to see at least one menu item labeled as “organic” or “farm-to-table” at nearly every restaurant. What do these labels mean, and where can you find farm-to-table in Kansas City?
This guide to organic restaurants in Kansas City will give you an idea of where to find the freshest food in KC.
What is Organic Food?
What does it actually mean when you see that “organic” labeled slapped on a menu item? It’s surprisingly difficult to find out. Most of us have a vague sense of organic. It means fresh, right? None of those chemicals or bad GMOs are used, right?
Well, that’s part of it. But to be truly organic, there’s more. The standards for organic restaurants in Kansas City and around the country are set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). There are at least four different official documents that make up the guidelines, followed by a host of addendums and exceptions for special circumstances.
Generally speaking, the ingredients used in food must meet these requirements in order for an establishment to be considered an organic restaurant in Kansas City:
- Produced without using excluded methods such as genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or other disallowed chemicals
- Produced in accordance with the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
- Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program authorized agent
- Have a final product that can be certified
There are even more specific details within the general requirements based on what exactly is being served at the organic restaurant in Kansas City. Going through all of these steps to ensure an organic meal is costly to the restaurant, which is why prices can be higher for organic food in Kansas City.
What does Farm-to-Table Mean?
American consumers have expressed another desire alongside wanting organic food: we want it to be local. That’s why you’ll see another label right next to “organic” on the menu. That label is “farm-to-table.” Kansas City has plenty of farm-to-table restaurants, but deciphering what that means, exactly, can be a challenge. That’s because there isn’t a defined standard for calling something “farm to table.”
Farm-to-table is a social movement, not a regulated standard for food. This means that pretty much any restaurant can label itself as farm-to-table. The Tampa Bay Times found in an in-depth investigative report that many restaurants will use this label without any evidence to back it up, and there is not much available to keep them honest.
What does that mean for you as a consumer? First, it means you should be aware that some labels don’t mean as much as you think. But it’s also important to not let the fakers stand in the way of great local restaurants that are doing it right.
You can find genuine farm-to-table meals in Kansas City from restaurants with a commitment to serve fresh, local and organic food.
Finding Organic Restaurants in Kansas City
Kansas City’s food scene is continually expanding, and there are a variety of organic restaurants in Kansas City. These are a few good places to start:
- Farmhouse: An all-American eatery serving fresh dishes made with local ingredients. This farm-to-kitchen Kansas City restaurant backs up its claims. You can find The Farmhouse’s suppliers
- Blue Bird Bistro: Located in the Westside, this bistro serves food that is organic, all-natural, sustainable and local.
- The Sundry: This organic restaurant in Kansas City is fresh on the scene and serving fresh meals. Stop by for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
- Renee Kelly’s Harvest: This farm-to-table restaurant is located inside of a castle, which is very cool.
- Howard’s Grocery: If you need groceries for your home kitchen or a delicious bite to eat, you can stop at Howard’s on Grand Street.
- Westside Local: This is a restaurant on the Westside (in case you missed that) serving delicious food crafted with local ingredients.
- Story: Head chef and owner Carl Thorne-Thompson says, “I try to source ingredients carefully, locally when I can, but whether local or not, I always try to find the best, freshest, most interesting.”
- Green Dirt Farm: What’s more farm-to-table than an actual farm? Green Dirt Farm has a creamery serving their fresh, local and organic cheeses, as well as wines and charcuterie boards.
- Room 39: This farm-to-table Kansas City shop lists its farmers on the menu, so you can be sure you’re getting something fresh.
You can be confident you’re getting a real farm-to-table meal at any of these organic restaurants in Kansas City. Unlike some places that would use the term for purely marketing purposes, these are solid, local spots to get delicious, organic food.