Minneapolis-St. Paul Atlas of Ethical Eating and Drinking

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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  1. Really love this idea and the very comprehensive questionnaire — great way to evaluate restaurants anywhere.

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome. So… when does it become an iPhone app or a microsite or special Heavy Table page or something so I can check on the go?

  3. agree w/ Erica – where’s the app? fantastic info – can’t wait for other establishments to add their info

  4. Yeah, I agree that this is a really neat idea – although I think that including all the surveys on one page will quickly get unwieldy with addition of more restaurants.

  5. Christian10/27/2009

    I’m still confused about the significance of the “?” and blank space on the grid. Tell me if this correct:

    ? – some people might consider it to answer the question; some might not
    blank space – the restaurant choose not to answer the question

  6. Author

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Love the microsite/iPhone idea, Erica, I’ll chat with our site’s producer about it.

    Christian, to answer your question — a blank spot is either a negative response or an unanswered question. Not everyone (obviously) can say yes to all the questions, so this lets us do a bit of comparison.

    The ? is for questions that have been half answered affirmatively, or not thoroughly supported by evidence. Again, not every restaurant can thoroughly document or completely satisfy every question’s requirements, and that’s fine.

    This Atlas is a starting point — for consideration, discussion, and further research — and with Y / N / ?, we are trying to quickly render a summary without overwhelming people with data, letting the full questionnaires answer stuff in more detail.

    Hopefully we can continue to build upon it and improve it as we go. Thanks to everyone for the comments and queries. Keep ‘em coming.

    James Norton
    The Heavy Table

  7. Ryan R10/28/2009

    Please be sure to include Brassa and Alma!

  8. Author


    This is an entirely self-reported project — mention the Atlas to the folks at Brasa and Alma, and hopefully they’ll enjoy it and then fill out our questionnaire.

    Best Regards,

    James Norton

  9. I’ll add that, while developing an iPhone app is probably resource intensive, especially for the short term, I think it could be similar to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s safe seafood app.

    But I’ll take a microsite or mobile-friendly Heavy Table special page in the mean time. ;-)

    And seriously, let me reiterate, I LOVE that you guys did this.

  10. I can tell you why Linden Hills Co-op has a “?” in the Ethical Meat column–I’m the member services manager, not the meat manager, so I don’t know which of our meats are pasture-raised, which are grass-finished or grass-fed, and which,if any, are finished on corn. I was so excited about being included to wait until I could get the details from Tom, the meat guy.

    Rather than say something that *might* not be correct, I didn’t answer the question completely. All our meat and poultry is locally-raised and free-range. Some is pasture-raised and/or grass-fed, and some is certified organic. None of it comes from CAFOs–that I am certain of. It might take me a few days to list which farms are which, as the question asks.

    Many thanks to Heavy Table for doing this! At the co-op, we get lots of requests for restaurant recommendations, so this is a great help.

  11. Author


    I think you answered your own question here — shoot me an email when you’ve got a more detailed sense of the status of your various meat offerings, and I’ll be happy to update your questionnaire and the corresponding mark in the grid. Thanks!

    James Norton

  12. I’d also like to see the survey’s on a different page.

  13. Kendra10/28/2009

    AWESOME! Is this for all of MN? Can we include southeastern MN? If I send this link to places down here and they participate, will they be posted? Pleeeeaaaase say yes! Can there be a “Greater Minnesota” section?????

  14. Author

    Kendra, sure, go for it. If it’s drivable from the Twin Cities, it’s relevant. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

    James Norton

  15. As a person who’s interested in sustainable agriculture, I appreciate this effort.

    It brings to mind the Minneapolis-based Green Routes project (a project of Renewing the Countryside).

    Here’s a bit more about their project:

    “Green Routes will help you discover small, unique businesses that are rooted in their communities; places to eat where the food is not only fresh from a family farm, but where you might bump into the farmers who grew it; places to have fun while helping to ensure that our natural and cultural resources will be around for many generations to come. Green Routes gives you a way to incorporate your values into your travels. It makes it easy to find fun and rich experiences and places.” – http://journeys.greenroutes.org/about.php

  16. I am surprised by these answers… Having eaten, worked at or delivered product to all the places on this list it is frustrating to see the lack of honesty in some these answers. I fear that more and more the idea of local, sustainable and environmentally conscious food production is becoming a marketing tool rather than a matter of ethical business practice.

  17. Kevin-M11/14/2009

    I’ve got to say, I’m not fond of the word “ethical” being used in this context.

    Is it more ethical to eat at Common Roots, or at some immigrant-run place on Lake Street that might not have the resources for LEED certification or the money to pay a living wage, but still provides employment for new Minnesotans who might not yet have the English skills to work elsewhere?

    Alternately, is it more ethical to spend $25 at Barbette or spend $5 at McDonalds and donate the remaining $20 to feed the needy? There are many ways to eat “ethically”, if that’s something one chooses to be concerned about.

    In the way you’re using it, “ethical” seems to be an attempt to valorize the consumer choices of an largely affluent, educated demographic group. Not only do “ethical eaters” have better taste, you imply, they also have better values.

  18. You have to try the coffee directly from my family farm, this is better than fair trade, shade grown. We are in mill city farmers market,kingfield, shoreview and st. paul winter farmers market. See the website.

  19. Cafe Palmira http://www.cafepalmira .com Cafe de guatemala. DRINK DIRECT.

  20. Nicole06/29/2010

    Please add Black Sheep coal fired pizza to the list of interviewees. Last time I visited their meat suppliers were not local but were small farm sources; they were very honest in answering all my questions.

    Oh and Kevin M. Chill out and go eat at McDonalds.

  21. John, since this questionnaire was completed, we have indeed found a local source for chicken and pork – through Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin, MN and we source free range turkey from Ferndale Farm in Cannon Falls. We continue to find ways to move more locally – more easily these days – perhaps thanks to the efforts of the food community to keep pushing for more!

  22. The table hasn’t been updated since february??? I just started the whole Ethical Omnivore lifestyle, and it’d be nice to have a source that was a bit more up to date…

  23. Author

    Totally fair point, Tyler. Part of the problem is that we hit a plateau of buy-in from the obvious local businesses, and we now have to go into enterprise mode to pry surveys out of people we don’t know about or who aren’t as interested in participating. But we’ll work on it.

  24. Kendra12/03/2010

    I just sent the link for the survey to my favorite restaurant a couple weeks ago. I hope to send out more in the next month! This is a great resource and we need to let restaurants know it is important to us to have this info!

  25. I LOVE this post!! Super interesting & helpful, and of course I REALLY appreciate you inquiring about vegan offerings. :)

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