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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Arbor Brewing Company Pub and Eatery Embarking on Menu Makeover

We recently read one of those life-altering books that immediately changes the way you see and interact with the world around you. It is called the Omnivore's Dilemma and it is an unflinching and utterly enlightening investigation into the American food system - how it works and how it has been altered by corporate interest, government policy, and the American way.

And it really compelled us to take the plunge and look long and hard at every single item and ingredient we use and research all of our options for getting things that are locally sourced, sustainably and humanely farmed in ways that support the environment, support the animals, support the workers, and support our local economy.

We are committing ourselves to purchase meat, poultry, and dairy products only from farmers who provide a happy life and humane departure. When animals are raised humanely on diets nature intended them to eat; with plenty of room for exercise and fresh air; and not overcrowded into horrible feedlots up their hocks in their own waste, they actually don't need an arsenal of artificial hormones and antibiotics to keep them alive.

And we are committing ourselves to locally source as many items as possible. We have convinced ourselves over the years that a high-volume restaurant really needs to rely on mega-suppliers for the majority of its "groceries" to facilitate smooth ordering and inventory management but we're ready to put that assumption to the test.

And finally we are combing the ingredient lists on all of our prepared foods to root out any overprocessed items or items containing the types of things that I screen for when I buy my own groceries - like high fructose corn syrup.

It's a big job and getting started has been the hardest part. We have assembled a committee of like-minded staff who are assisting with the research and we hope to hear from you as well. In addition to local farmers, we're looking for breads and pastas and condiments - the works. So let us know if you have ideas and suggestions.

We hope to begin some of the easier changes ASAP (like switching to ketchup and mustard with no high fructose corn syrup). Phase two will probably be to institute a special local/sustainable section while we work toward our ultimate goal of remaking the entire menu.

We are also seeking kitchen staff with an interest in this project.

And no, we haven't forgotten about the Corner - there are only so many hours in the day afterall and we figure that once we have our sourcing sorted out, the Corner's limited menu should be a snap.

More to come...


At 1:52 PM, Blogger Spencer said...

I am impressed that you are taking this step. I will be eagerly watching to see the results. I've been trying to increase my use of local food sources at home (such as our recent Thanksgiving menu.)

I'd like to recommend to your attention a sermon, recently given, on this topic. Look for "Food Sacrificed to Idols" on this page. In this case, the "idols" are mega-agribusiness companies.

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so excited--that is awesome! I am reading the Omnivore's Dilemma right now. And, like my pal Spencer, I did a local Thanksgiving, too! (On my blog,

There are so many great local food groups--Slow Food, Project Grow, Agrarian Adventure, etc...congrats on taking this step!! I hope others follow :)


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Sarah Nash said...

Yay Arbor!

Eden Oranic (out of Clinton, MI) Pasta and Sauces is a good company to start with.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! That's a great idea, Sarah! And there are also those great noodles from Whitmore Lake...Al Dente, I think they are called? I should know this, since I have a bunch in my pantry right now....

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see your awakening. I would think Ann Arbor is big enough to start/join a co-op.

Cheapo Groovo

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous South Carolina Jim said...

Awesome idea and I am really happy to see that you are going in this direction. I have been trying to move in this direction as much as possible myself. To augment my venison, I have found a local farmer for free range beef and poultry....and my new boss has been keeping me supplied with seafood. Eat local!!

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Scott @ Tree Fort Bikes said...

That is the best thing I've seen a restaurant post on their site. Way to go! You've definitely got the support of your own bike shop owning vegetarian who's pumped to help out!

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Fig said...

This is great news! My family has made the same choices but it really limits our ability to eat out in good conscience. Great beer AND sustainable, happy food? I can't think of a better combination.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Diana Dyer, MS, RD said...

Rene, This is GREAT news! I'll send this update off to my son Eric Dyer. I confess that I pestered him every time we ate at ABC about the confusion regarding the beef served at ABC (grainfed or grassfed - which was it really?) I solved my own dilemma eventually by choosing the tempeh burger.

There are many great books that approach this topic from different angles. I also suggest Barbara Kingsolver's newest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Another mind and soul changing book leading to a totally different view of both food and farmers.

Thanks for leading the way!

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

Hip, hip, hooray! I'm overjoyed and impressed. If you need help finding local ingredients, see - I've been searching out foods within 100 miles of Ann Arbor for over a year now. Did you know you can get non-GMO soy oil grown up in the thumb area, and that all Pioneer and Penninsular brand sugar is grown by a farmer-owned cooperative about 100 miles from here?

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