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4 San Diego Uptown News | June 10–23, 2011

Contaminated fruits and vegetables Local fare reduces risk E

ating fruits and vegetables has long been considered a way to combat disease,

SlowLane Brook Larios

but what if that salad you’re nosh- ing or broccoli you just finished sautéing could kill you? More than 1,700 people have become gravely ill and 21 have died since last week’s devastating E. coli outbreak in Europe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As European citizens and world travelers continue to suffer what is being called the worst E. coli outbreak in history—a strain of the virus that cannot

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taminated bean sprouts. Produce should not make

you sick. Yet despite government efforts to tame the immense food systems of Europe, America and Asia—from farming and produc- tion to packing and distribution to hospitality and catering—with laws and controls, nothing beats direct oversight of land and direct delivery of produce, achieved when consumers and businesses purchase directly from local grow- ers.

It’s now thought that the

outbreak in Europe was caused by poor sanitation somewhere along the line, whether at the farm, during distribution or at a restaurant serving the pro- duce, but pinpointing it is made tougher by the sheer number of cogs in the proverbial wheel. The more systems involved in produc- ing your food, the more likely it is to become contaminated, and the more difficult it is to trace an unleashed toxin—in this case one that perhaps came about only because someone was too lazy to wash their hands. Interestingly, the number of hands that touch the grapes or radishes served at some of your local restaurants are becoming

fewer as chefs and restaurateurs begin to grow their own produce and herbs. In last December’s Slow Lane, I shared details about AVE 5’s garden at Highland Valley Ranch in Ramona, which fuels a portion of Executive Chef/ owner Colin MacLaggan’s menu. Now, an increasing number of chefs and restaurateurs have fol- lowed suit. In fact, I’m not afraid to call this a trend—and one that I hope sticks.

Enter the newest family of res- taurants to join the ranks of these local produce ambassadors: The Red Door and The Wellington, which broke ground last week on a halfacre garden on Mount Helix. The resulting produce will

serve as fodder for some of Chef Brian Johnston’s dishes; compost from both restaurants will be used to nourish the garden. Johnston and owner Trish Watlington will continue to source much of their other produce from local growers. Other San Diego chefs and

restaurateurs who’ve jumped on board this literally growing trend: Andrew Spurgin of Fibonacci’s Campus Pointe Bistro in UTC, Eugenio Martignago of Bistro West and West Steak and Seafood in Carlsbad and Paul McCabe of KITCHEN 1540 at L’Auberge Del Mar, whose hydroponic system allows him to grow his produce vertically, sans soil, in a tight space. Alicia Douglas of Lock-

wood Table in Solana Beach also employs a vertical hydroponic system. Chef Christian Graves of Jsix helms an herb garden on the rooftop of downtown’s Hotel Solamar, where Jsix is located, and Chefs Patrick Ponsaty and Gabriel Morales grow herbs used in everything from main courses to desserts at Market Cafe and Mistral at Loews Coronado. Want what these chefs have, but have a thumb about as green as a tire? Karen Contreras of Urban Plantations, who planted The Red Door and The Welling- ton’s new garden, can plant yours and give you the tools to maintain it. Visit for more details.u


be combated with antibiotics—in- vestigators are attributing the outbreak to con-

Design for a garden by

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