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Herb/Veg Gardens and the Health Department

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for experiences regarding the Health Department and their opinion of food that is self-produced in a garden on the property of the restaurant. I don't really hear too many people talk about this as it is surely a "gray area" in most localities. I see lots of restaurants doing this and most of the top restaurants in many cities plant herbs and veggies in some form. It seems like a pretty big trend right now but I don't think it is actually allowed most places in the U.S. 

 

The local heath department does have a rule stating that "food must come from approved sources" and I am sure there are similar rules all over the United States.

 

I am about to take over a kitchen and part of my plan was to build raised planting beds right outside the restaurant.  Surely, I can't get an inspector to approve of my gardens and pass it off as an "approved source". Or, can I?

 

I was just kind of planning on not raising awareness of this and if they discover it than I would cross that bridge if it ever comes to that.

 

I'm guessing this is not a problem for most chefs because of the gray area aspect of it but maybe there have been chefs here that have had problems or experiences with this?

 

What's your opinion on the subject?

post #2 of 11

I'm curious as to what you think an approved source is. I would think food you grow yourself would qualify.

 

Some things have to be insepcted, like meat, but that is a seperate issue. 

post #3 of 11

There is a small high end restaurant close to me that has a large garden it the back. All raised beds and fenced, but we are in a rural area.

I don't see this any different than  going to the farmers market.

post #4 of 11

"They" may want to see some kind of documentation (like the daily temp charts ;-).

Where you got the seed what brand of fertilizer and pest control (MSDS) but other than that I don't see a problem either.

Great topic let us know how things go.

 

mimi

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post
 

I'm curious as to what you think an approved source is. I would think food you grow yourself would qualify.

 

Some things have to be insepcted, like meat, but that is a seperate issue. 

 

I don't know. I will ask for clarification on this regarding garden grown veggies but I am 98% sure that I have read that means that all food products, including veggies, must be purchased from an approved source that includes, broadliner food service, grocery store purchases, or other "approved" perveyors. For example, foraging for mushrooms and using them in a restaurant is not permitted because it has not come from an "approved source". Another "gray area" that lots of restaurants are getting away with just because they don't make the health department aware of the fact. I am guessing that a garden in the back is the same as foraging out in the wild as far as the HD is concerned unless they approve of it, which is unlikely. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post
 

There is a small high end restaurant close to me that has a large garden it the back. All raised beds and fenced, but we are in a rural area.

I don't see this any different than  going to the farmers market.

 

Me either. As far as I'm concerned, there should be no problem here. Just trying to get my ducks in a row. Maybe I'm being too paranoid? 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post
 

"They" may want to see some kind of documentation (like the daily temp charts ;-).

Where you got the seed what brand of fertilizer and pest control (MSDS) but other than that I don't see a problem either.

Great topic let us know how things go.

 

mimi

 

Funny thing. The HD here has never asked me for a temp log on any of the refrigeration equipment in all the years I've worked here. I've only worked in one restaurant where they actually kept logs. They never ask for MSDS's either. I know that both are a requirement in my area too but the HD doesn't seem to care about those things... but they will certainly nitpick if the hood filters have one speck of grease on them. LOL 

post #6 of 11

Hmm, here in Portland either there are no rules regarding this or they are just lax b/c it there are several places in town that grow their own veggies/herbs. I'm guessing they would be more worried if say you were raising chickens and slaughtering them in house. :)

post #7 of 11

Health Departments differ but generally speaking an approved source is one the HD can track. So yes, you are an approved source because you have a licensed, insured and inspected kitchen and you are producing the food yourself. The HD is concerned with being able to track where the food comes from in the event of an illness among your customers and want to have some assurance that your source isn't illegal or polluted in some way. Raised beds you have direct control over are not the same as foraging wild foods near a Superfund site.  

  So you should confirm this by asking them directly but I don't think you would have any problems. 

post #8 of 11
The big attraction here is "farm to table". There is a restaurant where you pass their fields and livestock on the way in. They produce their own eggs, milk, even poultry and turkeys for Thanksgiving. On a smaller scale restaurants that just advertise "farm to table, locally sourced produce" seem to do very well.
post #9 of 11

We have several restaurants in town who have their own veggie gardens prominently displayed to the public, or advertise as having a rooftop garden and therefor known to the HD. Many more have herb gardens. Ours is organic and right by our front door and clearly marked. (It's been so mild we had parsley growing most of the winter, which made for some great conversation. Everyone who can, should have an herb garden for the obvious benefits, great fresh flavors, it's easy to plant and maintain, it's great PR; nothing beats sending a jacketed cook out on a summer day to pick herbs while people are waiting outside. And the return walk through the dining room smells like heaven to seated guests)

 

There's no inspection protocol relating to gardens. It's not a problem in our area us long as it is in raw form. As Chefwriter posted, if it's a product that's made in a residential kitchen, like jams, jellies, cheeses etc., then there's an issue, although our HD is usually not that thorough.

post #10 of 11
Different country (France), in the kitchen I work in we make our stock from scratch and they need council approvement to do it.
Not directly related, but also to point out the grey areas.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Good input everybody. Thanks!

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