I went on a food tour this weekend that was entirely out of order. You see, we started the tour with what really should have been the grand finale. “Bull City Brewery” had a fantastic hamburger and pickle chips, but what it really was selling was a sense of meaning. The proprietor told us all about the moral, environmental, and health dangers of conventional meat. The solution, as he described it, was to eat at Bull City Brewery. Indeed, he said that this restaurant is a B-corp, that is, a corporation that officially enshrines environmental and community impact as additional bottom lines alongside profit. It is one of only sixteen B-Corp restaurants in the world. The owner exhorted us to switch to completely pasture-raised meat. By eating at Bull City Brewery and its sister restaurant Pompieri Pizza, we were saving the world.
The problem with this is that when I went to Pizzeria Toro I expected to be similarly inspired. Instead, well, honestly I could barely hear the speech because no effort was made to give us a separate space from the noise of the main restaurant. Mostly it seemed to be about the history of the building and the ever-changing menu. I heard not one mention of how I personally was a hero by eating this pizza.
Very disappointing. In Alley Twenty-Six, I learned about the suffering caused by the gin craze in the first half of the eighteenth century in Great Britain (our craft cocktails were neither helping nor hurting that cause).
Our octopus hush puppies at Dashi did not prompt us to briefly transform into a force for good.
Our fresh local catfish and succotash at The Piedmont offered no redemption for our personal sins.
All in all, it was a great time for me personally, but I want to feel like me going on a food tour is a great time for the whole world.
The take-home question is this: When will all restaurants be able to make sure that my dining experience is a reason for humanity to celebrate?
As much as it pains me to do so, wiser people than me have encouraged me to let my readers know when I do not intend to be taken seriously. This is one of those instances. In fact, I do not expect every restaurant I go to to tell me I’m a wonderful human being just for eating there. I do think B-Corps are a good thing, however. Now that I know they exist, I intend to patronize more of them. They include King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Etsy and an ever-growing list of other companies.