What Local Means to Chef Sonya Cote

By Megan Giller  |  October 10, 2013
Credit: Applebox Imaging

The terms “local” and “sustainable” get thrown around a lot these days, and we're guilty of it, too. But with so many chefs focusing on keeping it, well, you know, we decided to ask a few who focus on all things local and sustainable what the terms mean to them. We've chatted with Dai Due's Jesse Griffiths and Paul Qui over the past few weeks. Today we’re talking to Sonya Cote, the force behind Hillside Farmacy and Eden East, where the restaurant is literally housed on the farm ground at Springdale Farm. She told us

“‘Local’ to me doesn’t mean in proximity to where you live. It means how we can take our money and best support the people who are doing the right thing. That means these small farmers that are raising organic food that’s not necessarily organic-certified but is organic. You can tell their chickens are being treated correctly. I’m not going to give my money to a factory farm down the street that’s polluting. To me, that’s not local.

"Right now it’s such a collective unconscious awakening of people realizing that we’ve lost our food culture. We want to get back to that. What we’re seeing now is a result of that, like, holy sh*t, this huge agriculture is destroying our resources. It’s polluting our land. People are tired of not knowing each other and the community. Farm-to-table is so trendy. I get a lot of sh*t from the Internet trolls, like, ‘Farm-to-table, I’m sick of that.’ Well, you know, you can go f#*k yourself. That’s what we’re meant to do as humans on this planet. Share food with each other, cook with each other, get to know each other. It doesn’t even matter what religion, race or background you come from. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone wants fresh food.

"A lot of things piss me off. People saying that local food is for rich people. Food shouldn’t be cheap, in my opinion. People should stop paying for cable TV. That’s a huge priority for a lot of families, and that’s like $150 a month. Why not use that to support families in your neighborhood that are growing food? Yeah, it’s a little bit more expensive, because they have to put love and effort in, and they’re selling one vegetable at a time to make a living."