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Yesterday, I received a note from Dan Simons, whose consulting company Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group created the concept for Founding Farmers and currently manages the restaurant.

On Monday, the Washington Post published a front page piece examining and questioning his restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. Having already written about Founding Farmers’ LEED certification, I published a quick blog post on the subject.

Through some mysterious computer glitch—-which I’ve yet to figure out, and hope will not wreak havoc again—-Simons tried to post a comment on this blog and it stalled in the system. When it finally went up yesterday, it didn’t appear on the side comment bar or anywhere on the blog’s front page. So anyway, here it is, in full:

Dear Ruth, and Readers:

The Post article misses the big picture, and states the salmon topic as if that’s a permanent factual statement. And the Harris Ranch example is a year old, and I corrected that mistakes quickly upon learning about it. Ask about our milk, eggs, chickens, and ask our produce distributor about the 35,000 pounds of local produce we bought this summer, ask about our coffees, our teas, and lots of other aspects of the business.

There’s a Whole Story here, but Post article chose to take a few tidbits and try and make a different story. Please read my initial response here: http://www.wearefoundingfarmers.com/ and my full response here: http://blog.wearefoundingfarmers.com/2009/12/todays-washington-post-founding-farmers-response/

I think this is a very important topic, and I’m glad it is a focus; I just want the focus to be fact-filled, and comprehensive, not based on a few exceptions that don’t represent the whole story. I’m wide open for dialogue and feedback, and I’m proud of the work we’re doing at this restaurant.

Yesterday, I talked with several colleagues about Simons’ note. (One of them, food writer Tim Carman was obviously dying to get some of his thoughts out there too, as we both wrote posts this morning.). As WaPo writer Jane Black pointed out in her piece, sustainability and green standards are hard to analyze and define. And journalists, just like restaurateurs and business owners, struggle to parse out what’s genuinely eco-friendly and what’s simply labeled eco-friendly. We can all be easily duped, especially when there is such a public appetite for information about all things conservation-oriented.

On the surface, it appeared (just a guess) that Black had been eying this particular subject matter for a while, and she found a perfect case study in Founding Farmers, a restaurant that so earnestly claimed to be wholeheartedly environmentally-conscious. (And for the record, I’ve never been there—I’ve just read a lot about it, and talked with restaurant staff.) Did she single the place out unfairly? Maybe. Did she cherry-pick her information?  That’s what Simons is claiming.

But here’s the bottom-line—-which Black’s article clearly proves (as well as this recent piece by City Paper’sTim Carman)—-finding local and/or eco-friendly meat, fish and produce is complicated, time-consuming, and clearly, there’s a learning curve to understanding the process. Maybe restaurants should wait—-suffer through a few minor embarrassments and learn from their mistakes—-before gloating about their green philosophy so openly.