Culinary Arts and the Organic Wave

Chef Calls it an "Evolution"

There's little doubt that people want to buy organic food. According to a study released by the Nutrition Business Journal for the Organic Trade Association, consumer spending sky-rocketed from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $14 billion in 2005. Johannes Fruhwirt, chef and owner of Johannes restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida, says that there has been an evolution of the market. "It was elite, expensive, and then upscale," said Fruhwirt. "Now, it's available to the blue-collar workers."

Culinary Confusion

It seems like a given that restaurants would follow this trend closely, but getting people to buy organic apples at the grocery is somehow easier than asking them to pay more for a dinner out, leaving those in culinary careers feeling a bit confused. How can you offer your guests organic fare without breaking the bank?

A Culinary Conflict: The Art of Compromise

Perhaps the answer is simpler than it seems. Many experts agree that only some of the available organic products are worth the extra money. According to Charles Benbrook, technical director of the nonprofit Organic Center for Education & Promotion, there is no health benefit to buying some fruits, such as bananas, because any pesticides are discarded with the skin. Most agree that if you have to be choosy, apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, strawberries and spinach are the vegetables to pick.

If you want a menu that has popular appeal, but are worried about the expense, choose some organic dishes and advertise them clearly. This way you can ride the culinary wave and artfully keep your budget in line.