My brain rarely shuts down. I am constantly tossing around new ideas for the cafe, running projects through my head, thinking about my staff and their needs, thinking about all the stuff I ‘should’ be doing, and feeling guilty for every misstep have ever taken, or may ever take in the future.

But there are great moments of peace. Like the other night when I was among a group of very like-minded people at a chef’s collaborative event, and I just reveled in the peace of knowing we are on the right track. I am so proud to be a member of Chef’s Collaborative, especially in this region! It means that we really care about supporting local business and farmers. It also means that we are dedicated to the highest quality and most sustainable means of living and working. So the other night Mark and I went to a meeting at Primo’s Grill and dined like royalty. Chef Charlie McManus is my kind of chef and he is definitely someone I look up to. And then I tasted his greens! They were supplied by Terry and Dick Carkner, of Terry’s Berries, along with heavenly salad greens. The cooked greens were perfection: tender, sweet but not artificially so, and with a lovely gloss to them. I wanted to sip the juices! Instead I spooned them over the roasted pork supplied by Cheryl Ouellette (aka “The Pig Lady”) and I was in heaven. We also had sheep cheese from Black Sheep Creamery, which I already knew I loved since we have used them before.

We also tasted McGavick wines and you bet your bippy we will be having a tasting with them as soon as they can get out here. Phenomenal flavors in the syrah, merlot, and the cab… and all of their proceeds go to charities! I can’t wait for you taste these Washington wines.

Of course, as soon as we left the meeting my brain was going a million miles an hour again. I didn’t sleep too well, but it renewed my love affair with sustainability and my commitment to moving that direction.

We are all at different stages of the sustainable path, so to speak. I know that just when I am feeling pretty good about our abundance of local products, I learn that there is so much more that I could (should?) be doing. And I remember that I must take it one step at a time or I will rush into a bad decision that will set us back too far.

Where are you on this path? Is it important to you that our coffee is fair-trade, organic, and locally roasted? Do you care that we use local honey? What does local mean to you? To us it means different things for different needs. For instance, no one in Kitsap (that I know of) can handle our need for 60+ dozen eggs a week, so we use a farm in Roy, WA. I think that’s pretty good, since we used to use California eggs, since they were cheaper.

No way we can get good olive oil here (and by here I mean the U.S.) so I patronize a small, organic farm in Umbria, Italy. Same for the wines we get from Italy, all from small family farms. Is it local? Not by a long shot.. but they all use earth-friendly farming and producing practices. And they ARE small family farms… I want to add that the importer we use to get the wines IS based in Seattle: Small Vineyards Imports, and they are owned and operated by a couple of great guys, not some big, impersonal group. …What we call ‘sustainable’, ‘organic’, and ‘earth friendly’; the Italians call 3000 years of common sense. (Thank you Tom Kelly of Small Vineyards for that tidbit!)

Our Washington wines also come from small farms. We only have a couple of wineries at present, but I am always willing to do the dirty work and go taste something new, just so I can offer it to you! (I suffer so much!)

So tell me and talk amongst yourselves… do you focus on supporting locally owned independent businesses? Why or why not?