The Whitlock

At the end of Katonah Avenue lies a restaurant filled with rich history, delicious food, and a sustainable promise. Two years after opening, the Whitlock continues to create a neighborhood community—from serving guests on a sun-lit patio to gathering family and friends on a night out.

 

The Whitlock prides itself on “utilizing fresh ingredients and supporting local farms,” which include everything from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford, NY to Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights, NY to Longfords Own Make Ice Cream in Rye, NY. I had the privilege of speaking to half of the husband-wife team who runs the restaurant, Christina Safarowick.

 

One of the focuses of the neighborhood bistro is bringing a hyper-local experience to the community, which “immediately impacts our surroundings by supporting local business.” That means working and collaborating with a lot of vendors throughout Westchester. Even in the colder months, the Whitlock utilizes ingredients grown in the area. Christina explains, “many farms have now instituted greenhouses where they are able to push into the winter and still provide for us.” Because of this, the menu “definitely changes and is by availability.” For ingredients like meat and seafood, the Safarowicks prefer to buy from smaller businesses in the area, like their meat vendor who lives in Somers.

But, how does ordering for a hyper-local restaurant actually work? Christina explains that “in the beginning we created relationships by going to the farmers’ markets.” After establishing these friendly relationships, “the farms send an email to us at the beginning of the week letting us know what they have, and we’ll simply reply saying ‘we’ll take x, y, and z,’ and it’s there the very next day for us to use.”

 

After asking Christina about current local items on the menu, she excitedly mentioned a roasted sunchoke appetizer and their “heirloom tomato and burrata panzanella salad that uses local tomatoes.” Additionally, they do specials every night—”that’s where you’ll get the produce that came in that week.”

 

You can check out the Whitlock Tuesday through Sunday at 17 Katonah Avenue in Katonah, NY!

 

 

Faux Farmer’s Market Stand

John Jay Homestead Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays 10-2 and fits these criteria as a REAL local food market!

Summertime means farmers’ markets! These havens of fresh and local produce have gained massive attention over the past couple of years, evolving into places where families gather on weekend mornings. But, not all vendors are made equal! Here are our top three ways to spot out a faux farmer’s market stand:

 

  1. The produce isn’t in season or doesn’t grow in your area.

If a “local” vendor is selling items like pineapple or avocado in NY, they are most likely produce resellers. This link provides a harvest calendar from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets that shows what’s in season each month.  Of course, keep in mind some items may be grown in greenhouses out of their normal season like lettuces or tomatoes.

 

  1. Is it a producer-only market?

Not all farmer’s markets have the same enforced guidelines on who can sell and what they can sell. Check to see if they have a stand dedicated to the farmer’s market organization. If it is a producer-only market, then all the vendors are selling directly from their farms.

 

  1. The farmer/vendor cannot answer basic questions.

Ask the farmers about their produce! Try to ask beyond one to two questions and dig deep about their planting cycle and how they grow their food. Larger farms may not send their main growers or owners to farmer’s markets, but each vendor should know enough to answer these questions.

Roasted Sun Chokes with Herb Whipped Ricotta

Try this recipe for roasted sun chokes from the Whitlock for a quick and easy summer dish!

  1. Quarter sunchokes and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  2. Roast in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 40 minutes
  3. Mix ricotta with fresh rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper
  4. Toss sunchokes with cranberries and walnuts and serve over ricotta
  5. Finish with honey

Click here to read more about The Whitlock’s commitment to farm fresh food.

Bionutrient Food Association

Provided by BFA

Each month, community members interested in growing healthier food gather to share and learn in a local garden and enjoy a community-building, pot luck experience with the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA), Westchester/NYC Chapter. Meetings cover a range of topics, from succession and interplanting to compost tea. The BFA aims to educate consumers on healthier soil ecosystems, which yields a healthier food system, overall. Healthier soil also sequesters more carbon which is good for the climate.

We sat down with Ellen Best, co-leader of the Westchester/NYC chapter to learn more about the BFA.

Ellen first became interested in the BFA at a soil science event with founder Dan Kittredge and co-leader Doug DeCandia. Prior to her involvement, Ellen had gardened for a while, but she felt that her garden was dead: “I didn’t feel life. Something was missing. I looked at Doug’s garden at the Westchester Land Trust and it was so vibrant. It looked different. I looked into it a little more and realized that it connected all the dots for me.”

The mission of the BFA is to “improve the quality of the food system,” which can be defined in many different ways. However, “the main approach is to increase the soil health thereby increasing the health of the food.” In discussing soil health, we talked extensively on the indication of “organic” in supermarkets and farmers markets. “Organic does not mean that it’s nutritious. It just means that there aren’t any sprays of pesticides,” said Ellen. “If you don’t have minerals in the soil, then you don’t have them in the plants. Mineral deficiency is the basis for a lot of health problems.” The BFA aims to educate community members about the importance of maintaining soil health, which leads to more nutritious food and an increase of carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere.

Ellen compared the soil ecosystem of a plant to the gut of a human. Humans cannot process all the nutrients they’ve consumed without the microbiome in the gut, which is similar to a plant— “the roots are in the dirt, but they can’t do anything without the healthy guys in the soil.” Specifically, this system not only allows fungi to break down rocks, but also “makes the nutrients available to the plant and creat[es] air pockets. It’s a water filtration and holding system.” She emphasized, “it’s not that we do not have enough water or rain, it’s that we don’t have healthy soil to take advantage of what we have.” In a healthy system, the covered aggregated composition of the soil takes in rainwater, which decreases runoff.

Ellen encourages the community to be educated on topics connected to nutritious food and regenerative agriculture, whether that be from starting with one plant in the backyard to learning about where their food originates from. Currently, the BFA is developing a hand-held meter that will soon be available as an app, which will allow individuals to “test the nutrient level at the point of sale.” Using this, consumers can compare the nutrient levels between produce to see what they are actually eating. She also recommends to test your soil: “A lab that we recommend, Logan Labs, tests for a lot of the micronutrients and trace minerals. A lot of the traditional testing labs just refer to the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) that they see in the soil then. But if you have healthy soil, you are creating more of those nutrients. You are adding biology, not just chemistry.”

All are welcome to attend the Westchester Chapter BFA meetings and get involved in healthy soil practices. Monthly  potlucks/meetings are held either at Westchester Land Trust or local farms. For more info or to receive the newsletter, email westchesterbfa@gmail.com.

You can also check out the BFA Westchester’s You Tube Channel and Facebook Page. For more info on BFA click here.