Eat Farm-To-Table Certified With New "Fresh From Florida" Menu Program

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With the whole farm-to-table trend, restaurants are all about claiming they use local products.

As much as we'd like to believe the buzz words, there's no way to know if it's actually true -- unless, of course, you know the chefs and restauranteurs themselves.

To help sort out any confusion -- and to promote local products -- the Florida Department of Agriculture recently rolled out its Fresh From Florida menu program with Rapoport's Restaurant Group.

See Also: Rapoport's Restaurant Group Recognized by U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Rapoport Restaurant Group's eateries, including Henry's, Deck 84, Bogart's Bar & Grille, and Burt & Max's, are the first restaurants in the state to feature the "Fresh From Florida" logos on the menus.

"Rapoport's was chosen as the first restaurant group to feature the designation due to its great reputation of operating award-winning restaurants and a history of managing mulitple restaurants in the group," said Jackie Moalli, Senior Marketing and Development Director for the "Fresh From Florida" program.

The program will be moving to Orlando next months and will continue to move and grow throughout the state from there.

"Fresh From Florida" logos have been used in produce and seafood markets since the 1990s, but this is the first time it will be featured on restaurant menus.

To be a part of the program restaurants must make concerted efforts to use products grown in Florida in menu items; however, there is no distinct guideline as to how many must be used in each individual dish.

"There are times when certain things don't grow in Florida," said Moalli. "With 300 commodities produced in the state anytime time of year, something is growing locally. Moving forward, other restaurants might be taking a different spin on the program with weekly specials and other options."

While the program was developed from the marketing wing of the department, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is in full support of its efforts.

"Commissioner Putnam is a huge supporter of restaurants sustaining locally grown and caught items," said Moalli. "He's very excited about it."

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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