Balancing factors of taste, nutrition, cost, and the environment

New A4 Truck

Photo of A4 food truck by Flickr user Brian Del Vecchio [Hybernaut], used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News earlier this year, New England chef and restaurateur Michael Leviton describes the challenge of producing healthful, flavorful, sustainable, local food within the constraints of current economic and agricultural realities. As he describes to Bret Thorn,

I see commercials for chains selling two large pizzas for $5.99 or something, and I don’t know how that’s possible.

Whether it’s pizza or the piadena sandwiches we serve on our food truck, or the fancy-pants food that we serve at Lumière, our food’s going to cost more. It just is. But there’s a value proposition in doing what I and many others are doing. We have to look forward toward our customers, giving them better, healthier food, and backward at the environment and the economy.

But I completely get that people are on a budget and they have to make choices. I would love to tell you that I can use a Massachusetts-grown flour, but the fact of the matter is it would probably cost me in the range of 4 to 5 times as much as what I use. In order to get the mouth feel we want, we are blending a number of different flours for our crust, but they’re not from New England. But if I start quadrupling my costs, no one’s going to buy my pizza. All my high and mighty proselytizing won’t keep my doors open — I don’t have a place where I can charge you $200 for a meal of pizza.

Check out the full piece here.

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