Look for the Green Plate

If you think you’re eating at a farmers market when enjoying a dish at an Annapolis restaurant like b.b. Bistro or Level because of the freshness of the food, you’d be close.
    These restaurants and others are spearheading the city’s Green Plate Program, featuring ingredients grown within 300 miles. These 50 percent-plus delectables will be noted on the menu with a Green Plate icon plus the names of the farm of origin.
    Green Plates “is really the training wheels program,” says Maria Broadbent, director of the Annapolis Department of Neighborhoods and Environmental Programs. It targets restaurants that want to try using locally grown food but aren’t ready for the “tremendous effort to source out local food.”
    Level and b.b. Bistro are way past training wheels. b.b. Bistro co-owner Stacey Jackowski said 85 to 90 percent of her food is locally produced. Level owner John Morgan says the bulk of his ingredients come from local suppliers and the menu lists all the farms used.
    Both hope others will follow their example.
    “We’re not trying to be green because it’s the hot thing to do right now,” says Jackowski. She says using locally grown food saves money and gives a better product.
    That farmers market freshness is what many of today’s diners-out — including Broadbent — are looking for.
    “There are places I’d love to eat more if I knew where the food came from,” she says. How about you?