“It’s doable, but it’s not easy,” said Alberto Gonzalez, owner of one of New York City’s first certified organic restaurants, Gustorganics, which operated from 2008 to 2015. Each dish, for example, involved up to 25 ingredients. , and all had to be organic; but some ingredients had only one source – a farm or a producer – that could provide an organic version.
“If there was a shortage, we were in trouble,” he said. “You have nowhere to go.”
Ashleigh Knecht, certification coordinator for the Northeast Organic Farming Association in New York City, said the regulations seemed more suited to farms than restaurants, so it might be difficult to figure out how to apply them in restaurants.
For many diners, the organic certification of restaurants does not seem to matter much. Some are even suspicious of the name.
“What’s most important to me is the restaurant’s mindset and attitude towards the food chain,” said Noah Youngs, who recently had lunch at a Bareburger on the Lower East Side. “People get the ‘organic’ label all the time and still have terrible practices.”
Timsie Malaney, a cardiologist at another table, said she prefers restaurants to list their meat and product suppliers – as they do on the Bareburger menu – rather than point to their organic certification.. “It’s just a label,” she said. “They don’t tell you where the product came from.”
The Ministry of Agriculture does not plan to change its rules to force restaurants to apply for organic certification, a spokesperson for the agency said. If customers are skeptical of a restaurant’s claim to be organic, they should file a complaint through the department’s website, she said.
Mr Rosenberg filed one last November about Bareburger and only got a response in May, simply confirming receipt of the complaint. He said he hadn’t heard anything more.