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VOL. 35 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 14, 2011

Eat your greens

Barlow's tayst is city's only 'green-certified' restaurant

By Hollie Deese

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It was never Jeremy Barlow’s intention to run an eco-minded restaurant when he opened tayst in 2004. It happened organically, spurred on by his desire to serve the best food possible. And as he discovered, once you start on the green trail, there is no turning back.

“You get sucked in,” the chef says. “My passion is putting the best food on the plate, which leads you to local food, which leads you to sustainable farming, and it almost becomes second nature.”

Now his is the first and only green-certified restaurant in Nashville, an intense process monitored by the Boston-based Green Restaurant Association. Certification involves all areas of running a restaurant, including water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables and chemical and pollution reduction.

The extra effort is worth it to Barlow, who says he has drawn a different group of diners because of it.

“We have definitely attracted people who maybe were not aware we were as into the local food movement as we are,” he says.

Not that you should expect a lesson in sustainability when you dine at his 21st Avenue restaurant. It’s not about educating his customers, Barlow says, but about serving a good time out along with some truly tasty meals.

He recognizes that going out for a nice dinner is a luxury for many in this economy, and often the main event of an evening out instead of a precursor to other activity. So creating an environment that is welcoming and food that is worth the price paid is top priority.

“We don’t talk about the green thing at the restaurant unless people ask,” he says. “There is a sticker on the door, and there is a chalkboard up front that tells where our food comes from and that is it.

“We are not here to preach to them,” he adds. “We are here to show them a good time. It just so happens one of the benefits of eating here is supporting your community.”

In fact, the greening of tayst has led Barlow to another passion, the state of school lunches. Last spring, he hosted a five-course fundraiser at the restaurant that raised money for Growing Healthy Kids, an organization that strives to educate people about reversing and preventing childhood obesity.

In 2011, Barlow is on track to hopefully achieve four-star status from the GRA (a minimum of 300 points, he has 230) as he continues to look for new ways to tweak his operations, like striving to be carbon free.

“If this is truly what I believe in and the reason I believe in it is because I want my grandkids to have real food that is grown in our country, we need to look at the sustainable food movement as a whole,” he says.

Gourmet Pasture Beef, Springfield

Farmer Dave, Bethpage

Wedge Oak Farm, Lebanon

Benton’s Hams, Madisonville

Bonnie Blue Farm, Waynsboro

Hatcher Family Dairy, College Grove

West Wind Farms, Deer Lodge

Long Hungry Creek Farm, Red Boiling Springs

Delvin Farms, College Grove

Windy Acres Farm, Orlinda

Emerald Glen Farms, Munfordville, Ky.

Peaceful Pastures, Hickman

DW Farms, Pulaski

Gardner Grove, Franklin

Sunburst Farms, Canton, N.C.

Kentucky Bison, Louisville, Ky.

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate, Nashville

Falls Mill, Belvidere

TL Farms, College Grove

Jones Mill Farms, LaVergne

Sweetwater Farms, Philadelphia, Tenn.

Tennessee Gourmet Farms, Hohenwald

Green Market Farm, Gallatin

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