But when you're Burger Up in 12South, a restaurant that has proclaimed a mission to spread the word about the benefits of eating locally — serving up beef and produce from nearby farmers — it's nice to get a thumbs-up from one Cabinet member in particular: the secretary of agriculture.
U.S. Department of Agriculture chief Tom Vilsack happened to be in Nashville on Monday promoting flex-fuel gas stations — spots where trucks can fuel up with a formula of 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline, not just the standard formula of 10 percent ethanol — which the government is touting as a way to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. (There's plenty of disagreement on that plan, but that's a topic for another day.) Then on Monday evening, Vilsack did a live appearance on Nashville-based cable network RFD-TV.
While he was in town, Vilsack's staff was looking for the right lunchtime destination, preferably one that meshes with the goals the USDA promotes. Burger Up was the place they picked.
"Secretary Vilsack is interested in supporting family farmers," spokesman Justin DeJong says. "Burger Up sources ingredients from Middle Tennessee. ... Triple L [the Franklin farm that supplies Burger Up's beef] is a multigenerational family farm." DeJong went on the give me the USDA spiel about generating economic growth and keeping rural America strong.
One of the USDA's local guys, David Glasgow (communications director for the rural development office in Tennessee) was also at the lunch. He had a simpler answer for why the team picked that particular restaurant: "Burger up has great-tasting food. That was the first criteria."
Glasgow, who lives not far from the 12South restaurant and is also running for Metro Council, elaborated: "That it [Burger Up] is run by local entrepreneurs who based the whole concept on sustainable, local agriculture — that's proof that Secretery Vilsack's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative is not only good for business, it tastes better too."
Eat tasty food for the good for the economy! The government wants you to! That's the kind of political slogan that hits a foodie where she lives.
And it actually got me to read up on Know Your Farmer Know Your Food, or KYF2, as the USDA website calls it. That's how I also found this cool image from the National Agricultural Library: