Fans of delicious food who are also concerned about social and environmental responsibility now have help when selecting a place to dine in Sonoma County. Slow Food in Sonoma County launched a new program, the Snail of Approval.

Seven restaurants from across the county received the first Snail of Approval awards:

Backyard, Forestville; Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria, Geyserville; Estero Café, Valley Ford; Naked Pig, Santa Rosa; SHED, Healdsburg; Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Sebastopol; The Black Piglet (food truck), Healdsburg.

“We’re delighted to recognize this initial group of restaurants that don’t settle for ordinary in the way they source their food, prepare their menus or run their businesses,” said Brad Whitworth, a member of the Slow Food Russian River board and of the Snail of Approval Committee, who presented the awards.

After a brief ceremony, the Snail-approved restaurant chefs served bites of their restaurant specialties to the crowd of more than 60, who attended the Nov. 1 launch at Healdsburg SHED. To accompany the bites, Ethic Ciders, Jardesca California Aperitiva, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Thumbprint Cellars and Tilted Shed poured tastes of artisanal beverages.

The program is a collaboration between two Slow Food chapters, Slow Food Russian River and Slow Food Sonoma County North. A joint committee evaluates establishments based on the Slow Food principles of good, clean and fair food. Some of the criteria include: seasonal ingredients and menus; sustainable ingredients sourced from local producers; humane treatment of people and animals; investment in fair labor practices; and green business practices like composting and recycling.

Each restaurant went through an approval process that included a detailed questionnaire, followed by a rigorous interview and on-site review conducted by a team of three Slow Food volunteers. Each evaluator independently rated the restaurant, before arriving at a collective score.

Carol Diaz, the program committee lead, said the organization plans to add other restaurants and expand to include artisan producers and farms. “We’re looking forward to educating eaters about the benefits of Good, Clean and Fair food by engaging the entire Sonoma County foodshed in a comprehensive program.”

Slow Food is a global grassroots organization with more than 100,000 members in more than 160 countries that stands for local foods, traditional gastronomy and time-honored food production. To learn more about the Slow Food in Sonoma County Snail of Approval visit www.snailofapprovalsonomacounty.org.

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