Farm to Table | THE MARK

Farm to Table | THE MARK

Lisa Owen is a chef with a mission. She’s also the owner of The Mark, a restaurant that’s been in operation for 15 years. Food, for Lisa, can be either a curse or a blessing: it can give life, or take it away. Knowing that she named her restaurant after her stepfather who died of cancer (which she attributes to food-related causes), I imagine that the name is highly symbolic. From the perspective of personal context, The Mark is more than a mere business, it’s a line drawn in the commemorative sand of her heart.

“Most people”, she claims, “sell a little organic food on front of the menu, but on back they are using processed foods and not cooking with healthy oils”. The Mark, in contrast, even cooks with organic oils. Lisa avoids genetically modified food because it’s “bad for your health and will eventually kill you. If you don’t know where it comes from it can – if it’s not healthy – possibly kill you”. Unashamedly matter-of-fact, Lisa compels us, by example, to know where our food comes from.

But how about other facets of the farm-to-table movement? Besides promoting healthier food for the individual, how does The Mark reflect farm-to-table values beyond the personal scale? Well, her answer is telling: “Sustainable farming is less likely to harm your environment, right?” As if the answer is already implied in the question, Lisa spares no time for explication. Consider this her trenchant critique of a self-destructive culture gravely exacerbated by a thoroughly indifferent food industry.

“People need to become aware”, Lisa concludes. “It takes a family member to get cancer before people come around sometime”. Meanwhile, she’s going to keep doing what she does, and won’t change – for anyone. For Lisa there’s a bottom line that can’t be negotiated: she won’t sell people food that could cause cancer; she refuses to give someone the same illness that killed her stepfather. A life lost from food is an unnecessary loss. Food should be life affirming, not death-provoking. Whether you have cancer, know someone who has, or are planning on living forever, Lisa aims to leave her mark.

 

By Todd B. Gruel