Pete Turner on Illegal Pete's, Community and the Fort Collins Controversy

Philip Poston
Pete Turner never expected to wind up on the Drudge Report. But that's where he landed this week -- while he was dealing with an eleven-week-old baby, fighting a cold, moving the original Illegal Pete's that opened in Boulder in 1995, and preparing to launch his seventh location in Fort Collins. "It's been an interesting week, to say the least," croaks Turner, who lost his voice along the way.

See also: Illegal Pete's Taking Over Mama's Cafe Space

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Chipotle Endorses Proposition 105 Requiring Labeling of GMOs in Colorado

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In a statement released today, Chipotle is officially asking Colorado voters to check "Yes" on Proposition 105, the ballot initiative that would require food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, "Produced With Genetic Engineering." Although Chipotle -- and other restaurants -- would not be subject to the regulation, which would take effect July 1, 2016 if the initiative passes, the burrito chain is already labeling menu items containing genetically modified ingredients on its website.

See also: Bradford Heap Goes GMO-free at Salt Bistro and Colterra

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Mercy for Animals Protests Outside Leprino, Owned by One of Richest Coloradans

Mark Antonation
Protesters from Mercy for Animals outside Leprino Foods headquarters in Denver.
More than forty activists gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Leprino Foods corporate headquarters on West 38th Avenue at noon yesterday, carrying signs and banners printed with the phrases "Leprino Foods: Cruelty in every slice" and "Cows suffer for Leprino cheese." The rally was organized by Mercy for Animals (MFA), an organization whose stated mission is "preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies." The goal of the organizers was to present more than 250,000 petition signatures calling for Leprino to adopt policies that would deter animal abuse at its dairy suppliers.

See also: Photos: Meet the Five Richest Coloradans in 2014

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New Food Co-op Hopes to Open Market in Northeast Denver

From the Northeast Community Co-op Market website.
When your neighborhood doesn't provide the products and services you desire, you can get in your car and drive somewhere else, or you can do something to permanently bring what you need to your neighborhood. A group of northeast Denver residents living in and around Stapleton, Park Hill, East Colfax, Lowry, Montclair and North Aurora are doing just that. Frustrated by a lack of grocery outlets dedicated to local, natural and organic meats, dairy and produce, they formed the Northeast Community Co-op with the goal of opening a market in the area. Currently at 300 members, the co-op hopes to recruit an additional 600 members by the end of the year and another 600 by the time the market opens, sometime next year.

See also: Kevin Taylor Signs on for Restaurant, Beer Garden at Stanley Marketplace

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Bittersweet's Artistic Plating Takes Advantage of Late-Season Garden

Mark Antonation
Chives -- some recently snipped -- grow in the side garden at Bittersweet.
A small garden patch next to a popular restaurant may not provide enough bounty to fill the plates of every hungry guest, even in the height of the season. But fresh flourishes can add artistry -- as well as bursts of flavor -- to the presentation, which is one of the goals of Olav Peterson, chef and co-owner of Bittersweet . After the bulk of spring and summer produce is gone, guests can still experience the spirit of the garden through Peterson's detail-oriented use of flowers, herbs and the last vegetables of the summer harvest.

See also: Taste of Thailand Turns Twenty With Fresh Spirit and "Beautiful Fish"

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Chef Bradford Heap Goes GMO-Free at Salt Bistro and Colterra

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Bradford Heap, chef/owner of Boulder's Salt Bistro, isn't waiting around for a vote or for the government to take action on GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He's already implemented a GMO-free kitchen, or what's as close as possible. "We should say 99 percent -- there's so much (environmental) contamination that it's impossible to be certain," he notes. Still, this past May he made the move from sourcing everything but the meat from GMO-free producers to going whole-hog, so to speak, by also ensuring that the animals ending up on his plates have not been fed anything genetically modified.

See also: Yes or No on GMO Labeling Proposal? Citizens' Review Releases Study

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Bubu, Chop Shop and other Colorado fast-casual concepts bring new ideas to dining

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Remember when these guys were new and nobody thought they would make it?
We all know the drill: Get in line, read the big menu board, shuffle along the counter pointing at toppings and condiments, pay at the end and grab our food. Or maybe we just pick from lists of ingredients or lunch styles -- the wrap, the bowl, the sandwich -- and take a number to a table until a clerk in an Easter-egg-colored shirt seeks us out or hollers our number. Fast-casual (or the preferred "quick-casual," to remove associations with fast food) was the fastest-growing sector of the restaurant industry last year, according to a recent article by investment strategy website the Motley Fool . So what's the appeal? Is it marketing strategy designed to appeal to our health-conscious lifestyles, or is it just the most bang for the buck? And how are a new generation of quick-casual eateries luring us to spend our money?

See also: Chipotle raises prices, but only in Denver so far

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Clear Creek Organics, chef Michel Wahaltere prove farm-to-table is no fad

Mark Antonation
Happy goats make good cheese.
Farm-to-fork, farm-to-table, pasture-to-plate: Whether industry buzz phrases or genuine attempts to improve the quality of meals for restaurant diners, the trend has blossomed into a nationwide obsession for restaurateurs and dedicated gourmands alike. The sincerity of a kitchen's efforts is generally apparent with the first forkful: Is the salad topped with wan pink tomatoes in February; does the menu feature tropical ingredients flown in from hotter climates; why is there asparagus in my pasta in November? But when you're seated at a long table in the middle of a field within view of boisterous goats and rows of ripening produce, you know at least a few of the dishes sport ingredients that just recently had the bugs and dirt rinsed from their roots.

On Sunday, June 28, Michel Wahaltere, executive chef of the soon-to-open Dorchester Social Eatery in LoDo, teamed up with Clear Creek Organics to host a farm dinner at Steven and Lauren Cochenour's acre-plus parcel of fertile soil and burgeoning vines.

See also:First look at Ambli, Michel Wahaltere's new restaurant, that puts a global spin on takeout

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Mercury Cafe's crowdfunding project seeks to bring more solar energy to the restaurant

Throughout its various incarnations in Colorado since the mid-'70s, Marilyn Megenity's Mercury Cafe has been a model for clean energy. Since the Mercury settled into a permanent home at 2199 California two decades ago, Megenity has installed 36 solar panels on the building and also worked to change the city regulations on the use of wind energy.

Now Megenity wants to do more so her business can use less -- and she's asked for the community to help. She's launched a crowdfunding campaign that will allow the cafe to purchase and install 36 more solar panels and batteries; with less than two weeks left to reach the campaign's goal of almost $40,000, Megenity is hoping that her loyal patrons will jump at the chance to invest in clean energy for the future.

See also:Best of Denver 2013: Best Free Entertainment - Mercury Cafe

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Natural Grocers bans confinement dairy products

The consumption of certain products can contain inherent ethical conundrums -- and those are the sorts of conundrums that cause outright hostility between, say, vegans and carnivores. What you eat is part of the issue, but another equally important component is how that food product was created and, perhaps, how the animal involved in creating it was treated.

"How our food is produced has always been a concern of ours," says Heather Isley, vice president of Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, which recently banned all confinement dairy products from its shelves. The new corporate guidelines require that milk ingredients in any products are sourced from dairies that provide their cows access to pasture and a natural diet of grass and forage -- and those dairies also may not use non-therapeutic antibiotics, hormone treatments, growth-promoting materials or feed containing animal byproducts.

See also: Natural Grocers opens today on East Colfax Avenue

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