Inspired by National Fruit and Vegetable Month, as well as the diner’s commitment to keeping their products fresh and local, the Silver Diner has sparked a new health initiative in the community. The Silver Diner in Merrifield is starting its own farmers’ market.
The Merrifield Silver Diner is the sixth Silver Diner to start a farmers’ market as a result of the Silver Diner’s fresh and local initiatives.
According to head chef and co-founder of the Silver Diner, Chef Ype Von Hengst, diners are troubled by the stereotype that they will provide poor quality and unhealthy food.
“We have always had the struggle of overcoming the bad reputation of all the diners before us who had big menus but a lot of bad food,” Von Hengst said.
Von Hengst wants to make food for the community in order for people to come together and enjoy food that is nutritious and beneficial to one’s health.
“We always wanted to be healthier and better and the name ‘diner’ doesn’t tell you that, so we always had to show that with our menu and being on the forefront of health,” Von Hengst said.
Ype said that the Silver Diner was one of the first restaurants to offer heart-healthy options, to cook without trans-fat, and to make more health-conscious diner food. Now the Silver Diner is taking the commitment to healthier eating and sustainability to the next level.
Every Sunday, the Merrifield Silver Diner will host an outdoor farmers’ market right in front of the restaurant from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. while the meals inside the diner will feature produce purchased from the market.
Von Hengst said that not only is this initiative about making better food and promoting overall health in the community, but also helping to support local food and farmers. While the market is going on outside, the diner supports the farmers inside as well by giving all customers one dollar coupons to the market and encouraging families to make purchases at the outdoor market.
Silver Diner also supports local farmers by purchasing produce and food products that can be used to make meals on the menu. Von Hengst wants to make food that is not only better for you but tastes better, too.
“The farmers over there have string beans and fresh produce that was picked that morning at 5 o’clock and sold at the market at 9 o’clock. So you know, you have a much fresher and a much better product you know that comes fresh and locally to you, so you support the local community and it is obvious it will taste better than something that has come all the way from California or Mexico or has been around the United States for a couple of days.”
Von Hengst said it’s a win-win – the farmers get good exposure, Silver Diner is able to make healthier and tastier meals for families everywhere, and the people in the community are exposed to healthier eating choices.
In particular, Von Hengst has the interests of the youngest members of the community in mind.
“This comes back to the fact that we want to encourage our kids to eat fresh and local,” Von Hengst said. He supports Michelle Obama’s push to promote children’s health in this country and believes that if we start working on children’s health early, particularly in terms of diet, we won’t have to worry about health care and health problems in the future.
“If you offer the kids more things than just macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders and French fries, they will eat it,” Von Hengst said.
“We have found that 4 out of 10 kids now pick the healthier items but it used to be 1 out of 10 so it’s really turning around and we’re really happy to be a part of this turn around,” Von Hengst said.
Von Hengst hopes that the community will get involved in these farmers’ markets and eating fresh and local.
“You should eat fresh and local because you are supporting your local economy and what is better than to do that in these difficult times. Also, we all care about our health, we all care about better products, so you’re getting really the full bang for your buck because you’re getting local products that taste better and are better for you,” Von Hengst said.