With the farm to table concept and slow food movement making way into the mainstream, more and more restaurants are purchasing fresh ingredients from local farms.
The principal reason for this is that restaurants are seeking ingredients for their dishes that sing. Singing food is made with ingredients that are as fresh as fresh can be and of superb quality. It’s not only fine dining restaurants that are finding benefits but your small café and sandwich shop too.
One study conducted in the US analyzed 3500 consumers and one-third of them were convinced that food sourced from a particular region had a significant advantage in taste and quality compared to conventional varieties of produce, meat, and dairy.
On average, fruits and vegetables can travel 1500 miles to arrive at their final destination. As you can guess, this type of transportation affects the quality of ingredients.
Local food travels a fraction of the way, so it maintains its robust flavour and original appearance.
Traceability is another critical aspect as local food can be traced through all stages of production, processing and distribution. This factor matters a lot to restaurants as they become more willing to buy directly from farmers to get their hands on field-ripened vegetables and tree-ripened fruits that are usually difficult to obtain from regular distributors.
Along with freshness, the flavour of the ingredients is a big deal. Just like a hand-picked tomato from your garden, local food bears more character than food that has travelled a long-distance and chefs see this as a huge bonus when promoting dishes to their customers.
Another huge reason why restaurants are choosing to buy directly from farmers is that in the process, they are supporting local economies.
Owners and chefs have the chance to build relationships with farmers, and this personal contact can initiate a viable working relationship leading to more opportunities for both parties and the greater community. Tied into this, using local food is a great selling feature for a restaurant.
Of course, restaurants want to emphasize their locally-grown produce and will often name the farm supplier on the menu. This provides brand recognition for both the farm and the restaurant, giving room for broader marketing and sales possibilities.
Customers want to know where their food comes from, and restaurants are not shy about giving them the answers.
What every serious foodie will say is that local food helps to preserve the environment. One primary reason is that transportation is massively reduced when buying local food, and this helps to reduce our carbon footprint. Also, by supporting local farmers, restaurants are helping to keep them in business, which in turn protects the agricultural landscape, preventing fields from becoming new developments.
In addition to being more beneficial for the environment, the production of local dishes sparks a unique journey that involves creatively using seasonal ingredients and rotating menu items based on the farm’s availability. Local farms can offer specialty ingredients that are grown with loving care and attention, allowing chefs around the world to test their skills and techniques.
Today, restaurants can choose from hundreds of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, adding more flavours and colours to their restaurant menu. Chefs are looking for what’s rare and unique so that they can set themselves apart from their competitors.
For the farmers selling to restaurants, they can sell their finest ingredients, showcase their growing process and the mission of the farm. Farmers are willing to provide the bounty of their hard work giving top-notch chefs a whole new palette.