The local food movement has gained popularity in recent years as more and more chefs, restaurant managers, and even everyday food shoppers show a preference for locally-sourced food. It continues to gain traction around the United States as a growing number of people become more socially and environmentally responsible consumers. If your servers can place fresh food atop your cafe tables year round, your food-conscience patrons will appreciate your concerns…and the tastiness of your cuisine!
Advantages of Eating Local
Eating local benefits not only those who produce locally-sourced food and those who buy it, it also is good for communities as a whole. Many people who eat local form long-lasting relationships with the farmers from whom they buy, and locally-sourced food is more nutritious than what you will find from your bulk food distributors.
Further, the environmental benefits are significant: food that doesn’t have to be transported hundreds or thousands of miles produces a much lower carbon footprint.
Sourcing Locally During the Fall and Winter
If your restaurant is concentrating on providing customers with locally-sourced food, remember that your menu may be limited to what is on hand in the region that you live in. You’re offering autumn harvest menu entrees now, but what happens when the snow begins to fall? Here are some suggestions for finding market-sourced food during the cold months.
- Purchase local meat and dairy. Raising animals isn’t limited to the spring and summer. Be sure to talk to local farmers and buyer’s groups so that you will be able to create new dishes using locally-raised meats.
- Some Fruits and Vegetables Are “Winter Ready.” Farmers often use greenhouses, fermentation, cold storage, and other methods to grow produce the whole year. Many of them also use root cellars and climate-controlled spaces on their land that allow them to store produce.
- Find a CSA Program That Offers Variety. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, allows you to have a relationship with a farmer or group of farmers who will supply you with local food during the entire year. They often pool their produce and sell it to restaurants, schools, and families. The more farmers there are in the group, the better your winter produce selection will be.
Don’t let the cold months stop you from serving your customers farm-to-table food! During winter, you can still offer fresh, seasonal, and delicious items that will tempt guests’ taste buds and convince them to venture to your restaurant for a wonderful, local meal no matter the weather.