What two things are Universal and very important to us all?
Farmers and the food they grow to feed us!

Do you know where your food comes from?

Food not only nourishes us but it connects us. The amount of hard work and passion that goes into to what farmers do to provide an abundance of food to not only nourish all of us but to support them and their own families to live.

So why should restaurant owners and chefs support local farmers and their farms?

Here are seven reasons why you should consider local.

Since local food is fresher, it is also more nutritious

If food is shipped from far and wide, over time, most produce loses some of its important vitamins and minerals. If food is purchased locally, straight from the farm and not has been shipped across the country or continent, it still has its nutrients.

Local food is much fresher then what you purchase from a grocery store

Most food at the grocery store generally travels a great distance over the course of days or weeks. Produced purchased directly from a farm or farmers market, is often picked within 24-48 hours of being purchased.

Food grown locally is less of a burden on the environment than produce you buy in the grocery store

Since the food you buy off the supermarket shelf most likely came from halfway across the world before reaching family tables, a significant amount of energy and fuel was spent on its journey. Food purchased from a local farm or farmers market only had to travel a couple of miles, which greatly reduces its carbon footprint.

Local farmers are more likely to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables

This means they usually have items you would never be able to find in a supermarket!

You might think that buying directly from a local farm or farmer’s market is more expensive than the grocery store

Not only does local produce taste better, but it is usually comparable in price. Since farmers are able to sell directly to restaurant owners or chefs, they have the ability to cut out the middleman.

Supporting local farmers helps keep money invested in the community, instead of going to large corporations

This not only helps support the farmer but the local community as well.

Finally, buying local produce helps to preserve green space and farmland

By supporting local growers you help to protect their land from being scooped up by developers and turned into parking lots and buildings.

 

A farmer/restaurant owner relationship can be an important connection

Many farmers will grow special products for restaurants and their chefs they work with or will give them a heads-up when their favourite variety of a particular fruit or vegetables that are coming into season.

Let’s face it, local food can taste better and using it can be a major selling point in your restaurant. Many restaurant owners and chefs might not consider using local due to accessibility. When the weather changes and field harvest comes to an end, more and more farmers are now building large greenhouses to provide many local fruit and vegetables year-round. If you do not have access to a local farm or a farmers market close by, supporting local might make it difficult. But with more awareness of supporting local, more farms and farmers are now supporting and offering Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSAs) which is similar to a CSA (community supported agriculture). This means they have shared delivery directly to restaurants as well as buying discounts. In addition, some farmers will find and build relationships with other farmers to bring more variety of food to their customers through a Multi-Farm CSA program.

For the past 3 years, I have volunteered my time, working on a local farm and preparing farm to table lunches to feed our farmers and many volunteers. I have not only gained much respect for our farmers for their handwork to feed us but an appreciation of how fresh and delicious local food is. I encourage you to take the time to visit your local farm or farmers market. Not only to get to know the hands that grow our food but learn more about where it comes from. We all play a vital role, especially restaurant owners and chefs in creating a sustainable local food system.

For more information on Canadian Agriculture and statistics visit http://www.agr.gc.ca

Author

Irene was born in Cyprus and immigrated to Canada in 1976 as a refugee who has a passion and love for creating, styling and photographing food that feeds the eye. She specializes in freelance food photography, food styling and recipe development for a number of prominent businesses. Irene is currently working with CTV/Bell Media, on shows such as The Marilyn Denis Show, Your Morning, The Social and Etalk, as a freelance food stylist. She is also a local farm-to-table advocate and supports Local Farmers. Irene has been with Plan B Organic Farms in Hamilton, Ontario for 3 years, volunteering, sharing her farm journey and creating beautiful cuisines using fresh local farm ingredients to delight your senses and astound your palettes. Find Irene on Instagram: @thespicyolive1