Restaurants across the country are going back to sourcing from local farms for their fresh, in-season ingredients. Seasonal menus are becoming based on what’s available at peak harvest. This trend is helping us connect not only with healthier eating, but also to our local growers and growing seasons. While this trend is not new to us at here at Totally Local VC, we are thrilled to see it taking hold in places like small towns as well as big cities.
Finding out how to not only support restaurants and support our local farmers can also help us start thinking globally and sourcing locally.
Eating locally-grown food is important to your health
Food that must travel great distances to your plate does not contain the same nutrients as fresh vegetables grown closer to home. To keep food from deteriorating during long transit times, some produce must be picked before it has the chance to fully ripen. This means that it may not be absorbing vital nutrients from its surroundings during this critical ripening period. The average travel time for the 16 most common fruits and vegetables is just under 1,500 miles. Aside from this, 39% of fruits and 12% of vegetables are imported from other countries.
These long travel times can cause this produce to be lacking the important nutrients that would be present if it were picked closer to home and allowed to spend that time ripening on the vine.
How to ensure you’re eating fresh food
So, what can you do to ensure that you are getting the freshest meal packed with nutrients when you chose to dine out or prepare home-cooked meals?
Shop at your local farmers’ market
A farmers’ market is a great place to buy wonderful produce, artisan cheese, local honey, and fresh meats and seafood. It is also the perfect place to ask questions about what restaurants are sourcing from the farms.
Visit your local farm stands
Farm stands seem to dot the side roads throughout the county. Ask the folks working at the stands what restaurants are also shopping there.
Check out the menu
Take the time to read the menu. Ask your servers what’s local. Help encourage our area chefs and restaurant owners to source local.
Support local events that highlight local
There are dozens of food and wine events popping up across the county. Many identify themselves with a town, city or area, but a large majority of them feature non-local vendors or corporate chain restaurants. Check it out before you buy that ticket! Make sure it’s really local!
Supporting events that feature local purveyors not only helps our area farmers and the purveyors using their products, but also our local charities, all of which keeps more dollars in our community.
You can support local by participating events like the Taste of Local Festival, the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, Ventura County Ag Week, the House Farm Workers! From Field-to-Fork Dinner and Totally Local VC’s Farm-to-Fork Dinner Series.
Just get involved
Check out what’s going with your local food scene. There are lots of great organizations like Totally Local VC and Food Forward. Pick up a copy of magazines like Edible Ojai Ventura County who highlight the area’s top growers, chefs who source local as well as purveyors.
To find out more ways to eat local take a look at the Totally Local VC Resource Guides. Here, we list all the Farmers’ Markets, CSA programs and farm stands in the county. Coming soon: the Farm-to-Fork Chef and Purveyors guide.
Image credits: Kat Merrick