Restaurants Loving Local Produce – Guest Post

by Mark Lovett on March 24, 2009

Having grown up during the age of boxed, canned, frozen and instant food, it took me a while to appreciate the beauty and wonderment of fresh produce. Once I did, however, it changed my view of food and life itself, providing a very tangible connection to the earth and the cycles of nature.

I now seek out fresh, local and organic whenever possible, and I prefer the same approach when dining out.  That would explain why I enjoy reading each post of the LondonEater restaurant blog by Kang Leong. His writing is diverse and comes from the view of the consumer, while the vivid photographs he takes highlight the experience and the venues he reviews are always well-chosen. In this guest post Kang talks about the influence of local produce on the UK restaurant scene.

Appreciating Local Produce

I’m an old fashion sort of guy because I love specials on a menu. My heart gets especially fluttery when they use the word ‘local produce’ because for the end customer (me) it gives the impression that I’m eating something which is unique to the region, and it’s also great knowing that the local economy is supporting itself in this way.

Olive Purveyours at Borough Market in London

The synergistic nature of the restaurant and the independent farmer/producer is an important one as both businesses tend to go hand in hand. As great ingredients will invariably lead to great meals, successful chefs are the ones who adapt their menus to seasonal produce.

Building Food Based Relationships

The relationship between the restaurant business and the local/independent producer is a win-win. Let’s start with the independent farmer – he’s small scale and probably uses farming methods passed down from prior generations, which (hopefully) means it’s well cared for and organic.

In today’s world of massive farms, global grocers, and over-packaged food, the homogenization of fresh produce has resulted in a dilution of product choice, and if you think about it, you’re chewing on pesticides while paying for the packaging and transportation rather than just a bunch of fresh leaves. In fact, ‘gourmet’ food exists because consumers are demanding more authenticity and diversity in the food they eat.

If you cast your mind back to the days when it was considered cool and convenient to simply grab a Subway or bucket of KFC, it’s inspiring to see that the fast food franchise has gone out of fashion a little bit. These days, people are more health conscious and often opt for organic and gourmet food stores instead of just popping down to the local Sainsbury’s.

What’s the best thing about gourmet food markets then? Why it’s the diversity in choice, the buzz of conversation and the super fresh produce which is the result of honest hard work. If there’s a local food market close by do drop in – mine is Borough Market in London. It’s really a great feeling to be in the center of a bustling market where one bears witness to the real economy – working at it’s most basic levels.

Grilled Monkfish at the Old King's Arms in Milford Haven

The British Menu Steps Up

So let’s get back to that specials menu. I live in the UK, and despite a pretty dour food reputation there has been a big push for healthy British food using the best fresh local produce. Take Angus beef for example. The imposing cattle with shiny black fur hail from Aberdeen and Scottish farmers still adhere to the traditional rearing methods to deliver quality beef.

If you head into a steakhouse in Scotland, they proudly endorse the local beef on their menus. Same thing when I was eating in a little port town called MIlford Haven in Wales. They are known for their fresh fish (try the grilled monkfish, awesome) and similarly most of the restaurants by the seaside will feature fresh fish caught by the local fishermen.

For the restaurant, this eliminates the middle man and ensures their ingredients are affordable, top notch stuff; for the local producer/farmer/fishermen, it’s a steady stream of income. And as for me, it means a great meal, reasonable prices and something truly authentic and unique.

It’s amazing to see how the stakeholders involved in this great network come together to… well, eat.

From the viewpont of Global Patriot, the world’s health and economy benefits greatly when people choose to eat food products from close to home and as natural as possible. Next time you dine out, follow the advice of LondonEater and look for a place that thrives on being fresh and local.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise April 21, 2009 at 4:53 am

Hi this is @ThoughtsHappen from Twitter – I finally made it over to your blog. I love the whole local foods idea. We’ve been subscribing to a Community Supported Agriculture farm in San Diego called Be Wise Ranch for about 4 years now and love to visit the farmer’s market as well.

I wrote about San Diego CSA’s in an article you can find at http://www.louisejulig.com/2005/11/community-supported-agriculture-brings-the-farm-to-you.html . We also dined last summer at a wonderful restaurant in Paso Robles called Artisan – http://www.artisanpasorobles.com/ – that serves all organic and mostly locally grown food – what a treat. Thanks for sharing!

Louise’s last blog post..The day I met Anne Lamott

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GlobalPatriot April 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Community Support Agriculture and local Farmers Markets have such a positive impact on our economy and the health of our society, and dining at restaurants which feature such produce is a great way to support the cause.

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Louise April 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Hi this is @ThoughtsHappen from Twitter – I finally made it over to your blog. I love the whole local foods idea. We’ve been subscribing to a Community Supported Agriculture farm in San Diego called Be Wise Ranch for about 4 years now and love to visit the farmer’s market as well.

I wrote about San Diego CSA’s in an article you can find at http://www.louisejulig.com/2005/11/community-supported-agriculture-brings-the-farm-to-you.html . We also dined last summer at a wonderful restaurant in Paso Robles called Artisan – http://www.artisanpasorobles.com/ – that serves all organic and mostly locally grown food – what a treat. Thanks for sharing!

Louise’s last blog post..The day I met Anne Lamott

Reply

Global Patriot April 21, 2009 at 8:33 am

Community Support Agriculture and local Farmers Markets have such a positive impact on our economy and the health of our society, and dining at restaurants which feature such produce is a great way to support the cause.

Reply

Dirtykitchensecrets March 29, 2009 at 7:15 am

This is a great post! I grew up eating produce from our farm and I am always trying my best to cook with local produce. I agree that it’s just as important to make these choices when dining out! Thank you :)

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Global Patriot March 30, 2009 at 8:44 am

The advent of using local produce is very exciting in this modern age, as many have been raised on commercially grown and prepackaged food – you were very fortunate Bethany!

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Dirtykitchensecrets March 29, 2009 at 3:15 pm

This is a great post! I grew up eating produce from our farm and I am always trying my best to cook with local produce. I agree that it’s just as important to make these choices when dining out! Thank you :)

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GlobalPatriot March 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm

The advent of using local produce is very exciting in this modern age, as many have been raised on commercially grown and prepackaged food – you were very fortunate Bethany!

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Jeremy Parzen March 28, 2009 at 4:27 am

Global Patriot, I love how your blog combines the call for Global Patriotism and ubiquitous respect for human rights and equality with locally sourced food and the people who champion its use. The two go hand in hand… After all, both are equally ideological gestures. Keep up the good stuff…

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Global Patriot March 28, 2009 at 8:46 am

Thank you Jeremy, you’re right in pointing out that living a life based on respect includes both human rights and how we interact with the planet.

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Jeremy Parzen March 28, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Global Patriot, I love how your blog combines the call for Global Patriotism and ubiquitous respect for human rights and equality with locally sourced food and the people who champion its use. The two go hand in hand… After all, both are equally ideological gestures. Keep up the good stuff…

Reply

GlobalPatriot March 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Thank you Jeremy, you’re right in pointing out that living a life based on respect includes both human rights and how we interact with the planet.

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Beth Ziesenis March 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I was just talking to my boyfriend about the importance of eating local, so your post is both well timed and well received. Thanks for the reminder to dine out the same way we shop.

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GlobalPatriot March 28, 2009 at 12:48 am

It’s great that so many restaurants are supporting the cause of local and organic food – our choice of where to dine matters!

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Beth Ziesenis March 27, 2009 at 11:52 am

I was just talking to my boyfriend about the importance of eating local, so your post is both well timed and well received. Thanks for the reminder to dine out the same way we shop.

Reply

Global Patriot March 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

It’s great that so many restaurants are supporting the cause of local and organic food – our choice of where to dine matters!

Reply

Global Patriot March 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

From the beginning I’ve enjoyed reading Kang’s London Eater blog, as he brings such insight into the UK food scene, from restaurants to local markets.

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GlobalPatriot March 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

From the beginning I’ve enjoyed reading Kang’s London Eater blog, as he brings such insight into the UK food scene, from restaurants to local markets.

Reply

Giovanna Garcia March 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

Great post. I was in UK almost 2 years ago and I wish I had this post :-) I mean I had a great time, but this post gave me a different point of view.
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Reply

Giovanna Garcia March 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Great post. I was in UK almost 2 years ago and I wish I had this post :-) I mean I had a great time, but this post gave me a different point of view.
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Reply

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