Here are five reasons why all restaurants should cook with fresh local ingredients (and why we do too!).
1. It Helps Your Community
In the first place, buying local ingredients helps the people around you immediately. Think about how many people grow food or handle food around you—these include not only farmers, but also ranchers, brewers, and chefs. By buying directly from these small employers, their farms, breweries, or ranches benefit directly, and they can expand their operations. If they have more work to do, they are more likely to hire more workers, who will learn new skills and who will provide for their families. Also, these small businesses are made up of people who will shop in your community, who will use local services, and who will pay taxes. This benefits everyone in the long run.
Consider also the tourists who visit—their patronage will drive up your local economy, and everyone profits. At Famous 48, we see this firsthand: the high quality of fresh local ingredients enhances our local Arizona dishes, and we love showing off a little of that Arizona flavor to the folks from out of town.
2. The Food Tastes Better—and Is Better for You
Not only is fresh food more nutritious, but it tastes better since it was harvested closer to you. You will also feel more connected to your community because eating with the seasons helps you celebrate what is fresh and available right then. Eating pumpkins in the autumn and strawberries in the summer grounds you to your neighborhood. Each new season, you will have something new and tasty to look forward to.
Once fruits and vegetables are harvested, their clock starts. Different nutrients degrade at different rates, so depending on how far away your apples travel, they may boast less vitamin C by the time they get to your kitchen table. Vitamin C—best known for keeping your cells healthy, boosting your immune system, and maintaining healthy blood vessels and skin—is especially vulnerable to heat. If those apples are harvested and then trucked across the country to you, they surely will have met heat during some part of their journey. In the end, the vitamin C content of those apples will be less than if you had picked an apple off the farmer’s tree down the road.
On top of that, your local farmer is less likely to use any preservatives on those apples or other produce to make them look prettier and more tempting. They won’t have to—because those apples already look tasty. They were picked fresh off the tree yesterday, instead of two weeks ago in another state.
3. Your Ingredients Will Cost Less
As with the apples in the previous example, if you buy local ingredients, you won’t also have to pay the “hotel” or “babysitter” costs for also storing those vegetables and hauling them across the country. The cost of packaging will be less as well since that’s often folded into the cost of those foods. This also means you’re keeping trash out of the landfills too—all that packaging becomes unnecessary when you’re buying your produce from a local farmer.
4. It Is Better for the Climate—and the World
If everyone—both restaurants and individuals—bought locally and sourced local farmers for their cooking, there would be a significantly lower number of transportation vehicles on the highways. Shipping distances would close, and these vehicles wouldn’t be required to bring fresh ingredients to grocery stores or restaurant wholesalers.
The energy and associated emissions that come with other transportation costs—refrigeration (Remember the vitamin C in those apples? Have to keep the apples out of the heat.), storage, and packaging—would also be eliminated, since local foods are less processed. By buying local, you’re saving the world by cutting down on your carbon footprint and eliminating a source of emissions.
5. Restaurants Have the Power to Effect Change
Most of these points are easy to make when talking about individuals taking it on themselves to make this change. But it turns out that restaurants are a major driving force in American diets. It used to be that going out for a meal was an event reserved for special occasions, but now, Americans eat out at restaurants on an average of four or five times a week.
It has become normal to order a pizza after a long day of activity—who wants to cook when you’re so tired? Or to go out to lunch because who has time to pack one when you’re worried about getting to work on time? Factor in a dinner-and-a-movie date once or twice a week or trying to catch brunch at your favorite café on a Sunday morning. Or maybe you’re a young professional family or an older couple who just doesn’t have the time or energy for grocery shopping and food prep. All of this creates a culture of folks who let other people do the cooking.
This means that restaurants have a responsibility to make meals that are as nutritious and delicious as possible, and the best way to do that is to source local ingredients. This is where Famous 48 shines. Our menu is full of classic dishes with an artisanal approach—everyone will find something they love, whether it’s one of our mouthwatering appetizers, the burgers and sandwiches you crave, a crisp and hearty salad, or one of our famous entrees. You can also join us for happy hour Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., where we have beer, wine, and cocktails to tempt your tastebuds. We look forward to seeing you!