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Is Your Local Restaurant Serving Locally Sourced Foods?

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  June 6, 2013 11:46 AM

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Photo Source:  USDA
Dining out at a local restaurant is getting more local than you think.  According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the current top two trends this season on restaurant menus are serving up locally sourced meat and seafood and locally grown produce. 

Eating “locally” is being supported by customers as a recent NRA survey uncovered that over 55 percent of adults say they’re more likely to visit a restaurant that offers foods that are grown/raised in an environmentally friendly way.  Locally grown food can be healthier for the environment as it typically requires the use of fewer natural resources to get the food to your plate.   The less your food travels to get to you, the less energy is being used and the less greenhouse gases being produced.

Taste has always been king when it comes to eating.   Locally grown produce is harvested at peak ripeness and deliciously eaten soon after.   Let’s face it, a summer tomato locally grown is much more flavorful than one that has been shipped in a refrigerated truck for 2,000 miles.   Just ask Barry Maiden, the owner and chef of Hungry Mother in Cambridge and past recipient of the Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef Award.  “I buy my produce locally from area growers such as Drumlin Farm and Verrill Farm, both in Concord, MA, in order to work with that fresh, peak flavor in the kitchen,” states Maiden.
Keep in mind that when it comes to nutrition, the food preparation method will greatly impact the calories in the finished product.  “While there isn’t any research to date that indicates that locally sourced foods are more nutritious, consumers equate “local” and “fresh” with good nutrition," claims Joy Dubost, Ph.D., RD, and Director of Nutrition at the NRA.   Unfortunately, potatoes that are deep fried and then seasoned with fresh herbs will still be hefty in the calories and fat department no matter where they were grown.  Grilling, roasting, poaching, and steaming are still important lower fat buzz words to look for on the menu to help control the calories.

If you are interested in savoring more local fare the next time you dine out, here are some other area restaurants that are committed to using locally sourced foods on their menus:

51 Lincoln, Newton, MA:

Owner and Chef Jeff Fournier changes the menu daily based on what is seasonally available and locally sourced.  On Wednesday evenings, the restaurant offers a Farm to Fork program, which is a three-course meal that showcases the freshest ingredients from local purveyors, such as Allandale Farm in Brookline.

EVOO, Cambridge, MA:

Evoo’s menu features organic, local, and sustainable ingredients from area farms such as Pineland Farm, Pete & Jen’s Backyard Birds, and Kimball Fruit Farm.  Their Home Grown seasonal menu changes daily.

Henrietta’s Table, Cambridge, MA:

Henrietta's Table prides itself on "Fresh from the Farm and Honest to Goodness Home Cooking." Chef Davis and his staff are committed to finding the best regional and organically grown produce.  The  Chef’s Collaborative, which is a nonprofit network of chefs awarded  Davis “The Sustainer of the Year.”  This award recognizes a chef who emphasizes a menu of delicious, locally grown, seasonally fresh, and whole or minimally processed foods that are good for the consumer, local farming communities, and the planet.

Ledge, Dorchester, MA:

This Dorchester restaurant houses a 4000-square foot Rooftop Food Garden allowing them to bring the freshest and most local ingredients to their guests.    Ledge’s menu specials throughout the growing season are dictated by the weekly harvest of their garden.

Oleana, Cambridge, MA: 

Oleana not only serves local foods but also grows them.  As part of the Oleana family businesses, Siena Farms in Sudbury, MA, grows organic produce using sustainable methods free of chemical herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers.  The produce from the farm will appear on the Oleana menu.

Does your local restaurant serve locally sourced foods?  Please share!

                                          Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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