On average, produce travels more than 1,500 miles to get to our plates. This distance from farm to plate can create negative environmental effects such as more packaging, petroleum consumption, and increases in greenhouse gas emissions. To combat this, restaurants should try and source local food when possible.
Not only is buying local more environmentally sustainable, but some of the most esteemed chefs give preference to local food because of its superior flavor and freshness.
The Green Restaurant Association has three different environmental standards in regards to sourcing local food:
Local: Food transported 100 miles or less from farm/orchard to your plate, using the most direct transportation route, which can earn you up to 60 GreenPoints™
Regional: Food transported 300 miles or less from farm/orchard to your plate, using the most direct transportation route, which can earn you up to 30 GreenPoints™
400-mile radius: Food sourced, processed & delivered from farm/orchard to plate within a 400-mile radius of your restaurant, which can earn you up to 18 GreenPoints™
The Seasonal Food Guide can teach you what food you can buy locally for each season.
For example, in Massachusetts, choose local strawberries, cucumbers, and garlic scapes in late June.
Connect with Farmers
During spring and summer, restaurants can visit their local farmers market to source local food for their menus. Some small restaurants could even join a Community-Supported Agriculture group, or CSA, to purchase the some of the produce they need. LocalHarvest is a great tool to help restaurant owners and consumers alike find the nearest CSA and Farmer’s Market.
Source from Green Restaurant Distributors™
For restaurants on the East Coast, Ayrshire Farms, Dole & Bailey, and Ace Natural provide wholesale local and organic products, such as meat, dairy, and produce.
Tips for Consumers
Check out our website to find restaurants that utilize local food products.
Ask your favorite restaurant which menu items feature local food.
Customers should look for seasonal, constantly-changing menu options. Restaurants that buy food locally will feature menu options that rotate throughout the year to adapt to the fruits and vegetables that are available.