Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 34 of 131

since the mid 2000s. In 2007, two influential best sellers—Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma—highlighted the superior nutritional value and taste of fresh, local foods alongside the costs on the environment of transporting food over long distances. That same year, the New Oxford American Dictionary made "locavore" its word of the year. The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers markets or even to grow or pick their own food as a health- ier option that is also an environmentally friendly measure. An oft-cited statistic from Worldwatch Institute puts the average dis- tance food travels from harvesting to the store at 1,500 miles. The increased interest in local foods has given rise to a growth in farmers markets. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tallied 7,864 farmers markets, a 9.6 percent jump from the previous year. Overcoming Obstacles Menus featuring local food are built on strongly fostered relation- ships with suppliers, carefully chosen for their growing principles and dedication to cultivating great food. At Local Mission Eatery, Des Vignes wasn't able to offer anything with a marinara sauce after his supply of frozen summer tomatoes ran out a month into the winter—until he discovered a supplier of organic, canned tomatoes. Levi is still searching for a supplier of half- or whole-animal, grass-fed cattle. Kris Pepper, co-owner of Philadelphia's Farm Truck, says his business did not become viable until he found local farms with good growing practices that he could partner with to provide the produce. Before that, produce costs were too high, he says. "We're lucky this is a viable business model, now that we've found our suppliers and know what we're doing; people really respond to it," Pepper says. "It's an added bonus that we feel good about doing business this way." Chef Todd Villani and his sister, Laurie Meyers, have worked hard to find local vendors for fresh ingredients to serve at Terre à Terre in Carlstadt, N.J. Distributors often don't identify the source of produce, Meyers says, so they have to do extra work to find out whether a farm is local and learn about its growing practices. "It's an ongoing struggle. It's really about going to the docks and talking to the fishermen, talking to the people who make the food," says Villani, who spent five years training under Marcus Samuelsson before opening his restaurant. "We wanted to be ultra- local and support our community, support local businesses, so we put in the extra time to find the people who grow our food." When Anna Castellani and her business partners opened Foragers City Grocery in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2005, they found few farmers willing to sell to a small retail operation. At that time, farm- ers sold directly only to community-supported agriculture programs and restaurants. "When we opened it was very, very early in this [local move- ment]. Our store was not well received. Customers were not think- ing then of the provenance of their food. They didn't see the value of local milk. They didn't like the smell or taste of grass-fed beef," Castellani says. "All that has changed now." Today, Foragers is thriving with two locations, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a wine store. "It took us a lot of effort and energy to find our vendors," Castellani adds. "We learned all of our lessons the hard way, but we are proud of the products and produce we carry." Farming, Food Hubs, and Other Solutions After enduring years of supply problems, some retailers, like Castellani, have turned to farming themselves. The Foragers found- ers routinely sold out of eggs and could not get enough clean, organic greens. Today, co-owner and Castellani's husband, Richard Lamb, cultivates a quarter-acre of their own 3-acre farm, grows greens in their large greenhouse, and tends to a flock of some 120 chickens, soon to be 150 come spring. "It's an ongoing struggle. It's really about going to the docks and talking to the fshermen, talking to the people who make the food." PHOTO: TERRE A TERRE Chef Todd Villani, Terre à Terre (continued on p. 125) 32 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com lede_Spring2014.indd 32 3/12/14 10:21 AM

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