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Serving Local on Your Menu

Calling all chefs, caterers, and food service providers: Have you considered going local?  By serving locally grown foods on your menu you can enter the local food niche market while serving up some of the best and freshest foods around.  It's not only good for your business and your customers, but it also benefits local farmers while keeping our agricultural lands in production.  If you are not sure how to begin adding locally grown foods to your menu, we've found an informative guide that will help in your transition to local products.

The Glynwood Center has created A Guide to Serving Local Food on Your Menu. This free guide was designed to educate chefs, caterers, and other food service providers on how to start cooking with and serving local foods. Some of their quick tips for going local are:

  1. Start small-during the growing season, replace foods that you already serve with the same product from local growers.
  2. Learn about local agriculture-visit farmers markets, call your Cooperative Extension office, and find out what organizations work with farmers in your area. 
  3. Visit each other-tour farms and invite farmers to your facility to gain better insight into how you can work together.
  4. Work through your existing distributors-ask if they offer local products and encourage them to do so or do more.
  5. Be patient-buying local can be rewarding yet challenging, so be flexible and set realistic expectations and goals.
  6. Advertise-let your customers know what you are doing by labeling foods that come from local farms and tell stories about the products and their producers. 

This guide will assist you in going local, and there is a no better time to start than right now.  Consumer demand for locally grown goods is increasing rapidly, and with the harvest season fast approaching, an abundant supply of locally grown goods will soon be available.



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