Tracing Food from Farm to Table

There has been recent growth in farm-to-table restaurants in Los Angeles, fostered by an increasingly popular farm-to-table movement. Many of these newly opened establishments are quick, counter service-style eateries offering fresh, seasonal, nutritious, and often organic food as a healthy alternative to fast foods and less nutrient-oriented cuisines. In a city where beauty and fitness are highly valued by the majority of population, healthy food is at the epicenter of that lifestyle, and the demand for it is quite significant.

One common philosophy that all the farm-to-table restaurants share is a strong emphasis on the highest quality of products and a commitment to ensuring the safety, freshness, and maximum nutritional value of food—and there is no better way to accomplish that than by sourcing food locally. Summer is almost here and my appetite for light and fresh food became insatiable. So, I decided to broaden my horizons and explore new places.

Here are three of my new favorite farm-to-table restaurants, each sourcing directly from local farmers and purveyors, but with slightly different methods:

Tender Greens

This chain, which recently opened several branches across the city, featuresNicoise Salad healthy food made from the finest products purchased directly from local farmers and artisans. Every ingredient on its menu, including fresh salads, soups, grilled hormone-free meats, and locally caught fish, is linked to its origin through the realtimefarms.com website. This interface, similar to any social media network, connects farmers, food artisans, restaurants, and consumers through a real-time platform.

With the use of my smartphone, in fact, I was able to find out everything I wanted to know about the ingredients in my Tuna Nicoise salad—all while enjoying it at the Santa Monica location. Most recently, at the very busy Hollywood branch, I tried a delicious special of the day – Grilled calamari and kale salad with grilled eggplant, croutons, onions, and radishes.

Forage

This trendy restaurant, located in the up-and-coming Silver Lake area, Foragetakes a slightly different approach. The restaurant’s owners collaborate closely with a small community of local growers and micro-farmers, otherwise known as foragers, who supply them with freshly harvested products cultivated in their backyards and gardens.

Forage’s chefs skillfully transform the seasonal harvests into a variety of fresh salads and hearty vegetarian dishes. I love the fact that the menu changes every day and includes some healthy protein, like locally produced organic meats and sustainable local fish. Oh, and did I mention there is also a wide variety of amazing pastries available for dessert?

The Farmer’s Kitchen

This farm-fresh café and a non-for profit organization buys its products directly from the adjacent Hollywood Farmers’ Market. The market is one of the successful certified farmers’ markets in the area, as listed on farmernet.com website.

Healthy fresh and processed food, prepared by urban chefs and apprentices, is sold on the premises or distributed to local schools as a part of lunch programs.  The facility exists not only as a café, but also as a commercial kitchen, enriching the local community through various initiatives including nutrition classes and job training programs.

Numerous restaurants throughout the city, from small cafés to upscale restaurants, offer farm-to-table dining options. After all, why import the food from other parts of the country (or the world) if it is available nearby? Some of the most apparent benefits of buying from local farmers and purveyors include:

  • Protecting and enhancing the well-being of people through safe, certified, fresh, nutritious, and organic food products
  • Supporting local farmers and communities, stimulating local economies
  • Reducing the carbon footprint by cutting down the food distribution channel

Doing good things for people and the planet is good for business – all of these restaurants are very successful and profitable. It is impressive how they have managed to outsmart the corporate giants that rely mostly on the economies of scale. I personally wish more companies followed this path. In the meantime, I have the power to choose where I dine, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

Ask your favorite restaurant where its food comes from, reflect on the answer, and share the story with others.

(Photo Credit #2)

 

About Ivona

Ivona is a marketing and sustainability professional and freelance journalist covering the environment, wildlife, travel and food.

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