Q: Why should foodservice operators consider purchasing local?
A: “Local” is a buzz word used quite frequently in foodservice these days. While the definition of local as it pertains to miles from your location is still in question, we can clarify some of the benefits of buying local.
- Quality – Buying locally allows produce to stay on the vine or stem longer. This additional time allows produce to mature in size, brix, and flavor. Buying from national brands requires these items, especially winter fruit from South America, to be picked early resulting in minimal flavor and hard texture.
- Economic Return – Local farmers recirculate a large share of every dollar back into their community. Local farmers sell to local distributors and hire more employees who in turn reinvest into the community. When there is a downturn in the economy local spend ensures a constant cash flow through the community.
- Environment – Removing the need to source produce from other states or across the country decreases the overall usage of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers and increases biodiversity local ecosystems. Buying locally also reduces our carbon footprint by reducing pollution and increasing air quality.
Q: Pre-cut fruits and vegetables remain in hot demand. Why choose pre-cut?
A: Regional produce distributors no longer just deliver produce; they are an extension of our coolers and our kitchens. From staple items such as diced onions and zucchini matchsticks, to Tourneau potatoes for an elaborate dinner, many distributors can manufacture these special cuts for consistency and a great value. See below for other benefits of purchasing pre-cut produce.
- Storage Space– As the front of the house becomes more of a showroom, the kitchen often struggles for space. Receiving processed produce versus full cases of commodities opens up shelf space. Regular deliveries mean “just in time freshness.”
- Limited Liability– Outsourcing the processing of produce reduces lacerations, back injuries and loss of time. Food safety has oversight from the time produce arrives at the distributor to the time it arrives at your dock.
- Environmentally Responsible– Produce distributors buy produce in larger cases, reducing the use and disposal of cardboard. Several distributors provide processed produce scraps to local farms which helps minimize waste and provides excellent nutrition for the farm animals, ultimately improving their quality of life.
Q: Pre-washed produce: to wash or not to wash?
A: Heat brings insects to the fields. These insects thrive on the heat and when the nights get cool they head inside the lettuce for shelter. Unfortunately, this survival instinct causes frustration at the plate. Always wash produce to be sure it is clean and clear of contaminants.
Q: Weather and natural disasters often impact the Food and Beverage industry. How are the California fires impacting produce?
A: Although there was an average amount of rainfall in California last year, the state is still experiencing extreme drought conditions. These conditions have fueled the wildfires that are currently spreading in California. While the winds have kept the ash away from the fields, pushing it further south and east, the ash and fire have pushed insects to the produce growing areas as they try to escape the fires. These issues are common in the fall but expect to see them earlier and more frequently because of these conditions. Processors are adding crews to the fields and slowing down production in order to mitigate problems at the time of packing. Click here to view the US Drought Monitor for California.