As time passes, the need to live more sustainably gets ever more important, and many people have started to grow their own fruit and vegetables to save money and avoid pesticides on shop-bought goods.
Not only that, but some restaurants have begun growing food to feed to patrons. Around the world, chefs are turning to their own vegetable patches for fresh and ethically-sourced ingredients.
Eating organic food has become quite the trend, and enjoying home-grown produce when eating out is the next logical step – something called “hyperlocal sourcing”. It’s not always necessary to have acres of land dedicated to growing crops.
Estia’s Little Kitchen on Long Island, New York, thrives with the help of a food garden one third of an acre in size. The restaurant grows its own sweet peas, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes and onions, which are gobbled up by diners.
Also in New York, Bell Book & Candle was one of the first rooftop-to-table restaurants in the USA. Small gardens operating over the heads of restaurant patrons have become a sustainable way of growing ingredients in a smaller space.
No More Fast Food
As a chef, growing your own produce is an exercise in patience, and the people eating at these restaurants are often attracted by the idea of fresh and nutritious food that you simply don’t get through mass production.
The Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance is a network for chefs who want to head away from large-scale commercial farming and towards small producers, including individual restaurant owners. Estia’s Little Kitchen is just one of the eateries keen on cultivating the belief that when it comes to food, slower is usually better.
One element keeping customers coming back is the serving of local wisdom they get along with the main course. Diners at Uncommon Ground, a rooftop-to-table restaurant in Chicago, are sometimes treated to a personal guided tour by the in-house farmer.
Uncommon Ground is the first Certified Organic rooftop farm in the USA, and also supports local artists and musicians. Additionally, they play host to a couple of beehives – for the honey, but also to boost the bee population. Their produce includes a variety of peppers, eggplants, heirloom tomatoes, radishes, okra, shallots and more, all of which make their way to the table.
There are plenty of restaurants in other countries that delight guests with home-grown grub that are as appealing as being able to buy bitcoin instantly. One example is The Wellington Arms in England, which relies on its garden to feed hungry diners an ever-evolving range of meals.
What is abundantly clear is the versatility of hyperlocal sourcing; it can support menus ranging from fine dining to hearty pub lunches. The Wellington Arms is dedicated to sustainability beyond the kitchen – they pay to recycle and use vegetable peels for compost or as supplemental chicken feed.
Reap What You Sow
As the success of these restaurants show, sustainability and “slow food” don’t mean financial loss and unpopularity. The next time you pick up the phone to order a takeaway, consider finding your local “garden” eatery for a home-grown meal.