Sourcing the right ingredients is part of the many priorities of any successful food business. It is a critical decision because of its direct effect on the quality of your end products.
Last week, I began a series on sourcing ingredients starting with meats. For this week, let’s talk all about produce.
The interest in produce remains high as vegan diets remain significant in our overall society’s health picture.
Here in Australia, we are lucky to have some of the best favourable conditions for growing quality fruits and vegetables.
Now that the majority of businesses are resetting from the impacts of Covid-19, your local community will greatly benefit from your support. Supporting your local farms help keep your money locally as well as foster business relationships in your community.
But aside from benefiting your local community, you’d want to know how supporting local farms can benefit you.
- Fresher produce for you. Consider this: the nearest supermarket in your area may also carry local produce (and more) but those items have been transported thousands of miles, on average. The produce at your local farms, due to proximity, can reach your kitchens before the nutrients have time to break down. Fruits and vegetables are often picked ripe and sold within a day. If there are local growers interested in getting your business, try working with them on a trial basis. This allows you to address objections, such as pricing or delivery.
- If your food business leans on the green side, buying local helps the environment than buying from large-scale farms. The local farms use less energy for harvesting and transportation.
- Using local foods can be a major selling point for food businesses especially now that more people are conscious of health and well being. Update your menu description to include wordings such as locally-grown or farm-fresh to attract these consumers to your doors.
- If you choose to work hand in hand exclusively with a local farm, know that availability will be an issue since harvests are based on seasons. You will need to get creative to rotate your menu items. Interestingly, some nutritionists suggest eating foods that are seasonally available. According to them, these food are better for our bodies as attributed to our ancestors who ate whatever the season has available. During spring and summer, there is an abundance of lighter fruits and vegetables while during fall and winter months, it’s the heartier winter vegetables’ turn.
Since you are physically on the farm, you can ask the owners if you can look around and observe their processes from growing to harvesting. You can note the cleanliness of the farm and whether they truly practice organic farming.
Some local farms may or may not offer delivery, so be sure to factor that into your operation. In the case of run-outs, you need to be able to have other options at the ready.
Check out this link to Seasonal Produce where you can see when each fruit and vegetable in the list is in season in Perth and Western Australia.
Another link you can check out is Local Harvest which includes a national directory for finding food co-ops, swap meets, community gardens, farmers markets, box systems, ‘pick your own’ farms, farm-gate products, organic retailers, and more.
Farmers Market is another way to have access to locally grown produce. The only difference to sourcing directly to local farms is that you go to a setup location where several farmers sell produce from their farms.
- Just as in local farms, Chefs get the chance to meet the people who grow what you’re buying. Take note that although not all sellers in farmers market grow organic. many who participate do.
- Produce tastes better. This is because vegetables and fruits are picked when the ripeness is at their peak, usually picked that very morning.
- Because there are several sellers in a farmers market, you will be able to compare quality, freshness and prices easily.
Check out this list of Farmers Markets in Perth and Western Australia.
As I talk about the local farms and farmers market, it is easy to look at wholesalers as the bad seed in the group. After all, they cannot compete with the level of freshness of produce sourced directly from a local farm or your nearest farmers market.
But, there are advantages of taking this route too:
- Wholesalers work with more than one farm. Some take pride in having strong business relationships with the best local farms to offer the best price.
- They may not provide a direct “farm to table” service for you but most large wholesale companies are equipped with refrigerated warehouses and technology to ensure that the produce delivered is checked for quality and are as fresh as possible.
- Delivery can be easily arranged and some companies can even accommodate last-minute deliveries.
However, which way you choose to source your produce, you must always look for quality for it will reflect in the quality of YOUR products.
Chefs and restaurants have different ways to source their products usually combining more than one to best suit their needs.
Surprisingly, many chefs and restaurateurs still find sourcing ingredients to be a challenge. Which is why when they collaborate with Anytime Chefs, not only do we provide relief chefs (among many other services), but we can also connect to suppliers for quality products. Give us a call and let’s talk about how Anytime Chefs can help you and your business!
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,