If you’ve eaten at a restaurant lately, you might have noticed local eateries serving local ingredients, and telling you more about them. The return to a focus on local ingredients has been a natural outgrowth of ever-increasing consumer interest in finding out what we are putting into our bodies, and whether those things are truly good for us.
Since the 1950s, processed food has been touted as more convenient, easy, and, in some cases, healthier for us. However, as we’ve seen obesity surge in the U.S., many have started to question, “What actually is good for us?” The recent focus on local foods may provide an answer and a path for Americans to return to healthier eating habits. Local ingredients are almost always more fresh, less processed, and less likely to contain chemicals that none of us know how to pronounce, much less what they do to our bodies.
Beyond the health benefits of buying local ingredients, there are a number of benefits to not only our bodies, but our economies. At Communal, we are glad that we can get really fresh ingredients, but we’re also happy to be supporting the local economy. Restaurants, consumers, and producers mutually benefit from buying local ingredients. Most of these producers are small businesses owned by Utah natives. Snuck Farms in Pleasant Grove, Christiansen Farms in Vernon, as well as Clifford Farm and La Nay Ferme in Provo are just a few of these smaller businesses that rely on local restaurants and consumers to continue to be successful.
In our restaurant, it is also notable to see the authenticity of the connection we have made to the ingredients we serve. It is easier to treat an ingredient with care and respect when there is a real connection to the land. I’ve been to these farms and met the families that run them. When that connection exists, there is a certain thoughtfulness put into the preparation of an ingredient that has this sort of an origin story. In turn, that connection to the ingredient extends to the guests we serve. It’s a way to show that there are indeed lots of great local producers, and that Utahans have access to them.
At home, buying and using local ingredients is easier than most people think. During the summer, head to your local farmers’ market, and you’ll find that the produce is entirely affordable and usually more fresh than what you’ll find in the grocery store. Also, supermarkets like Harmons have been working harder to bring in local items. Keep an eye out the next time you visit—local cheese, meat, and produce is available and usually marked. Making those thoughtful purchases to support Utah producers is good for our economy and good for your family.
As more businesses and local residents support the return to local food, we’ll see healthier communities, and we’ll also strengthen Utah’s economy. It’s a win for all of us.
Andrew Hansen is the manager at Communal, a restaurant located in Provo, Utah. He has lived in Utah for eleven years, and if he isn’t at Communal, he’s either skiing, or riding his motorcycle in the mountains.