Buying local food matters. Not only does it support our local farmers and economies, but transporting food locally (rather than shipping it around the world) dramatically reduces CO2 emissions. It stands to reason we should obviously also support restaurants with locally-sourced menus.
Not all restaurants with “local” menus are created equal.
“Local” is all the rage right now, which means the term is being thrown around by a lot of restaurants. Some of these restaurants buy local, while disregarding the importance of organic (read my thoughts on local vs organic here!). A local apple may still be sprayed with pesticides, and then coated with “food-grade wax” to keep it “fresh” longer. Ew! Beware of qualifiers like, “whenever possible” or “where possible”. Do you realize how subjective that is? A restaurant is either committed or real food, or they aren’t. Of course, there are many ingredients we can’t get locally in Ontario year-round – so ask what “where possible” means and make sure you’re comfortable with the answer.
Choose restaurants truly committed to organic, local produce.
Your best course of action is to ask questions (and use the answers)! Ask your waiter (or even the chef or business owner) where their restaurant gets their local produce. Do they know their farmers? Do they change their menus seasonally based on the local harvest? If so, great! Choose restaurants that buy local, but also have a commitment to organic, plant-based, whole ingredients. Every dollar you spend is a vote for the kind of food system you want!