Farm To Ta­ble Busi­nesses Boom­ing

The Oakdale Leader - - FARM & RENCH -

Con­sumers’ ap­petites for lo­cal foods are grow­ing, and restau­rants have taken no­tice. To­day, many lo­cal busi­nesses, in­clud­ing farms and restau­rants, have mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive re­la­tion­ships that make it pos­si­ble for lo­cal res­i­dents to en­joy nu­tri­tious, lo­cally pro­duced meals.

Ac­cord­ing to the mar­ket re­search firm Pack­aged Facts, lo­cal foods gen­er­ated $11.7 bil­lion in sales just a few years ago and will climb to $20.2 bil­lion by 2019. Farmto-ta­ble re­mains a grow­ing trend that ben­e­fits farm­ers, restau­ra­teurs and con­sumers. This is ev­i­denced by the ris­ing num­ber of farm­ers mar­kets crop­ping up in neigh­bor­hoods all across the coun­try, as well as the niche of­fer­ings by re­gional food pur­vey­ors. The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture says that, in the last 20 years, the num­ber of farm­ers mar­kets has grown by more than 350 per­cent. Many con­sumers are now choos­ing ‘lo­cal’ for din­ing at home and when din­ing out, and this is mak­ing a ma­jor im­pact on the na­tion’s food sys­tems.

Food­ies as well as in­dus­try ex­perts pre­dict that the lo­cal foods move­ment is a per­ma­nent and main­stream trend. Re­cently, in fact, the Na­tional Restaurant As­so­ci­a­tion found the de­sire for lo­cal foods dom­i­nated its ‘Top Food Trends.’

The most in-de­mands foods in­clude lo­cally sourced meats and seafood as well as lo­cally sourced pro­duce. Con­sumers also are in­ter­ested in farm/es­tate­branded foods. Some restau­rants are even pro­duc­ing ‘hy­per-lo­cal’ food, or herbs and pro­duce grown right on the prop­erty.

As the de­mand for lo­cal foods has evolved, so has the term ‘lo­cal foods.’

‘Lo­cal’ can be a widerang­ing term that refers to foods pro­duced in a par­tic­u­lar town, state or even re­gion. The 2008 Farm Act de­fines a ‘lo­cally or re­gion­ally pro­duced agri­cul­tural food prod­uct’ as one that is mar­keted less than 400 miles from its ori­gin. How­ever, a few states have es­tab­lished more strin­gent rules that in­di­cate ‘lo­cal’ con­sti­tutes food pro­duced within the borders of a state or within a small perime­ter of the state.

The grow­ing pref­er­ence for lo­cally pro­duced foods is great news for the farm­ers and small food pro­duc­ers that have long fought for foot­ing among the megaim­porters. Ac­cord­ing to the trade pub­li­ca­tion Pro­duce Busi­ness, even though ‘lo­cal’ does not place lim­its on the size of the farm, the grow­ing de­sire among con­sumers to go lo­cal is ben­e­fit­ting many small and mid­sized farms, as con­sumers are in­creas­ingly buy­ing foods grown closer to where they live.

In ad­di­tion to meats, fruits and veg­eta­bles, con­sumers can find many lo­cally made items that ex­pand the po­ten­tial for farm-to-ta­ble. Th­ese in­clude, but are not lim­ited to, ar­ti­sanal cheeses, wines, beer, baked goods, milk and other dairy, and honey.

Lo­cal, sus­tain­able foods are in de­mand, help­ing not only lo­cal restau­rants and mer­chants, but also the small and medium farms that ser­vice th­ese es­tab­lish­ments.

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