The Route to Slow Food: Local Sourcing
Slow food – noun
1.food that has been prepared with care, using high-quality local and seasonal ingredients
One of my favorite weekend past times is my Saturday morning visit to the local farmer’s market. The allure of fresh goods and produce, the easy interactions with vendors and feeling a part of my community has become an anticipated weekly ritual. I love playing a small part in supporting local businesses and helping them thrive in my hometown.
Numerous surveys and article research show that healthy lifestyles represent a huge consumer trend impacting retail and restaurants. Local sourcing of restaurant foods and beverages is one of THE hottest trends in foodservice and listed as one of Technomic’s 10 top trends for 2015. According to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) What’s Hot in 2016 Culinary Forecast which surveys U.S. chefs; locally grown meats and seafood and locally grown produce were the No. 1 and No. 3 trend predictions for the coming year. Consumers are keen on locally grown goodness.
The Slow Food Revolution doesn’t sound so revolutionary. It sounds like common sense. It celebrates a commitment to communities on a local and regional level. Food production is considered “local” if it falls anywhere within 25 miles to 200 miles from the retail or restaurant point of sale. In this ever-expanding global economy the small shop often gets left behind, as do essential nutrients when it comes to the methods of growing food. The slow food concept uses readily available resources close to home and the point of business, as well as supports small businesses, boosts local economies, and embraces healthier, small-batch, growing practices.
Slow Food Nation
Across the United States there has been a notable shift towards farm to table concepts in the restaurant industry. Slow food is a growing movement of restaurants, bars, markets, supermarkets and food artisans around the world, who are dedicated to providing food and drink that is sourced from good, authentic and sustainable sources: locally, regionally and internationally. With the health of our planet continually in the media spotlight, getting back to the most basic building blocks, those being what we consume and how we grow our food is a thriving topic of discussion. Genetically-modified, nutrient-deficient produce is unacceptable for many consumers. I know I don’t want to serve them at home or eat them at a restaurant.
What else drives the slow food movement? Protecting the heritage of traditional food sources, a sense of solidarity with the community, and the clincher for so many; cost. Slow food can be quite cost effective for the restaurateur. There are shorter supply chains, suppliers are locally based and offer a more predictable delivery schedule. Local proximity also drives down delivery costs and creates a more reactive supplier chain, which then leads to an increased speed to market of the goods and produce. Win win.
Slow Food in the City
The cutting-edge Dallas food scene is home to many locally sourced concepts. Dallas is also home to a chapter of Slow Food USA which “supports activities and education to preserve biodiversity in the food supply, spread the education of taste and connect producers of excellent foods with the co-producers (consumers) through events and initiatives.”
If slow food with a fast-food feel is what you crave, give Start a try. Start is a Dallas twist on the fast-food concept where they use fresh ingredients to create from-scratch menu options and go a step further with environmentally-friendly packaging.
Something sweet on your mind? Steel City Pops, with locations across Texas, is another restaurant enterprise that chooses to use local, organic ingredients. The eatery offers tasty popsicle treats and embraces the small batch process to create these cool fruity pops.
CBRE represents several restaurant concepts that embrace slow food/local sourcing philosophies. CBRE’s own W. Thurston Witt, Jr. represents the restaurant group 33 Restaurant Group, owners of Plano and McKinney neighborhood favorites Taverna Rossa and Cadillac Pizza Pub. D Magazine recognized, Taverna Rossa showcases a menu that strongly emphasizes the use of as many locally sourced ingredients as possible for their craft pizzas and fresh salads. Cadillac Pizza Pub touts its signature dough and sauce made in-house complimented by local herbs and spices as well as other ingredients.
The Dallas Farmers Market in downtown Dallas is an area icon. Through the real estate services CBRE offers, we have had a strong influence on the diverse mix of quality tenants that make this place an urban food destination. Currently in the revitalization process, The Shed, scheduled to open December 11th, will more permanently house many vendors and restaurants that adhere to the practice of using locally sourced produce whenever possible. Many of these tenants collaborate and cultivate business relationships with one another. It brings a new meaning to “fresh from the market”. These types of collaborations encourage community, shared success, and embrace the principles of slow food and local sourcing.
Foodies will find a plethora of restaurant and farmers market options in the Dallas area if they are feeling inspired to go the slow food route.
Another branch of the slow food movement is hyper-local sourcing; the act of bringing food production in-house. Think uber-fresh. Sugarsnap in Burlington, VT found that investing in it’s own 3 acre farm to support it’s catering business and kitchen was their best course of action. B.good, a restaurant chain of northeastern notoriety, utilized the limited space afforded to its layout and chose to grow their produce on the roofs of their locations after an accidental experiment of growing tomatoes on the roof went right.
Slow food is a global movement. In the United Kingdom, venues like Rosewood London’s Slow Food and Living Market are destination markets catering to the consumers interested in the origins of their food. Markets such as these claim “good, clean and fair produce from local growers and artisans.” And they are wildly successful and popular.
Slow Food Meets Technology
While slow food has its roots grounded in more traditional food growing methods of clean and simple the concept is far from old school when it comes to technology. One of the many offshoots of the slow food movement, apps, like Greenease offer tech-savvy consumers the means to network from their smartphones and tablets and quickly identify who offers slow food options and where they are located. These innovations aren’t lost on landlords or restaurant marketers. These types of businesses are a growing demand in many prime real estate markets.
So slow down and savor the freshness!