Why Connecting Farmers to Chefs Matters to Everyone
Tuesday we host our 3rd networking session between farmers, chefs, value-added producers, and retail food buyers – details here.
On Tuesday, we will convene a small networking session between the growing and cooking ends of the food system. Representatives from the Co-op, Farmer’s Table, and several other retail/restaurants will be on hand to source local food. For most people, it is a meeting that will come and go with what seems to be little consequence. The truth is, this meeting has an incredible impact on everyone in our community. Here are a few reasons why, even if you do not use our market, you can be impacted by bringing farmers and chefs together:
- Farmers need markets: aspiring farmers grow what is easiest for them – easy to grow and consume cash crops, usually spring and summer specialty crops like tomatoes. To get real agricultural expansion, to get people to make a commitment to starting a food-based business, a farmer needs market security. They need to know there are small grocers and restaurants willing to buy their produce when farmers markets are not open. They need to know that their harvest will not go to waste because they cannot find an outlet for it. We talk at length about “food insecurity,” but we need to keep in mind that farmers have market insecurity, too.
- Chefs make farmers better producers: chefs and small grocers can deal directly with a farmer in a way that most cannot. They can tell the farmer what to grow that will benefit both parties, they can guide the farmer in how to present their food in the most appropriate manner. Farmers who work with restaurants and small grocers typically bring the best-looking, most appetizing produce to market. In other words, farmers get better at what they grow and how they present it.
- Local food makes cooks better: whether you are a trained chef or a home cook, your access to local, fresh produce and proteins make you a better cook. Your food tastes better, which makes you more willing to take chances on new recipes, new foods, and new approaches. It diversifies our choices, which is a great thing for everyone.
- Connecting local growers and chefs keeps the money local: connecting two small businesses together keeps money circulating in the local economy, where it recycles itself quickly. It promotes local jobs, and enriches the community.
- The long-term impact encourages growth: with more access to markets, increasing quality, and a growing interest in locally grown food, we see several small farmers scaling up to “next level” farmers, ready to move into supplying large-scale food service providers in our local schools and cafeterias. These farmers almost always create more small farmers in their wake, which improves our food system in the process.
So, while most of market shoppers may not even realize that we have these types of networking events, they reap the benefits of the connections we create by seeing better produce at the market, longer growing seasons, and fresher, healthier foods in restaurants and small grocers. Tuesday is a big day for us and our local food system. If you love local food, make sure you demand from your grocer and restaurants that they provide you some local options.