The average American household spends $3,000 each year on dining out. And now, it seems like more and more of that money is going to farm-to-table restaurants.
Perhaps you've noticed that more and more of these eateries popping up in Labelle, Fort Myers and beyond. It's not just a buzzword that's drawing customers into farm-to-table restaurants, though. It turns out, there are lots of reasons why consumers choose to spend their money at this niche type of dining establishment.
Here are six of them.
1. Farm-to-Table Food is Fresher
Let's talk about what a farm-to-table restaurant is first.
Farm-to-table means that the restaurant has sourced its ingredients from local suppliers without a middleman. So, they've purchased produce from nearby farmers, or perhaps local ranchers have supplied the meat and poultry.
Having your food come from a supplier around the corner means, for one thing, that it's fresh. It won't travel by truck to a warehouse or store before it is repackaged and purchased by the restaurant. Instead, it goes directly from the farms to their kitchens, where they turn it into something delicious for you to eat.
2. Local Foods Contain More Nutrients
Today's consumer is more health-conscious than ever before. This is especially true of the millennial generation, half of whom think they eat more healthily than any other age group.
Still, you may be wondering, how does farm-to-table food factor in here? Well, as it turns out, local fare tends to be more nutritious than food that has been shipped into town.
For one thing, producers who ship domestically or internationally often pick their fruits and vegetables before they ripen. This gives them more time to travel without the food going bad.
Meanwhile, local providers have more time to let their food ripen, since they only transport it to nearby businesses and buyers. As such, these ingredients have a richer nutrient profile than fruits or veggies picked before their time.
On top of that, farm-to-table fare revolves around what's in season. Studies have shown that in-season produce has more vitamins and minerals than the same plants grown elsewhere and shipped in outside of those parameters.
3. Farm-to-Table Fare Has Lots of Flavor
Keeping ingredients fresh and seasonal means that chefs don't have to rely on preserved or frozen ingredients. It should come as no surprise that local fare has more flavor than something in a can or freezer.
The same applies to out-of-season produce that you find at the grocery store. Let's say you buy a watermelon in the middle of winter. It probably won't taste as good as the ones you get in the heat of summer.
They don't taste good because they have to be picked and shipped before their prime, as we described before. Farm-to-table restaurants get flavorful, ripe, in-season ingredients with which to prepare dishes. You can do the same at home by figuring out what's in season in your area.
4. There's a Smaller Environmental Impact
The best farm-to-table restaurants know how to transform local ingredients into truly special plates. But it's not just about satiating customers — it's also about protecting the planet.
We've already touched on the fact that grocery stores often ship or fly in the produce with which they stock their shelves. That way, they can have all of the ingredients you need, all year round.
But this constant shipping of goods requires many resources — fuel, in particular. And, as jets, ships and trucks carry ingredients, they use fuel and emit exhaust into the atmosphere, which puts further strain on the planet.
So, if you go to farm-to-table restaurants, then you're telling suppliers that it's important to you that they adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Shopping for ingredients from local providers is a huge way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. And you can minimize yours, too, by eating at farm-to-table restaurants whenever possible.
5. Farm-to-Table Restaurants Boost the Local Economy
If you're buying processed, frozen or packaged foods, you're supporting the large business conglomerates that produce such goods. The same goes for the restaurants at which you choose to eat. If they use similar ingredients, then you're only padding the pockets of already well-off corporations.
But if you shop local — and eat locally — your money will instead go back into the local community. And farmers make more money selling to individuals and small businesses than they do to these corporate entities.
It feels good to know your money is going directly to people in your community, too. So, if you eat at farm-to-table establishments, you support both the local restauranteurs and the farmers who stock their shelves.
6. The Menu's Always Changing
Finally, eating at a farm-to-table restaurant means you're always in for something new. Farmers' offerings will change with the seasons, which means that chefs have to switch up their recipes much more often.
If you go to chain restaurants, they tend to sell the same dishes regardless of the seasonality of their ingredients. This can get pretty boring, not to mention your food will lack in flavor when its components aren't fresh.
So, going to a farm-to-table restaurant means that you can expect variety in the menu. Visiting every month — or even every week — can present you with an entirely new selection of food. And that's exciting news for you and your palate.
Try Farm-to-Table and See
There are so many reasons why people have chosen farm-to-table restaurants as their new favorites. Have the above reasons convinced you to try one yourself? If so, we know just where to go.
Check out our restaurant, Buckingham Farms, to see what all the fuss is about. We promise — one bite, and you'll totally believe the hype for farm-to-table fare.