When you eat in one of Bespoke’s restaurants, many of which have been awarded AA rosettes for the quality of the food they serve, you’ll often find that produce has been sourced locally. For example, Jordi, our head chef at Bermondsey Square makes regular forages into the nearby Borough Market, while Jonathan at The Lugger works just a stone’s throw from the fisherman of Portloe as they haul in their daily catches. A little further North, Ryan at Stonefield Castle sails out onto Loch Fyne to catch lobster and crab every morning, whilst Brett at Cotswold House sources produce from local Cotswold farms and producers whenever possible.
But why, you may ask, do our chefs take such pride in doing this, and what advantages does it bring to the food on your plate at Bespoke restaurants? Well, for all you doubters, we’ve compiled 10 mightily good reasons:-
1. Eating local means more for the local economy. According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a pound spent locally generates twice as much for the local economy. When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community after every transaction.
2. Locally grown produce is fresher. Obviously! Produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, whereas produce that you purchase locally has often been picked within the previous 24 hours. This freshness not only affects the taste of the food in many Bespoke restaurants, but the nutritional value which can decline over time.
3. Local food just tastes better. Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours? If not, you’re missing out!
4. Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. Being local, the produce will be handled less and won’t have undergone the rigors of shipping. This means that you’ll have strawberries that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and vegetables that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute.
5. Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic. In a March, 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles traveled by organic food to arrive at our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying it in the first place.
6. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at the peak of their taste, at their most abundant, and at their least expensive. A point always appreciated by Bespoke restaurants.
7. Buying locally grown food creates the perfect recipe for great stories. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who bakes bread down the road, knowing the story of your food is a powerful part of enjoying a meal.
8. Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism. Food with less distance to travel is less susceptible to harmful contamination, something the chefs at Bespoke restaurants are acutely aware of.
9. Local food translates to more variety. When a farmer is producing food that won’t have to travel long distances, won’t have a shorter shelf life, and won’t be subjected to a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to experiment and try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would not normally make it to large supermarket chains. Local producers often grows different varieties of their crops from year to year, a fact that allows the chefs at Bespoke restaurants to get a bit more creative than usual and experiment with different ways to prepare them.
10. Supporting local providers aids responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those with local open space – farms and pastures – an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped. In short, you keep our green and pleasant land just that!
When you really think about it, local produce is not only good for the farmer, but also the chefs at Bespoke restaurants and therefore the customer who sits down for a meal in one of our many award winning establishments.