Local produce boosts college, institutional foodservice programs - The Packer

Local produce boosts college, institutional foodservice programs

08/01/2011 10:05:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

“I guess lot of this relates to this whole idea that one thing is going to make your sales go through the roof, and that’s not going to do it any more than putting a seal on your product certified by so and so,” he said.

“The marketing organization has to think through their whole strategy in marketing, and these things are just pieces of that. There’s no one thing that’s going to make sales go through the roof. It’s part of a strategy.”

In the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn, N.Y., Ted & Honey, a neighborhood eatery, emphasizes organic and locally grown, said Michelle Mannix, co-owner.

We both use either one — it’s fine with us,” she said. “It’s a huge part of our identity. We feel very confident with the product we’re producing. I would think 90% of our stuff is homemade and procured from local organic sources. Our papers products are biodegradable, so in general it’s part of our ethos as a company.”

At Ferrari’s Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant in Cedar Falls, Iowa, diners prefer locally grown tomatoes and greens, said Chris Meyers, executive chef.

It has become a key part of our menu,” he said.

Local produce isn’t just for smaller, independent restaurants. Major chains get into the category, too, said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications, United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

“I know, for example, you’ll take a chain like Olive Garden or Red Lobster that takes menus that are customized for that particular locality,” he said.

“Olive Garden might have hundreds of menus, and what they’re doing is capitalizing on local favorites. They know what they’re customers like. For the chains, they try to gear toward local tastes, like using locally grown items for that area.”

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