Turn on the TV, and invariably you’ll be greeted with a celebrity chef extolling the virtues of local produce and ‘farm-to-table’ or ‘farm-to-fork’ dining. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was simply another in a long line of foodie fads, a bandwagon to be jumped on by famous faces.
However, when it comes to farm-to-table, it’s worth looking a little closer at what the movement is all about. The phrase itself refers to all stages of food production, from harvesting right the way through to consumption. At Langdon Court, we’re advocates of this way of thinking as we’re keen to promote the importance of using locally sourced produce, as well as wanting to know where our produce has come from and how it’s been grown or raised.
The benefits of using local produce are plentiful. Here are some of the most compelling arguments that explain why restaurants (and individuals) should be interested in where their food is coming from.
If the fresh vegetables and fruits you’re buying are out of season, then they’re being imported in from other countries where they’re more abundant. The air miles involved in this process are astronomical when added up, making buying local and seasonal produce a much more environmentally friendly option. Not only that, but produce that has been imported won’t be anywhere near as fresh as produce bought from your friendly local farm shop. Buying in season will keep your cooking varied and push you to try new flavour combinations.
When you buy local produce, you’re putting back into the local economy. Not only does that have a positive impact upon the individual or business you’re buying from, but in the long run it benefits you as a member of the community as well. Local farmers have much more of an incentive to produce the best quality produce that they can, whereas large corporations are less likely to care about you as an individual.
When produce is truly fresh, and hasn’t been sat on a supermarket shelf for a few days, it simply tastes better. Crops are picked at their peak, local brewers really care about the product they’re selling and invest time into making it just right, and bakers are willing to get up at the crack of dawn to deliver fresh bread. Artisan producers and local farmers are invested in the products they make. Profit still matters to them, but they’re also true masters of their crafts.
Local farmers and producers are interested in providing their customers with unusual items. That’s why your local greengrocers will be stocked with heritage tomatoes and potatoes, as well as numerous varieties of apples that you’ve never heard of. Similarly, a cheesemonger will be able to offer you types of cheese that you’d never find on the average supermarket aisle. Again, this is all to do with their love and commitment to what they do.
Less is more
When it comes to farm-to-table cooking, there’s an emphasis on quality over quantity. This often means buying less meat, but buying the very best that’s on offer. Fish and meat should be treated with respect, which often means that we should be eating less of both. In farm-to-table cooking, there is often more of an emphasis on utilising fruit and vegetables as much as you can. Meat and fish are both treated as luxury products, that shouldn’t necessarily be eaten every night of the week. This is not only good news for animal welfare, but it is also better for our environment as a whole.
Head into your local butcher, and ask them which cut of meat is best for slow cooking. They won’t just be able to tell you which cut you should be going for, but they’ll undoubtedly be able to offer you a recipe to go along with it. Looking for a sustainable fish for Friday night’s supper? Your local fishmonger will probably be able to recommend half a dozen, all of which were caught that very same morning by the local fishing boats. This sense of familiarity, expertise, and willingness to help is something that won’t be found anywhere else.
Supermarkets don’t tend to sell produce that looks less than perfect, whereas local communities care significantly less about vegetable aesthetics and more about the taste. This is great news, as farmers can concentrate more on producing fruit and vegetables that enhance the flavour of a dish, rather than ones that look picture perfect on a shelf. It also means that good food is less likely to go to waste, as it isn’t being judged on appearance.
At Langdon Court, we are big believers in the importance of sourcing our ingredients locally and responsibly. We’re lucky enough to be situated just a few miles away from the coast, which is great when it comes to providing our customers with the freshest fish possible. We also place a huge focus on seasonality, which is why you’ll notice that our menus change throughout the year to reflect what’s available in the UK.
Our restaurant endeavours to source all of our local produce from within 40 miles of the hotel, and we have fantastic relationships with our suppliers. To experience what we do with the wonderful produce we’re supplied with, book a table with us.