This is one of The Food Channel’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2011, based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves®, the International Food Futurists® and Mintel International. For the full list, click here.
Support a local grower . . . anywhere. Politicians say that all politics is local. It’s becoming more and more evident that the same is true for food.
This trend understands that mindset—that it’s all about eating local, but that local goes beyond a geographical definition. The new local is really about the independent spirit that causes entrepreneurial people to develop new food products, open new restaurants, and bring new food ideas to life. In other words, local has moved, and it didn’t leave a forwarding address.
Instead, local has created a calling card that is imprinted everywhere. This trend is about growing and tending—if someone, somewhere, is personally growing and tending to this product, as opposed to packing and sorting on the assembly line, then it’s local. It means someone is personally committed to it. Someone has made sacrifices to bring it to market.
People have shown they want to support locally-grown, not just for the support of local growers, or even the transportation savings, but because locally-grown often means some new ideas and new flavors. So even if you live in Alaska, your “local” might have been brought back from a trip to Vermont where you picked up local maple syrup. It’s jam you tried at a restaurant and can’t get out of your mind, like the all natural black and red raspberry preserve at the world famous Mother’s Restaurant. Of course, e-commerce and the ability to purchase online contributes to bringing the new “local” to your door.
We also see this trend enacted in pop-up restaurants, where a local person is committed to a restaurant idea and creates a great product, but usually in small quantities. And, they attract people from all over for this “local” experience. So at MVB in New Orleans when all the hamburgers have been cooked on Sunday night, they close their doors. They are more committed to the quality of the product and the quality of their lives than to growing the business by extending its hours. And people support that idea because it resonates with the new independent spirit.
We see it in the Italian grandmothers in Staten Island who make one dish every day, and one dish only, served at the 35-seat Enoteca Maria restaurant. They make the food they know, and they offer no excuses for being small batch, free-spirited, and delicious.
A study a year ago by the Food Marketing Institute said that people think of local in terms of freshness, support for the local economy, and knowing the source of the product. In Local Somewhere, it’s the same three things. An independent producer is creating a fresh product, and we’re supporting that American city’s economy, and we know exactly where it came from—and we appreciate the fact that they tended and cared for it as the ingredients grew and the quantities were mixed.
For evidence, read: