It makes sense that the shorter the distance from farm to fork, the fresher your food is. The fresher food is, the more nutritious it will be. That means local sourcing is important to how we eat every day, including at work. Where we source our food from has far-reaching impacts from environmental sustainability to the taste and quality of the food.
What is local sourcing?
Local sourcing in food refers to obtaining ingredients and products from local producers and suppliers within a specific geographic region. The food is locally grown, raised, or produced. The definition of “local” can vary but generally refers to sourcing from nearby farms, food producers, and artisans.
The terms ‘local sourcing’ and ‘short supply chains’ get used interchangeably, but the two are different. Short supply chains refer to a limited number of operators in the supply chain. Supply chains with no more than one intermediary between the farmer and consumer are short.
Even better, no intermediary between farmer and consumer is the shortest supply chain – think farmer’s market. Local sourcing by contract caterers who buy directly from farmers and food producers form this ideal supply chain.
At Fooditude we source locally as much as possible. All of our fruit and vegetables are sourced through Keelings, a family owned Irish company. Keeling’s farms are at most, 45km away from our kitchen in Dublin, and on average, the majority of Keeling’s farms are 30km away from us. Now, that’s a local supplier we’re proud to work with.
On top of this, we source seasonally, so we ensure our fruit and veg produce from Keelings are always of low to medium carbon footprint at the time of sourcing, contributing to reducing our environmental impact.
Supporting the local economy
Local sourcing by contract catering contributes to the local economy. It helps support small-scale farmers and food artisans, strengthens the local food system, and fosters community connections. And these community connections are exactly what the Fooditude Team values. Our team regularly visits our supplier farms and partners we work with, including Keelings, Larousse and Tartine Bakery to build on our relationships and encourage further community connections.
Supporting local farmers and producers helps create jobs locally, not just on the farm but along the supply chain from work in processing and packaging to distribution and logistics. Increased demand and popularity of local produce leads to retail outlets selling more local food. As demand grows so do the different types of retail outlets for local food – think of the popularity of farmers’ markets. This leads to job creation in the retail sector as well.
Local food has fewer “food miles” as it gets transported shorter distances. Transport-related emissions add to a product’s carbon footprint. Local food systems that rely on short supply chains require less packaging and transportation. There is also potential to minimise food waste due to limited production, processing, and food miles.
Catering companies that procure ingredients directly from farms or with minimal storage cut emissions considerably. While not a perfect comparison, you can look at local veg box schemes for evidence. For each kg of CO2 emissions from a small-scale box scheme in a local short food supply chain, conventional long supply chains emit 3kgs of CO2.
Less use of resources
Local sourcing by contract caterers ensures fewer resources get used in the food system. These include packaging, fossil fuel, and energy for storage and processing. Local produce does not need the food preservatives that mega-retailers use to make their supplies last. Large-scale farming uses mass quantities of water, fertiliser, herbicides, and pesticides. It leads to water depletion and stripping of nutrients from the soil.
Local food systems give producers greater commercial freedom to pursue their preferred farming practices. Traditional land and livestock management and local food webs protect habitats and biodiversity.
Local sourcing in contract catering allows for greater traceability and transparency in the food supply chain. Food companies can work with local growers, rearers, and producers to ensure quality and directly access information about the produce they serve. For example, they can establish the legitimacy of free-range and organic products.
Certain fresh produce, such as broccoli, green beans, kale, red peppers, and tomatoes are susceptible to nutrient loss the longer they spend in transit or storage. However, fresh produce harvested at peak ripeness is dense in nutrients. Research shows that locally sourced food improves the quality of people’s diets so it’s great if your contract caterer is using local foods as much as possible.
Local crops are also less likely to have been selectively bred and grown for long shelf-life and transportability above taste or nutritional value.
Local sourcing is the best way to procure flavourful, nutritious, and fresh seasonal ingredients while supporting the local economy. In times of global supply chain woes, climate change, and excessive food waste, going back to the farm helps create a more sustainable food system. Fooditude curates healthy, delicious, and sustainable menus with locally sourced fresh ingredients. Experience wholesome bespoke food offers that bring good vibes to your office lunches and parties.