There’s no set method for sourcing ingredients locally. The needs of your restaurant and the climate of the region where you operate will play large roles in deciding what works and what doesn’t for your business. Some time and persistence is needed to establish relationships with enough suppliers in your area to satisfy your restaurant’s needs.
Another option many restaurants have turned to, especially in urban areas, is becoming their own supplier for basic vegetable ingredients. More and more chefs are turning unused urban space into gardens in order to create a fresh, local supply of the most common herbs and vegetables used in their kitchens. Some chefs are even raising honeybees as an added sweetener to their urban gardens.
Many restaurants have had great success with this approach, but in some instances city ordinances collide with what seems like should be a simple garden. If you are planning on becoming your own supplier, make sure you check local policies before you sink a lot of hard work into a garden.
Another aspect of the trend towards sourcing food locally is an increased emphasis on reducing food waste. You’ve already heard about composting and other ways of getting rid of one of the biggest byproducts of operating your restaurant: food scraps. But one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to reduce all that organic waste going into the trash is to organize family meals for your staff.