FOOD CULTURE: Locavore Lingo Backlash
The local food movement has come a long way, baby. Consumers have bought in: 70 percent of adults say they’re more likely to eat at a restaurant that serves local food, according to the National Restaurant Association. Even big dogs like Frito-Lay have co-opted messages about local farmers and practices. In our tastings across the country, we’ve been hard pressed to find a menu that doesn’t tout a local green, protein, or egg. Until recently. A growing number of chefs, the natural rebels they are, are dropping locavore “pretense” their menus and pantries. They insist that real chefs use local product anyway and have for years—unless products from outside the socially acceptable 150-mile radius are farmed or produced with better practices. (If a there's superior product made beyond their ZIP codes, with the flavor and integrity to elevate their cuisine, why not use it?) Because local has gained so much ground, its benefits are no longer black and white. And for chefs, being virtuous for virtue's sake (in menu wording and practice) has lost some its appeal. Thankfully, local is only set to grow; we just anticipate chefs will take on a more nuanced view of the role of local food in their kitchens.