“Local produce is more enjoyable to work with, to serve, and to eat”
In today’s lifestyle we are seeing an increased awareness in the importance of eating and sourcing food locally. In 2017 a Consumer New Zealand survey showed that 71% of New Zealanders want to know where their fruit and vegetables come from, whilst 70% want to buy New Zealand-grown.
Chefs such as Annabel Langbein pride themselves on using locally sourced or home-grown produce for a variety of reasons spanning transportation and cost, to economy, nutrition and flavour.
Our Head Chef Will understands that our guests want to experience New Zealand and its fresh organic flavours in each dish. Taking inspiration from our local producers and farmers to create dishes that are on the pulse, in sync with the local produce and communicating the language of the land.
“There are two main reasons I like to eat locally. The first is quality – too often produce is either picked too early to survive long journeys to its point of sale, or stored too long. This problem is doubled when the retailer also demands a long shelf life so it has to be picked even sooner. By buying straight from local suppliers you’re getting produce that hasn’t been bashed around on planes, trains and trucks, nor stored in inert gases, nor picked a fortnight before ripening. That extra time on the tree, vine or bush during ripening adds a lot of extra flavour.
“I know the pig farmer plays the bagpipes to cheer them up on rainy days”
The second is satisfaction. I enjoy a meal much more when I know where everything came from. I’ve met all my suppliers and visited most of the domestic ones. Hell, I drive past most of them at least once a week. So I can enjoy all the meat we serve in the knowledge that it comes from cosseted animals that live well and are treated humanely. I know the pig farmer plays the bagpipes to cheer them up on rainy days. I know my berry guy won’t let anyone drive at more than 5kmph through his property to avoid getting dust on the berries. I know the lady who grows our saffron in Alexandra; a microclimate often fiercely hot, and surrounded by wild thyme, more than I could ever forage. All this increases my respect for our ingredients and so my enjoyment of them. Local produce is more enjoyable to work with, to serve, and to eat.”
So when you aren’t eating at Eichardt’s or if you are cooking at home, how can you be more of a conscious eater wherever you are? We have some top tips for you:
- Get to know your local produce; knowing what’s in season means that you are always eating fresh – eating fresh means more nutrients.
- Buy from local farmers markets rather than supermarkets; another huge bonus here is saving on plastic use, as most farmers markets are plastic-free.
- Grow your own! To feed the predicted 9 billion people in the world in 2050, the world will need to produce 70-100% more food. If you already have land, you can make a difference and start by growing your own produce; encourage and even trade with your neighbours!
The vision for Horticulture New Zealand is ‘healthy food for all forever…New Zealanders have a preference to eat locally grown over imported fruit and vegetables. This contributes significantly to our economy, and clearly places our growers and producers in a good position for the future.’
It’s time more than ever to become a part of that vision.