One of the best things about supporting local farmers is that money spent on their products stays close to home, directly benefiting our communities and families. With the “buy-fresh, buy-local” movement continuing to gain traction around the country, one area program is connecting Illinois growers and producers with local restaurants to showcase the benefits of supporting local food systems.
Now in its eighth season, the 2015 Local Flavors farm-to-table series kicked off in June, giving consumers an opportunity to dine out at their favorite restaurants while supporting local businesses, sustainable farming and locally-grown products. It is a program of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, in partnership with the University of Illinois Extension, Peoria County Council on Sustainability and Peoria Riverfront Association, that provides special monthly lunch and dinner events to the public. At participating restaurants, chefs prepare dishes using seasonal produce and proteins that come directly from central Illinois farmers, serving them along with their regular day’s menu. All you need to do is stop by the participating restaurant on the scheduled date and order the Local Flavors special.
Local Flavors is designed to raise awareness about the impact of local purchases on shaping local food systems, as well as building relationships between local farmers, chefs and the public, who will be able to enjoy the food at its peak flavor and freshness. Illinois currently imports 95 percent of its food from outside the state, according to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. By shifting just a small amount of purchases to local foods, the state and regional economy would experience great benefits.
Local Flavors events will take place in the Peoria area through October on the following dates: July 2nd, dinner at Salt; July 16th, lunch at Apple’s Bakery; August 6th, lunch at Cyd’s Gourmet Kitchen, Café and Catering; August 20th, lunch at Fresh Table Café; September 3rd, dinner at Edge by Chef Dustin Allen; September 17th, dinner at Noir Tapas and Rendezvous Lounge; October 1st, dinner at Metamora Fields Restaurant; and October 15th, dinner at Hearth Restaurant.
The Local Flavors series is also underway at participating restaurants in Springfield, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana. The full schedule of events and locations can be viewed online at buyfreshbuylocalcentralillinois.org. iBi