Three tips to help you shop like a chef and make your grocery shopping more sustainable.
Sustainable food shopping is sourcing the best quality food in a way that also protects the ability of future generations to source their own quality food. It means preserving a diversity of farm businesses and retail outlets so that our successors have the same plethora of food choices that we have. And that’s where shopping like a chef comes in.
1. Buy directly from the source
When purchasing food for their restaurants, top chefs don’t rely on supermarkets or even wholesalers alone. They often go straight to the source and buy produce directly from the farmer. Over time, they get to know the producers who are growing their food, how they grow and how things are going on the farm. Ultimately, they build up a relationship with the farmers.
You can build this same type of direct relationship by visiting a farmers market. Although types of markets vary, shopping at a true farmers market means that you will likely be buying food directly from the farmer who produced it - or at least someone who has a personal relationship with that grower.
This way of shopping also helps to make farm businesses more economically sustainable because there are no ‘middle men’ taking a cut of the price. It doesn’t usually cost more to shop at a farmers market if you stick to in-season staples, and the farmer receives the full amount that you, the customer, pays. At your local farmers market you are also more likely to find local food than at a big supermarket, so not only are you helping to limit environmental pollution, in the form of the carbon emissions that result from trucking food long distances, you are also contributing to your local economy.
2. Support local, small businesses
Another trick of top chefs is having a direct relationship with their suppliers. Chefs know that they get access to the best and newest products with excellent service if they actually get to know the people they purchase from.
So you can shop like a chef by spending money with local, small businesses. Frequenting good, local providores and getting to know them helps to build a strong community and it can also be an incredibly valuable thing for you personally. A small business, where you get to know the staff (and they get to know you and what you like) will often go ‘above and beyond’ to help you find an ingredient or learn about a new food trend.
3. Shop in your backyard (by growing your own food)
Top chefs often turn into backyard farmers because they know that they can get the finest, most interesting produce to cook with by growing it themselves from seed. Setting up a backyard vegetable patch, having a windowsill herb garden or even growing a lemon tree in a large pot are all ways that you can emulate top chefs. Not only does this mean that you are able to get extremely fresh, no-spray produce with zero-food miles when you need it, it also means that you are helping to promote biodiversity and, if you grow organically, limiting chemicals in your food supply.
How do you shop like a chef? Head over to Facebook and let us know.