Free-range pork at Bear and the Flower Farm near Irricana, left, and fresh rib-eyes from Brant Lake Wagyu, an artisan beef ranch near Vulcan, are appearing more and more on Calgary menus. It’s because of continuing demand for locally-sourced food, a food columnist says. (bearandtheflower.com/brant_lake_wagyu/Instagram)
If you see more and more restaurants listing where their food comes from right there on the menu, it’s because farmers are the new rock stars, a Calgary food trends columnist says.
“Chefs have been the rock stars for a while and I think farmers are the next on the rock star list,” Elizabeth Chorney-Booth told The Homestretch.
She says the trend is no longer specific to higher end restaurants.
“Blue Star Diner has a board with a list of their providers in the restaurant. Market has a lot of farm-specific dishes. I even saw the origin of potatoes listed on a sign at Five Guys the other day,” she said.
“One restaurant that is going the extra mile is Modern Steak. They’ve partnered with Benchmark beef. Modern Steak has its own bull. Their steaks are all related to each other, they are not just from the farm, they are siblings.”
Chorney-Booth says Calgary eateries have lots to choose from in local sourcing.
“Broxburn, for example, is a farm just outside of Lethbridge. You can actually go and visit it. Seven K Ranch is near Okotoks and they raise grass-fed, longhorn beef. Brant Lake is an artisanal beef ranch near Vulcan that specializes in wagyu beef. Lambtastic Farms is a another popular one that is run by two chefs who raise lambs,” she said.
“Bear and the Flower Farm is one of my favourites. It raises free range pork. There are pigs running around so you know they’re treated well. That’s near Irricana. You see more ranches than vegetable farms, but you also see specifics on cheese, granola, things like that.”
Chorney-Booth says consumer expectations have shifted on this issue over time.
“People are coming to expect that level of local produce, and people are willing to pay a little bit more if they know it’s local and from a farm with a good reputation,” Chorney-Booth said.
“If you see a beet salad for $17 or a burger for $25, it makes more sense if they are telling you where it is coming from and you know you are getting your money’s worth.”
‘Big deal for a lot of people’
Taking local sourcing seriously can also be a signal of other values, she says.
“If the chef is taking time to list where the food comes from, they are probably taking more care to create dishes that are hopefully of the spectacular variety that will let those natural ingredients really shine,” the writer said.
“I know a lot of people who won’t eat meat unless they know the animals are being treated humanely. I think it is a big deal for a lot of people.”