3 benefits of eating in season when dining out
Updated: Feb 25
We've seen fad diets come and go, but the public is finally catching up to what we've been waving our hands about in the local PNW restaurant scene. Regardless of any diet trends, the simple fact that eating local and sustainable is more important than ever. It feeds the local economy, it provides the best nourishment for the local population, and it can do more to help positively impact food sustainability. Small changes lead to significant benefits.
In a recent Techomic survey, looking at behaviors when people dine out at full-service restaurants, it showed that
Some 75% of us are drawn to foods that are natural, authentic, premium, and locally sourced. Around 60% of consumers like to see organic, GMO-free, functional, and sustainable items.
79% of us are more likely to choose a 'green restaurant' over another who isn't, and 78% of employees would prefer to work at a location that was certified green - making their experience better and positively influencing the all-important customer - you!
In short, sustainability is what the world needs, and it's what you should want, too, when dining out. Why? Because it pays to go green. For every meal, you have a restaurant, or at every group birthday dinner, every work dinner, happy hour, or client dinner you need to know that ½ lb of food is wasted in the production of what you ordered, or not eaten everything that you ordered. Ask yourself, where can you make a positive impact?
Seek out organic and local restaurants
There is a marked shift in the dining behavior to consume organic, local produce and this is no less apparent than in restaurants. Diners are buying more organic food at supermarkets and are fueling the strong rise in restaurants that specialize in locally sourced cuisine because why wouldn't the trend to eat local at home not also happen when dining out. It's healthier, environmentally friendly, more flavorful, and eventful. Do your research to seek restaurants that source their produce from local farms and farmer's markets.
Understand the costs of buying organic versus local, though - unless you find a product that meets both. While organic is desirable from a consumer standpoint, it may not be the cheapest option for everyone since geography, seasonality, and other factors out of your control can affect pricing. For example, notice when you see asparagus on the menu. Did you know it's flown in from Mexico and Peru 10 months out of the year? Here in Washington State, it's most abundant in restaurants only in April & May so why not pay less for it during those seasons.
Eating in season has many benefits
You may save money. The ordering of the fresh sheets at the restaurants help as these are usually creative creations by the restaurant to get rid of food that is going bad soon. It's still perfectly good to eat; they need to move some product.
Your food tastes better. Foods grew and picked at their peak typically taste better. Compare the taste of a strawberry in May to a strawberry in January - you may never go back!
You may get more nutrients from your food. Produce starts to lose nutrients after being picked. The longer the travel time to the restaurant, the more nutrients are lost.
One more thing: seek out restaurants that exclusively only feature a seasonal menu as this can help expose you to explore the local ingredients. Plus, it's a great way to test out one or more fantastic restaurants so you can find the best new date spot in town.