Farm-to-Table, Farm-to-Fork, and Responsible Sourcing are buzz phrases you may be used to hearing with respect to the restaurant industry. A term you may not have heard yet is hyperlocal sourcing. According to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, “hyperlocal means a dish that has a majority or all of its ingredients grown, raised or otherwise cultivated by the restaurant itself.”
This trend is showing up on menus around the world and right here in Pittsburgh, as well. In fact, nearly half of the designated Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants practice some type of hyperlocal sourcing. Platinum designated Dinette maintains a 75-container garden that provides all their tomatoes, as well as herbs, arugula, figs, shishito peppers, eggplant, broccoli, beans, cucumbers, and melons from May through November.
Gold designated Spirit is also in the process of transforming their rooftop into 5,000 square feet of multi-use green space. Garden beds, hoop houses, and an apiary are in the plans that kicked off in 2018. They also plan to implement a water catchment system to help alleviate some of the stormwater runoff. In addition to being able to grow their own produce, Spirit plans to partner with organizations and urban farms to give others a space to garden–which reinforces their involvement and support for the local food system. To view plans and help Spirit reach their goal, you can visit this link.
Platinum designated The Porch at Schenley nurtures an annual rooftop garden where they source fresh herbs and produce that they use in their recipes daily. In addition, the roof is also home to several beehives, which not only supply the restaurants with honey, but also helps to sustain the pollinator population in the region.
Like restaurants, many other food businesses are moving toward growing their own ingredients. Silver designated Leona’s maintains a kitchen garden that provides huckleberries, ground cherries, and mint for their ice cream treats. Chefs and food producers alike, recognize that hyperlocal sourcing can enhance the dish and is a reliable, high-quality source that can be cost effective in the long-term.
It’s important to recognize that being 100% hyperlocal is not practical or realistic for most restaurants in this region. However, chefs can join the hyperlocal movement in small and simple ways. Starting an herb garden or growing vegetables that do well in the local climate are both simple, low-cost ways to introduce tasty, nutritious, and local foods to any menu.
Hyperlocal sourcing is just one of many different actions and efforts that a restaurant can take to earn a Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant designation. This action, among many others, helps restaurants build vibrant communities and a healthy environment within the Pittsburgh region.