Every year there are several trends that come and go in the food and beverage industry. Some are no more than the hopes and dreams of people looking to promote a personal or business agenda, while others are more...organic. Since the 1970's, there has been a small but persistent move towards healthier eating, the results of which can now be found in almost every major grocery store and the space they dedicate to organic and other healthy food selections. Dining healthy at home can certainly be easily achieved these days, but what about dining out?
The restaurant equivalent to this push has been called the "locavore" movement. The emphasis of this movement is to eat only foods that have been produced locally. There are a multitude of purported benefits to dining this way: it is easier to track the production of the food to make sure it is fresh, it has spent little time traveling or in packaging, reducing spoilage, there is no need for artificial preservatives and it helps to support local businesses. All of these are true, to a greater or lesser extent, but it comes with a challenge, as there is no governing board to determine what does and does not qualify.
It is possible for any unscrupulous casual fine dining restaurant to claim to be "locavore-friendly" simply because they buy a couple of supplies nearby, but it means nothing if the rest of what they offer is preprocessed and shipped from hundreds of miles away. The best that a person can do is simply go to the restaurant on their own, examine the menu, sample a few dishes and decide for him or herself. Thankfully, there is a style of dining that fulfills the wishes of the locavore without even trying to cater to them.
Latin fusion restaurants focus on recreating the flavors that the chefs know from their heritage and combining them with menu styles that are familiar to many people. Because most of the spices and flavors that they grew up watching their parents and grandparents cook with cannot be recreated artificially, they are forced to buy the real deal. Since these tend to be such items as fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables along with the meats, they need to make sure they are finding them locally so they are as fresh as possible.
The power of the locavore movement has helped many of these restaurants thrive and survive because the local farmers have embraced the need for these ingredients. It allows them to expand their selection while having a built-in buyer for their produce. So the next time you want to have a meal you can feel good about eating but do not want to wash the dishes of afterwards, head down to your local Latin fusion restaurant and taste the difference fresh food makes while enjoying a night out at a casual fine dining restaurant.
Jack Terry is freelance writer who has been writing about the food and beverage industry for 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com