How Hard Is It For Restaurants to Source Locally?


I wear slim, light gray pants that stop an inch and a half above my ankle. I wear shoes with a peep toe. It’s a hot fall and I can’t make up my mind, so I split the difference: giving into the season, but remembering that just because we’ve passed the fall equinox, the temperature hasn’t ducked too low.

This same compromise appeared to me at a press lunch last week. Eating outside on a sunny day at Agora, yet enjoying fall’s produce.

House-made pita dough is turned into a soft flat bread and can be found underneath melted feta and manchego cheese, topped with thin slices of a Granny Smith apple.

So far, it’s a happy story for a meatless meal. I can find the joy of fall’s favorite offspring while I dine comfortably alfresco. And my gray pants are adorable, I might add.

While chatting with the chef, Ghassan Jarrouj, a native of Lebanon, he tells me the Peynirli Pide (the cheesy flat bread) receives its fall glow from “Washington state or New York apples, most likely New York.”

Jarrouj assured me that they are in the process of lining up several local growers to supply produce to the restaurant. With such a diverse variety of apples grown only miles away in Virginia, it’s hard to hear that customers can’t enjoy fruits of the Mid-Atlantic.

Now I know how easy it is to supply my own kitchen with farmers market goods (and if you don’t know, check out Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food, a new non-profit with a mission to educate the public on sustainable, local eating), but it is quite another issue to buy enough food for a restaurant.

In fact, there’s been plenty of stories on how difficult it is for restaurants in the DC area to source local ingredients (see The Go-Betweens by ES fav Melissa McCart.) But I’ve got to think restaurants can make it work for a few months out of the year.

Hopefully, Agora, there’s a local winter squash flat bread in my future.

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  • Maids October 19, 2010  

    That pita pizza looks yummy. There are so many apple orchards around the mid-A…. I’m surprised it would be a chore to get the apples locally. In fact my mom has seven apple trees in her backyard… Apple-picking party anyone?

  • BS October 19, 2010  

    It’s an interesting question…just how difficult is it for restaurants to make the new local philosophy actually happen. As you say, they’re buying a hell of a lot more produce for their kitchens than we are for ours, so I’d be interested in hearing more about how difficult/costly it is for restaurants to go the all-local route.

  • Nee Nee October 19, 2010  

    If only it were this easy for everyone. Buy your own land and grow it yourself.

  • Roo de Loo October 19, 2010  

    Sourcing locally? Quite frankly, it can be a big pain in the ass. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
    At Good Commons, where I work on occasion as a private chef for boutiquey foodie getaways and yoga excursions, we partner with a handful of farmers and purveyors. What is coming out of the ground? How much do you have? Can we afford it? Will the customers EAT it? It’s a constant navigation, but if we are to be committed to preserving some semblance of a healthy food system, this is part of the deal. Oh, and it’s not such a bad thing when food tastes like food either.

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