Americans Demanding Local, Sustainable Tower Garden Produce at Restaurants

As Americans continue to eat more local and sustainable produce and herbs themselves, they are expecting the same from the restaurants they visit.

Tower Gardens at Highland Manor

The chef at Highland Manor in central Florida displays a harvest from the Tower Gardens®. Pictured at right is Tim Blank, founder and CEO of Future Growing® LLC. (Click photo to enlarge)

Nearly 40 percent of consumers surveyed said they would be more likely to visit restaurants that offer healthy options, according to foodservice consulting firm Technomic. And these health-conscious restaurant guests now define “healthy” foods as those that are “locally grown” and “fresh”, instead of the old definitions of “low fat” and low calorie”, Technomic says.

Then, just last week, the National Restaurant Association declared that the top hot trends for restaurant menus in 2014 will be locally grown produce, hyper-local sourcing (restaurants that sport their own gardens), and healthful kids’ meals.

Future Growing® LLC’s commercial urban farms have been at the forefront of this trend for years. Some of our long-time growers—which sport expansive Tower Garden® farms on their rooftops—are among the nation’s finest restaurants, including Primo Restaurant at JW Marriott and Bell Book & Candle in New York City.

Harvesting heirloom tomatoes

Harvesting heirloom tomatoes at Bell Book and Candle’s rooftop Tower Garden farm. (Click photo to enlarge)

Restaurants are the primary customers for our flourishing Future Growing® urban farms. Take Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s O’Hare Urban Garden, for example: It’s the first airport featuring an indoor farm, with numerous Tower Garden® towers that supplies the airport’s Farmers’ Market as well as many of its upscale eateries, including Wolfgang Puck and Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera.

LA Urban Farms supplies fresh Tower Garden® produce to the top restaurants in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

604 Arizona - TG farm

Pictured above are Jessica Coleman; Tim Blank, founder and CEO of Future Growing LLC; and Wendy Coleman, at an L.A. Urban Farms rooftop Tower Garden farm.  (Click photo to enlarge)

Likewise, Montecito Urban Farms in Summerland, CA delivers the freshest herbs, greens and produce to popular local restaurants such as Wine Cask Restaurant, Bouchon Santa Barbara, and Sojourner Café & Restaurant.

As the locally-sourced produce trend continues to gain momentum in the mainstream, Future Growing®’s urban farms will be at the forefront of supplying the highest quality, chemical-free, nutritious produce to restaurants all over the world. Read about this fast-growing restaurant trend for yourself in the QSR Magazine blog copied below!

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


NRA Rounds Up Hottest Culinary Trends of 2014

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) each year prepares its What’s Hot culinary forecast of menu trends for the coming year. The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), to find which food and beverage items will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2014.

Wind Horse Cafe

Customers enjoy their outdoor lunch surrounded by Future Growing® Tower Gardens®, at Wind Horse Cafe in Eustis, FL. (Click photo to enlarge)

The top 10 food trends for 2014 are:

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Healthful kids’ meals
  5. Gluten-free cuisine
  6. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  7. Children’s nutrition
  8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Farm/estate branded items
Chef John Mooney

Chef John Mooney prepping edible squash flowers for evening dinner special.
(Click photo to enlarge)

“Today’s consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from, and that is reflected in our menu trends research,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association’s research and knowledge group. “True trends, as opposed to temporary fads, show the evolution of the wider shifts of our modern society over time and focus on the provenance of various food and beverage items, unique aspects of how they are prepared and presented, as well as the dietary profiles of those meals.”

“The American Culinary Federation chefs who took part in the survey understand that sourcing locally and environmental sustainability tie in with ongoing efforts to provide more-healthful foods for everyone, especially children,” says Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, HGT, AAC, ACF national president. “Chefs recognize that nutrition is a vital component of the foodservice industry and constantly revise and update recipes to reflect the concerns and desires of a diverse group of consumers who are looking for good food choices to best meet their nutrition and other needs.”

Chefs at Montecito Urban Farm

Pictured here, from left to right, are: Executive Chef Greg Murphy of Bouchon, Chef Brandon Hughes of the Wine Cask Restaurant, and Chef Nik Ramirez of the Intermezzo Bar and Cafe. All three restaurants are located in Santa Barbara, CA. (Click photo to enlarge)

The What’s Hot in 2014 survey also found that the top five alcohol and cocktail trends will be micro-distilled/artisan spirits, locally produced beer/wine/spirits, onsite barrel-aged drinks, culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients), and regional signature cocktails.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, health-nutrition, children’s nutrition, and gluten-free cuisine.

The five items with the highest ranking as a waning trend in 2014 were foam/froth/air, bacon-flavored chocolate, fish offal, gazpacho, and fun-shaped children’s items.

Playa Rivera rooftop

Street view of Playa Rivera, a high-end restaurant in Los Angeles, CA with a Future Growing® Tower Garden® farm on its rooftop. (Click photo to enlarge)

The five items with the highest points as perennial trends next year were fried chicken, Italian cuisine, frying, barbeque, and eggs benedict.

The five items that gained most in trendiness since last year in the annual survey were nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking, pickling, ramen, dark greens, and Southeast Asian cuisine. The five items with the largest drop in “hot trend” rating were Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, new cuts of meat, grass-fed beef, and organic coffee.

Compared with five years ago, items that have remained top 20 food trends include locally grown produce, healthful kids’ meals, gluten-free cuisine, sustainable seafood, and health/nutrition.

Latin peppers being dried for the evening dinner.

Latin peppers being dried for the evening dinner at Playa Rivera in Los Angeles. (Click photo to enlarge)

Items that have dropped substantially down the list from the top 20 food trends in 2009 include gelato, micro-greens, flatbreads, tapas/meze/dim sum, and dessert flights.

Also included in the What’s Hot in 2014 survey were questions about other trends. Nearly six out of 10 (59 percent) of the chefs said they always make efforts to adjust dishes and recipes to be more healthful, while one-third (33 percent) said they cook with nutrition in mind, but that not all recipes are easily adjusted.

Blog originally published by QSR Magazine on December 3, 2013.


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