Eating green is on-trend, but that doesn’t mean healthy food is inaccessible. Thanks to an uptick in customer demand, healthy food and local ingredients are easier than ever to order for the office—or find when you’re on the go.
According to the National Restaurant Association‘s 2018 Sustainability Report, more Americans than ever want to eat at restaurants that source their ingredients locally. “Hyper-local” ingredients, like vegetables grown on-site, are the top trend for 2018. Locally sourced produce, meat, and seafood are all in the top 12.
But there are other benefits of local-food sourcing. Dishes made from local ingredients keep dollars in your community, cut down on transportation costs, and keep you—and your colleagues—healthier. It’s tastier for the consumer, too. Since vendors only sell what’s in season, local ingredients are fresher and more vibrant than fruits and veggies that make the long trek from California or Mexico.
We caught up with Leah Dubois, the chef and culinary director at LifeAlive in Boston, Massachusetts, to discuss the differences between locally sourced ingredients and organics. We also learned about the benefits of eating healthy foods at the office, and what your workplace can do to support healthy eating initiatives.
Benefits of Locally Sourced Ingredients vs. Organics
Workplaces that offer employees healthy lunches are on the right track. But there can be a big difference between organic foods and locally sourced ingredients, cautions Dubois.
Ingredients are considered locally sourced if they are grown within 150 miles of the consumer—but there are few strict rules about who can make these marketing claims. Organic farms, on the other hand, are certified by the USDA. These farms don’t use any chemical fertilizers, genetically modified crops, or radiation, and their animals are not treated with hormones.
As a chef, Dubois prefers to purchase organic foods whenever possible, but she attempts to buy from local vendors, too. “When the two overlap it’s a beautiful thing,” said Dubois. “I really enjoy working with the local purveyors because it’s so high touch,” she added.
Benefits of Healthy Catering at the Office
Sure, sure. You know eating healthy foods can give you more energy and help you stay trim. But how do you maintain the same lifestyle when you’re traveling for business or stuck in yet another lunch meeting?
Caterers can help. One of the benefits of choosing a caterer who uses local-food sourcing is their familiarity with their menu. Caterers who work directly with vendors to find the best ingredients can give customers a high-touch catering experience, says Dubois.
“When you email, it comes directly to me,” she explained. “I make it nice and easy for you, I can make the decisions for you. And then we hand deliver the food service. We make it more realistic as opposed to aspirational,” she continued.
At ezCater we pride ourselves on connecting offices to caterers who have the same values, and we make it easy to narrow down your choices. Simply filter your catering options by nutritional preferences or dietary restrictions to find the right caterer for you.
How to Support Healthy Eating Initiatives in the Office
Choose a caterer that uses organic or locally sourced ingredients to give the health initiative in your workplace the benefit of an instant boost. Filling grain bowls, bright smoothies, and veggie-filled wraps all make lunch more interesting and nutritious.
But don’t be fooled by caterers who promote specific organic ingredients in their menu items—like mesclun greens on their sandwiches or turnips in their salads. Try to look for a caterer who thinks holistically about their menu to reap the most benefits, says Dubois.
After all, she says, eating healthy isn’t a chore. “It’s not about what you take away, it’s what you put into your life,” Dubois said. “We are here to satiate you and to give you a great experience. It’s not about sacrifice because you’re eating healthy,” she continued. “I really want it to be all about joy.”
Amp up your lunchtime catering with healthy ingredients.