There’s always a reason to get out and support your local Feast On® certified restaurants but in case you need another one…here are five.
What is Feast On®?
Feast On® is North America’s largest local food certification! We work with restaurants to audit their bills each year and ensure that a minimum of 25% of their food and drink expenditure goes towards locally sourced ingredients.
For most of our Feast On® partners, that number is much higher. In fact, in 2022, our Feast On® partners averaged an expenditure of 54% on local food and 64% on local drinks. We even had a restaurant hit 100% for local drinks and 89% for food!
You can probably guess that supporting a restaurant like this has some great feel-good benefits but why else should you support them? Let’s dive in.
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Reason #1: Fresher Ingredients Mean Fuller Flavour
In short, locally sourced food just TASTES better.
Anybody who has bought a field-ripened tomato in the middle of January at the grocery store knows what cardboard tastes like. Now compare that to a vine-ripened tomato from the fields of Norfolk County in the middle of August. Yeah. That’s good stuff.
Our Feast On® restaurants strive to add local to their menu every day and that means cooking in tune with the seasons. The result of course is fresher ingredients that haven’t been sitting on a truck for days. They’ve been sourced from the chef’s neighbours and nearby markets.
Think you can’t eat local, delicious food even in the winter? Tell that to the Barrie’s Farm Nachoes on the menu at Borealis or the smoked lake trout served by our friend Zach Keeshing at some of his Naagan dinners.
From meat and fish to preserves, syrups and hot sauces, there are LOADS of ways to still enjoy local winter eats at Feast On® restaurants. Heck, you should see what they can do with a greenhouse down in Leamington.
Reason #2: Up and Coming Chefs
We all love a celebrity chef! In fact, our Feast On® network is home to greats like Chef D (Chef D TV), Nick Benninger (Fat Sparrow Group, check out his new docu-series) and our own Director of Programs, Chef Billy Alexander, has seen his fair share of airtime.
On top of those celeb chefs though, eating at a Feast On® restaurant will help you discover a huge array of new, passionate chefs doing exciting things with their plates.
For example, Brianna at Radical Gardens has created Timmins’s first farm-to-table restaurant on a farm and has become renowned for her epic sandwiches. You haven’t lived until you’ve done a cooking class with Cynthia at From the Farm Cooking School in Maitland. We’re seriously considering creating t-shirts to show our love for Ricky & Olivia’s unreal pop-up meals.
You can also literally check out the chefs of the future at Feast On partner restaurants at Ontario universities and colleges like Bistro ’67 at Durham College and The Chef’s House at George Brown College.
So get out there and discover your next celeb chef!
Reason #3: Support Your Local Agriculture Community and Help Prevent Tourism Leakage
Of course, those feel-good benefits of supporting a restaurant that sources locally can’t be ignored.
When you support and eat out at a Feast On® restaurant, you can feel good knowing you’re helping to support the farms in that area too.
Whether it’s supporting a farm like Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese while feasting on the arancini at SixThirtyNine in Woodstock or chicken from Sideroad Farms served with a VQA wine at Down Home by Sumac and Salt, the local farmers will feel the love.
It’s also one of the best ways to decrease tourism leakage. That’s when money from tourism dollars leaves the community. For tourism (even backyard tourism) to be a sustainable economic driver, dollars need to stay where they’re spent. You can feel good knowing you’re preventing the leak.
Reason #4: Cutting Edge Innovation
This reason is easy. There are a LOT of cool things happening at Feast On® restaurants that you need to see (and taste) for yourself.
A brewpub with a full-fledged, 4000-square-foot farm on the roof in the middle of Toronto? Check out Avling and tell Max we said “Hey”!
How about a restaurant built surrounding a wood-fired grill where all of your food is cooked? You’ll need to check out the Common Stove in Orillia for something like that.
Feast On® restaurants are constantly pushing the envelope and we are here for it.
Reason #5: Teaching Opportunity
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you to bring your kids along. While not all our Feast On® restaurants are suited for wee ones, many are and bringing them along with you is a great opportunity to teach them about where their food comes from and why supporting local food systems is important.
So go for it! Take them out for a giant pretzel at Trestle Brewing while you enjoy a craft beer and Ontario edamame, split a pizza while playing air hockey on the table at Graffiti Market or grab an order of poutine waffles at The Breakfast Pig together. The possibilities are endless and delicious.
Ready to go? Find the perfect Feast On® restaurant to visit! Don’t forget to use #FeastOn if you post about it!
You can also give the gift of local by purchasing a Feast On® Gift Voucher. These bad boys are redeemable at several Feast On® restaurants and the list accepting them is growing every day.