Tuesday, July 26, 2011
everybody wave to the Sysco truck...
We are incredibly blessed here in Perth County, surrounded by a sumptuous bounty of farmland, protein, produce, cheeses - a 'veritable pantheon' of local producers offering superior products to the array of Stratford restaurants. Yet, I find myself, weekly (if not more often) watching the Sysco truck parade brazenly around the city delivering its wares to sub-par kitchens and restaurants of every ilk.
For those of you who are not familiar with what I am talking about, Sysco is a massive over-produced food company that will provide you with less-than-quality ingredients at 'bargain basement' prices.
Note: Flannagan's is a similar company, much like shopping at Target instead of Walmart. But Sysco claims the 'Walmart of food products' place in my heart.
Now, some restaurants use Sysco products for things like: canned goods, bar stock (cherries, straws, mini-swords, etc.) and that's okay, even necessary. Not every joint on the block can afford the caraffa olives from Pazzo bakery. But other restaurants are using these foreign products to make up the bulk of their menus, from the very expensive lamb at the Church Restaurant to the eggs on your breakfast plate at Features, some restaurants think it is okay to offer cheaper, low quality products at prices that would be understandable for a hand raised local product.
To extend the olive branch: I'm not suggesting that every restaurant can nor should source everything locally - I understand it gets expensive, I want to eat things like lobster and oysters as much as the next guy, and some restaurant price-points don't allow for every product they serve to be of superior quality. Let's be honest, we all eat hotdogs right?
Basically I'm just suggesting that the next time you're out dining in a fine establishment (or what you consider to be one) ask your server a few questions. Where do they get their beef? Is the fish sustainable? Are they using local produce?
We the consumers should encourage our dining venues to use products with integrity wherever possible. Then maybe we can wave good-bye to the Sysco truck altogether!
I feel some of the wording in this post came across harsher than intended. When I write, it is with a certain inflection in my head, often meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
I understand that there are lots of reasons to use large suppliers and have worked for establishments that do so conscientiously - and I applaud them for this.
I have also worked for establishments that don't have to use large suppliers (they have the liberty of a higher price-point/smaller space) Some of these establishments still use Sysco products but charge prices that reflect a high quality local/specialized product.
It's great to see the comments below because it means that this post has people thinking - and responding intelligently - which is kind of what this blog is meant to do.
Thanks again for reading!