Friday, January 23, 2015

Louisiana farmers say some restaurants are falsely claiming to serve farm-to-table products

Some Louisiana farmers say area restaurants are falsely claiming to be participating in farm-to-table by advertising that they use local products when they are not or are only using small amounts, Megan Wyatt reports for Daily World in Opelousas, outside Lafayette. Farmers say restaurants have latched onto farm-to-table as a buzzword to trick customers into believing they are eating local products and supporting local businesses. (Advertiser photo by Paul Kieu: Marguerite Constantine checks goats on her farm in Moreauville, La.)

In fact, some farmers argue that farm-to-table is a meaningless notion, Wyatt writes. Acadiana farmer Brian Gotreaux said that McDonald's or Burger King could be considered farm-to-table restaurants "since they source their food from some kind of a farm and it ends up on a table." Restaurant owner Ryan Trahan—who every two days buys 120 pounds of chicken, 80 pounds of turkey, 40 tilapia filets, 20 dozen eggs and about 100 pounds of fresh winter produce from local farms—told Wyatt, "All food really comes from a farm, whether it be a commercial farm or a local farm or whatever. Everything can be farm-to-table."

Either way, most area farms don't receive enough business from local restaurants that it significantly impacts their revenue, Wyatt writes. Gotreaux told her, "I can't say one way or another that it would make or break us. It's a small movement here in Lafayette. A lot of people think it's bigger than it really is."

Farmers in other parts of the state agree, Wyatt writes. Anthony Yakaboski, who grows peaches, purple hull peas, melon, okra and other local produce on his farm in Farmerville in north Louisiana, said "he does not see any real difference in business from the local foods movement." He told Wyatt, "Everybody says local, fresh is the way to go, but they don't really practice what they preach." Marguerite Constantine, who raises goats in Moreauville, told Wyatt, "We've been very disappointed in some of the restaurants that we thought would embrace the ability to purchase locally." (Read more)

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