Lots of anecdotical stories buzz around for who is looking for the local trend in food. A local ‘snackbar’ (de Patat Koning) in Rotterdam contacted local farmers for local potatoes. My colleague Jan Willem van der Schans rightly observed; ‘why can you get ten different sauces on your fries but no choice in which fries you eat’. It makes a difference from which potato the french fries are made said the connoisseur. Equally, the burger is localising. Instead of imported beef, old Dutch breeds are being rediscovered for their meat, such as the ‘blaarkop’ cow. Some foreign breeds of cows used for grazing in conservation areas have difficulty adapting to the richness of the fodder compared to their own more harsh environments. The ‘blaarkop’ is adapted to local climate, and aparantly makes excellent hamburgers…….
At a meeting organised by Stichting Landwaard we heard that the focus of the regional producer cooperative Oregional in the region around the cities Arnhem and Nijmegen is probably going to switch focus from the institutional market to the consumer market. Whereas the public plate was heralded as the untapped potential of big volume by amongst others Kevin Morgan a while ago, it proves very difficult to enter this market is their experience. It is often an either/or story; where either the chef is enthusiastic but the managers/board does not see the point of local and sustainable sourcing or the other way around, where chefs don’t see why they should cook from scratch compared to their current assemblage kitchen. Price and logistics or bidding rules always make good excuses not to change current practices.
We also heard the same reasons for why our canteen would not be able to handle freshly cooked meals. The kitchen was furnished for assemblage of ready-made products only as practiced by the previous caterer. Last year we protested with eat-ins for better quality and more sustainable food (see here). We wrote a manifest and collected good examples, talked to the facility management and hoped for the best. The result; freshly cooked soups and meals from local and organic products in a kitchen that was supposed to be not equipped for this. The university invited different kinds of caterers by splitting up the all-canteens contract in various sections. Our canteen therefore has another caterer than the one at the campus. It allowed small- and medium-sized enterprises to bid for one of the sections. We are happy with ‘Good food catering’ since we now enjoy the good food they are making.