If you’re a restaurant Chef, you’re probably used to going to Farmer’s markets and buying fresh farm-to-table local ingredients to use in your cooking.
But you probably haven’t put much thought into growing your own produce.
And you almost certainly haven’t thought about using a container farm to do it.
In this article, we’re going to explain why every restaurant chef can benefit from indoor farming and why starting your own container farm might be a very profitable (and delicious) idea.
What is Container Farming?
A Container Farm is a refurbished ISO refrigerated ocean shipping container, which is used for creating a hydroponic or aeroponic environment, within the unit, to grow leafy greens, microgreens, and herbs.
Container farming is a great opportunity for chefs for a variety of reasons that we’ll get into now.
6 Reasons Why Chefs Should Consider Container Farming:
1. Reduced Field to fork time. As a chef, you are ultimately responsible for how your food tastes. Even if you must use produce that has traveled over 2,000 miles and is loaded with preservatives and other chemicals! Did you know that most lettuce you buy at the supermarket was harvested up to two weeks ago? One of the major benefits of container farming as a chef is that it reduces your field to fork time, giving your customers fresher and better-tasting food. Here at Pure Greens, we deliver our herbs around 90 minutes after they have been harvested. If you grew your own crops in your own container farm you could get that number down even further! The more you reduce your field to fork time, the fresher and tastier your dishes will be!
2. Better tasting more nutritious food. Another benefit of container farming as a chef is that you will be able to grow better-tasting more nutritious produce. Travel time robs your produce of up to 45% of its nutrients, and leads to as much as 16% of all food being wasted! By growing your own produce in a container farm close to your restaurant, you can virtually eliminate food travel time and get tasty nutritious produce directly after it has been harvested.
3. Reduced produce costs. Produce is expensive! Especially the kind of specialty greens and herbs that you can grow in a container farm. A single pound of microgreens can fetch up to $25! But if you grow your own produce using a container farm, that cost is reduced significantly. In fact, once you pay off the initial investment for the container (usually in a year or two) you will essentially be getting free produce. And if you start selling the produce you grow to other restaurants, markets, and distributors you could be getting paid to grow and use herbs and greens.
4. A wider variety of herbs and greens you can cook with year-round. As a chef, you are used to certain ingredients only being available when they are “in season.” But with container farming, you can grow the ingredients you need all year long, regardless of the weather or soil conditions.
5. Cook with more locally-grown food. The local food movement aims to connect food producers and consumers in the same geographic region, to develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks; improve local economies; or to affect the health, environment, community, or society of a place. With container farming, you’ll be able to increase the amount of local farm to table food you serve your customers.
6. Serve safer food with fewer unknowns. It seems like multiple times a year we hear about contaminated produce. Whether it’s Romaine lettuce with E.coli or potatoes with botulism, just because you bought your produce at a supermarket, doesn’t mean it’s safe. When you grow your own produce using a container farm, you don’t have to worry about things like pesticides, herbicides, contamination during transport, and more. You’ll know your food is safe because you grew it yourself!
Now that you’ve heard some of the benefits of using a container farm to grow your own food, let’s look at some examples of chefs who have used container farming in their restaurants.
Chefs who grow food with container farms:
- George Fistrovich, Executive Chef at the Ritz Carlton Naples: In addition to being the executive chef of the Ritz Carlton in Naples, FL George Fistrovich is also the “grower in chief.” “ All chefs like to get their product as close to the (growing) environment as possible,” Fistrovich told News-press.com’s, Laura Ruane. Adding “This enables us to come right outside our doorstep, about 50 feet from our restaurants, and harvest. It gets the freshest products to our guests, instantly.”
- Jennifer Stackpole, Chef and owner of Balsamroot catering: Missoula Montana is a harsh place to live and farm, that’s why Jennifer Stackpole got interested in container farming in the first place. The Montana winters made it hard to get local produce and Stackpole got sick of having to import food. She told the Ravalli Republic “So we don’t have to eat stuff from Mexico or California that’s been sprayed and gassed and is all withered by the time it gets here. When the chef receives these greens, they’ll still be alive, so they have a very long shelf life, over two weeks. Timing can be everything to a chef because freshness delivers flavor, texture, and aesthetics.”
As you can see, container farming is a great opportunity for chefs to grow their own food!
If you want to learn more, head over to our website, or give us a call at (602) 753–3469 and see how easy it can be to get started with your own container farm!