"Real Food to You" By Dekota McGee, State Secretary
“What am I eating?” “Where does my food come from?” “Is my food safe?” These are questions that more and more consumers are demanding be answered. Parents want to provide healthier meals to their families, and some people want to treat their body’s better. As society becomes more aware of what they put into their bodies and what is going on around them, restaurant owners are taking the initiative in making their businesses’ more appealing to the public.
Restaurant owners are making the choice to use local grown produce for their dishes, many hopping on the farm to table bandwagon. Farm to table restaurants are becoming a thriving sensation in larger cities across the state of Louisiana and the nation. If you’re not familiar with the farm to table movement, it is a social movement that promotes serving local food at restaurants and school cafeterias, preferably through direct acquisition from the producer. These establishments use their simple recipes to attract customers who want to experience a fresher and healthier meal, while also enjoying a groovy environment. Customers say that the food tastes fresher and overall much better than frozen and processed foods. This happens due to the effective transportation of goods being transported immediately from the fields of local farms to the kitchens of small restaurants.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Mr. Nathan Stubbs, the owner of a farm to table restaurant, The Saint Street Inn, located in Lafayette, LA. Stubbs began his business just under ten years ago and says that he absolutely loves his job. He says, “I have two favorite parts. The first being my staff and suppliers. The second being the customers and the atmosphere the community provides.” He mentioned that he enjoys seeing the vibes that his customers have as they sit with their friends. With the Saint Street Inn being only four minutes away from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, college students and professors often frequent the restaurant. “The support of the community truly fuels my passion to make my business thrive,” says Stubbs.
“When the Saint Street Inn began, it was built on the idea of cooking more meticulously and being creative with our ingredient choices,” said Mr. Stubbs. The restaurant provides consumers with a wide variety of food choices that are fresh and grown close to home. One thing that amazes and sticks with me was how the Saint Street Inn mainly used farm products grown or raised in Louisiana. The restaurant does not use large food distributors, but instead partners with local farmers to provide a fresher dish. The Saint Street Inn has over twenty farms that supply produce and products used to create their spectacular dishes. Stubbs says, “[Suppliers] are the backbone of our business. We couldn’t make it without them. Pastured pork comes from Husser, LA, eggs come from Alexandria, LA, pastured chicken comes from Singer, LA.” For me, there is nothing more refreshing than enjoying a meal with ingredients produced by Louisiana farmers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken nuggets and fries just as much as the next person, but I also enjoy supporting a restaurant that supports our local communities. Walking into a restaurant like the Saint Street Inn gives me hope that our small-time farmers are still appreciated. Choosing to eat at a farm to table restaurant will change a person’s view of creativity. I never thought of food as an art until I sat down with Mr. Nathan Stubbs. Stubbs truly loves what he does, how he does it, and the impact his business has had on himself and others. He started his business with a friend to try something new. This one choice turned into a profession that he is passionate about. Agriculture is affected by large corporate industries, but small businesses, just like the Saint Street Inn, matter too.