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‘Locavores’ rearrange the buffet table

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Food served at banquets and other events is increasingly catering to “locavores,” or those who opt for locally grown ingredients, say event planners.

If that trend seems too expensive, difficult or faddish for you, it’s time to take another look. It’s now easier to bring healthier and more socially conscious food to attendees.

Besides, local green ingredients taste better: “Anything that’s pulled out of the ground Tuesday morning and served Tuesday night is going to be better than something grown in California, washed, put in a bag and shipped 800 miles,” says Charles Kassels, executive chef at Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe, N.M.

Here’s how event planners work locally raised ingredients into their banquet menus:

Be flexible on veggies. “There are no promises as to what the farmers market is going to have,” says Kassels.

Ask about price fluctuation. The cost of food bought locally varies far more than shipped food. And you can expect organic food to cost 25% more, regardless of where it’s from.

Talk to the chef. The facility’s services manager can get the ball rolling, but it’s the chef who will know what grows in the area and where to buy fresh, local ingredients.

Advertise your efforts. Kassels includes the names of local suppliers on the menu. That pleases the farmers, and attendees appreciate a taste of what went into the planning.

Tip: For a buffet, label the buffet items and list all the ingredients. That helps people with food allergies and also shows attendees just how fresh the food is.

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