Eating locally has become an environmental catchphrase and a new reality for many people concerned about the ecological footprint that their food products leave in their trail. While interesting new research shows that such a practice isn’t always in the best interest of the planet—sometimes growing vegetables or fruit in climates that are not made to handle them is actually more damaging than importing them from New Zealand or Brazil, for example—the incredible trend towards farmers markets shows no sign of slowing. And for good reason: The closer you are to where food grows, the better it tastes. Beyond any environmental appeal, the emotional attachment to taste will usually win out.
Which has made moving to Santa Monica a playground for me. While a frequent Brooklyn and Union Square farmers market shopper, I’ve never tasted avocados, dates and artichokes as fresh as the ones I now have at my disposal. Finding farmers markets in most every city is an easy affair these days, but what if I wanted to know what chefs were offering dishes created with those delectable, fresh goodies on their menus?
Welcome to the Local Food App Revolution. New websites are popping up that give you daily updates on the menus in your area. For example, this weekend I’m heading to San Francisco for a quick two-night break, and I’m feeling something different than my staple go-to’s, Samovar and Baobob. Fortunately that is one of two cities that Gobble.com currently handles (along with Palo Alto). I plug in Friday dinner and find out that Chef Reina Pastor is cooking up meatless meatloaf at the South Park (not the South Park). Not a lot more for a vegetarian, though, but chorizo and chicken fans have another dozen choices that evening. The success of the site has much to do with Gobble’s success in getting chefs to sign in and update daily.
If I were flying to Paris, however, I’d have to look elsewhere. That’s where Super-Marmite.com comes in. While this site is aesthetically busier, it has a great community feel to it. The integration of meal pictures, cooks of the month and discounts for participating restaurants make this a local food groupon fused with Facebook. If Gobble is Tumblr, Super Marmite is MySpace—but a functional MySpace, mind you. Instead of searching our backyards for tonight’s dinner, we just turn on our smart phone, one of the beautiful consequences of an Internet age: satellite beams tuning us into our square mile.
Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter: @derekberes
image: Vidya Crawley