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Effort to get restaurants involved with the local foods push

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Effort to get restaurants involved with the local foods push
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Everyday, more people are looking to buy their food locally. They want to know what's in their food and how it was raised or grown. It's something they are even pushing to see in restaurants. As Brian Dwyer reports, despite the cost challenges those eateries are taking notice.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- There's no question it's a win-win in the push for local foods -- local farmers meeting local restaurants.

"We use our own milk. So you know exactly where that product comes from," Jeff Bechaz of Bechaz Riverdale Cheese said. "Being such a fresh product, we can use less salt. We don't have to add preservatives and additives to our milk."

"If a customer comes to your place, they love the fact that you're using the freshest ingredients around. They come back to your restaurant and when they leave there, they tell a few friends of theirs and it becomes an avalanche," Riveredge Resort Jacques Cartier Room Executive Chef Christian Ives said.

But it's an idea that's been held back because of that big obstacle in the way, the bottom line. Fresh foods just flat out cost more and some restaurants can't afford it.

"You do see that. Depending on what they are looking for," Bechaz said. "If they're looking for, like you can go to Wal-Mart for example and buy something there or you can buy something of a better quality someplace else."

One of many topics that came up Tuesday during a new speed dating style event that put farmers face to face with chefs. Hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County with help from JCC, it let farmers and chefs see where each other is coming from and make some deals in the process.

"A local menu, you can tell them where the farms are from, you build those relationships with those farms," Steve Ledoux of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County said. "It makes it so you buy from them all the time. It's a good thing for consumers. It's a good thing for the farmer. It's a good thing for the restaurant. Everybody ties in. It's a good deal."

"I have a gentleman over in the corner who specializes in peppers. There's probably about 20 different kinds. I was speaking to him for 15 minutes and I'm going to go to him for my peppers this year," Ives added.

And if anyone needed convincing about the quality of dishes with local food, JCC's Culinary students made the appetizers for the event, using samples the farmers brought in.

Cornell says it hopes to make this an annual event and keep growing the number of farmers and restaurants it brings in.

This year there were 21 farmers and 23 restaurants.

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