By Blair Ames, email@example.com
10:04 AM EDT, August 22, 2013
Visiting a local restaurant during Carroll County Restaurant Week?
Your salad or entree may have been picked fresh from a county farm as early as that morning.
For years Carroll County restaurants have purchased from county farmers, but more and more restaurant owners are becoming aware that customers prefer that they buy local, according to Joanne Weant, agriculture development specialist with Carroll County Economic Development.
The biggest benefit "hands down" is that local produce is the freshest and most nutritious available, she said.
"The travel time for local food or things that are sourced locally is so limited that a lot of times you're getting something on your plate that was picked that morning or that afternoon," Weant said. "That's how fresh things are."
The Buttersburg Inn in Union Bridge, for example, has been purchasing produce from local farmers since its opening 11 years ago, according to co-owner Jim Rowe.
"We support local people because local people support us," he said.
In addition to growing their own basil, parsley, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, The Buttersburg Inn purchases peaches from Baugher's and squash and tomatoes from Briar Ridge Farm.
They also have connections with a number of other farms, Rowe said.
He said during the summer almost all of the produce bought by Buttersburg is grown locally.
The major benefits of buying local include the price and the freshness.
"As soon as you call, you got it," he said, adding that it is either delivered that day or the next morning.
Deliveries from an out-of-county food truck come only on Thursdays, he said.
The Buttersburg Inn has participated in the county's restaurant week since its inception in part because of the high price of advertising, Rowe said.
One of the perks of participating in restaurant week is countywide advertising through the Chamber of Commerce, tourism and economic development at a low price.
"We have seen an increase in business [during restaurant week]," Rowe said. "People are looking for new things."
Carroll's third annual Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, Aug.25, with 28 restaurants participating countywide.
The event showcases county eateries by offering patrons the opportunity to visit a new restaurant or try an old favorite at an affordable price. Lunch prices at participating restaurants are as low as $8.13 and dinner offerings are as low as $10.13.
Weant said there are no statistics available on how many restaurants on buying local, but it is something that the Economic Development Department would like to develop.
"We would like people to easily go into a local establishment and see that they do support local farmers, that they do buy local," she said.
Depending upon the size of the farm, it could be a lucrative imitative for local farmers, Weant said.
"Buying local preserves the farms in your community, there's no way around it," she said.
For information and specials at participating restaurants, go to http://www.carrollcountyrestaurantweek.com.