An award-winning chef and a keen proponent of hyper-local cooking and ingredients, Sam Cover offers a closer, professional insight into the concept.
A leading chef from the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, Spokane Valley native Sam Cover is a keen advocate for both the existing farm-to-table movement and the newer and now-rapidly-growing trend specifically for hyper-local ingredients. A celebrated professional with more than 20 years of experience working in some of America’s best restaurants and hotels, Cover provides an expert insight into the burgeoning trend for hyper-local food and drink.
“As an already outspoken proponent of the farm-to-table movement, often I’m asked, ‘What’s the difference between farm-to-table, organic, local, and hyper-local?'” reveals Cover.
Surprisingly, ingredients labeled ‘local’ may come from as far as 400 miles away, according to the chef. Organic ingredients, meanwhile, he also reveals, may originate anywhere, but must adhere to a strict set of rules in order to achieve and maintain organic status. “These include, for example,” says Cover, “only utilizing agricultural practices which are free of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides.”
It’s the farm-to-table ethos, though, and, in particular, a move toward sourcing chiefly hyper-local ingredients that interest the chef the most. “While farm-to-table simply promotes sourcing meat, vegetables, and other produce from as locally as possible, the hyper-local movement takes things one step further,” Cover explains.
The award-winning chef says that while farm-to-table ingredients may come from a farm in a neighboring town or even state, the hyper-local trend promotes sourcing items from as close to your home, restaurant, or grocery business, for example, as physically possible. This can include anything from herbs grown in a kitchen garden and eggs or poultry produced within the local community to beers created by neighborhood breweries, according to the expert. “Hyper-local is typically considered to be anything under three miles,” says Cover, “which, in our major towns and cities, is quite an achievement.”
In more rural areas, however, hyper-local often hinges on food grown or raised in the immediate vicinity, such as on or in a business or individual’s own plot or garden, or a neighboring property. “One major benefit of hyper-local is that ingredients can be enjoyed the very same day, sometimes within just minutes,” points out Spokane-based chef Sam Cover, “when they’re as fresh as absolutely possible.”
Hyper-local ingredients also have extremely low or zero food miles associated with their production and transportation, in stark contrast, he says, with even certified ‘local’ ingredients which can travel hundreds of miles before they’re consumed.
“Hyper-local food, therefore,” adds Cover, wrapping up, “is not only an excellent means of enjoying the very freshest ingredients on offer, but it’s also a fantastic way to reduce environmental impact and your own environmental footprint at the same time.”