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Organic Cooking: Should Your Restaurant Go Organic?

Read four pros and cons of organic cooking in your restaurant business.

Can Organic Cooking Pay Off?

Not only are organic foods not exposed to chemicals such as pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, it's widely reported that organic produce contains significantly more vitamins and minerals than their traditionally grown counterparts.

What's more, many people claim that organic food tastes better and that they feel a noticeable boost in their overall health and energy when they consume organic.

As more and more Americans embrace organic food as an environmentally responsible and health conscious alternative to conventionally farmed sustenance, restaurants are wise to consider whether organic cooking is for them.

Four Considerations

  • Organic certification requirements – According to USDA guidelines, running a "certified organic" restaurant means that 95% of what you serve must be organic. And not just the meat, vegetables and dairy—ingredients such as sugar, flour, oil and spices must be organic too, which can be more difficult to source.
  • Cost of organic ingredients – Once you find reliable sources for the ingredients needed for an organic menu, you'll likely pay as much as 30% more for organic ingredients.* This can result in higher priced meals, although people are increasingly willing to pay for the quality and benefits of organic ingredients.
  • Marketing organic meals – Some people equate "organic food" with "health food" and/or "tasteless food"; mention "organic restaurant," and many people will automatically picture "hamburger" patties made out of ground sunflower seeds or plants. On the plus side, more people are looking for that prized "organic" label, so this is an opportunity to attract discerning customers.
  • You'll have to make frequent menu adjustments – Since finding steady sources for some organic ingredients can be tricky, you may need to be flexible with your menu. While this will afford you a lot of opportunity to showcase your culinary creativity, keep in mind that it may be challenging to train your staff to prepare and serve new dishes every couple of weeks.

The Time is Ripe for Organic Cooking

The rising popularity of organic cooking makes this a tantalizing opportunity for restaurants. The Organic Trade Association in its 2022 survey states that U.S. consumers were eating record amounts of organic food and that sales of organic food jumped more than 2% percent over 2022 to $57.5 billion in sales. If you're willing to take on the challenges of running an organic restaurant, you might just find yourself in a unique position to take advantage of this trend.

Source: CBS News, "Organic Foods, Worth the Extra Cost?"; www.ota.com


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