The Difference Between Local and Organic Food

Should I buy local? Should I buy organic? What’s the difference between the two? Ever since 2010 when the National Restaurant Association listed local and organic on their “What’s Hot” food trends, it seems like these are questions a lot of restaurateurs have been asking. Just like any other green buzzwords, people often lump these terms together and mix up their meanings. We're here to clear things up and finally explain the difference between local and organic food.

What is Organic Food?

Any food that has a USDA organic label, whether it’s produce, dairy, or meat, must be grown and processed according to federal guidelines. While there are many factors that the USDA considers, the most important are soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and the use of additives.

Fruits and vegetables can be classified as organic if they’re grown in soil that hasn’t had “applied substances,” like synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, for three years prior to harvest. But when it comes to meat and dairy products, the animals must be raised in “living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors”. This means that the animals weren’t confined to small areas and were able to freely move about. These animals also can’t be injected with antibiotics or hormones and can’t ingest food that isn’t 100% organic feed and forage. Use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) while organic food is being grown or handled is also prohibited.

Is Organic Food More Nutritious?

As of 2012 the accepted belief was that organic foods didn't offer any more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts. Recently, researchers have found that while organic foods do offer similar levels of nutrients, like vitamins C and E, they also contain more antioxidants than conventionally grown foods. Antioxidants offer many benefits, the most important is that they slow down and sometimes prevent the oxidation of molecules, which can cause damage to our cellular structure. This research also found that non-organic food often contained more pesticides and cadmium, an element that can cause negative health effects after long-term exposure.

The Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO Foods

Non-GMO foods are items that haven’t been altered using genetic modifications or engineering techniques. The GMO process, often referred to as genetic engineering (GE), works by removing the genes from the DNA of an organism, like an animal, plant, or bacterium, and adding it to another food's DNA in order to alter it. Since there isn't a physical difference between GMO and non-GMO foods, the latter is often marked with a "Non-GMO" or "GMO Free" sticker.

Despite often sharing the same label, there are differences between non-GMO and organic items. Non-GMO foods can still feature artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, as well as synthetic fertilizers and hormones, while organic cannot. In other words, food that is non-GMO isn't necessarily organic, but all organic foods are non-GMO.

The Difference Between Organic and Natural Foods

As discussed above, organic foods are grown or raised without the use of synthetic chemicals and artificial growth hormones. Natural foods are loosely defined as foods that aren’t altered chemically and don’t contain any hormones, antibiotics, or artificial flavors. However, the FDA states that it has not developed a definition for the use of the term.

Because of this, the term "natural" can be added to just about any food, whether it’s organic or non-organic. This means that something that is labeled “natural” isn’t always going to be free from additives or organic, unless specifically stated on the label.

What is Local Food?

Food labeled as being "locally grown" is a bit harder to trust since there is no governing body that keeps track of where these foods come from. The 2008 Farm Act states that in order for food to be labeled as “local” it must be transported less than 400 miles from its origin. But, a 2010 study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that “there is no consensus on a definition in terms of the distance between production and consumption.”

However, many restaurateurs have agreed that local is anything that is grown within a 150-mile radius. This means that the produce and meat you’re buying that’s labeled “local” could have actually been grown a few states away or even produced on a factory farm.

If you find out that your produce labeled "local" is actually from a few states away, then it most likely contains chemicals that prolong the lifespan of the product. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does permit a certain level of pesticide to remain on produce once it reaches your distributor, it’s still important that you properly clean your fruits and veggies in order to remove any harmful chemicals.

Can Local Food Be Organic?

In a study conducted in 2014, researchers found that 25% of American consumers believed that organic was a characteristic of local food. This is not necessarily true. In order for local food to be classified as organic, the farmer would need to follow the organic farming guidelines set forth by the USDA. If you're curious if your local produce is organic, you should look for the "Certified Organic" label or ask your supplier.


Today more than ever before, consumers are moving their focus towards a more sustainable environment. Because of this, people are willing to pay a little bit extra for food that has a local, organic, or non-GMO label. By adding ingredients like this to your menu, you're sure to attract new guest to your restaurant, cafe, or diner. For more information on sustainable efforts your business can make, check out our posts on Hyper-Local Restaurants, Ways Your Restaurant Can Go Green, and Green Catering Tips.

Posted in: Green Products | By Emily Hepner

How to Start a Beer Festival

If your restaurant, bar, or brewery is interested in starting a beer festival in your town, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start. There are many different things to consider when holding a beer festival. Where will you hold your event? How can you make it special or unique? How should you go about advertising the festival and selling tickets? What kind of equipment will you need on the day of the event? For the answers to these questions and helpful beer event ideas, keep reading our tips on how to start a beer festival.

Where Should You Hold Your Beer Festival?

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Location, location, location! Choosing the perfect spot for your beer festival is very important. If you're holding the event during a warmer month, consider using a park, sports field, or air conditioned event center. If it's a colder time of year, you might choose a convention center, hotel, or indoor sports complex to keep attendees out of the elements. You'll also want to be aware of weather, and, if you hold an outdoor event, have a back-up plan ready in case it rains. Regardless, you should choose a high-traffic location that will draw the attention of passersby who don't already have tickets or know about the event.

One other thing: make sure you have plenty of bathrooms, as guests will be consuming lots of beer and won't want to wait in long restroom lines. Timing is also very important. You should always make sure your festival doesn't conflict with other events in the area, as this will negatively impact attendance.

Which Permits Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?

The amount of permits you'll need will vary based upon your state and town, but you'll probably need a temporary special event license. Additionally, you'll want to procure insurance that protects you against liability, should attendees be injured or choose to drink and drive. Special event licenses often limit the size or number of samples guests can consume, and some areas may also require you to serve food to counteract the effects of alcohol. Be sure to apply for permits well in advance, as securing them can be a very intricate and time-consuming process.

How Will You Sell Tickets to Your Beer Festival?

In addition to procuring licenses for your beer event, you'll also want to think about how you'll go about selling tickets. Choose a reliable ticketing service for attendees to purchase tickets ahead of time online or by phone, and decide whether guests will also be able to purchase tickets at the door.

Similarly, will you charge one flat fee, or will patrons pay per drink as they move from table to table? Charging a flat fee up front is usually your best bet, as it will slow down vendors if they have to make change or run credit cards for every guest. However, if the participating breweries disagree over what the flat fee should be, it's probably best to have patrons pay for each drink. You can also institute a voucher system where guests purchase tickets ahead of time and then exchange them for each beer.

How Will You Advertise Your Beer Festival?

When it comes to advertising your beer event, social media is your best bet. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to get the word out, and you might also consider advertising in newspapers, magazines, and even on local radio or TV stations. Putting up fliers at bars, bottle shops, breweries, and brewpubs is also a great way to draw in beer enthusiasts.

You could also send an email blast to different beer aficionado groups and give away free tickets to drum up interest. Another great way to attract attendees is to partner with drinking apps, some of which promote nearby beer festivals or provide discount codes for participants. Also, decide whether your event is 21 and over only or if families are also welcome. This information should be clearly advertised ahead of time, as it will help patrons decide whether or not to attend.

What Supplies Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?

When the big day arrives, there are several important supplies you'll need to keep the beer flowing all day. First, if you're providing the beer yourself (rather than leaving that up to the breweries), you'll need several kegerators to keep beer cold and ready to serve. You'll also want to have plenty of beer sampler glasses on hand for patrons to carry from table to table.

To save money, provide each attendee with one sampler glass they'll use throughout the festival. Concurrently, make sure to set up plenty of rinsing stations throughout the event for them to clean their glass between samples. Depending on your preferences and expectations, you may also want to obtain chairs, tables, and tents.

What Should You Do on the Day of Your Beer Festival?

To increase sales, consider offering beer-related merchandise like t-shirts, glassware, and other memorabilia at your festival. You can also create a customized souvenir for guests to take home to remember the event. Another option is to employ musical acts and local food trucks to keep patrons entertained and full of delicious food.

If attendees can bring children, you might also want to include areas where they can play. Finally, make you and your staff available throughout the day to answer questions and accommodate any concerns your guests may have. Providing this level of service will improve your patrons' overall experience and increase the likelihood they'll visit your business in the future.


Holding a beer festival in your town is a great way to improve your business's visibility and profits, while also introducing attendees to beers they've never tried before. When planning your event, be sure to consider elements like venue, timing, advertising, permitting, tickets, and what to do on the day of the event. Addressing these questions beforehand is crucial to the success of your beer festival and will increase the chances of it becoming an annual event.

Posted in: Bar Supplies | By Nora Fulmer

How to Make 5 Refreshing Mojito Recipes

The mojito is Cuba's traditional cocktail, and typically, it consists of white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water, and mint. However, you can experiment with the ingredients and put a fun spin on this cocktail to appeal to more customers. Check out the video below to learn how to make five different mojito recipes that are perfect for your summertime bar menu.


Classic Mojito Recipe

The classic mojito will satisfy your thirsty customers on a hot summer day. This cocktail is tasty without any additional ingredients and is sure to please your guests looking for a simple, traditional drink.

Classic Mojito

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lime
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum
  • Club soda
  • Mint for garnish
  • Lime slice for garnish

Directions

  1. Drop the limes, mint leaves, and sugar into a high ball glass and muddle.
  2. Fill the glass with ice.
  3. Add rum to the glass and stir the ingredients.
  4. Top off the glass with club soda.
  5. Garnish with mint and the lime slice.

Black Mojito Recipe

For a simple twist on the classic mojito, try crafting this black mojito that uses spiced rum in addition to white rum. By using the dark, spiced rum, you'll give the drink a stormy look that's perfect for any rainy day at the beach.

Black Mojito

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lime
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 oz. Finest Call simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz. white rum
  • Club soda
  • 3/4 oz. spiced rum
  • Mint for garnish

Directions

  1. Drop the lime, mint leaves, and simple syrup into a high ball glass and muddle.
  2. Fill the glass with ice.
  3. Add the white rum and stir the ingredients.
  4. Top off the glass with club soda, but leave room for the spiced rum.
  5. Add the spiced rum.
  6. Garnish with mint.

Southside Cocktail Recipe

The southside is a classier and more sophisticated version of the mojito that uses gin instead of rum. It's also served in a martini glass, making it not only great for your bar, but also for your summer wedding or other catered events.

Southside

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3/4 oz. Finest Call simple syrup
  • 12 mint leaves
  • Mint for garnish

Directions

  1. Chill a martini glass by filling it with ice.
  2. Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker and shake.
  3. Add the mint leaves and gently swirl.
  4. Dump the ice out of the martini glass.
  5. Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass.
  6. Garnish with mint.

Watermelon Mojito Recipe

The watermelon mojito combines watermelon and cucumber into one delicious cocktail that is just as fruity as it is refreshing. Plus, since it calls for actual fruits and vegetables, it's technically healthy for you, right?

Watermelon Mojito

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoon-sized watermelon balls
  • 1 inch slice of cucumber, quartered
  • 1/2 lime
  • 3/4 oz. watermelon bar syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Club soda
  • Watermelon wedge for garnish
  • Cucumber slice for garnish

Directions

  1. Place the watermelon balls, cucumber slices, lime juice, syrup, rum, and mint leaves into a cocktail shaker and muddle thoroughly.
  2. Fill a high ball glass with ice, and then strain the mixture into the glass.
  3. Top off the drink with the club soda.
  4. Garnish with the watermelon wedge and cucumber slice.

Mojito Pitcher for a Crowd Recipe

Please a crowd at any party, wedding, catered event, or other gathering with this mojito pitcher recipe. Simply pour all of the ingredients into a pitcher, mix them up, and serve. With this quick and easy recipe, you'll have a tasty beverage for your guests in no time. Plus, you'll be able to fulfill your guests' demand for refills in a flash.

Mojito Pitcher

Ingredients

  • Lime slices
  • 1 bottle of mojito mix
  • 16 oz. white rum
  • 44 oz. club soda
  • Mint for garnish
  • Limes for garnish

Directions

  1. Drop the lime slices into the bottom of the pitcher.
  2. Add the mojito mix, white rum, and club soda to the pitcher and stir the ingredients.
  3. Garnish individual mojito glasses with the mint and limes and fill them up with the cocktail from the pitcher

Now that we've shared our 5 mojito cocktail favorites with you, comment below and let us know some of yours, so we can try them out, too!

Posted in: Bar Supplies | By Ashley Kufera

Top Products for Small Kitchens

From bulky pieces of equipment to towering storage racks, it doesn’t take much to fill the space in your kitchen. But, what if you run a commercial kitchen that’s smaller than the norm? Or even a kitchen on wheels? Our list of top products for small kitchens is sure to help! We cover the equipment you need for the most important areas of your kitchen, so you can start optimizing space and stop bumping into your employees.

What is a Small Kitchen?

Since each restaurant is different, there is no typical size for a commercial kitchen. Most kitchens range from 500 to 2,000 square feet in size, so anything that is less than 500 square feet can be considered a small commercial kitchen.

Types of Small Kitchens

The products listed below can be used not only for cramped restaurant kitchens, but for the following businesses:

Advice From a Small Kitchen Owner

The best way to learn about how to choose equipment for a small commercial kitchen is to talk to someone who works in one. We chatted with Michael Sirianni, manager and operator of the walk-up window restaurant, Buzz, located in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. “The kitchen is 9' x 11', so about 100 square feet total," explained Sirianni. To put this into perspective, the average food truck size is about 16' x 5', which is about 80 square feet.

Challenges of a Small Kitchen

“It’s pretty close quarters with the other employees, but the biggest challenge of working in a space this small is how often we have to order our ingredients,” says Sirianni. Since Buzz specializes in making food with fresh ingredients and are limited on refrigeration space, they have to order their supplies more frequently and in smaller amounts, which can be more costly than ordering in bulk.

Choosing Equipment for a Small Kitchen

When choosing the equipment he would need, Sirianni had to ask himself, “How do we cook things?” While this may seem like an obvious question, it’s one of the most important starting points to opening up any kind of foodservice establishment.

From here, he was able to figure out what equipment was necessary and what he could do without. “It would be really nice to have a real prep station or a real line, sort of like what Subway has, but there’s just no room for it”, stated Sirianni. To deal with the lack of space, the equipment he uses has to be multipurpose. For example, not only do his fridges provide him with a place to keep ingredients cool and within easy reach, but they also double as a worktable for assembling sandwiches and flatbreads.

Refrigeration for Small Kitchens

Other refrigeration options:

Storage for Small Kitchens

Other storage options:

Holding and Warming Equipment for Small Kitchens

Other holding and warming options:

Cooking Equipment for Small Kitchens

Other cooking equipment:

Sinks and Warewashing Equipment for Small Kitchens

Other sinks and warewashing equipment:

Posted in: Restaurant Equipment | By Emily Hepner
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