5@5 - Chef Alfred Portale
April 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

If you think you'll go for a walk outside now, and the spring sun is in fact, calling your name - pick up some asparagus at the farmers market while you're at it.

For the last 25 years, Alfred Portale has been at the helm of the storied New York City restaurant Gotham Bar & Grill utilizing local purveyors for seasonal, of-the-moment dishes. Under his watch, the restaurant has won a James Beard Foundation Award for "Outstanding Restaurant" and earned one Michelin star. Chef Portale was also recognized as the James Beard Foundation's "Outstanding Chef" in 2006.

Five Reasons to Shop Local - Now: Alfred Portale

1. Variety
"Walking through the Union Square Greenmarket is a great inspiration for me. The variety of produce and even the colors help me develop our seasonal menu changes.

Greenmarket farmers grow over 100 types each of apples and tomatoes. Biodiversity not only produces a host of flavors and colors it also helps protect our food supply as greater genetic diversity means less vulnerability to disease and pests."

2. Safety
"We are finding more and more of our customers are asking where our products are coming from and how they are grown. Knowing the actual farmers and how they grow their products makes me that much more proud of what we offer at Gotham.

Buy your food from the person who grew it - knowing where your food was grown ensures accountability and traceability."

3. Taste
"Maybe the most important for us is the fact that fresher/better ingredients make better dishes. The Greenmarket produce is as fresh as it gets, we actually couldn’t do what we do without these great ingredients. Greenmarket produce is picked when it’s ready to eat – not left to ripen on a supermarket shelf. Plus, fresher food is better for you as it contains more nutrients."

4. Community
"We make every effort to work with our local farms year round and many of these farms feel to us more like friends than purveyors. I think it makes all the food taste better when you know the person who grew it.

People from all backgrounds come together around food. Fresh air, locally grown foods, trying something new, the chance to meet your friends and neighbors - shopping at farmers markets is a great experience."

5. Preservation
"By giving farmers an outlet to sell their produce, Greenmarket helps keep agricultural land in production. Over 30,000 acres of land are dedicated to small-scale food production and open space thanks to Greenmarket farmers."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Earth Day • Feature • Food Politics • In Focus • Local Food • News • Think

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Can 'o Worms

    Twice a week from late spring through fall there is a local farmer's market I frequent. I most always ask where the produce I'm going to buy is from. too often I'm told somewhere in Florida, Arizona, California and so on. Then for a seemingly short time the local produce is finally coming off the vine.

    I'm just pointing this out because even at produce stands in the middle of great acres of farm land, their produce they are selling can come from a far away place. So in reality, if you want to eat produce grown locally you either should be good at canning and freezing what is in season, or eat a very consistent diet ( What? This is the 37th day in a row we've had squash for dinner!)

    April 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  2. Oscar on the Couch

    Anyone who is enlightened by this article should make a point of getting their head into The Whole Earth Catalog. It began publishing in 1968 and its primary focus is to encourage and promote the ideals of organic and healthy living, including the much of the advice given here and in other Eatocracy (is this a play on aristocracy? It seems like a stuck up word) articles.

    April 15, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  3. Sees All Evil

    We shop locally to get the freshest, chepest foods and to put money back locally it's a win/win situation. Plus we make good friends in the process.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  4. DaveJ

    When I see produce described as being "local" in a store, what does this mean? What's the definition of local? Is it from the local county, state, group of states, or what? I have a feeing that "local" is a wonderful new marketing term that probably does not have as strict a meaning as I would like. To me local means having traveled no more than 10-15 miles, but I very much doubt that is what happens in supermarkets and other food stores.

    April 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • MalaDee

      Aw this one traveled 16 miles. No soup for you!

      April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  5. MB

    For me shopping for vegetables and fruits from local farms additionally to 5 reasons mentioned in the article has environmental green advantage. In USA on average, vegetables are shipped by truck over 1300 miles and fruits over 1500 miles from growers to stores. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to ship all these products around. Locally grown farm vegatables and fruits usually come from up to 50 mile radius. To decrease fossil fuel consumption and decrease CO2 production USA governments at federal and state levels should favour and stimulate local food production.

    April 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  6. dtboco3

    We have a pretty good sized farmers market that I go to every weekend during the season. The taste is the main reason. I am a terrible cook, so I will take any help I can get. Also, the prices are better as you can barter with the people directly, and also get to know them pretty well after going there week after week. The taste tests as you walk around aren't a bad bonus either....especially once the fruit starts coming in later in the season.

    April 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • dnfromge@jackie

      I wish the prices could be better where I live. We have two farmers markets in town – one operates one day a week and the other operates six days a week. The prices are ridiculously high and I've noticed that they slip in a non-local brand here and there that I can get in my grocery store – raspberries are the specific item that come to mind, and the farmers market charges about 70% more for the exact same raspberries. I wonder why they even sell a product that isn't grown locally?

      April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am |
      • dnfromge

        Sorry shouldn't have been @jackie!

        April 15, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  7. CharlieB

    I love the buy local , We buy from the farmers and fishermen around the area here. I enjoy talking to them about the foods I buy and they like the feed back from me. Living in a small community we chat in the corner store often.

    April 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  8. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    I like asparagus. Especially how stinky it makes my urine. Fisherman's market is better.

    April 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Tastes good too!!

      . . .and the asparagus ain't too bad either!

      April 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  9. Truth, Temporary Bachelor@


    April 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
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