Besh tells Master Gardeners to encourage local food production

Linda Benedict, Bogren, Richard C.  |  6/2/2009 10:32:43 PM

KENNER, La. – Although he may be known to the culinary world as a leading New Orleans chef, John Besh also is a leading proponent of serving locally grown foods in his four restaurants.

"Our restaurants spend $8 million to $9 million a year on groceries," Besh told 260 Master Gardeners gathered for a state conference here May 21.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program is an LSU AgCenter service and educational activity that recruits and trains volunteers to help meet the educational needs of home gardeners in Louisiana. Volunteers provide the public with unbiased, researched-based educational assistance and programs in consumer horticulture, according to Bobby Fletcher Jr., LSU AgCenter assistant director for extension.

Besh, who was the keynote speaker for the conference, said Crescent City restauranteurs were scrambling for produce following Hurricane Katrina in late 2005, and they realized much of the historically available produce from local truck farms disappeared over the years.

"It opened my eyes to a great world of opportunity," said Besh, who began working with residents of New Orleans to grow produce to supply the New Orleans restaurant market. "Until you toil in the soil, it doesn’t hit home," Besh said, adding that his restaurants now serve as much locally grown food as possible, including eggs and pork.

Rick Bogren

(This article was published in the spring 2009 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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