Buy Fresh Buy Local began in 2007, when several downtown restaurants and area farmers joined together to bring local food to Missoula. In conjunction with the First Friday gallery walk, these restaurants began to feature locally grown food on their dinner menu.
“It seems like a perfect fit to combine local food with the gallery walk featuring local artists. Local food, local art,” explained Martha Buser, co-owner of the Catalyst Café. “I like to support farmers from western Montana whenever I can, and am excited to make this an official monthly event!”
Every First Friday, beginning May 4th, during regular dinner hours, diners could treat their family and friends to a Montana-grown meal at one of these participating restaurants: Biga Pizza, The Catalyst, Pearl Café, The Red Bird, Finn & Porter, and 515 Restaurant.
“Missoula has a rich heritage of eating from our own foodshed, and this project brings us back to the concept of the Garden City,” said Bonnie Buckingham, facilitator of the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition. “By creating stronger connections between the farmer or rancher and the consumer, we can ensure that our agricultural heritage continues. This project helps reconnect people to their food.”
The Buy Fresh Buy Local Restaurant project aimed to reintroduce Missoulians to their food – the seed it grows from, the farmers and ranchers that produce it, the land that cradles it, and the routes that take if from field to table.
“There continues to be an increased interest in eating locally and seasonally, and this project helps satisfy that craving,” said CFAC member, Jon Clarenbach of Le Petit Outre. “When we use local food in our menus, we preserve farms and ranches so that our kids and grandkids will have that same opportunity.