What Is "Farm To Table"?
Image Credit: Farm To Table | Image Credit: Unsplash.com

The concept of "farm to table" is as simple as the name indicates. It is quite literally "farm to table!" It simply involves buying (or sourcing) fresh produce from farmers and putting it on your table. While globalized supply chains have led to restaurants devoted to using processed foods, and people obsessed with consuming fast food or food from overseas, there is movement growing among communities, societies, even countries worldwide – eating local.Chefs and farmers in several nations are committed to seasonal fresh food grown locally and responsibly. This growth is mainly attributed to the concurrent changes in attitudes about food safety, freshness, seasonality, and small-farm economics.

Many advocates and practitioners of the farm-to-table model often cite or mention the scarcity of fresh, local ingredients, the poor flavor of ingredients shipped from afar, the poor nutritional integrity of shipped ingredients, the disappearance of small family farms and heirlooms, and the dangers of a highly centralized food growing and distribution system as motivators or instigators for their decision to adopt a more locavore approach to the food system (Locavore is a modern coinage that means one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible).

This concept is very familiar because our forefathers and humans have been doing it for eons. We survived first by growing food and later by participating in a barter system with farmers to get the fresh produce and grains that we then consumed. However, somewhere along the way, we became lazy and gave in to the convenience of being able to buy food from anywhere in the world whenever we wanted. As a result, a lot of our meals became easier to cook using ready-made ingredients, and the food industry skyrocketed. But still, the farm-to-table method is gaining more and more popularity, and here are some reasons why.

    One of the main reasons why people prefer fresh produce is because it looks and tastes much better. Fresh, hand-picked fruits and vegetables, as well as ethically raised meats, add flavor and nutrition to any dish. Ethically reared meat comes from those animals that are allowed to forage on natural grass without the use of antibiotics to improve their growth.

    Also, locally grown and procured food travels a lesser time and distance to reach your home kitchen, thereby preserving nutrients. Normally, foods have to travel by ship, air, and trucks to reach you. Thus, various processes are done in order to preserve its nutrients.

    Eating locally sourced foods helps support the families of farmers, who are burdened by industrialization. Eating locally sourced food will help ensure that farmlands do not become a concrete jungle. Farms are an integral part of the ecosystem, and they help to conserve soil and water sources and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

    Eating locally sourced foods also gives you a chance to teach young minds about seasonal foods and the benefits of healthy eating.

    Farm to table also helps enhance the health of the soil. By growing different varieties of food all year round, farmers ensure that you get a plethora of colours and flavours on your plate.  

Many restaurants are also committing to the farm-to-table concept. Not only does using locally sourced foods give chefs a chance to create some amazing and innovative dishes using seasonal ingredients like watermelon salad, amla murraba, and so on, but it also opens up doors for some really interesting activities before you enjoy your meal. One such idea would be to allow the guests to choose and pick their own vegetables from the restaurant’s organic farm and use them to prepare a delicious meal. Sounds like a fun weekend family outing to me!

As there are two sides to every coin, there is also some backlash and criticism toward the farm-to-table movement. Many mainstream media outlets describe it as just a fad by millennials whose obsession with food resembles their parent’s generational affinity for "music and drug of choice". Another critique was that, though the idea of a farm-to-table restaurant might be appealing to most of us, it is very heavy on our pockets. Out of all the forms of food and dining available, this movement is the least affordable. And by far the most mind-boggling problem is that many do not fully understand the term "farm to table"! Many associate farm-to-table foods with healthier foods, regardless of their actual nutritional content. To overcome these shortcomings, efforts are being made to make farm-to-table more accessible and affordable.

So, if you want to do your part for the environment while providing better health for your family, switch on over to the farm-to-table approach!