Photo via Flickr member Alice Henneman
As people change their diets to be healthier, and do some research on the food they are eating, it is likely that they would come accross the concept of Farm to Table. What is Farm to Table? IT is a national movement encouraging consumer and businesses to shorten the distance that their food travels before being eaten.
Most produce, meat, and dairy products travel a long way before reaching your kitchen. Often, the produce available in grocery store is shipped from all over the world by ships, trains, trucks, and planes. So by the time it gets to you, it’s already pretty old. I’m sure we’re all familiar with reaching into the fridge just a few days after shopping and finding that your food is about to check out.
I couldn’t stand when that would happen to me. So I had my husband dig and build a place for a garden, and I planted everything I new I used on a regular basis.
I love going to my garden 15 minutes before I start making some chicken and dumplings for dinner and getting all my ingredients fresh. I can get my own onions, garlic, and herbs from my garden and local chicken meat from a local farm that was frozen soon after butchering the chicken to preserve the nutrients.
Photo via Flickr member Leslie Main Johnson
Why eat Farm to Table? Why all the fuss about shortening the distance? Well, there are lots of reasons. Starting with the fact that you have access to varieties of farm products that are grown for flavor, rather than tolerance of long shipping, and you can get these foods in season while they are at peak condition. These fresher products end up having a much longer shelf life.
Plus, research shows that eating produce grown in your local area supports a more robust immune system, and your overall health. This is why I love growing my own food. You get a fresher product that cost less, and it’s better for you. Can you say, “yes please?”
Not only is it better for your body to source your food this way, it’s better for the environment too! If everyone ate Farm to Table, there would be much less pollution caused by gas, and much less wasted fossil fuels. According to the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), “Transporting food long distances uses tremendous energy: it takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5 calorie strawberry from California to New York.”
On top of that, growing your own garden gives bees a place to settle down. This helps both to pollinate your plants, and save the bees. Another way to help with this issue is to support your local bee-keeper.
Photo via Flickr member Alice Heinemann
What are some ways to start eating Farm to Table at home?
- Grow it yourself! This is probably the cheapest way to go, and achieves the shortest distance to your kitchen. Plus, you get to control 100% of what goes into your food. You can choose to go the organic route, or use any fertilizers or pest control that you personally approve of.
- Visit a farmers market! This is one of the easiest ways to go on this. You get your shopping done a lot like you normally would at a supermarket, but you get to know the people who grow your food on a personal level while shortening the distance from field to plate.
- Get it straight from the source! Find some local farms and call to arrange a pick up of farm products. This a much cheaper way to get free range eggs, organic produce, and raw milk than buying them from a health food store like whole foods or earth fare. This can be cheaper than going to the farmer’s market, as well as possibly cutting back on the time and distance it takes to get to your kitchen from the farm depending on which is closer to your house.
Photo via Flickr member Christopher Paquette
How does Farm to Table benefit restaurants? There are many benefits to bringing the idea of Farm to Table to your restaurant. The food you serve ends up tasting better and is healthier. It’s good for marketing and can help spice up your regular menu. Plus, buying local doesn’t always mean you have to pay more. Wholesale food distributors offer steep discounts, but when a food is in season, local farm prices aren’t always that much higher.They can actually be lower if you look around and arrange a good deal with one of your local farmers.
You could also consider planting some or all of your produce. This could potentially have a bulky start-up cost, but over time, the garden with pay for itself and start saving a big chunk of your grocery bill.
Farm to Table is definitely worth any extra effort you have to put in to get your food. It helps your local economy, the environment, your community, and your health.
How will you begin your Farm to Table adventure?