7 Reasons Why I Love Farm to Table and You Should Too
Farm to table has been with us forever. Before grocery stores and corporate farms, it’s how everyone ate. People grew and raised what they could, and sold what they didn’t need to their neighbors, who did the same. But after decades of grocery stores and mass-produced foods, farm to table began to make a comeback in 1971 when Chef Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA.
“If you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” Alice Waters
Maybe you have a little garden yourself or a few vegetables growing in pots on your apartment patio. Or, perhaps like me, you shop at local farmers markets.
How You Can Bring the Farm to Your Table
Years ago I fell in love with shopping at local farmers markets. There’s just something relaxing about strolling through the stalls and chatting with the producers. I love to see what’s on offer today that I can purchase direct from the farm for my table tonight. It makes me feel more connected to the food I purchase and eat. I’m also more mindful of using what I’ve purchased while it is at its peak.
If you’ve never been to a farmers market, they generally offer one of two types of farm to table experiences. Some primarily offer made from scratch prepared foods like meat or dessert pies and foods ready to prepare, such as small-batch pastas, sauces, and ready-to-eat breads, cured meats, pickled vegetables, jams, and cheeses. Others focus more on raw and fresh ingredients like you find in the fresh produce, meat, and dairy sections of a grocery store, and many you won’t, like micro-greens and mushrooms harvested that morning.
Common to farmers markets is an abundance of locally sourced foods. Often it is the growers themselves who are selling them, and they are happy to share their deep knowledge about the food you’ll be eating.
Some markets also offer a lot of truck stand produce. These are fruits and vegetables purchased and brought from thousands of miles away. You’ll know it’s truck stand produce if the food is out of season, or if you see a lot of fancy corrugated boxes under the display tables, or they seem to have an unusually large assortment of items. If so, you might as well be purchasing from your local grocery store because the produce is identical to what you’d buy there.
My Seven Reasons
Yes, this is the big one. Grocery store fruits and vegetables often taste like the box they were packed in. Conventional produce is harvested prematurely, so that it can withstand the long trip by ship and truck. It arrives at the grocery store looking like it is ripe, but lacking the flavor you crave.
Local produce is harvested at its peak ripeness, often the morning or evening before you see it. This means that not only has the flavor had time to fully develop, so have the nutrients.
When farmers have a local market for their foods, they don’t have to focus on product shape and size uniformity or the product’s ability to travel for weeks over long distances. This means they’re more likely to be able to offer you a greater variety of foods, such as heirloom tomatoes, small-batch cheeses and cured meats such as lamb sausage, and regional favorites such as persimmons, collard greens, and honeys.
Farming has an effect on the local ecosystem and so sustainable farming practices are important. When you eat foods in season and produced locally, your food requires fewer natural resources to grow and to bring to market.
Healthful Food Supply
Farm to table also contributes to local economic and community sustainability. We each have a role in the effort to promote best growing practices. These practices ensure a more healthful and robust food supply.
Locally sourced foods benefit more people economically in the community. Every dollar retained locally is spent over and over again, rippling through the community Harvesting and selling products creates jobs, and those workers also spend their wages locally. From this, new businesses are created and sustained, further adding to economic diversity and creating still more local jobs. Tax monies from these wage earners and businesses and all that they purchase support increased public services. This further strengthens the economy and increases funding for everything from local education to social services to better streets.
Its carbon footprint shrinks dramatically when your food isn’t shipped from one hemisphere to the other and then trucked across the country, Transporting food products accounts for about 20 percent of all carbon emissions in the food system. Refrigerated transportation used for produce is especially harmful because it relies on a lot of carbon to keep produce looking plump and ripe. All in all, global food miles contribute about three gigatons of CO2 emissions, or about half of all road vehicle emissions and roughly five times higher than previously thought.
Whenever you choose to eat a farm to table snack or meal, you know you’re supporting a food system that benefits your family, the family or small business that produced it, the local economy and the planet.
Come Taste Our New Spicy Hot Flavor
Join us at our free in-person events in and around Charlotte now through the end of October. At each we’ll be giving away samples of our new spicy pecan flavor and our tried-and-true Butter and Sea Salt. You get to vote for your favorite and offer us your opinion on the best kinds of beers go with each.
All we can tell you about the new flavor is that it is incredibly spicy. One of our early tasters announced that it will Burn. Your. Socks. Off. Since that’s the case, come ready to purchase fire-quenching beverages at the craft breweries where we’re exhibiting. We won’t have the new flavor for sale, but we will have several others.