What Is the Farm-to-Table Movement?

© Ytsenoh 2013

This is what my father's backyard looked like for nearly 20 years.  He was in his own right an expert on organic gardening.  Everyone in the family reaped the benefit of his hard labor.  He was a planner and researcher in growing the best vegetables.
This is what my father's backyard looked like for nearly 20 years. He was in his own right an expert on organic gardening. Everyone in the family reaped the benefit of his hard labor. He was a planner and researcher in growing the best vegetables. | Source
If you have a city market in your city as I do, then you know that feeling of getting there early Saturday morning to pick out your own fresh vegetables for dinner.
If you have a city market in your city as I do, then you know that feeling of getting there early Saturday morning to pick out your own fresh vegetables for dinner.
The benefit of getting tomatoes from a local farmer is that they will most likely be ripe whereas in the grocery store, they may be red, but they are not ripe.
The benefit of getting tomatoes from a local farmer is that they will most likely be ripe whereas in the grocery store, they may be red, but they are not ripe.

...Not a New Trend

What's really interesting about "farm-to-table" or what is also referred to as "farm-to-fork" is that it's not just about an eating behavior. It's really much more than that; it opens the door to a variety of lessons about your local farming communities, healthy eating lifestyles, and the environment from where your food products come from. And, it's not just about the vegetables coming out of dark rich soil, it includes a wealth of information about your local dairies and animal farms. It's a laborious journey from the farmer growing or raising the product to the customer who catches the aesthetic and flavorful experience on their plate. Hence, there is a shared passion for food quality.

Today, restaurants around the country embrace the farm-to-table method and their chefs or staff members love going to their local growers or city markets to stock their kitchen with a wide array of freshness--a freshness they want to deliver to their customers who may have the same values when it comes to natural goodness in a vegetable or meat product. This, in turn, brings economic support to the local farming community. And, face it, we are all living in an era where we question the health related value of any processed food item whether it lives in a can or sealed plastic.

Yellow crookneck squash--I used to have a large garden and planted squash.  It was always exciting to see the big yellow bloom and before you knew it, there was a lot of squash growing!
Yellow crookneck squash--I used to have a large garden and planted squash. It was always exciting to see the big yellow bloom and before you knew it, there was a lot of squash growing!
Another food resource is going to your local city market where local growers can sell their produce. I don't know about you, but I love going to our local city market. Everything looks and smells great. It even sells fresh seasonings.
Another food resource is going to your local city market where local growers can sell their produce. I don't know about you, but I love going to our local city market. Everything looks and smells great. It even sells fresh seasonings.

Is It Farm-to-Table Or Farm-to-Fork?

I think it depends on where you are and who you are to best describe who would say "farm-to-table" or "farm-to-fork." The latter sounds contemporary catchy, but the former sounds almost more earthy as intended.

You could literally live on a farm and raise your food to put on your table. You could also be dining at a farm restaurant that gets its product on a nearby farm and puts it on the menu. Essentially, food is being bought directly from local growers. Nice, right?

At farm-to-table restaurants, the chef or someone in the restaurant's employ who helps put the menu together find creative names for their entrées. The chef blends the right spices and maybe the juice of a fresh fruit, both of which to drizzle on your "free range" chicken to simply wow your palate. That flavor of your piece of chicken won't be disguised by the drizzle; however--the quality of taste will bounce around in your head for a while. You will probably be amazed that you can actually taste chicken.

In a farm-to-table food establishment, or event, all produce, cheese and even meats are from local growers and animal farmers. Chefs are very passionate with their creations, including the display on your plate. And, just imagine being the chef or staff member taking a field trip to the local farmer and selecting fresh vegetables for the week--onions, garlic, tomatoes, squash, carrots--imagine the rich soil that squeezes these fresh items out of the ground. Imagine the fruit farms--tart cherries for that traditional cherry pie and the apples and peaches!

Once you go to one of these farm-to-table restaurants, you just might get hooked. You'll like the idea the food comes from local producers and that everything is fresh--nothing is processed and it just seems healthier.

Literally, from farm-to-table.  The first "Under A Harvest Moon" fundraising event in 2009 at Powell Gardens in Missouri.
Literally, from farm-to-table. The first "Under A Harvest Moon" fundraising event in 2009 at Powell Gardens in Missouri. | Source

Jim Deneven's Creation of "Outstanding in the Field"

The first time I became acquainted with the phrase, "farm-to-table," was about four years ago, although organic gardening was a lesson learned from my late father. Through his influence, I had the experience of caring for my own family garden continually learning the value of "we are what we eat." It was all about creating and tasting the quality of a great vegetable absent man-made chemicals and pesticides--ask yourself, "Is this good for me?" or "Is this really good for the soil?"

Chef and artist, Jim Deneven, and his big red and white bus came to Kansas City, Missouri in 2009. I had never heard of him until his event hit our local newspaper. Deveven had selected Chef Jonathan Justus of the Justus Drugstore restaurant in Smithville, Missouri, to participate in this event. In conjunction with the Heartland Harvest Garden at Powell Gardens, the first "Under the Harvest Moon" eating and fundraising event would take place. This was interesting to me because I had actually eaten at the Justus Drugstore as well as had the opportunity to meet Chef Justus and his wife. As a side, this event was also somewhat of a celebration for the Heartland Harvest Garden because its first harvest was occurring that year which added to the excitement to land at Powell Gardens. This successful type of fundraiser would generate a buzz about the farm-to-table topic and the Under the Harvest Moon affair would become an annual event.

If you're not familiar with Deneven, he's definitely worth your time to learn more about. He and his staff travel in their red and white bus to bring the farm-to-table concept and belief to a selected community--even New York. If you're not familiar with the Justus Drugstore restaurant, and you live in Kansas City, it's worth the drive up north to Smithville for the dining experience. Almost everything on their menu is acquired from local growers and producers.

Deneven has two remarkable sites--one dedicated to his art and one dedicated to "Outstanding in the Field," the latter of which states:

"Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it. Join us in the field for an amazing dining experience."

Maybe some day his selected crew will come to your town to celebrate with your local farmers and chefs to share a remarkably planned meal on the most incredible table you don't see everyday in your dining room.

What Is An Artisan Food Producer?

An artisan food producer produces a product that is essentially given the label of artisan food. These food items are thoughtfully prepared with minimal use of a piece of kitchen equipment. For example, a loaf of bread made from scratch--no processed packaged ingredients. This type of product is basically a thing of the past since most of us purchase our loaves of bread in the store regardless of its contents.

A true artisan food producer places genuine focus on each ingredient going into something being made for a prospective customer. For example, if an egg is being used, where did the egg come from? The human hands are used to create a food product made from fresh ingredients, keeping in mind that the artisan also wants to know where that fresh ingredient came from.

You will see some vendors use the marketing phrase of "artisan" included in the product name as a method of persuasion to dine at a specific restaurant.

Although this market is in Arnhem, Netherlands, it's still a great example of what an outdoor market looks like.  And like most outdoor markets selling fresh produce, they are fun!
Although this market is in Arnhem, Netherlands, it's still a great example of what an outdoor market looks like. And like most outdoor markets selling fresh produce, they are fun!

Sustainable Agriculture

Although "sustainable agriculture" is not a brand new term to society, the subject was covered by Congress in the Food, Agriculture Conservation, and Trade Act (FACTA) of 1990, otherwise known as the Farm Bill. This law defines sustainable agriculture as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:

  • satisfy human food and fiber needs;
  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
  • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
  • sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
  • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."

This is an important term to be aware of because it involves food production for our needs whether that food product comes from another state or is grown in your local area. There is more information pertaining to this subject at the USDA link below under "Resources."

We live in an era where many of us are health conscious. As such, running to the grocery store to pick up the canned corn off the shelf is a habit some of us want to break. Instead, we now go to the local city market to grab our fresh fruit and vegetables, and even flowers. We may become more familiar with who our local growers are and establish a trust with their produce. It's also not as likely to have all the extra ingredients a processed food item may contain.

What Does Free Range Mean?

Free range basically means farm animals are not pinned up and have a much wider range to roam around on looking for their food. Chickens, for example, are permitted to roam freely on a larger area of land. It's defined as a more humane form of treatment. This term is more applicable to chickens than cows or pigs. The chickens aren't overcrowded in a small area confined by chicken wire. So what's the benefit of having "free range chicken" listed on a menu?

Farmers who raise free range chickens can qualify to have their chickens labeled or certified as free range under the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Part of the approval process includes (1) whether the farmer has used any hormones; (2) whether the chickens do roam freely outside; (3) whether the chickens are administered antibiotics; and (4) whether they have a vegetarian diet.

While the process the farmer has to go through to become a certified meat producer may seem not complex at all, it can appear to be arduous because of the documentation process that is required.

This video relates to the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua, New York where farm-to-table is practiced.

What's the Difference Between Natural Farming and Organic Farming?

A noteworthy natural farmer and philosopher from Japan, Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008), developed what is referred to as "the Fukuoka Method" of natural farming. Fukuoka's philosophy was never to use any technologically advanced piece of farming machinery to work the land for planting. He believed that farming wasn't just a measure of a lot of food being produced--it was about your approach to life also from aesthetic and spiritual reflections. He held the belief of never disturbing nature. Fukuoka believed in the natural progression such as (1) no plowing; (2) do not put down fertilizers; (3) do not weed the garden; and (4) do not use pesticides. It is, perhaps, no wonder why Fukuoka lived to be 95 years old.

Fukuoka's passion and beliefs promoted that the method of natural farming could still provide an ample of food supply and prevented water pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, the latter of which relates to ecological reasoning.

With organic farming, crop rotation is still deployed with the use green manure and natural composting, and a resource of biological pest control. In 1972, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was established as a worldwide effort to promote and collect organic farming organizations. Everything promoted by IFOAM is based on its principles that embrace the basics of organic agriculture. If you think about it, if we do not sustain the health of our soils, the ability to grow food is affected which, in turn, affects people.

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Comments 26 comments

ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Au fait, thanks so much for your visit and comment. Glad you liked this.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I grew up on a farm and our cows and chickens were allowed to roam much of the time. Pigs not so much. My mother never put boughten fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides on her garden. The veggies and berries, etc., were always tasted so good, and I know they were more healthful.

Very informative and well written article on an important issue.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

moonlake, thanks very much for your time and comment! Enjoy those tomatoes when they arrive!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Enjoyed your hub. We grow our own garden every year. I just can't wait for some good tasting tomatoes. Voted up and shared your hub.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

rajan, thanks so much for the read. Glad to know you love fresh produce too.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

We get fresh produce straight at the farmers market here. And the diiference is obvious. I love to grow my own vegetables too.

Interesting hub.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

tillsontitan, thanks much for your visit and thoughts! I, too, cannot wait until our local farmer's markets open and we have a large one in the heart of downtown. Have a great weekend!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This is truly a marvelous hub. Natural, nature, real, to me all the same. Our farmer's markets will be starting soon and I can't wait. All you have to do is look at a tomato locally grown against a tomato from a chain store and no explanation is necessary. However, your explanations were spot on and well done.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Angela, thanks very much for your comment and I agree!


Angela Kane profile image

Angela Kane 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Thanks for the article. The food grown and shown the pictures look delicious. I wish their was a farm on every corner in America.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

khmazz, thanks very much! Hope all is well in Florida!


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Frank, thanks very much for the read and the comment! Have a great upcoming weekend!


khmazz profile image

khmazz 3 years ago from South Florida

Such a great hub! Well written and fantastic information! Voted up :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

What a very useful and informative honesty... I mean ytsenoh... thank you so much for sharing


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Excellent Billy! Good for you! Thanks for stopping in. Eating better is the best way to go for sure. Have a great week!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Wonderful hub my friend. We doubled our garden area this year and we are raising chickens for the first time. I am all for any movement that gets us back to basics and eating better. Loved this hub!


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

There is nothing like harvesting your own food, eating nothing but what comes out of the ground. Thanks for the read and your comment.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful photos I am living in a region where the local people plant their own fruit and vegetables, it is such a treat once ready for harvesting.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

always, thank you. My dad taught me to never by a big fat plump chicken because of what it was fed to plump it up and because it would not taste like chicken at all. He was right. For years, and through the time I had my own garden, we had the best fresh vegetables. Now, I go to the city market. I don't like getting tomatoes at the grocery store because even though they're red, they're not ripe. I can't recall what they set tomatoes next to so they turn red faster, but they don't ripen faster. Have a great Monday!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is a most informative hub. I can remember when fried chicken was delicious because of free range. We have farmers markets here in the growing season and it is so much better than Walmarts, ( Where i shop for groceries. ) I grow my own tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I am so looking for spring to arrive..Thank you for sharing...


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

MrsBrown, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! Have a great day!


MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Excellent! I am a strong supporter of healthy, sustainable local agriculture. I love farm markets and can't wait until ours opens. :-) I read an interesting book about the "locavore" movement called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"; it's about a family's one-year experiment eating completely local/homegrown. This article is full of great resources. Thank you for writing it!


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Kids, thanks very much for stopping in. Really, thank you for the video you shared on hydroponic farming. Very interesting story.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

GC, thanks much, glad you enjoyed the article.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Very interesting hub! Your choice of picture with the huge table in the middle of the field is quite impressive.

Even in NY some people try to use the little space they have to produce in the city : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5tnHfikb64


Gcrhoads64 profile image

Gcrhoads64 3 years ago from North Dakota

I grew up on a farm so I know how good food tastes straight from the field.

Great information and awesome article. +++

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